Match Stats/Report - Lendl vs Becker, Indianapolis semi-final, 1985


Hall of Fame
Ivan Lendl beat Boris Becker 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 in the Indianapolis semi-final, 1985 on green clay

Lendl would go onto beat Andres Gomez in the final to lift the title. It was the first meeting between the two players and the first tournament for both after Wimbledon, where Becker had won his maiden Slam title

Lendl won 88 points, Becker 69

Becker serve-volleyed about half the time off first serves

(Note: I'm missing 3 Becker service points - 1 won by Becker, 2 by Lendl. On a small number of points, I've made educated guesses as to whether the serve was a first or second)

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (37/81) 46%
- 1st serve points won (31/37) 84%
- 2nd serve points won (24/44) 55%
- Aces 6, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (20/81) 25%

- 1st serve percentage (44/73) 60%
- 1st serve points won (31/44) 70%
- 2nd serve points won (15/29) 52%
- {Unknown serve points (1/3)}
- Aces 3
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (15/73) 21%

Serve Patterns
Lendl served...
- to FH 25%
- to BH 75%

Becker served...
- to FH 31%
- to BH 68%
- to Body 1%

Return Stats
Lendl made...
- 56 (26 FH, 30 BH), including 10 runaround FHs
- 1 Winners (1 BH)
- 12 Errors, all forced...
- 12 Forced (5 FH, 7 BH)
- Return Rate (56/71) 79%

Becker made...
- 59 (11 FH, 48 BH), including 3 return-approaches
- 13 Errors, comprising...
- 6 Unforced (2 FH, 4 BH), including 1 return-approach attempt
- 7 Forced (4 FH, 3 BH)
- Return Rate (59/79) 75%

Break Points
Lendl 5/9 (5 games)
Becker 2/3 (2 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Lendl 19 (9 FH, 6 BH, 3 FHV, 1 BHV)
Becker 13 (2 FH, 4 FHV, 4 BHV, 3 OH)

Lendl's FHs - 2 cc passes, 2 dtl, 2 inside-out, 1 inside-in, 1 longline pass and 1 at net
- BHs - 2 cc (1 pass), 2 dtl passes, 1 longline return pass and 1 running-down-drop shot at net finely angled cc

- the BHV was the first volley of a serve-volley point and was a net chord dribbler

Becker had 7 from serve-volley points
- 4 first 'volleys' (2 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 FH at net)… 1 FHV being a drop and 1 BHV a stop
- 3 second volleys (1 FHV, 2 OH)

- 2 from return-approach points - 1 FHV drop and 1 OH

- 1 FH at net

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Lendl 38
- 18 Unforced (11 FH, 6 BH, 1 FHV)
- 20 Forced (7 FH, 12 BH, 1 FH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.2

Becker 45
- 28 Unforced (11 FH, 14 BH, 3 FHV)
- 17 Forced (4 FH, 8 BH, 2 FHV, 3 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 44.6

(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
Lendl was...
- 12/16 (75%) at net, including...
- 1/2 serve-volleying, comprising...
- 0/1 off 1st serve and...
- 1/1 off 2nd serve

Becker was...
- 30/47 (64%) at net, including...
- 15/21 (71%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 14/20 (70%) off 1st serve and...
- 1/1 off 2nd serve
- 2/3 (67%) return-approaching
- 1/2 forced back/retreated

Match Report
Surprisingly competitive for a set before the turning point early in the second after which its all Lendl. The turning point is one of the clearest cut (not to mention odd) ones you'll see; Becker serving back to back aces

The green clay court is something between red clay and a slow hard court of pace. Ball rarely rises as high as the chest, stomach height shots is about the average. I don't think either player slides even once.

I'd expected Lendl to go all out for smothering BH-BH rallies. There are BH-BH rallies naturally, but it doesn't seem to be a pointed plan to install them by Lendl. In addition, Becker holds up well in them and is able to escape with BH dtl shots... baseline play in the first set is quite a lively, two winged business

Becker hits a few powerful FHs, but Lendl's up to defending and neutralizing them. By contrast, Lendl generally holds back with his FHs... controlled, not damaging is his calling card

Players trade breaks in the middle of the first set. Becker breaks first on the back of a bad game by Lendl - 3 UEs and a double fault handing the German the break. Becker returns the favour next game. Becker scores the decisive break by opening the door with net approaches... and Lendl does the rest, with back to back 3rd ball UEs. Uncharacteristic stuff from Ivan

In the first set, Lendl makes 12 UEs (7 FH, 5 BH) to Becker's 13 (7 FH, 6 BH). Becker's net play puts him just over

Lendl starts the second set with a hold to love. Becker serves 2 aces in his first service game and Lendl retreats to returning serve from well behind the baseline and continues to do so for the rest of the match. And that is all she wrote for Boris... from thereon, its a shut out

Lendl holds serve easily - Becker has no more break points in the match and reaches deuce once in 7 games. Lendl breaks as and when he wants apparently

Couple of points worth mentioning. Becker drags Lendl wide with a big first serve and has a high putaway volley third ball, which he slaps into the ground. Seemed a formality... but he slaps it too short, Lendl races the other way and makes a FH cc pass. The other is a point of the year candidate. It would be a dashing point if it had been played from the baseline - cc, dtl, cc, dtl… everything to the open court, but its played at net and we're dealing with half-volleys and low gets at net of the same dynamic. It ends with Becker missing a BHV

Serve & Return
You can see Lendl serves at just 46%. He goes big with the first serve, powerwise, but doesn't place it particularly well. And the surface is slow enough that I wouldn't have thought power alone could do much damage.

But Becker has plenty of trouble returning. He misses a bunch of second serve returns - which were comparatively easy, and he wasn't attacking them -, he misses a bunch of well in reach first serve returns - again, without being particularly aggressive in his intent. Basically, bad returning from Boris

Becker's serve by contrast, is a handful even on the slow clay. Lendl was managing it well enough from an orthodox position but after he retreats, the game becomes more interesting. Becker experiments with serves out wide, serve-volleying more, rolling first serves (sometimes following them in, sometimes not)… whatever he does, most balls come back

Good move from Lendl in adjusting his position. Becker has no way to crack it

Play - Baseline & Net
Becker shows good net instincts. In other matches from this period, I've seen him have daft approaching days and repeatedly getting caught coming in. Here though, he approaches smartly, of well placed shots. The bulk of his approaches are not serve-volleys

He serve-volleys well too. Lendl's return position invites it.

He's not great on the volley though. Few good short volleys, but a tendancy to loop medium high, medium power balls and leave himself open to be passed. In the last game of the match, a Lendl return just goes under his racquet as he goes for the volley

Still, wise of Becker to come in so much because baseline play was not going his way. The two players are about even from the back in the first set because Lendl is unusually error prone. He redresses that in the second - 1 groundstroke UE for the set to 6 from Becker. And maintains typical, iron consistency from the back

Just outlasting Becker in who-blinks-first game would be enough to get Lendl over, but he has an attacking edge to him too. Note the high 47.2 UEFI (Becker's is 44.6). strong BH cc in open court play forces errors and gives him control of play. Fair few FH inside-outs too. He moves Becker around as much as wears him down

Note Boris with 12 forced groundstroke errors. That's quite high for a short match on clay (the 19 he forces from Lendl are almost all passing shots)

Boris is decent from the baseline... but he's out of his league

Lendl comes in a fair bit too (16 approaches), rarely manufacturing an approach. He looks more comfortable at net then usual

Summing up, consummate stuff from Lendl after a loose first set. Consistent with his groundies, but also mixing up directions to run Becker around and hitting moderately attacking shots. And consistent, if passive of return to neutralize any potential trouble from Becker's serve. Becker does about as well as he can, which isn't great. In over his head against a clay master

Worth noting is Becker by far gave Lendl the toughest match of the tournament. Ivan lost all of 15 games in his remaining 4 matches - including 4 to Gomes and 5 to Martin Jaite, both renowned clay courters


Hard to believe but in the summer of '85 both of these men were technically one-Slam wonders, and Lendl was not even the current titleholder of a Slam.

I noticed some in the crowd laughed, when Lendl stepped back after those back-to-back aces. But it turned out to be the perfect move.

Boris broke Lendl at 5-all in the first with a rare classic chip-and-charge.

The Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale):

Lendl Steps Backward To Defuse Becker​
July 28, 1985​
INDIANAPOLIS — Top-seeded Ivan Lendl withstood the challenge of teen-ager Boris Becker 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 Saturday to reach the men`s championship match of the $575,000 U.S. Open Clay Court Championship.​
``He surprised me some,`` Lendl said of his first meeting with the Wimbledon champion. ``I didn`t know what to do at first. I thought I could stay in and handle his serve, but that didn`t work.``​
Lendl decided to move back farther behind the backline, standing 20 feet away to take the serve.​
``I discovered that was the way to handle the serve,`` Lendl said. ``I wanted to try to break his pace and go all the way back and he didn`t know what to do.``​
The triumph, which ended a 16-match winning streak by Becker, sends Lendl against defending champion Andres Gomez of Ecuador in today`s showdown for the $51,000 top prize. Gomez needed just 51 minutes to handle France`s Yannick Noah 6-0, 6-1 in reaching the men`s final for the third consecutive year.​
``I`m still a human being and I have to lose some days,`` Becker said. ``Lendl plays at a different level than anyone I`ve played. He made maybe five mistakes.​
``The first set I played good tennis,`` Becker said. ``I played a little worse in the second and third, but he played at the same level.``​
Becker, the No. 3 seed, took a 4-3 edge with the first break in the match as Lendl doublefaulted to lose the game.​
He hung on to win that set, but his powerful serve seemed to lose some zing in the second set, while Lendl kept sending the ball over the net with more authority on every point. Lendl scored a break to go up 3-1 and won the set by breaking Becker without losing a point in the final game.​


Hall of Fame
Boris broke Lendl at 5-all in the first with a rare classic chip-and-charge.

first point of the game... beautiful OH, looked like a good service motion

Lendl scored a break to go up 3-1 and won the set by breaking Becker without losing a point in the final game

this isn't true

Lendl went up 0-40 with three consecutive winners, but Becker won the next two points before Lendl finished the match

Edit: my mistake - it is true they're referring to the second set, not the third

Odd place to finish an article

Lendl said. ``I wanted to try to break his pace and go all the way back and he didn`t know what to do.``

that's how I saw it, too

``The first set I played good tennis,`` Becker said. ``I played a little worse in the second and third, but he played at the same level.``

that's not how I saw it

I thought Lendl played badly in the first (by his standard), lots of uncharacteristic errors. And played normal (by the same standard) in the next two, almost no errors

I suppose Becker's "good tennis" might be about even with Lendl "playing badly (by his standard)" on clay. And Becker might not have been aware of what normal for Lendl was
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