Match Stats/Report - Edberg vs Wilander, Australian Open final, 1985


Hall of Fame
Stefan Edberg beat Mats Wilander 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 in the Australian Open final, 1985 on grass

Edberg was 19 years old, ranked 6th in the world and this was his first Slam title. He'd apparently saved 2 match points in beating Wally Masur earlier in the 4th round and also come through another 5 setter in beating Ivan Lendl in the semis. Wilander had been going for his third straight Australian Open title, having beaten Edberg in the quarters en route to the title the previous year

Edberg won 95 points, Wilander 75

Edberg serve-volleyed off all first serves and all but three seconds. Wilander serve-volleyed off most first serves and once off second

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (44/74) 59%
- 1st serve points won (39/44) 89%
- 2nd serve points won (18/30) 60%
- Aces 5
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (28/74) 38%

- 1st serve percentage (57/96) 59%
- 1st serve points won (41/57) 72%
- 2nd serve points won (17/39) 44%
- Aces 10, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (27/96) 28%

Serve Patterns
Edberg served...
- to FH 50%
- to BH 43%
- to Body 7%

Wilander served...
- to FH 34%
- to BH 55%
- to Body 10%

Return Stats
Edberg made...
- 67 (28 FH, 39 BH), including 5 runaround FHs, 10 return-approaches & 1 drop return
- 2 Winners (1 FH, 1 BH), including 1 BH drop return
- 16 Errors, comprising...
- 6 Unforced (1 FH, 5 BH), including 1 return-approach & (likely) 1 drop attempt
- 10 Forced (6 FH, 4 BH)
- Return Rate (67/94) 71%

Wilander made...
- 44 (22 FH, 22 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 3 Winners (3 FH)
- 23 Errors, all forced...
- 23 Forced (15 FH, 8 BH)
- Return Rate (44/72) 61%

Break Points
Edberg 4/14 (5 games)
Wilander 0/2 (1 game)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Edberg 39 (5 FH, 8 BH, 8 FHV, 10 BHV, 8 OH)
Wilander 23 (7 FH, 5 BH, 4 FHV, 4 BHV, 3 OH)

Edberg had 21 from serve-volley points -
- 15 first volleys (5 FHV, 8 BHV, 2 OH)
- 5 second volleys (2 FHV, 3 OH)
- 1 third volley (1 OH)

- 4 from return-approach point (1 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 OH)

- FHs (all passes) - 3 cc (1 return), 1 dtl and 1 inside-out
- BHs - 5 cc (4 passes), 2 dtl passes and 1 drop return

Wilander had 10 from serve-volley points -
- 5 first volleys (2 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 OH)
- 5 second 'volleys' (1 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 OH, 1 FH at net)

- 1 other FHV was played net to net

- FH passes - 3 dtl (1 return), 1 inside-out return and 1 inside-in return
- regular FH - 1 cc
- BHs (all passes) - 2 cc, 2 dtl and 1 inside-out

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Edberg 23
- 10 Unforced (4 FH, 2 BH, 1 FHV, 3 BHV)
- 13 Forced (4 FH, 6 BH, 2 FHV, 1 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47

Wilander 26
- 7 Unforced (4 FH, 1 BHV, 1 OH)
- 19 Forced (7 FH, 7 BH, 2 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 50

(Note 1: All 1/2 volleys refer to such shots played at net. 1/2 volleys played from other parts of the court are included within relevant groundstroke numbers)

(Note 2: the Unforced Error Forcefulness Index is an indicator of how aggressive the average UE was. The numbers presented for these two matches are keyed on 4 categories - 20 defensive, 40 neutral, 50 attacking and 60 winner attempt)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Edberg was...
- 62/81 (77%) at net, including...
- 50/64 (78%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 34/39 (87%) off 1st serve and...
- 16/25 (64%) off 2nd serve
- 7/10 (70%) return-approaching

Wilander was...
- 30/52 (58%) at net, including...
- 26/39 (67%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 25/38 (66%) off 1st serve and...
- 1/1 off 2nd serve

Match Report
Beautiful and silky from Edberg - one of his typical high quality showings where he makes serve-volleying look ridiculously easy. Its only when you see his opponent doing it that you realize its a lot harder than he Edberg makes it seem

No one seems to have given Edberg a chance going into this match. Commentators - Carillo, Drysdale and Stolle - uniformly favour Wilander to win, and one says Edberg winning the first set is a shock to at least 70% of the fans in attendance. I find the extent of how unfavoured Edberg seems to be to be a bit strange - though just shy of 20 years of age and in his first Slam final (in fact, this had been his first semi), Edberg was ranked 6th in the world and seeded 5th (Jimmy Connors is the higher ranked player who was absent from the tournament, I think), while Wilander was ranked and seeded 3rd. And his natural game is obviously more suited to grass than Wilander's

Nor are the commentators unaware of Edberg's game, though Stolle initially errs in calling him a clay courter but is instantly corrected. Carillo calls him a serve-volleyer who likes faster surfaces and they all seem aware of his supposed FH weakness and the BH being his stronger wing. Commentators spend much of the match talking about Wilander not playing well and focusing on what Wilander isn't doing - and not nearly enough noticing Edberg's near flawless play

Carillo, who's positioned court side, remarkably goes off to seek the trainer to ask if an arm injury Wilander has had all tournament (his right arm is taped up from biceps/triceps to mid-forearm) has been acting up, presumably to try to explain what she perceives to be Wilander's poor play. She comes back with the answer that Mats hasn't sought treatment out of the ordinary recently. Then Carillo speculates the arm bothering him has resulted in Mats experimenting with looser string tension and that's the cause of action being one sided

I doubt Mats changed string tension just prior to final and at least, played the entire tournament with whatever string condition he was playing with. When Drysdale asks when he changed string tension, Carillo vaguely claims 'just the other day', though conceding he played his semi with same condition

Towards the end when its clear who'll win, Stolle praises Edberg mildly adding that Mats made too many unforced errors. I have him with 9 - including 2 double faults

In short, I found the perceptions of commentators to be off. Presumably, they have no personal favouritism for or against either player. Mats is a known top player, Edberg not so well known is about the only reason for skewed perceptions from seeing things mostly from Mats' point of view. In a way, its a great compliment to Edberg.... his play is sublime but also highly grooved so as not to stand out particularly.

Edberg virtually serve-volleys 100% (staying back on just 3 second serves), while Wilander does so 38/46 or 82% of time off first serve and just once of 2nd. So action is mostly man at net vs man on baseline, with Wilander's second serve points making up almost the entirety of points starting baseline-to-baseline

Edberg skates through his service games all match. He doesn't face break point or even go to deuce 'til his last service game. A lot of unreturned serves (38%) and a lot of first volley winners (15). From end of first set to middle of second, he wins 25 successive first serve points. In the same stretch, he wins 14 service points in a row. Suffice to say, Edberg cruises on serve all match

His game - particularly on return - gets stronger and bolder as the match goes on.

In his first service game, he loses both second serve volley points with UEs at net (which means he staggeringly only made 2 more volleying UEs for the rest of the match). And hee stays back on 2 second serves in in his second game (which means he only did so once more in rest of the match)

Initially, he's fairly conservative returning and plays along in passive baseline exchanges. By the end, he's kniefing chip-charge returns and coming in from baseline rallies

Wilander holds almost as easily in first set. He hasn't faced break point, though serving a 10 point game, when he steps up to prolong the set at 4-5. Edberg pounces on a short ball FH cc and comes in to force an error on first point and then Mats double faults. A pair of BH dtl passes - 1 winner and 1 forcing a stretched volleying error - gives him the break and the set. Given how conservatively he'd played and averagely passed upto this point, the game stands out sharply

Edberg pushes Mats early in the second, having 3 break points in his first return game. 2 are saved with strong passes, 1 is missed with an attempted too-cute a volley. Edberg's even stronger in the next return game. Mats drags him wide with the serve and volleys short to the opposite side, but Edberg runs all the way to well outside the court and makes a strong shot at an extreme angle for the winner to open the game and next point, Edberg BH drop returns a winner and then force a 1/2volley error. Mats gets out of the 0-40 hole, but is broken 2 points later - a chip-charge return point and a powerful, low BH cc pass getting the job done for Edberg. Rest of the set is easy holds - 1 point goes against serve in remaining 5 games

Third set, Edberg's on the attack again with chip-charges and other approaches. Mats survives first game (14 points) without facing break point but is broken next time. Great game from Edberg to break - 2 BH cc passing winners and 2 chip-charge returns - the second of which is finished with a whipping BHV winner

Mats has his only break points in game 8. Both are erased with unreturned first serves. And Edberg breaks again to wrap up the match, finishing with a BH dtl pass
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Hall of Fame
Serve & Return
Wilander has the significantly more powerful serve. He serves a lot harder than he did in the '83 final against Lendl. Note the 10 aces (Edberg has 5). Second serve is soft though. Edberg can runaround when he wants and occasionally stands in extreme positions to ensure he can hit a FH return

Edberg returns first serves reasonably well. He doesn't have the power to unduly trouble Mats on the first volley, but gets most back in play. 71% return rate is good - and counter-intuitively, better for 6/10 return errors being unforced and against second serves. It shows he wasn't too troubled against the first serve, which is the potential danger shot. Though missing 6 second serve returns, once Edberg gets into the groove, his chip-charges are sharp as can be - deep and cutting flat through the air. 7/10 such points won - with just 1 error trying - its a very efficient way of attacking second serves

Edberg serves at about his normal level, but Mats' returning is a bit off

Note the unusual 50% serves directed to FH. Most of these were out wide to the deuce court. According to commentators, one side of the court, that deuce court is slightly sloped, enhancing the power of serves out wide. Against a returner like Mats, who seems equally strong of either side, a more balanced distribution of serves than default majority-to-BH is probably best

And it works like a charm. Note Mats with 15 FH errors to 8 BHs

Both of Edberg's serves tend to kick up high and Mats has a hard time coping. He isn't trying to do too much with the return and in general, is a player who prefers to put balls in play even if it leaves an easy volley rather than make an error. That's what he tries here too, but just makes a lot of errors, more than one would probably expect from him. Its a minor flaw in his showing. He gets stuck into some second serves well enough... its Edberg's volleying that keeps the damage down from that

Volleying & Passing
Edberg volleys virtually perfectly

Anything there to be putaway is putaway
Balls not quite there to putaway… are putaway
Balls that are around net high... are putaway quite often
Balls that are slightly low... are sometimes putaway or put in a corner
Balls that are very difficult... are usually defensively put back in play
When Mats turns to lobbing... not easy OHs are smashed away

A bad Edberg volley in this match is when he doesn't precisely hit a corner. And that's rare. Note Edberg with 26 forecourt winners to Mats 14 backcourt FEs (in other words, missed passes). Mats isn't at his best on the pass... meaning he can't make winners from balls he has to run to even reach. All credit to Edberg on this mini-match

As usual, not many drop or stop volleys

Wilander is decent at net but its water onto wine compared to Edberg. Edberg's passing gets stronger and stronger as the match goes on. Good combo of going cc and dtl on passes... the cc's in particular are powerfully hit. Interestingly, Wilander, who knew Edberg's game thoroughly, volleys mostly to the BH

Baseline & Approaching
Couple of unusual things from Mats

Generally, he likes to lead with steady BHs. Here, he leads with FH and powerful ones. Not powerful enough to be particularly damaging, but the intent is there. On BH, he avoids top spin and mostly slices one handed. Commentators are critical of this but you can't argue results. 0 BH unforced errors for Mats

He tends to approach of slicey stuff that doesn't go well. just 4/13 points won approaching in rallies. Probably would have been approaching of drive shots

Edberg mostly reacts, steadier off the BH than FH and more keen to manufacture an approach. He comes in just 7 times, but with Mats leading, there was less scope for Edberg to do so. He comes in off situations that Mats was in far more often and chose not to

Summing up, near flawless serve-volleying and net play from Edberg, as elegant as effective. Wilander not returning as consistently as he's capable but essentially, just whisked away


I loved the Kooyong stadium -- great atmosphere -- as much as I loved the Roland-Garros of the 80s…