Match Stats/Report - Lendl vs McEnroe, US Open semi-final, 1982


Hall of Fame
Ivan Lendl beat John McEnroe 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(6) in the US Open semi-final, 1982 on hard court

Lendl would go onto lose the final to Jimmy Connors. The win was Lendl's 6th in a row over McEnroe - and he would win their next as well - and saw him make the final of the event for the first time for what would be turn out to be a record 8 straight times. McEnroe had won the 3 previous US Opens

Lendl won 110 points, McEnroe 99

McEnroe serve-volleyed off all first serves and majority off seconds

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (56/105) 53%
- 1st serve points won (48/56) 86%
- 2nd serve points won (28/49) 57%
- Aces 9
- Double Faults 4
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (28/105) 27%

- 1st serve percentage (51/104) 49%
- 1st serve points won (36/51) 71%
- 2nd serve points won (33/53) 62%
- Aces 16 (1 second serve, 1 not clean)
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (35/104) 34%

Serve Patterns
Lendl served...
- to FH 29%
- to BH 71%

McEnroe served...
- to FH 22%
- to BH 57%
- to Body 21%

Return Stats
Lendl made...
- 66 (23 FH, 43 BH), including 4 runaround FHs
- 5 Winners (1 FH, 4 BH)
- 19 Errors, comprising...
- 1 Unforced (1 BH)
- 18 Forced (7 FH, 11 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- Return Rate (66/101) 65%

McEnroe made...
- 73 (22 FH, 51 BH), including 7 runaround FH & 9 return-approaches
- 2 Winners (2 BH)
- 19 Errors, comprising...
- 10 Unforced (6 FH, 4 BH), including 3 runaround FHs & 5 return-approach attempts
- 9 Forced (3 FH, 6 BH)
- Return Rate (73/101) 72%

Break Points
Lendl 2/8 (5 games)
McEnroe 0/2 (2 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Lendl 29 (10 FH, 9 BH, 3 FHV, 4 BHV, 3 OH)
McEnroe 20 (1 FH, 5 BH, 9 FHV, 3 BHV, 1 OH, 1 BHOH)

Lendl had 11 passes (4 FH, 7 BH)
- FHs - 2 cc (1 return, 1 at net), 1 dtl and 1 inside-out
- BHs - 3 cc, 2 dtl returns, 1 inside-in return and 1 longline return (that McEnroe left)

- regular FHs - 2 cc (1 at net), 2 dtl and 1 net chord dribbler
- regular BHs - 2 cc (1 at net)

- 4 from serve-volley points - all first 'volleys' (2 BHV, 1 OH, 1 FH at net)
- 1 other BHV was played net-to-net

McEnroe had 12 from serve-volley points
- 9 first 'volleys' (6 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH, 1 FH at net)
- 2 second volleys (2 FHV)
- 1 third volley (1 BHOH)

- 1 from a return-approach point, a BHV

- BHs - 4 cc (2 returns, 2 passes) and 1 dtl

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Lendl 40
- 18 Unforced (8 FH, 10 BH)… with 1 FH at net
- 22 Forced (5 FH, 15 BH, 2 FH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.8

McEnroe 50
- 25 Unforced (4 FH, 10 BH, 5 FHV, 6 BHV)
- 25 Forced (5 FH, 11 BH, 3 FHV, 2 FH1/2V, 3 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
Lendl was...
- 33/38 (87%) at net, including...
- 10/12 (83%) serve-volleying, all 1st serves
- 1/1 forced back

McEnroe was...
- 53/86 (62%) at net, including...
- 42/68 (62%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 21/36 (58%) off 1st serve and...
- 21/32 (66%) off 2nd serve
- 5/9 (56%) return-approaching
- 0/1 forced back

Match Report
Lendl overpowers McEnroe commandingly. The gap in the Lendl serve vs McEnroe return and baseline shots between the two are particularly glaring... Lendl is closer to being avenues than streets ahead in them. Still, McEnroe is McEnroe and even though he doesn't volley particularly well, is able to hold comfortably for most part. But conjuring near 0 counter-play in return games makes it so that Lendl always looks the more likely to gain a break; Returning, Lendl is match-long percentage dangerous, i.e. hardly likely to break regularly, but sooner or later, will very likely find a way

Statistically, the match looks closer than it did to my eye. Mac winning 71% first serve points and 62% second are excellent numbers, that you'd think would be match-winning. The second serve points won part of that is the most impressive, but its a bit deceptive. For 2 sets, Mac wins 16/29 at a still good 55% off second serves... the overall number is unduly bolstered by a remarkable 17/24 at 71% won in the third set
Lendl is near as strong off second serve, winning 57%. The feature that puts him well over is 86% first serve points - basically, he's untouchable when he lands the first serve

Lendl serve vs McEnroe return
So does Lendl serve particularly well? Or Mac return particularly poorly? To watch the action, one would think neither is the answer... Mac just seems to be out of his class against this serve

Note Lendl's unreturned rate isn't overly high at 27%. And Mac has 16 aces to Lendl's decent but not great 9. But the returns Mac makes against first serves are out and out feeble... just somehow lifting the ball over the net, the way someone might fend back an OH. Lendl regularly has to run to near the service line to hit third ball - and he absolutely hammers those, mostly with FH. A similar situation arose in the pair's Masters final later in the year. According to commentators, Mac had broken Lendl just twice in their last 3 meetings. Was it just that Lendl's serve was too big for McEnroe to handle in this period? Seems odd since he had his fair share of dealing with Roscoe Tanner

Action from this match also sheds light on the final between Lendl and Jimmy Connors. Connors' returning of the fat Lendl serve was very good - typically deep and firm off a short swing - and Lendl was regularly caught out on the third ball, seemingly not having expected the return to come back at all. Return rates for Lendl's opponent are near identical - in final, Connors was 74%, here Mac is 72%. Lendl's placement against Connors was also a lot better and further from the returner. Here by contrast, he doesn't bother much with placement. Just banging it down hard is enough for Mac

Mac plays around with return position. He's usually stands well behind baseline, further than I've seen him against anyone else, including Boris Becker. Briefly, he goes to an extreme, Nadal-like position where there'd be a legitimate concern of him elbowing the line judges while returning. Against second serves, he comes forward to about the baseline, with a foot just inside the court. He has a hard time against second serves too. Lendl does serve some strong second serves but the problems it gives Mac have as much to do with Mac trying to take the ball exceptionally early, or moving in extra close. In other words, he can't even return second serves orthodoxly with authority... and needs fancy moves like runaround FHs, charges or riskily early returns to be effective. Note the large 10 UEs - 3 of those are runaround FHs, 5 approach attempts (the two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive)

There are points of similarity with Vitas Gerulaitis' returning of Lendl in the '81 Masters final. Vitas was similarly overwhelmed by first serve but comfortably returned seconds, usually chip-charging it. Lendl's second serving is much stronger in this match but even then, Mac doesn't do well attacking it

In a nutshell, in this match, "McEnroe doesn't return well" is an understatement. It looks very much like he's just not capable... he looks like a boy facing a man's serve

McEnroe serve vs Lendl return
First off, McEnroe serve-volleys behind all first serves and most seconds - normal for the match-up. Generally in their matches, Mac always serve-volleys off all first serves and how much he does off seconds varies by court pace, how heavily he finds Lendl returning and how badly outmatched he finds himself baseline to baseline

A thread running through the whole match is the radical degree to which Mac avoids Lendl's FH, in all areas. He doesn't serve there, doesn't volley there, even avoids playing BH cc to stay away from it. With some justification - Lendl's FH is tremendous - but Mac overdoes it some, leaving his play limited and predictable

So Mac serves 57% to the BH and as often to the body (21%) as the FH (22%). And Lendl moves to take FHs to serves to his body when he can

Also generally in the match-up, Lendl varies how hard he goes at returns... the harder he goes, the more he misses but also the more damaging he is. In this match, he goes harder than normal and returns are hit closer to powerfully then firmly. Great stuff on the return from Ivan, but Mac not volleying particularly well is also a factor in how things go (more on that later)

Does Mac overdo the body and body-ish serving? Its understandable because Lendl's looking to tee off on anything he can swing at but look at the 16 aces Mac throws down (Lendl, serving more powerfully, has 9). Though the dangers are obvious, Mac's spot serving is good enough that trying to cramp Lendl with the first shot wasn't necessary to the extent he tried. And unlike later years, Lendl is moving around to body serves, looking to and hitting them with free arms. He also doesn't appear to have much trouble reading the serve

Excellent mini-match here - Mac serving well, Lendl returning likewise. Mac not being all there on the volley is what gives Lendl the edge. And it stands out next to how hopelessly the opposite battle is in favour of Lendl's serve over Mac's return
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Hall of Fame
Play - Volley & Pass
Lendl hammers passes, Mac doesn't volley too well

Note Mac's forecourt errors - 11 UEs and 9 FEs - that's more UE heavy than usual. The misses in question are rarely out and out easy. Most are firmly struck balls above the net, maybe a bit wide or balls about net high. The number of very difficult volleys - hard struck at the feet - is relatively low, and Mac makes a good number of them

Also not great placement of volleys from Mac, which is probably connected on his determination to stay away from the Lendl FH. Lendl has just 5 FH FEs to 15 BHs... virtually all of these would be passing shots. Mac's volley leaves Lendl shots on the pass though usually on the run. Lendl's particularly quick to get to balls... looks good to go even on running passes

Lendl himself wins 33/38 net points or 87% and has 10 volleying/OH winners to Mac's 14 coming in half as often. He also hits a significant number of groundstrokes around the service line on top of that. Most of the work is done by his serve and approach shots, that Mac can barely put back in play, but not let up from Ivan on the volley. What he has to make, he snaps firmly through the court. None of that plonking volleys in middle of the court that he sometimes went in for in his early days

Play - Baseline
Again, like a boy playing a man. Lendl hammers balls, particularly off the FH but he's no slouch of the BH either. Mac dinks and pushes and slices looking rushed all the while

For all that, note Lendl with 17 baseline UEs to Mac's 14. Mac would also have had more FEs and Lendl more winners so Lendl is still coming out well ahead on baseline to baseline but its not all one way traffic from the back

overall stats are deceptive in many areas based on timing. Lendl makes a disproportionately high number of errors at unimportant points in the match. For all Ivan's dominance, its still a 1-break-is-good-enough match and however helpless he looks returning, Mac is still good enough to hold serve readily, despite looking under the gun.

Match Progression
To break in the first set, Lendl forces 2 hard forecourt errors and Mac misses 2 easy volleys. Mac's able to take Lendl to deuce once from 40-0 down, but doesn't really have much shot at breaking back. Mac serve-volleys all but twice in the set

Lendl breaks to start the second set, opening the game with a wonderful running FH dtl pass and ending by forcing a BH1/2V error. In between, Mac misses an approach shot (he starts staying back off second serves more) and a high, wide volley he was a bit slow to move to

Mac remains under the gun for the set. 3 consecutive winners - running FH dtl, BH inside-in return pas against body serve and a bullet of a BH dtl return pass - puts him down 2 break points again. The service game after, Mac's taken to 12 points and faces another break point, with Lendl showing precise placement with a flick BH cc pass to go along with his power passes. Mac holds both games

With Lendl serving for the set, Mac takes a 0-30 lead. No problem... Lendl takes net himself to win the game

Third set is the most competitive and also lowest quality of play. Mac stays back off most second serves and Lendl is quite loose in baseline rallies. Lendl's first two service games both go 10 points and he faces a break point in both. Curiously, in the first game he makes 2/10 first serves and has to deal with Mac at net on 6 points. In the second, he makes 8/10 first serves and is at net himself 6 times

Mac survives 3 break points in a 12 point game awhile later, finishing with 3 aces (1 not clean). Also throwing it out a second serve ace to Lendl's FH, which he'd avoided like the plague. Amusing point when Mac flubs a volley that Lendl races to net to meet. Mac just ducks at net, well versed as to where Lendl was likely to send the pass in such a situation

In tiebreak, Mac opens up a 5-2 lead, winning points with a charge BH cc return winner and a chip-charge return. a costly double fault puts matters back on serve. Mac makes a grandiose, raised fist gesture that excites the crowd. Lendl responds by smacking move-around FH cc return pass winner before overpowering Mac to take net and finish the match

Summing up, a very commanding showing from Lendl. His serve is just too much for Mac to handle and overpowering returns, passes and groundshots is what he similarly deals in. Mac looks scared - serving, trading groundstrokes and even at net

Stats for the final between Lendl and Jimmy Connors -
Stats for the pair's Masters final shortly after -
Stats for '81 Masters final between Lendl and Vitas Gerulaitis -