Match Stats/Report - Lendl vs Becker, Wembley Indoors final, 1985


Hall of Fame
Ivan Lendl beat Boris Becker 6-7(6), 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the Wembley Indoors final, 1985 on carpet

Lendl had recently won the US Open and would go onto win the Masters, beating Becker again in the final. Becker had won his first Wimbledon earlier in the year

Lendl won 164 points, Becker 144

Becker serve-volleyed off all but 9 first serves

(Note: I'm missing the ending of one point won by Lendl. Based on audio, its been marked an unknown error - very likely it was unforced)

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (87/146) 60%
- 1st serve points won (64/87) 74%
- 2nd serve points won (39/59) 66%
- Aces 6
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (37/146) 25%

- 1st serve percentage (93/162) 57%
- 1st serve points won (68/93) 73%
- 2nd serve points won (33/69) 48%
- Aces 6, Service Winners 2
- Double Faults 6
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (53/162) 33%

Serve Patterns
Lendl served...
- to FH 17%
- to BH 73%
- to Body 10%

Becker served...
- to FH 24%
- to BH 65%
- to Body 11%

Return Stats
Lendl made...
- 103 (26 FH, 77 BH), including 7 runaround FHs & 7 return-approaches
- 4 Winners (1 FH, 3 BH)
- 45 Errors, comprising...
- 8 Unforced (3 FH, 5 BH), including 2 runaround FHs
- 37 Forced (18 FH, 19 BH), including runaround FH & 1 return-approach attempt
- Return Rate (103/156) 66%

Becker made...
- 108 (18 FH, 90 BH), including 1 runaround FH & 22 return-approaches
- 2 Winners (2 BH)
- 31 Errors, comprising...
- 15 Unforced (3 FH, 12 BH), including 1 runaround FH & 5 return-approach attempts
- 16 Forced (3 FH, 13 BH)
- Return Rate (108/145) 74%

Break Points
Lendl 5/13 (9 games)
Becker 3/4 (4 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Lendl 46 (12 FH, 24 BH, 6 FHV, 3 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)
Becker 29 (7 FH, 3 BH, 4 FHV, 7 BHV, 8 OH)

Lendl's had 28 passes (8 FH, 20 BH, 1 FHV)
- FHs - 1 cc, 1 dtl, 3 inside-in (1 return) and 3 lobs
- BHs - 5 cc, 10 dtl (1 return), 1 inside-out return, 2 longline and 2 lobs
- the FHV was a swinging shot from well behind the service line and not a net point for Lendl

- regular FHs - 2 inside-in, 1 longline and 1 at net
- regular BHs - 1 cc and 3 dtl (1 return)

- 1 BHV was a from a return-approach point
- 1 FHV was a swinging shot and not a net point
- the BH1/2V was a stop inside-out

Becker had from serve-volley points -
- 7 first 'volleys' (3 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH, 2 FH at net)
- 5 second volleys (1 FHV, 1 BHV, 3 OH)
- 2 third volleys (2 BHV)… 1 a net chord dribbler

- 3 from return-approach points (2 BHV, 1 OH)… 1 of the BHVs was a net chord dribbler

- FHs - 2 cc (1 pass), 1 dtl and 2 inside-out (1 pass)
- BHs - 1 cc pass, 1 dtl return and 1 inside-in return pass

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Lendl 61
- 24 Unforced (8 FH, 12 BH, 3 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 37 Forced (13 FH, 20 BH, 1 FHV, 3 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 45.8

Becker 75
- 39 Unforced (11 FH, 17 BH, 10 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 35 Forced (12 FH, 7 BH, 7 FHV, 7 BHV, 2 BH1/2V)
- 1 Unknown (1 ??)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 49.7

(Note 0: Based on audio of crowds reaction, its very likely that Becker's unknown error was unforced)

(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...
- 22/35 (63%) at net, including...
- 4/6 (67%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 1/2 off 1st serve and...
- 3/4 (75%) off 2nd serve
- 2/7 (29%) return-approaching
- 0/1 forced back/retreated

Becker was...
- 79/136 (58%) at net, including...
- 54/84 (64%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 51/76 (67%) off 1st serve and...
- 3/8 (38%) off 2nd serve
- 8/22 (36%) return-approaching
- 0/1 forced back

Match Report
Very good match on a fast court, decided by some on the fly change of tactics from Lendl. For the last two sets, he takes a lot of the first serve, gets a much larger percentage in... and that's all she wrote for Becker

Actually there are two turning points. The first is when Lendl starts chip-charge approaching in the second set and the second, more decisive one is the change in serving tactics

Percentage plays and stats wise, this match isn't all that close. Lendl has the better of it pretty much throughout - but that's the limitations of stats and why I write the reports. Stats can't cover everything (well, they probably can, but the amount of time it'd take to jot down and derive the necessary numbers aren't worth the candle), especially when someone as erratic as Becker is involved

In a nutshell, the match is dominated by serve and Lendl is more a threat to break than the other way round almost all the time. But Becker's low percentage play on return games is... dangerous. he might win 2 points in 5 games, but break in the 6th... and if he can hold onto serve during that period (losing a couple of points per game on average, i.e. not looking perfectly secure)… well, he wins the set

Another way of looking at it is Becker playing match long percentage tennis. Lendl plays point level percentage tennis. Lendl will (and does) have the better of it point to point... but that's no guarantee he'll be able to win the match in the end

First set is dead even. Both players have won exactly 35 points going into the tiebreak, and Lendl has the first set point in it. I suppose Lendl had the better of the first set, given he had 4 break points over two games to Becker's 0. 2 are saved by unreturned serves and 1 by a forced passing error, but the third is a Lendl FH UE

First surprise in the tiebreak is Lendl chip-charging a return to win a point - I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen him do that. He gives back the mini-break with a poor BH error and Becker holds steady to make a reflex volley winner the point after (he struggles with these all match). Those are the key points. Lendl has a set point but Becker makes 2 unreturned serves to raise his own. Lendl comes to net and misses a FHV that was a bit wide but at a good height just over the net. First set Becker

In second set, Lendl starts chip-charge returning frequently (!). He usually loses the point because is sharp on the pass, but it is a possible turning point. In the first set, Becker had missed many second serve returns - relatively strong second serves from Lendl and not easy to return on a fast court, but still unforced errors. I imagine Boris would have turned to the play sooner or later anyway... but its likely Lendl's chip-charging that triggers him to reciprocate. After that, Becker is regularly chip-charging too

Chip-charging doesn't decide the set, but its put an edge into play that stays on for the next two sets (to Becker's relative advantage). Lendl gets the sole break of the set due mainly to Becker's poor play - a couple of FHV UEs, a double a fault and a loose BH error.

Chip-charging shapes play in the third set for Becker. He'd been getting outgunned on Lendl's second serve points from the baseline (or missing returns - bad play from him on that front), but this more aggressive play gives him a shot. After trading early breaks, play remains on serve and competive - Becker at the net often, even on return games. Lendl is broken to give up the set. Nice point from Becker to bring up set point... a Becker FH inside-out vs Lendl BH cc duel that ends with Becker slapping away the winner

And the final turning point. Lendl adjust to all the chip-charge returning by taking quite a bit off his first serve and making more of them. For first three sets, Lendl had served at 51%. For the last two, he serves at 76%. Becker has just the 1 break point (which he converts - a weird game with Lendl losing points to a mishit, a routine BH UE and a electing to volley a ball on the baseline - I haven't seen a ball volleyed from that far back, it would probably have landed on the baseline if he hadn't), but otherwise can barely get a sniff on serve. He can't find the net

Lendl for his part, seemingly free of worries about his service games, plays better on return too. His returning is stronger and more consistent, his passing a lot more so. Becker's UE rate goes up too - to some extent because he's smothered by Lendl installing a more passive dynamic than existed before, some due to his level just dropping and some to being denied the net. Play for the last two sets has the feel of Lendl being completely in command

Note that despite being "completely in command", Lendl can only take these sets with just +1 breaks. That's the danger of Becker, and players like him. It doesn't matter if they're outplayed... one good game from them (something he tends to pull out regularly) or a bad one from the opponent (which happens, even to the Ivan Lendl's of the world), and they can still take the set
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Hall of Fame
Serve & Return
Lots of fun stuff going on here for and by both men

Court is quick - and both guys have big serves and know how to use them. Becker stays back on the odd first serve early on, serve-volleys of virtually all of them for most of the match, til the last set when he stays back on a bunch over a short period

Lots of unreturned first serves early in the match for both players. Both serving big. Difference is, Becker has trouble returning even second serves

Have a look at Becker's 15 return UEs. Most of those are second serves and normal returns at the start. Just isn't good enough to make them
In the middle, they're attempted attacking returns (especially chip-charges). Not many towards the end, but a couple against first serves

After Lendl starts chip-charging returns, Becker follows suit... and he becomes much more dangerous. The few errors he makes trying aren't a difference (he was making errors anyway returning orthodoxly), but now, he puts Lendl under pressure. Overall, Becker's still only winning just 36% of this return-approaches but its a play that lends itself to the type of match-long high percentage play outlined earlier (as opposed to being outplayed from neutral starting positions, which was the alternative)

Initially, Lendl's serving hard enough that his second serves are close to drawing forced errors. By the end, his first serve is drawing unforced or near unforced ones. Just getting that first serve in discourages Becker from chip-charging... it isn't til the fifth set that Becker takes to trying his hand at the play even against first serves

Great thinking from both players. For Lendl... since Becker's struggling even against normal second serves, why not take something off the first? Its still enough to trouble Becker and keeps him from getting any smart ideas of chip-charging. For Becker, it takes him a set to figure it out but then he does what most players don't... judges the serve on its merit and not whether its first or second and chip-charges when he can regardless. It doesn't do Becker much good because -

a) those first serves are a bit stronger and not as easy to place then the seconds
b) Lendl is in beast mode on the pass by then (this is the bigger factor)

Lendl occasionally also serve-volleys off second serves to thwart Becker's chip-charges (note 4/6 Lendl serve-volleys being off second serves), but doesn't make a habit of doing so

Serving patterns for both are very body-ish. Not only do both serve to the body (Lendl 10% Becker 11%)… but non-body serves tend to be directed close to the returner too. Another good play. Becker's footwork isn't great to get in position against such serves and in general, I've noted this to be a successful play against Lendl

One noteworthy curiousity. Becker stays back on 9 first serves. Not only does he win them all, 8 of them are unreturned. Not only are 8 of them unreturned, 7 are to the FH (all unreturned)

Since he didn't serve much to the FH (24%), one imagines his decision to stay back is influenced by his choice of going to Lendl's danger win. The serves in question are invariably placed wide (unlike the large chunk of body-ish serves he's usually hitting). The fact so many of them are unreturned suggests going for lines might have been a better (though more risky) serving strategy at least for him (serving close to the body wells better for Lendl, keeps the court more closed, which is to his advantage)

The body-ish serving is behind the relatively low ace counts (6 for each player)… court was quick enough to have done much more on that front. Lendl's unreturned late 25% is on the low side too... partially because he served half-cocked for second half of match. And Becker's 33% is held down by Lendl returning superbly

Lots of unreturned serves are inevitable against a serve-volleyer, let alone one with a big serve, but between all that, Lendl does a great job on the return. It gets better as the match goes on. In other matches, I see him going for too much on returns, netting a lot, apparently not wanting to put a ball in play that leaves a relatively easy volley

Here, he returns more easily and is rewarded for it (in large part due to Becker's so-so volleying, admittedly)… but lots of balls back with moderate authority from Ivan, good job by him

Play - Volley & Pass
In the first set, I really like the way Becker goes about volleying. He doesn't look to volley to FH or BH, he looks to volley to open court whichever side that might be. The passing errors he forces are very forced.... Lendl's usually on the run when he makes a shot, as often as not off the FH. Aesthetically if nothing else, its so much more pleasing than non-stop volleying to the BH. Strategically, which is better depends on how well one volleys (and a lesser extent, how well the baseliner passes of each wing)… and Becker does not volley well

He makes a fair few errors even in the first set on the volley. Second set onwards, he takes a more orthodox but less lively approach of looking for Lendl's BH and Ivan is allowed to play more passes without being on the move while doing so. Given he wasn't volleying well, I suppose its a good decision by Becker

Unfortunatly for him, Lendl reaches remarkably high levels on the pass. He's hit clean winning passes with 8 FHs and 20 BHs, while the corresponding FEs are 13 and 20 (and a fair few of those aren't net-to-baseline situations). Lendl's BH passing in particular is laser-precise - especially dtl where he knocks off 10 winners. And the lobs. There are a couple of excellent one splayed on the run, but the pick is a stationary one that Becker has no chance of smashing but lands about 1/2 between baseline and service line. Phenomenal top spin on that one

Looks like a standard good passing day for Ivan, but there's another layer on top of it. When he's not knocking back flawless winners, he's putting the ball in play with decent power and placement (as opposed to making passing errors)… and it works

Look at Becker's 11 unforced volleying errors (10 of them FHV). As far as being unforced goes, most aren't easy... usually, balls above the net slightly more powerful than usual or a touch wide. Not putaways, but not difficult either. In evidence is Becker's poor anticipation... he seems to react rather than anticipate and is a tad slow in dealing with reflex-type volleys to less than overly powerful hit shots

Becker has 16 FEs on the volley and half-volley... these are on the easy side of being forced

I'd say Lendl strikes a handsome balance of hitting superb passes that leave Becker with no chance and getting balls in play to make Becker hit an extra ball (he usually errs on the side of going for the superb pass, thus makes more errors). Becker though, does not volley well. Not badly, but not well

When the roles are reversed, Becker's passing stands out. With Lendl coming in rarely, wouldn't have been surprised to see Becker caught out more... but when needed, he hits strong passes to thwart the charging Czech

Lots of this going on Lendl's service games and off Becker's second serve points. There's a lot of errors forced baseline to baseline... more than other matches I've seen from this era.

Early on, its mostly open court, duel winged stuff with the players running each other around and shot making at the forefront. Becker is near even with Lendl at this... and seeks the net out more (not that that leads to a happy ending too often - 17/30 at net off rallying for Boris. Lendl is 16/22... Lendl's superior passing, especially on the run is the key difference)

In the attacking baseline stuff, Lendl probably edges the action. His FH in particular is excellent... lots of error forcing shots with it, especially cc and its very strong on the run. Most of Becker's 19 groundstroke FEs would have been in baseline points... that's a large number for the times. Even so, Lendl appears to be holding back with the FH

Later on, Lendl looks to close down the court a bit more (I stress "a bit"... play never turns into up-and-down-the-middle ball bashing and rarely long cc exchanges). In this dynamic, consistency takes precedence over shot making... and the gap between the players grows. (the body-ish serving pattern probably originates from the basic strategy of keeping court closed)

20 groundstroke UEs for Lendl to 28 from Becker. That's closer than what you'd normally see

Becker doesn't seem to understand point construction (I don't think he ever learnt). Attacking plays are at most 1-2 combos or just 1 attacking shot out of nowhere. That he's able to stay in touching distance from the baseline speaks to the court speed. As Lendl shuts down his net approaches, Boris' baseline game gets more erratic and desperate... with a fair few wild shots that usually leads to him losing the point

Summing up, the match isn't as close as the scoreline suggests. For about 2 sets, its about even and for the majority, Lendl is quietly in command. The key is his raising his first serve percentage by going for less on the first delivery and thereby, keeping Becker from attacking net to threaten serve

Other than that, Lendl's more consistent and damaging from the baseline by a small amount... and excellent on the pass, while Becker is just so-so on the volley. Great - and smart - match by Lendl