Match Stats/Report - Lendl vs McEnroe, French Open final, 1984

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Ivan Lendl beat John McEnroe 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5 in the French Open final, 1984 on clay

It was Lendl's first Slam title in his fifth final. McEnroe had been unbeaten in the year going into the match and this would turn out to be his only final at the event
Previously posted - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/stats-for-1984-rg-final-lendl-mcenroe.174085/

Lendl won 157 points, McEnroe 153

McEnroe serve-volleyed off all but 1 first serve and about a third of seconds

Serve Stats
Lendl...
- 1st serve percentage (110/155) 71%
- 1st serve points won (75/110) 68%
- 2nd serve points won (24/45) 53%
- Aces 5, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (28/155) 18%

McEnroe...
- 1st serve percentage (67/155) 43%
- 1st serve points won (47/67) 70%
- 2nd serve points won (50/88) 57%
- Aces 8 (1 second serve and 1 not clean)
- Double Faults 5
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (37/155) 24%

Serve Patterns
Lendl served...
- to FH 29%
- to BH 62%
- to Body 10%

McEnroe served...
- to FH 38%
- to BH 48%
- to Body 14%

Return Stats
Lendl made...
- 113 (63 FH, 50 BH), including 14 runaround FHs
- 10 Winners (5 FH, 5 BH)
- 29 Errors, comprising...
- 5 Unforced (3 FH, 2 BH)
- 24 Forced (12 FH, 12 BH), including 4 runaround FHs
- Return Rate (113/150) 75%

McEnroe made...
- 126 (52 FH, 74 BH), including 15 runaround FHs & 29 return-approaches
- 3 Winners (1 FH, 2 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 22 Errors, comprising...
- 19 Unforced (2 FH, 17 BH), including 9 return-approach attempts
- 3 Forced (1 FH, 2 BH)
- Return Rate (126/154) 82%

Break Points
Lendl 6/14 (8 games)
McEnroe 6/15 (9 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Lendl 46 (19 FH, 19 BH, 5 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 OH)
McEnroe 64 (8 FH, 9 BH, 22 FHV, 17 BHV, 7 OH, 1 BHOH)

Lendl had 28 passes (12 FH, 16 BH)
- FHs - 3 cc (1 return), 1 cc/longline, 3 dtl (2 returns), 1 i1nside-out return (which McEnroe seemed to leave), 1 inside-out/longline, 1 inside-in/cc and 2 lobs
- BHs - 13 cc (4 returns and 1 turnaround shot), 1 dtl (a net chord pop over, without which McEnroe appeared to have the ball covered), 1 inside-out and 1 lob return (unintentional)

- non-pass FHs - 2 cc (1 return), 2 dtl, 2 inside-out and 1 drop shot at net
- non-pass BHs - 2 dtl and 1 running-down-drop-shot cc at net

- the OH was on the bounce

McEnroe had 27 from serve-volley points
- 18 first volleys (11 FHV, 6 BHV, 1 OH)
- 9 second 'volleys' (4 FHV, 3 BHV, 1 OH, 1 FH at net)

- 6 from return-approach points (3 FHV, 1 BHV, 2 OH)
- the BHOH was net-to-net

- FHs - 1 cc, 3 dtl (1 runaround return), 2 inside-out (1 pass) and 1 drop shot
- BHs - 4 cc (1 pass, 1 return), 1 dtl pass, 1 inside-in/cc return, 2 drop shots and 1 running-down-drop-shot dtl at net

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Lendl 51
- 23 Unforced (10 FH, 9 BH, 2 FHV, 2 OH)… with 1 OH on bounce
- 28 Forced (14 FH, 13 BH, 1 BHV)… with 1 FH at net & 3 BH at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 48.7

McEnroe 78
- 53 Unforced (18 FH, 23 BH, 7 FHV, 4 BHV, 1 OH)
- 25 Forced (8 FH, 7 BH, 4 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 4 BHV, 1 Back-to-Net)… with 2 FH at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.0

(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...
- 24/39 (62%) at net, including...
-4/4 (100%) serve-volleying, all 1st serves
---
- 1/1 forced back

McEnroe was...
- 101/160 (63%) at net, including...
- 56/87 (64%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 39/59 (66%) off 1st serve and...
- 17/28 (69%) off 2nd serve
---
- 14/29 (48%) return-approaching
- 3/9 (33%) forced back/retreated

Match Report
A great match and a close match and in retrospect, a sentimental one. For Lendl, his first Slam after having lost 4 finals, most of which he'd been favoured going into. For McEnroe, his best shot at the Everest for a player of his net rushing style. Match could have gone either way, but Lendl is the more clutch and one might say, deserved to lose less

Mac ends up leading both first serve points won (70% to 68%) and second serve points won (57% to 53%), which is more than offset by poor first serve in count (43% to Lendl's very high 71%)

Break point stats are near identical - both with 6 breaks, Mac with an extra break point and in an extra game. Both serve the exact same number of points - and Lendl wins 4 more points, despite Mac winning 1 more game. Negligible difference here

On the surface, it looks like Mac's failing serve percentage is the key to the result. Less obvious is the role of his returning. Lendl's excellent ground game - both passing and baseline-to-baseline play - makes up the rest. Mac on the whole, volleys wonderfully as well - ranging from perfect in parts to 'just' excellent

Lendl's Serve & Mac's Return
71% first serve percentage from Ivan is huge, but there's a reason for that: He's not doing much with the serve, neither of power and particularly off placement. On the other hand, he is serving second serves relatively heftily. In this match, there's not much difference between his two serves - in stark contrast to his norm. Generally, Lendl has one of the biggest gaps of power between his two serves

You could say he serves 2 good second serves, in that they're difficult to attack (not in terms of being weapons). McEnroe of course, attacks them anyway.

Note Mac with 29 return approaches and 15 runaround returns. Most are against first serves. The runarounds aren't necessarily premediated either - he sees the ball in the air coming towards his BH side and runs around to hit FH. While Mac is exceptional in his inclination to attacks even strong serves, this should tell you how much Lendl took off his usual bomb off a first serve. On another point, Mac runs around to hit a FH return neutrally in the deuce court - and then runs back to center of court to deal with the rejoinder - at least that was a second serve

I've marked 19 of Mac's 22 return errors as unforced and again, these are mostly first serve returns. Not easy to attack - as Mac usually tries - but straightforward enough to put back in play. 9 of them are clear approach attempts - its likely he'd have tried coming in behind a good chunk of the rest, but not self-evident

Good strategy by both - McEnroe possibly more - on these two shots, in light of how play was going

By having high first serve in count, Lendl reduces chances of Mac attacking at once. And he does belt the odd serve in to keep him extra honest
From Mac's point of view, starting points neutrally from baseline weren't going his way (more on that later) and approaching against Lendl's heavy groundies wasn't easy. Best to then come in off the return. Nor does he overdo it... plenty of neutral, putting return in play from Mac and some placed wide to boot, which he tends to come in off without premeditation

The power of Lend's first serve seems to help Mac return-approach. Against slower serve, he chip-charges, the ball tends to sit up and Lendl's great on the pass. The stronger first serves though, Mac pushes to open side of the court as he's moving forward... the power of he serve redirected makes it more effective then the chips. Not an overly powerful serve... but not something inviting chip-charges either.... outstanding returning and audacity from Mac here

Mac wins 14/29 points return-approaching or 48%. In light of most of those being against first serves and Lendl winning 68% and 53% off his first and second serves respectively... its definitely a successful play, though he does a lot better approaching off rallies. with the 9 errors added, Mac's success rate is effectively 14/38 at 37%. At best dangerous and at least, keeping Lendl on his toes and under pressure

While falling first serve percentage is the obvious flaw in Mac's showing, his return-approaching very little in third set, when he had Lendl on the ropes is a significant factor in the match turning. Lendl's able to serve without undue worries there and makes the most of it
 
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Waspsting

Hall of Fame
McEnroe's Serve & Lendl's Return
There's a very high quality, cat and mouse game going on here

McEnroe is marvellous on his first serve points. He serve-volleys behind all but 1 - the one he didn't went unreturned - and uses it to open the court. Lots and lots of swinging Lendl wide and putting away the winner (he has 18 first volley winners). He has to be marvellous, because Lendl returns wonderfully as well

Any serve that isn't great is walloped by Lendl. Mac's still good enough on the volley to win most points, making tough volleys, but Lendl's returning is discouraging to the idea of taking something off the first serve to get more in. At least some credit then to Lendl for Mac's low 43% first serve in count, which is the most important stat in the match

Very good second serve by Mac too. His high 60% points serve-volleying behind it has more to do with the volley than the serve though. Lendl wallops the seconds too. Some good, wide kicking serves to FH that Lendl has to run to reach... even then he reaches and whacks them. Lendl's keen to runaround BH and body-ish second serves to hit FHs too

Early in the match, Lendl returns from well behind the baseline. It doesn't work. Mac makes the most of it to swing him still further wide with the angles Lendl's position creates, and can get in even closer to the net than he usually does. Lendl's at his best returning from a step or two behind baseline. BH cc is especially strong, while anything to his FH is likely to get whacked hard. Exceptionally clean striking on the return for Lendl (actually, his hitting is clean in all areas in the match)

By set, Mac serves at 52%, 58%, 37%, 33% and 46% - which looks a clear cut case of 1st serve percentage costing him the match. Its not that clear.

3/6 games he's broken have reasonable to good first serve percentages (3/5, 4/8 and 5/6). The other 3 not so much (1/6, 0/4 and 3/10). Naturally getting first serves in is a good thing but it isn't proof against Lendl making strong plays to break. And there's a stamina issue. Near the end, Mac isn't able to serve as hard as earlier on, when his first serve seemed untouchable (Lendl also takes a different return position and seems to be reading the serve better then too

Given how strong Mac's first serve is and how well he volleys, in conjunction with how average Lendl's first serve is and how many more of them there are... Mac winning just 2% more first serve points is actually a good indicator of Lendl being the better player

Play - Baseline
Very strong from Lendl. Naturally, he's the stronger baseliner, but Mac seems to be up from his norm too. Hits some point ending BH cc drives - they look more like swinging pushes, with the whole body swinging than 'drives' - but more follow through than his usual, as well as power and wide placement. And of course, he's looking to approach

Lendl though keeps him down with strong shots of both wings. Both Lendl FH - Mac BH and Lendl BH - Mac FH rallies tend to go Ivan's way, the Lendl BH - Mac FHs a bit more

Lendl tends to be conservative with his BH cc's. Not in this match. Firm hitting all the way, with equally strong dtl change ups. The FH does finish more points outright though

Note the unusual, near identical numbers for Lendl across his two groundstrokes in all categories
- Winners - FH 19, BH 19
- UEs - FH 10, BH 9
- FEs - FH 14, BH 13

even on the return -
- return winners - FH 5, BH 5
- return UEs - FH 3, BH 2
- return FEs - FH 12, BH 12

Mac utilizes drop shots very well and wins a number of points off the shot. Ultimately, he's just beat down from the back though. Points most often end with Mac unforced errors - he has 41 groundstroke errors, to Lendl's 19. He tries taking ball on the up, but Lendl's hits are a bit too powerful for that to work for long. More credit to Lendl for pressuring and beating down Mac than discredit to Mac for this part of play

Play - Volley & Pass
The best parts of the match are McEnroe at net vs Lendl on the baseline. Both are superb

48 forecourt winners from Mac, while forcing maximum 23 passing errors from Lendl (actual figure is slightly less as a small number of Lendl's FEs were from Mac baseline shots). And indicator that Mac wasn't fooling around on the volley. Whats there to be putaway is, and what isn't, is put in a corner. One reason for Lendl's equal FH and BH FEs is Mac doesn't need to systematically volley to BH. Instead, he volleys to the corner of his choice.... FH will do just as well as BH

A good chunk of Mac's winners would be difficult volleys that he's stretched for or that are wide. Its not unusual for him to need 2 good volleys to end the point

Lendl's passing, including the return, are also top drawer, with 28 winners and forcing 11 other errors. Its the BH that stands out, with a huge 13 winners. From what I've seen, he generally prefers to go dtl on the pass off this side to the point of being predictable. Some very good lobs from Ivan too... even though Mac's mostly upto making awkward back-pedalling OHs, it keeps him from getting too cozy at net

On flip side, Lendl barely comes in at all, though one of those is on a critical point late in set 5 when he comes in without having overwhelmed Mac from the back and sharply snaps away a FHV winner, having just saved 2 break points

2 of the worst shots in the match are at net and both are critical. Lendl misses an OH on the bounce at net - very likely the easiest shot he missed all year - which has a hand Mac gaining the sole break that gives him the first set

The easiest volley Mac misses all match just happens to be match point down, a regulation first volley to open court serve-volleying

In a nutshell, great battle of the highest calibre here. The Lendl BH cc pass stands out. Note the 12 Mac FHV and 1/2volley errors, to go with the 13 winners... and that's Mac's preferred and more dangerous volleying side
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Match Progression
Both players comfortably in first set, McEnroe, breezily so. Lendl returns from well behind baseline, even against second serves. The sole break comes in 6, which Mac secures with two fantastic return-approach points from deuce to win. Earlier in the game, Lendl missed the easiest of putaways, an OH on the bounce at net

Mac's even breezier in the second set as he opens up a 4-0 lead. He's confident enough to be serve-volleying behind more second serves. Lendl moves up on the return, but it doesn't make a difference; Mac's too good on the volley. Perhaps at a loss for ideas, Lendl starts serve-volleying a bit himself and coming to net

Mac breaks first by taking net 5 points out of 8, all of them from rallying. He adds a second with a pair of strong passes. On serve, he loses 3 points in 4 games

Third set is tough. Making just 11/30 first serves keeps Mac from continuing to 'breeze' and he also cuts back on return-approaching. Lendl gets into more of a groove (he'd barely been given breathing room the previous set) on his groundstrokes and this some tremendous passes, with the BH cc's catching Mac out several times

Critical game is the fifth. Having saved 2 break points with serve-volley plays the previous game, Mac moves to 0-40 in it. He's outplayed from the back on the first two and can only watch as Lendl bullets a FH cc pass on the third. He adds another break point, but missed returns cost him the game. A trade of breaks keeps set on serve. Lendl holds a 10 point game to leave Mac serving to prolong the set at 4-5

The 10th game turns out to be one of Lendl's best. Great lob to push Mac back to baseline and then a drop shot followed by a beautiful, glided BH cc return winner. He wraps up the set with a thundering pass to strongly force a volleying error and then coming to net to seal the game

There are 5 breaks in the 5th. Mac breaks first, winning all 4 of his points with approaches, but Lendl breaks back immediately to love - 2 superb FH return winners, a lovely chip lob and a Mac double account for the points. Mac makes it 3 breaks in a row, this time a poor game from Lendl, including missing an OH, though Mac finishes with a rare BH cc winner

Two games from the title, Mac keeps missing first serves but holds even from baseline for the game. Ironically, its losing 2 first serve points that give Lendl the game - both down to great BH cc returns

Mac has break point in next game, but misses a regular BH. He hits an excellent, wide return-approach the point after, but Lendl makes a an even better running FH lob and goes on to win the point. Finally, Lendl breaks to take the set. Set point down, Mac has the kind of volley he'd been putting away all match. He doesn't put this one away and that's all Lendl needs, as he hits a FH lob winner to even the match

Mac appears a bit tired at start fifth. This is normal for him - he usually serves less strongly and moves less well in longer matches. First half of the set is a bit slower of action than what had come before

There's a strange exchange in middle of the set that seems to justify Lendl earlier in the match asking the umpire if he was afraid of McEnroe. Down break point, a Mac serve very near the T is called out, which he typically protests. The chair umpire, a Frenchman who conducts himself like a Headmaster, had previously denied all requests to check for a mark but ascents to Mac on this point. The linesperson shows the mark but Mac continues protesting hotly. To no avail, but he goes on to hold the game

Next game, Lendl serves an ace that's called out and he protests. Umpire again allows linesperson to check for a mark. And the ball is in. Umpire calls a let instead of granting Lendl an ace, for reasons best known to himself; McEnroe wasn't anywhere near the ball

Play picks up in second half of set, and action is tense, high quality and thrilling. In game 7, Mac needs to 2 great volleys to win the opening point. Running down a drop shot BH dtl at net winner and a chip-charge gives him 2 break points. On the first, he misses an attacking FH cc. On the second, he has good look at a FH pass, after Lendl left dtl open coming in FH inside-out, but misses

At deuce, Lendl hits a low FHV for a winner. Its a great shot and brings home how well McEnroe's volleyed all match; you'd probably expect Mac to have made it. Next point is one of Mac's best return-approaches, well wide of Lendl... but he runs it down and whacks a FH cc pass winner

Two great points in Lendl's next service game too. the chip-charging Mac retreats from net after a back pedalling OH, then drop shots Lendl in as he approaches again, lob volleys Lendl's rejoinder and settles at net. Lendl still wins with a turnaround BH inside-out pass. Another BH inside-out pass winner meets Mac next point as well

What turns out to be last game of the match is a thriller too. Mac hits an excellent, not easy volley to the corner that Lendl's able to power pass on the full run to elicit a weak volley, which he dispatches FH inside-out/longline for a winner. Couple of points later, a strong return elicits a weak volley that he again dispatches FH inside-in/cc. With Mac having a missed a routine volley on the first point, this gives Lendl 2 match points

Ending is disappointing. Lendl does well to return a wide serve, but court is open and the ball is above the net at no great pace as Mac moves in for what looks to be his 23rd FHV winner of the day. Instead, he makes his 7th unforced error on the shot - probably the easiest one he missed

Summing up, dramatic matches are often rather ordinary of action. This one is as dramatic as it gets, with Mac breezing out to a 2 sets to love lead and leading or having chances to in the remaining 3 sets, but its also highest quality of action. From McEnroe, top class volleying and the kind of audacious attacking returning that only he seems able to pull off. From Lendl, excellent returning, first class passing and commanding baseline play. Next to nothing in it between the two - Lendl pulls of some incredible passes under severe pressure and seems the faster, fitter man at the end, and its enough to just see him over

Stats for Lendl's semi with Mats Wilander - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-lendl-vs-wilander-french-open-semi-finals-1984.656465/
Stats for McEnroe's semi with Jimmy Connors - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-mcenroe-vs-connors-french-open-semi-final-1984.656176/

@Breakpointerer - thoughts?
 

bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
People remember this as a choke or sudden loss of form, but forget how high quality the 5th set is. Good enough to win against most.
yeah, it's more of a clear "blown opportunity" IMO than a "choke" - which I feel is an overused term for instances where players lose a considerable lead. "Choking" or "melting down" I think of a player completely coming undone due to the moment and the pressure - manifested in persistent physical tension and mental panic which really shows in what they're doing on the court - not moving their feet, missing numerous basic shots, weird shot choices, extreme hesitation or extreme abandon, among other things.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
yeah, it's more of a clear "blown opportunity" IMO than a "choke" - which I feel is an overused term for instances where players lose a considerable lead. "Choking" or "melting down" I think of a player completely coming undone due to the moment and the pressure - manifested in persistent physical tension and mental panic which really shows in what they're doing on the court - not moving their feet, missing numerous basic shots, weird shot choices, extreme hesitation or extreme abandon, among other things.
not a choke...I think Mac was running out of steam as the match went on....should have been a 3 set win. But he let Lendl back into it. Wimbledon '82 was another one where he should have shut the door but couldn't. Folks always point to Mac's supposed lack of fitness....perhaps that combined with a shift in momentum and an A-grade opponent is a recipe for crash and burn. Still this was a great disappointment as most US viewers were expecting a Mac win based on his form headed into the FO final. He was simply devastating all the way through until those last 2 sets.....
 

bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
not a choke...I think Mac was running out of steam as the match went on....should have been a 3 set win. But he let Lendl back into it. Wimbledon '82 was another one where he should have shut the door but couldn't. Folks always point to Mac's supposed lack of fitness....perhaps that combined with a shift in momentum and an A-grade opponent is a recipe for crash and burn. Still this was a great disappointment as most US viewers were expecting a Mac win based on his form headed into the FO final. He was simply devastating all the way through until those last 2 sets.....
Amazing he goes on to win Wimbledon and the USO (destroying Lendl in the final) in 1984, wins the Masters with another convincing win over Lendl, then it all shifts in 1985 culminating with his straight-set loss to Lendl at the USO, after which he's never really the same.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Amazing he goes on to win Wimbledon and the USO (destroying Lendl in the final) in 1984, wins the Masters with another convincing win over Lendl, then it all shifts in 1985 culminating with his straight-set loss to Lendl at the USO, after which he's never really the same.
It was amazing how fast he fell from the stars......
 

NicoMK

Professional
I think Mac was running out of steam as the match went on....should have been a 3 set win. But he let Lendl back into it. Wimbledon '82 was another one where he should have shut the door but couldn't. Folks always point to Mac's supposed lack of fitness....perhaps that combined with a shift in momentum and an A-grade opponent is a recipe for crash and burn.
I once read something interesting about this. Basically it said that before the final, Mac played and won all his matches in three sets. The usual temperatures in Paris during the tournament were warm at the best and never too hot.

The day of the final it was another story though: it was a very sunny and hot afternoon. Mac played extremely well for almost two hours, walking on water... one of the best tennis that I have ever seen.

Then as you said jrepac, he ran out of fuel. I'm not saying that's why he lost, also because Ivan started to play better and better as the match went on.

But maybe Mac played the first two sets at 110% and then the rest of the match at 90%... was enough for a courageous 100% Lendl to win his first GS, and well deserved after all.

Too bad for John though. 35 years after this match, when I rewatch it I still expect him to win. He was playing so well that year...
 
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urban

Legend
It was no choke, it was a great match from beginning to the end. There were some rumors, that Mac had a heatstroke (Richard Evans, a big Mac fan, told the story in his book) or that Mac was upset by photographers. But that is more folklore. I found then, that even the first two sets were pretty close, and when Mac couldn't close it out in three, it became a typical clay struggle. On grass some crucial points at 30 all or on break point make the difference, on clay every point counts. Two weeks before i saw Mac easily beating Lendl on clay at the WTC at Düsseldorf, this RG final was much closer. The technical difference, i noted, was the backhand cross by Lendl. At Düsseldorf, Mac always attacked Lendl's backhand side, and always Lendl played the pass down the line, where Mac was waiting at the net for easy cross volleys or drop volleys. At RG, Lendl more and more drove his backhand cross, to put more pressure on the volleyer. It is said, that Gonzalez learnt the same strategy in his long series with Hoad in 1958, even changing his grip on the course of the series.
That said, Mac played brilliantly, it was by the overall technical standard, one of the best, of not the best match i have seen. That year at RG, only Higueras made peaking Mac some problems at RG in a close 4 setter, although he had a bit luck in the draw with Arias and old Connors. Lendl put in a monumental effort, he stayed in his bed for some weeks afterwards and later changed his diet. What the most astounding thing on Mac was: He played the next week on grass at Queens, and he won it, the whole tournament, and Wim for good, as well.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
It was no choke, it was a great match from beginning to the end. There were some rumors, that Mac had a heatstroke (Richard Evans, a big Mac fan, told the story in his book) or that Mac was upset by photographers. But that is more folklore. I found then, that even the first two sets were pretty close, and when Mac couldn't close it out in three, it became a typical clay struggle. On grass some crucial points at 30 all or on break point make the difference, on clay every point counts. Two weeks before i saw Mac easily beating Lendl on clay at the WTC at Düsseldorf, this RG final was much closer. The technical difference, i noted, was the backhand cross by Lendl. At Düsseldorf, Mac always attacked Lendl's backhand side, and always Lendl played the pass down the line, where Mac was waiting at the net for easy cross volleys or drop volleys. At RG, Lendl more and more drove his backhand cross, to put more pressure on the volleyer. It is said, that Gonzalez learnt the same strategy in his long series with Hoad in 1958, even changing his grip on the course of the series.
That said, Mac played brilliantly, it was by the overall technical standard, one of the best, of not the best match i have seen. That year at RG, only Higueras made peaking Mac some problems at RG in a close 4 setter, although he had a bit luck in the draw with Arias and old Connors. Lendl put in a monumental effort, he stayed in his bed for some weeks afterwards and later changed his diet. What the most astounding thing on Mac was: He played the next week on grass at Queens, and he won it, the whole tournament, and Wim for good, as well.
And, didn't Mac clobber Lendl a few weeks earlier at the WTC in Forest Hills on Har Tru? I remember being beyond impressed. Sure, it's a little faster but it's still clay. And him taking down Higueras, Arias and Connors, in succession was no small feat. Connors had some chances in the SF, but Mac slammed the door. Which is what he needed to do..which he did not w/Lendl. Mac was simply amazing that season, period, as he went on to crush it at Queens and Wimby (clocking Connors both times).
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Don't think the idea of this match being a 'choke' would even have occurred to me from watching what happened and unaware of people's take on it

I'd say Mac was zoning for two sets, and played very well for the next 3. And even zoning, he couldn't actually pull ahead in first set without Lendl missing one of the easiest shots imaginable - a
much easier shot than the one Mac missed on match point

I suppose given Mac was strong favourite and was up 2 sets in quick time lends itself to being interpreted as a choke, but can't imagine any sensible person watching the match and calling it that

Mac himself tends to use the term choke very loosely, both as a commentator now and in his playing days. He often made a choking signal after missing a ball (and not necessarily a very easy one) while playing

The worst part of Mac's showing isn't bad and well within his norm. neutral baseline play. Lendl outlasts him or beats errors out of him comfortably

You'd back Lendl to do so more often than not at any time. And Lendl is particularly strong in his neutral groundies in the match, hitting consistently and heavy off both sides. Would overwhelmingly credit Lendl for that, not discredit Mac... just noting Mac's capable of doing a bit better (as in, I wouldn't be shocked if he had won more such points)

I was struck by differences in the play of both players in this match from their semi's

Lendl serve-volleyed about a quarter of the time against Mats WIlander, and I was half expecting him to come in more here. Coming in to keep Mac from doing so is a standard tactic of Lendl's. You'd think Wilander would be a more dangerous person to serve-volley to than McEnroe... but though having a high 60% first serve in count in that match, I imagine he was serving bigger against Wilander, who wasn't going to be attacking second serves like Mac was bound to

Mac stayed back on virtually all second serves and rarely chip-charge returned against Jimmy Connors. Quite happy to play who-links-first from the baseline... and won a good majority of such rallies there

Connors is no Lendl of consistency, but that at least shows Mac was in good consistency nick

regarding Mac's stamina issues - that seems to be normal and common knowledge about him

In other matches of his, he regularly looks winded about 3 sets in, let alone 5. He's so good that he can remain competitive regardless, but his serve in particular, and court coverage go down at such times

commentators generally address it as if its a given, not even worth pointing out or stressing... "well, McEnroe isn't the fittest guy on tour" etc.

There were some rumors, that....Mac was upset by photographers
I think that's true - though if its being pedalled as a reason for the result, that's hogwash. Win or lose, when isn't Mac upset about something or another?

A number of times, including first point of match and regularly in early part, he waits for photographers to get quiet before he starts a point. According to commentators, he'd been complaining about them all tournament, particularly the ones in the bunker place under the center line judge to the point that the photographers threatened to not cover any of Mac's matches and they "compromised", according to commentators

I'm pretty sure the photographers weren't doing anything around Mac that they didn't do for everyone... Mac making a song and dance about it is just him being wound too tight and/or playacting

When he waits for quiet later in the match, my feeling he was he wasting time to catch his breath under the guise of being distracted by commonplace sounds

Two weeks before i saw Mac easily beating Lendl on clay at the WTC at Düsseldorf, this RG final was much closer. The technical difference, i noted, was the backhand cross by Lendl.
I haven't seen the Dusseldorf match, but absolutely agree that the BH cc was key

Generally speaking, Lendl always prefers BH dtl on the pass, and his shifting gears is very noticeable from third set

worth noting is that even prior to Lendl shifting more to BH cc, Mac was still hitting mostly FHVs, but by choice. he was manuvering to do so, running around a bit to make FHVs

After the switch from Lendl, Mac has no choice but to FHV... but now he's stretched out to get racquet on ball, not running around because he likes it better than BHV

And, didn't Mac clobber Lendl a few weeks earlier at the WTC in Forest Hills on Har Tru? I remember being beyond impressed. Sure, it's a little faster but it's still clay.
Very impressive showing. That one's here - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-mcenroe-vs-lendl-forest-hills-1984.607707/
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
so much I learn from your stats. Stuff I've either forgotten or maybe never saw that match. Your comment about how much Lendl s/v against Mats. I hadn't remembered him ever doing it that much at the French.

I may have to watch this match. My recollection was that Mac's play level fell off, after the 2nd, more than you or Urban believe. And since you just watched the match, it makes me curious to watch again and see how I view it this time,
 
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