Match Stats/Report - Lendl vs Edberg, Australian Open semi-final, 1991


Hall of Fame
Ivan Lendl beat Stefan Edberg 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-4 in the Australian Open semi-final, 1991 on hard court

Lendl, the defending champion and world number 3, would go onto lose the final to Boris Becker in what would turn out to be his last Slam final. Edberg was the world number 1. The 2 had contested the previous years final

Lendl won 160 points, Edberg 165

Edberg serve-volleyed vast majority of the time

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (92/165) 56%
- 1st serve points won (68/92) 74%
- 2nd serve points won (36/73) 49%
- Aces 12 (1 second serve)
- Double Faults 4
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (32/165) 19%

- 1st serve percentage (95/160) 59%
- 1st serve points won (69/95) 73%
- 2nd serve points won (35/65) 54%
- Aces 6, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 11
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (54/160) 34%

Serve Patterns
Lendl served...
- to FH 30%
- to BH 63%
- to Body 7%

Edberg served...
- to FH 14%
- to BH 60%
- to Body 26%

Return Stats
Lendl made...
- 95 (17 FH, 78 BH), including 1 return-approach
- 18 Winners (4 FH, 14 BH)
- 47 Errors, comprising...
- 4 Unforced (1 FH, 3 BH)
- 43 Forced (7 FH, 36 BH)
- Return Rate (95/149) 64%

Edberg made...
- 129 (42 FH, 87 BH), including 13 return-approaches
- 2 Winners (1 FH, 1 BH)
- 20 Errors, comprising...
- 6 Unforced (3 FH, 3 BH), including 1 return-approach attempt
- 14 Forced (3 FH, 11 BH)
- Return Rate (129/161) 80%

Break Points
Lendl 6/10 (7 games)
Edberg 4/10 (6 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Lendl 54 (14 FH, 30 BH, 5 FHV, 4 BHV, 1 BHOH)
Edberg 39 (5 FH, 6 BH, 12 FHV, 12 BHV, 4 OH)

Lendl had 37 passes (8 FH, 28 BH, 1 FHV) - 18 returns (4 FH, 14 BH) and 19 regular (4 FH, 14 BH, 1 FHV)
- FH returns - 3 cc and 1 inside-out
- BH returns - 8 cc, 4 inside-out and 2 inside-in
- regular FHs - 3 cc (1 net chord pop over, when down match point) and 1 dtl
- regular BHs - 7 cc, 6 dtl and 1 inside-out
- the FHV was a swinging shot from well behind the service line and not a net point for Lendl

- regular FHs - 1 cc, 1 cc/inside-in, 2 inside-out and 1 inside-in
- regular BHs - 1 cc and 1 dtl at net

- 1 from a serve-volley point - a first 'volley' FH at net
- 1 other FHV was swinging shot and not a net point and 1 BHV was played net-to-net

Edberg had 20 from serve-volley points
- 14 first 'volleys' (5 FHV, 7 BHV, 1 OH, 1 FH at net)
- 5 second volleys (3 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH)
- 1 third volley (1 OH)

- 2 from return-approach points (2 BHV)

- FHs - 1 cc, 2 dtl (1 return, 1 pass) and 1 lob
- BHs - 4 dtl (3 passes), 1 inside-out return (a 'charge') and 1 longline/inside-out

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Lendl 68
- 33 Unforced (9 FH, 24 BH)… with 2 BH at net
- 35 Forced (17 FH, 18 BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.6

Edberg 63
- 40 Unforced (13 FH, 17 BH, 4 FHV, 4 BHV, 2 OH)… with 1 baseline OH
- 23 Forced (6 FH, 9 BH, 3 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 4 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46

(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...
- 20/28 (71%) at net, including...
- 1/2 serve-volleying, both 1st serves
- 0/1 return-approaching

Edberg was...
- 99/155 (64%) at net, including...
- 74/113 (65%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 52/77 (68%) off 1st serve and...
- 22/36 (61%) off 2nd serve
- 7/13 (54%) return-approaching
- 0/1 forced back

Match Report
A very interesting match, which could just as easily have gone the other way. Edberg served for the match in the fourth set and had two match points - on them, he missed a comfortable if not very easy BHV into open court and double faulted. Lendl though is comfortably the stronger player in the fifth set

Edberg wins 5 more points in the match while serving 5 fewer. Both players have 10 break points - Lendl has them in 1 more game - Lendl converts 6, Edberg 4

Edberg serve-volleys near always - 88% off first serves and 67% off seconds. His service games feature him at net and Lendl trying to pass. Lendl plays from the baseline and his service games consist of points starting from there, with Lendl looking to hit deep. Court is on the slow side and most points with end with unforced errors

There are many ways to look at this match, and stats for the full match are deceptive. Quality of play and who's on top fluctuates through the long match

The two are about equal on first serve points won (Lendl 74%, Edberg 73%). This isn't a good outcome for Edberg. Lendl doesn't serve particularly strongly and holds back on first serve most of the match
Edberg leads 54% to 49% on second serve points won. This isn't a good outcome for Lendl, given Edberg has a large 11 double faults to Lendl's 4. On other hand, Lendl's returning is less than good for much of the match

Edberg with 34% unreturned rate is one of the most interesting stats of the whole match. From Lendl's point of view, that's on the high side of acceptable. For most of the match tough, its way higher than that... far above acceptable levels for Lendl, given the court and strength of Edberg's serve

Serve, Return & Strategy
By the general standards of the two players, almost everything is below par. Action is competitive and entertaining but both players are lagging in the first two shots, with possible exception of Edberg's returning

Lendl serves quite conservatively. Its a common practice of his to take something off first serves against players liable to attack his second. His serve is not a challenge to return. Look at the low 19% unreturned rate - and that's with a particularly meaty final set where he serves 5 of his 12 aces and has 28% unreturned serves. For the remainder of the match, his unreturned rate is just 17%

Though drawing 14 forced errors (to 6 unforced) with the serve, the FEs tend to be on the mild side and most are as makeable as not. Very little jumping and stretching needed for Edberg to reach the ball sideways, serves aren't overly powerful or deep

Still, credit Edberg. Lendl's not serving well relative to what he's capable of, but he's not a weak server by any means and 80% return rate against him is very good. Some excellent chip-charge returning from Edberg too... he wins 7/13 on the play (plus an error trying and a winner for what would have been a chip-charge) and is denied more by very good passing from Ivan

The Edberg serve vs Lendl match-up has room for improvement on both sides

Final unreturned rate for Edberg is 34%. After 3 sets, its 41%. Last 2 sets, its 26%
The early higher numbers are well above what his serving quality warrants and I'd attribute it to Lendl not returning well

So how does Edberg serve? Less powerfully than Lendl. Were he staying back, wouldn't be surprised to see Lendl returning 85-90%. And he serves close to Lendl all match - on top of the high 26% body serves, a high proportion of serves to either wing are directed near the body. In other words, there's almost no stretching or sideways movement required for Lendl to return, while his serve isn't fast enough to unduly cramp Ivan either

Finally, Lendl isn't even returning particularly aggressively. Against John McEnroe, who similar to Edberg serve-volleyed regularly, Lendl habitually blasted returns in such a way that guaranteed he'd miss a bundle but at the benefit that anything that was put in play would give the server at least a tough first volley (and often more than that). That's not what happens here though - I'd describe most of Lendl's returning as 'firm-cum-powerful' rather than 'powerful' and a far cry from 'deadly powerful'. The number of returns he misses isn't justified by his approach

Slow-ish court, not fast serve, serves directed in swing range and not overly aggressive returning should not add up to 41% unreturned rate for Edberg... you couldn't ask for better circumstances to be returning against a serve-volleyer, as the figure stands after 3 sets. When Lendl breaks to 15 in game 5, Set 3 with 4 winners in , its the kind of game one might have expected him to pull off more regularly. When he comes good in set 4 and 5, it doesn't seem like he's returning particularly well now but rather, that he didn't earlier

If Edberg's first serve isn't a deadly weapon, his second serve tough - as it has to be since he's serve-volleying behind it. But winning 22/36 @ 61% second serve-volleying and for that matter, 13/18 @ 72% stating back.. these are just not good numbers for Lendl
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Hall of Fame
Both players seem to be happy with serve direction, so one of them must have got it a bit wrong. Edberg serves relentlessly away from Lendl's FH, where he directs just 14% serves (and much of that was body-ish serves to the FH). In fact, a disproportionatey large number of serves to FH are when Edberg stays back. When he does so off first serves, he even throws out wide serves to the Lendl FH, which he never does serve-volleying

Clearly, Edberg doesn't fancy serve-volleying to Lendl's FH return. In which case, you'd think Lendl would prefer returning with FH... but he doesn't: He could easily step around to hit FHs against the regular stream of body serves or even runaround to the BH serves, which usually aren't wide. All the necessary pieces to effective runaround FH returning is in place - predictable serving patterns at BH and body and not too powerful a serve. Since Lendl makes no effort to do so, it must be that he prefers returning with BH. Is that a good idea?

Lendl hits 4 FH winners from 17 FH returns or 24%. A couple of these are against body serves that he moves just slightly to make room for. On BH, its 14 winners from 78 returns or 18%. Again, Lendl does not return too smartly over the course of the match

In a nutshell, below personal par from Lendl on both serve (which he holds back on) and return (where he misses too much, while not going for too much). Edberg is conservative in is serving placement and gets away with it somewhat due to Lendl missing so many returns. He returns surely and well

Play - Net & Passing
Most of the Edberg at net vs Lendl on baseline mini-match is from Edberg's serve-volleying. Lendl's returning tends to be firm, and Edberg looks for 2 volley plays

Generally, Edberg has two modes on the volley
i) kill points with first volley
ii) hit first volley away from baseliner to draw passing error or weak pass and finish with second volley if needed

He's mostly in ii). Its the high percentage way. He has 14 first volley winners, which is small compared to the 35 groundstroke FEs he draws (almost all of them passing shots)

Lendl does what he can and is allowed to on the pass. 19 winners (sans returns) is a good number against the quality of volleying he faces. Edberg places everything away from him, though not quite into corners or leaving hopeless passing chances

For his part, Lendl is excellent up front though rarely venturing forward. He wins 20/28 at 71% in forecourt and he doesn't unduly come in off very strong approaches. On important points in particular, he manufactures the approach from regulation positions. His volleying is of similar style to Edberg's - placed away from the baseliner and punched through short of killing the point dead damagingly. Note 0 volleying errors of any kind by Lendl, though he misses 2 BHs at net. He had the same distinction in his 5 set loss against Pete Sampras at the last Slam, US Open 1990

He certainly volleys well enough to have made coming in more a viable option

Play - Baseline
Conditions are slow enough that most points played entirely baseline-to-baseline end with unforced errors. Lendl has 31, Edberg 31 (including an OH)

Lendl though is comfortably the better and stronger player. Not only does he hit more winners, but actually ends up forcing a good number of errors too

Particularly early in the match, the 'weakness' of Edberg's FH is apparent and its the only feeble shot on show. Also yields errors and allows Lendl to take charge of points. The error prone part goes down as match wears on though it remains the shot packing the smallest punch.

For all that, note the UEs for Edberg - 13 FHs and 17 BHs. This is a consistent pattern in his matches - nothing to indicate BH > FH

Edberg is a lot quicker in covering the court. Lendl runs him around more than the other way round and Edberg is mostly up to chasing down balls and getting them back in play on the move, with a very reliable defensive slice when needed. Lendl by contrast, is just a bit slow... that his movement has declined from earlier years is evident

Edberg does not do his best at creating approaches. Lendl looks to hit deep to discourage it, but with Edberg being able to prolong points, sooner or later Lendl does cough up balls from which Edberg could approach. Often as not, he doesn't. Lendl himself has many more chances to do so out of baseline rallies, but tends not to other than on key points

The Lendl FH is star of the show. Firm and even powerful shots come off it and just 9 UEs, by far the lowest of the 4 groundstrokes on show. His BH goes on an error bender in third set but is otherwise equal of quality with Edberg's on the whole. Given Edberg's superior movement, maybe even a touch better

Match Progression
All but 2 easy holds in the first set. Lendl is taken to 10 points in game 3 but holds without facing break point. Late in the set, he breaks strongly, winning points with a BH inside-in return pass, a BH cc pass and ending by very forcefully drawing a BHV error. For the set, Lendl is comfortably the better, more secure and commanding baseliner. His return strategy though seems to be waiting and looking for 1 good return game when it comes... as opposed to looking to do his best every return game

In second set, Edberg coasts on serve with Lendl missing returns every which way. Edberg loses just 5 service points in 6 games and also, holds up better from the baseline. To gain the break though, he takes net 5/6 points

Lendl seems a bit rattled at start of the third, struggles through his first service game and is broken in the second, with Edberg approaches and a double fault doing the damage. Edberg is playing more confidently and starts return-approaching more and coming in off Lendl's weaker shots

Lendl replies by breaking back at once to 15 with 4 passing winners. A type of return game that never seemed unlikely earlier, but he was nowhere close to achieving

Edberg breaks late in the set. a bad pair of Lendl FH errors opens the door and again, net play sees Edberg go through. And then he serves it out

An even more rattled Lendl is broken to open the fourth. His BH goes haywire in the set and he makes 10 unforced errors of the side. He gains the break back from 40-0 down. The first and last points he wins are both excellent BH return winners... but in between are two easy volley misses and a double fault. The benefits of getting returns in play... even great volleyers miss easy volleys some of the time

Poor game from Lendl to get broken again, though Edberg wraps it up with a crisp BH dtl pass to leave himself serving for the match. That game proves to be highly dramatic

Missing a FHV to a near routine return (just a touch more powerful than routine) and a double fault puts the score at 15-40. Edberg saves those two break points and raises his first match point

He serves out wide and Lendl's return is again, just a bit more powerful than routine and just a touch wide. Edberg has a BHV into open court that he nets... its a ball he would fancy making 7-8 times out of 10. After an unreturned serve, Edberg has his second match point. He double faults

Next point, Lendl whacks a body serve FH cc for the passing winner. The advantages of the big FH return that he doesn't make much effort to use most of the match. On his third break point. Lendl's FH cc hits the top of the net and pops over for a winner. It would have been a tough volley had it not

The reprieve gives Lendl a shot in the arm and he starts belting passing winners. In tiebreak, he opens with a swinging FHV pass winner and gains the first mini-break when Edberg hits a strange, neutral OH from the baseline into the net after having been forced back from net. Lendl adds a second with another FH return winner. Edberg double faults down set point - his 6th in the set

After trading breaks to start the fifth, Lendl is comfortably the better player. Edberg has slowed down a bit, putting his movements on par with Lendl's. Lendl returns more consistently and serves bigger than at anytime in the match. He goes up a break by whacking 3 winners - including a net to net BHV - before Edberg misses a routine first BHV

Slightly nervy serve-out from Ivan. He double faults twice - he'd only done so 2 other times all match - and Edberg has an open court to hit BH dtl winner into off a ill judged BH cc from out wide, but misses. Lendl finishes with a third ball FH inside-out winner

Summing up, a good and dramatic match. The serving and returning aren't top class, but in court play is off a high standard - Lendl strong from the back, Edberg quite steady, both volleying well and Lendl hitting some tremendous passes when he can find the chance. Well as Lendl plays, its fair to say Edberg botches the match more than Lendl wins it - or perhaps more accurately, Edberg botching the match leaves Lendl the chance to win it, which he takes with authority

Stats for Lendl's US Open '90 quarter with Pete Sampras -
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I took stats for this match years ago. Remember it fairly well I think. Solid play but neither at his best, clearly. Edberg had the advantage in movement but ended up being quite seriously unclutch to lose. That 40-0 break lol, can't say the BP was amazing, actually I was struck by how feeble Edberg hit the 2nd serve, one of his weakest in the match, Lendl had no trouble killing it.
1991 wasn't a mentally strong year for Stefan generally, AO and WB both as prime examples; won USO in unusually dominant fashion though.


Hall of Fame
That 40-0 break lol, can't say the BP was amazing, actually I was struck by how feeble Edberg hit the 2nd serve, one of his weakest in the match, Lendl had no trouble killing it.
That's a good way of explaining the match more broadly

When I was writing the report - the part about Lendl not returning particularly well - I was thinking someone who hadn't seen the match looking at the excellent hard numbers (18 return winners, return rate 64% against constant serve-volleying) and naturally questioning my subjective take

Unravelling it, Edberg's serving looked the type where almost any serve - 1st or 2nd - might get bopped for a return winner or something giving him a very difficult volley at any time

A thing that's come to interest me is a returner hitting 4 winners in succession. 20 minutes into this match, I anticipated a good possibility of it happening here... its not the sort of the thing one sees coming in this way

In the event, it was pretty close

Set 3, Game 5 - Lendl breaks with 4 winners, with an unreturned serve in between
Set 5, Game 5 - Lendl breaks with 3 winners in a row and Edberg missing an easy first BHV after that