Match Stats/Report - Lendl vs Wilander, French Open semi-finals, 1984


Hall of Fame
Ivan Lendl beat Mats Wilander 6-3, 6-3, 7-5 in the French Open semi-final, 1984 on clay

Lendl would go onto beat John McEnroe in the final and claim his first Slam title. Lendl and Wilander would go onto play 2 of the next 3 finals at the event (1 win each)

Lendl won 108 points, Wilander 82

(Note: I'm missing 1 Lendl service point won by Lendl. On one point, I've made an educated guess about the serve direction/return type and on a small number of points, made confident guesses about whether a serve was first or second)

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (48/93) 52%
- 1st serve points won (29/48) 60%
- 2nd serve points won (20/45) 44%
- {Unknown serve point (1/1) 100%}
- Aces 7, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (13/93) 14%

- 1st serve percentage (86/96) 90%
- 1st serve points won (34/86) 40%
- 2nd serve points won (4/10) 40%
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (4/96) 4%

Serve Patterns
Lendl served...
- to FH 24%
- to BH 75%
- to Body 1%

Wilander served...
- to FH 24%
- to BH 68%
- to Body 8%

Return Stats
Lendl made...
- 92 (32 FH, 60 BH), including 5 runaround FHs & 1 return-approach
- 2 Winners (2 FH), both runaround FHs
- 4 Errors, comprising...
- 3 Unforced (2 FH, 1 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 1 Forced (1 BH)
- Return Rate (92/96) 96%

Wilander made...
- 78 (29 FH, 49 BH), including 10 runaround FHs
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 5 Errors, all forced...
- 5 Forced (1 FH, 4 BH)
- Return Rate (78/91) 86%

Break Points
Lendl 11/23 (12 games)
Wilander 7/9 (8 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Lendl 50 (22 FH, 10 BH, 9 FHV, 2 BHV, 7 OH)
Wilander 25 (3 FH, 7 BH, 2 FHV, 6 BHV, 7 OH)

Lendl had 16 passes (8 FH, 8 BH)
- FHs - 5 cc and 3 dtl
- BHs - 3 cc, 2 dtl, 1 inside-out/dtl and 2 lobs

- regular FHs - 3 cc (1 runaround return), 2 dtl, 5 inside-out, 3 inside-in (1 runaround return) and 1 drop shot at net
- regular BHs - 1 dtl at net and 1 inside-out/dtl

- from serve-volley points, 4 first volleys (2 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH)… the BHV being a swinging shot and 1 second volley FHV

- 4 other swinging FHV - 3 of them 3rd balls, but not serve-volley points (i.e. 'delayed' serve-volleys) and 1 2nd volley FHV of another such 'delayed' serve-volley
- 1 other BHV was hit from well behind the service line and not a net point

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

- 1 BHV was a drop

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Lendl 51
- 25 Unforced (10 FH, 12 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH)
- 26 Forced (8 FH, 16 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46.8

Wilander 44
- 28 Unforced (12 FH, 16 BH)
- 16 Forced (7 FH, 6 BH, 2 FHV, 1 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46.1

(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...
- 28/36 (78%) at net, including...
- 8/13 (62%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 7/12 (58%) off 1st serve and...
- 1/1 off 2nd serve
- 1/1 return-approaching
- 0/3 forced back/retreated

Wilander was...
- 37/59 (63%) at net, with...
- 1/1 forced back

Match Report
Good match with many points of interests. As far as the result goes, Lendl has two things Wilander doesn't. A strong serve and power off the ground. Wilander has nothing Lendl doesn't

First of all, look at the ratio of holds and breaks. Lendl holds 8 times and is broken 7. Wilander holds just 4 times and is broken 11 times. Even on clay, I'd think these numbers are rather unusual... and can't really explain it

Wilander's serve is as innocuous as can be, but its not like Lendl attacks it. He puts it back in play - and then they rally (he does come hard at second serves, but Mats only serves 10 and most games, none at all). Taking all that to roughly equal Wilander's service games = 50/50 points all the time, you might expect to see him hold as often as not (if the two are equal in court play)

They're not equal of court play - Lendl is a better, so say, you'd expect Lendl to win more than 50% return games. Which he does. So far, so good, so logical (winning almost 3 return games for every loss is still a bit more than expected, but lets go with it for now)

Then what is happening on Lendl's service games? If playing skills are about 50/50, then the edge Lendl's first serve gives him should put him over to win more than 50% games. As we've seen, playing skills aren't 50-50... Lendl is better

So Lendl > Wilander on court skills plus Lendl advantage of strong first serve... should lead to Lendl winning the bulk of his service games (more than just 8/15)

Its a bit odd

First set is full of long rallies of the passive variety. More BH-BH than anything else but not overwhelmingly so (like in their '82 French Open match)… there's a fair amount of changing it up with dtl shots, FH inside-outs, FH-FH rallies etc. Still, its mostly who-blinks first stuff

Not much in it, but Wilander probably has a very thin edge in terms of consistency (i. e. not making unforced errors)

That who-blinks-first stuff is interspersed with a fair amount of approaching, particularly by Wilander, while Lendl occasionally serve-volleys. Second surprise... I'd have expected Mats to be the steadier player and thus, approach less (approaching is a way of forcing the action, and I don't think it was in his best interests to do that when he had a small advantage in the staple rallying stuff). The approaches don't go well for Mats in the first set and he's passed a fair amount amount (Lendl by contrast wins almost all his approaches

Just the one hold in the first set (feels funny writing that, usually we write "just the one break") and its to love in game 8. Couple of big serves (1 ace) and flagrantly forced error give it to Lendl and then he breaks to love. So many breaks means each individual break loses lustre, but this is a particularly fine one from Ivan... a break to love, including 3 winners - a running FH cc pass as Wilander was approaching, a flicked BH cc pass placed to perfection and a FH cc winner following up on a thundering return to a rare second serve

Second set, Lendl manages to hold as often as not and Wilander holds his last service game (he'd failed to do so in 8 previous games in the match!). Wilander comes in more and earlier in this set and wins more up front too.... but Lendl is more aggressive from the back (meaning he steps in more... aggressive relative to the low standard for such on clay between these two). And he has the serve to fall back on

Wilander opens up a 3-1 lead in the third (which of course, means next to nothing in this match). This set features the quickest tennis, both players in more of a hurry to finish points. Not necessarily the best tennis of the match (there are more UEs in shorter rallies than at any other point in the match). Both players seem to lose concentration to an extent... Lendl goes for bigger shots from the back, Wilander makes more uncharacteristic UEs than Lendl though. Lendl 'gains' the decisive break to love in an excellent game where he again reels of 3 winners in a row - 2 big FHs and a terrific BH lob in a point he'd been pushed on the defensive on.... and then serves it out in a 12 point game without facing break points
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Hall of Fame
Serve & Return
Have a look at Lendl serving at 52%. That's oddly low because... a healthy chunk of the time, he's not doing much with the first serve. He's not rolling it in, but he's not blasting it either at these times and I'd have expected more than 52% in that light

When he does blast it, he blasts it all the way - and missing a lot of first serves at those times is more understandable. Wins a few cheap points - he has 7 aces and a service winner. Sets up serve-volley and delayed serve volley plays. In the latter half of the final set, even uses it to set up powerful third ball FHs

Its a factor, in light of how Wilander has none of that going on, but not a big one. For the most part, Wilander gets balls back securely and neutralizingly. 86% return rate from Mats... splendid effort. He's not attacking with the return (against first or second serve), but in light of Lendl's passive play (i.e. not going for much on the third ball), its sufficient... and play soon settles into a neutral dynamic

Look at Lendl serving 75% to the BH. Don't think it makes much difference (Mats is consistent and un-damaging of both wings in about equal measure), but Wilander would be a guy I'd recommend keeping a more even distribution to

Wilander serves at 90%. His first serve is just a point starter, nothing damaging or threatening about it. 0 aces, 0 service winners, 0 double faults

The first serve of the match draws a 'forced' return error. That's me being generous... its more forceful than most of his serves, but Lendl would still return it 9/10. Lendl returns the next 53 serves (including 1 winner)

A note on Wilander's 8% body serves. They're not body serves as we usually think about it... they're just very safe serves in the middle of the box. If a good body serve leaves returners in two minds which side to return with, Wilander's does the same... Lendl could return with either (he usually goes FH)

Lendl returns surely. 96% is the highest I've seen for a full match (Borg was higher still in a match with Newcombe with a game missing). Couple of careless errors near the end when both players made a few careless errors in all areas

Lendl only sees 10 second serves... but goes after most of them with a passion. He hammers 2 runaround FH winners and also hammers a ball and then takes the net to dispatch a smash next shot. Well as Lendl returned... he has potential to do yet more

If so inclined, I'm pretty sure Lendl could selectively blast away some of Wilander's first serves with point ending or at least, complete initiative grabbing force. He doesn't try. Why would he when he's breaking serve 11 times out of 15 doing what he is?

Play - Baseline
Lendl is stronger because he's more powerful

Most of the baseline action is patient and passive, two winged but biased towards BH rallies. Usually, one or the other players is stepping into court while the other stays well behind the baseline

More often than not, its Mats who steps in. But even from there, he doesn't have the power to hit point ending shots... I would primarily discredit him for this rather than credit Lendl's defence (which is good as well). That leaves with Mats with just 1 real attacking option - taking the net

Its a different story when Lendl's the one stepping in. He can - and does - end points with force from that position. Lots of strong FHs... note the 22 FH winners (14 of which were non-passes... invariably, step in shots). In fact, 50 winners is a huge number under any conditions, but especially clay. It comes to 1.67 per game (this is enabled by the low unreturned serve percentages of both men, but still impressive)

Of consistency, usually the key on clay, there's next to nothing in it between the two. Ultimately Lendl wins out off both wings - he has 2 fewer FH UEs and 4 fewer BHs. This gets tilted towards the end when Wilander misses a bunch of attacking shots. As far as who-blinks-first shots goes... my feeling is Wilander had an insignificant edge, basically, the same

Play - Net
Quality of net play from both is vastly better than their '82 match... both volley well

Lendl serve-volleys some. 8/13 isn't a great figure... but he seems to win the important ones and often comes in when he's well ahead in a game so it doesn't matter much if he loses the point

He utilizes 'delayed serve-volleying... hitting a strong first serve, taking a couple steps into court and if he gets a floater, rushing in to net. Usually this results in swinging volley (mostly FHVs, but a couple of BHVs too) from slightly behind the service-line. Its a good tactic for a guy who doesn't like to fully commit to coming in... suits Lendl and he gets very good results with it

Far more impressive is when he comes in off rallies. Lendl is 19/22 at 86% on those. Strong approach shots (usually step-in FHs) and good volleys (sidebar - this is the type of thing I think Jimmy Connors should do more of... come in off strong, normal groundstrokes rather than deliberate approach shots). Just 3 volleying UEs - and 1 of them wasn't a net point

Mats doesn't pass particularly well though. Not many difficult volleys for Lendl to make... but I'd primarily credit Lendl's net play for these outcomes

Wilander comes in a lot more (though never serve-volleying or return-approaching). 59 times is more than 25% of all points in the match. He wins 63% of the points so it works. But he's never too secure in the front... Lendl's passing is too good for that. Some good, wrong-footing volleys from Wilander… and some stunning passes from Lendl, particularly the ones on the run. FH cc pass in particular are powerful

Note Lendl with 8 FH FEs (these would all or almost all be passing attempts) and 8 FH passing winners. Pretty rare to hold even for the passer. Clearly, the BH is the place to volley to Lendl

Stamina Issues for Lendl?
Play is loose for the last part of the match. Possibly because of mental drain - understandable in light of the long, long rallies. In Lendl's case, I got the sense some of it was due fatigue as well (didn't get this sense from Wilander, though he loosens up too, even more if anything)

There's an element of hitting out, serving big to end points quickly, some casual misses and lazy returning and so on. Not unlike what happened in the '82 match (though far less extreme and wild)… he ends up making most of his attacking plays.

Wilander looks a bit put out by Lendl's extra aggression, maybe gets a bit rattled by the change in what had been a pretty grooved dynamic

Extra gears for Lendl?
As strong a showing as this is from Lendl, one senses that he has potential to be still better

Consistency of groundstroke can't get much better... but he's up against the very best on that front here, and he's holding even

Attacking groundstrokes... he could easily up the ante on that if needed. Don't know if he's temperamentally inclined to do so - from what I've seen, if he can outlast, he avoids outhitting - but he clearly has the ability to

Attacking returns... if he can burn Wilander's second serve, he can more than singe his first. Just doesn't go for it here

Net play... related to attacking groundstrokes, he could easily come in more from his attacking groundstrokes, or even take a bit off hitting full throttle (thus lowering error rate, not that its particularly high in this match) and come in of the shot instead. Net games good enough to finish points from there

Summing up, a strong showing from Lendl - as consistent as his opponent off the ground, while being a lot more damaging and strong on the pass

Stats for their '82 five setter -

@The Green Mile - first, thanks. Second - thoughts?
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Jack the Hack

Hall of Fame
All that work (which I appreciate) and you never listed what the score was!

Lendl beat Wilander 6-3, 6-3, 7-5. My thought about this match was that Lendl was finally ready to win a Grand Slam and was in top form against Wilander.


Hall of Fame
All that work (which I appreciate) and you never listed what the score was!
Well, that's a first

I do a lot of these threads, so just copy-paste format from an older one, delete the numbers and put them in afresh while changing names

Now and then, I forget to fill in this or that stat... but this is the first time I neglected to put the score in

Thanks for the catch!

Lendl beat Wilander 6-3, 6-3, 7-5. My thought about this match was that Lendl was finally ready to win a Grand Slam and was in top form against Wilander.
Prior to the match, how'd you see the final going?