Match Stats/Report - McEnroe vs Becker, Australian Open third round, 1992


Hall of Fame
John McEnroe beat Boris Becker 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 in the Australian Open third round, 1992 on hard court

McEnroe was unseeded and this was his second and last win over Becker in official matches, the first having come in 1985 before Becker's first Wimbledon title. Becker as the defending champion. McEnroe would go onto lose to Wayne Ferreira in the quarters

McEnroe won 109 points, Becker 91

McEnroe serve-volleyed off all first serves and never off seconds, Becker serve-volleyed occasionally and randomly off both serves

(Note: I'm missing 1 McEnroe service point, won by McEnroe
Missing point - Set 1, Game1, Point 1)

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (63/100) 63%
- 1st serve points won (45/63) 71%
- 2nd serve points won (17/37) 46%
- Unknown serve point (1/1)
- Aces 6
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (27/100) 27%

- 1st serve percentage (55/99) 55%
- 1st serve points won (32/55) 58%
- 2nd serve points won (21/44) 47%
- Aces 8 (1 second serve), Service Winners 3
- Double Faults 5
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (26/99) 26%

Serve Patterns
McEnroe served...
- to FH 27%
- to BH 49%
- to Body 24%

Becker served...
- to FH 38%
- to BH 56%
- to Body 5%

Return Stats
McEnroe made...
- 68 (33 FH, 35 BH), including 6 runaround FHs & 21 return-approaches
- 5 Winners (4 FH, 1 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 15 Errors, comprising...
- 5 Unforced (4 FH, 1 BH), including 1 return-approach attempt
- 10 Forced (3 FH, 7 BH), including 1 runaround FH & 1 return-approach attempt
- Return Rate (68/94) 72%

Becker made...
- 70 (21 FH, 49 BH), including 2 runaround FHs & 5 return-approaches
- 3 Winners (1 FH, 2 BH)
- 21 Errors, comprising...
- 5 Unforced (1 FH, 4 BH), including 1 return-approach attempt
- 16 Forced (7 FH, 9 BH)
- Return Rate (70/97) 72%

Break Points
McEnroe 6/16 (7 games)
Becker 3/7 (6 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
McEnroe 28 (10 FH, 4 BH, 7 FHV, 4 BHV, 3 OH)
Becker 32 (13 FH, 12 BH, 3 FHV, 4 BHV)

McEnroe had 13 from serve-volley points
- 5 first 'volleys' (3 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 FH at net)
- 8 second volleys (4 FHV, 2 BHV, 2 OH)

- FHs - 2 non-return cc (1 pass), 3 return cc (1 runaround pass), 2 dtl passes, 1 runaround return dtl an 1 longline at net
- BHs - 2 cc (1 pass), 1 dtl (net-to-net) and 1 inside-in return pass

Becker's regular FHs - 1 cc, 3 inside-out, 1 inside-in and 1 running-down-drop-shot dtl at net
- FH passes - 1 return, 1 cc/inside-in, 2 dtl, 1 inside-out
- regular BHs - 2 cc and 2 dtl
- BH passes - 3 cc, 4 dtl (1 return) and 1 inside-out return

- 5 from serve-volley points
- 4 first 'volleys' (1 FHV, 1 BHV, 2 FH at net)
- 1 second volley (1 FHV)… played net to net

- 3 from return-approach points (1 FHV, 2 BHV)

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
McEnroe 30
- 11 Unforced (5 FH, 2 BH, 2 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH)… with 1 FH at net
- 19 Forced (3 FH, 11 BH, 3 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 BHOH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 51.8

Becker 48
- 14 Unforced (3 FH, 6 BH, 1 FHV, 4 BHV)… including 1 BH pass attempt
- 34 Forced (10 FH, 17 BH, 2 FHV, 1 BHV, 2 BH1/2V, 1 OH, 1 Tweener)… with 1 FH at net & 1 BH at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 52.9

(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
McEnroe was...
- 64/89 (72%) at net, including...
- 39/57 (68%) serve-volleying, all 1st serves
- 15/21 (71%) return-approaching
- 2/2 retreated

Becker was...
- 29/52 (56%) at net, including...
- 17/30 (57%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 11/20 (55%) off 1st serve and...
- 6/10 (60%) off 2nd serve
- 3/5 (60%) return-approaching
- 0/2 forced back

Match Report
First class exhibition of returning from John McEnroe is the standout feature of this match which is otherwise rather mundane of action on a slow-ish hard court

McEnroe serve-volleys 100% of first serves and 0% of seconds. Haven't seen him so mechanical before. Becker largely eschews serve-volleying, and looks to overpower Mac from back of court and pass him as needed. And he's largely successful and in command doing so... but for the extraordinary returning off Mac's. Mac charge returns regularly... the most salient feature of his 21 return-approaches isn't that he's coming to net, but that he takes the ball remarkably early. and hits hard, regularly against the first serve even

Serve, Return & Serve-Volleying
Not much going on with the serves

Becker doesn't serve full throttle, though he's far from rolling it in, until the third set. And he only manages 20/41 first serves in then. Also serve-volleys most at that time
Mac's serve is quite ordinary, above average at best. Note high 24% serves to the body, and many others are body-ish serves. In other words, no trouble for Becker to reach the ball and its not powerful enough to cramp him. Becker returns at least comfortably all match. Mac too saves his biggest serving for the last set

Becker generally returns firmly against first serves, short of overpoweringly. Mac isn't great on the first volley. Note just 5 first volley winners. And he doesn't put the non-winners in corners too much either... Becker has half-decent shots on the fourth ball mostly. Against the second serve, Becker looks to take big cuts and from there, overpower Mac from the baseline

Mac's returning is fabulous. Even at the start, Becker's serving a meaty second serve (by the end, its downright strong by any standard)… but Mac is prone to charging it. Does so often even against the first serve. 7 of Mac's 21 return-approaches are against first serves

In addition to 4 return winners he hits in this way, the ball comes back to Becker hard and deep enough that they'd be challenging to put back in play even without Mac taking net (statistically, this raises the question if these balls should be counted net points. They all have been, other than the winners). And for all that aggression... he returns with great judgment. Note just 2 errors trying to return-approach... I'd call the bulk of his return-approaches highly risky, low percentage shots

Not only does he pull them off, but he barely misses to boot. Including in the third set, when Becker was going all out with the serve. Extraordinary display from Mac, perhaps the finest returning of his career against a very dangerous serve

If that weren't enough, note what he's done to the serve-volleying Boris. Becker wins a low 57% coming in behind the serve, and just 11/20 off the first serve... and this is with him coming in randomly (i.e. he has the surprise element on his side)

I'd say this was probably a case of percentages all lining up Mac's way on the day. While returning first serve fairly surely, he also made a fair number of weak returns - as you'd expect against Boris. But it seems every time Boris serve-volleys, Mac makes one of his better returns that reach Becker low. Most of Boris' 5 volleying FEs are against the return - and most are hard forced errors. Some of the 5 UEs aren't too easy either - though Becker doesn't volley particularly well

Its doubtful Mac saw Becker coming in behind serves early enough to adjust his return... just seems his better returns coincided with Becker's serve-volley points
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Hall of Fame
Play - Baseline, Volleys & Passes
Becker looks to overpower McEnroe from the baseline to win his service games, and react to Mac's net play on return. He's not particularly keen to take net himself initially, but turns to it after going down 2 sets

The power difference is very large. Boris is hammering groundstrokes of both sides, hitting winners and forcing errors and generally, looking like a bully. Mac makes a big effort to hang in, but that looks to be about all he's capable of

Appearances are somewhat deceptive though. On a slow court like this, just pounding winners and forcing errors is likely to not be enough to hold regularly; a player trying would also need to be considerably more consistent off the ground, i.e. needs the other guy to make unforced errors. Becker's play is usually aggressive and even his neutral shots are of the 'beat down', as opposed to 'outlast' sort... but Mac proves steady from the back (regardless of how outmatched he looks)

Look at the very low 6 groundstroke UEs for Mac. Becker has 8 (discounting one pass attempt). Becker would need Mac to be missing more routine balls to be on the safe side of holding serve comfortably

Becker does get the better of baseline rallies - he hits a much larger number of winners and forces far more errors, and he's heavy enough of shot to keep Mac back (just 11 non-serve or return approaches. Becker has 17)… but probably not enough. No preference of attacking side from Boris - he hits big of both - but the FH is predictably more damaging

When Boris does come forward, he has an up and down evening... more down. Some poor errors prove costly. And later, he finds Mac making improbable and unexpectedly strong passes. While its unlikely this would continue over an extended period of time, one can't fault Boris for staying so much given the results he got at net. Just 56% points won there

Note how much Boris struggled even on first serve. Sans aces and service winners, he wins just 22/45 on first serve - which can be divided further into 11/20 serve-volleying and 11/25 staying back. Great credit here to Mac's returning, and court game

Mac serve-volleys off all first serves. Don't think Boris returns particularly well... there's plenty of scope to thrash the average Mac serve. If anything, fortune is on Boris' side with how Mac volleys

The quality of the first volley is well down from Mac's norm... little goes to corners, most balls leave Boris a decent look at least at a pass. As from the baseline, so on the volley.... Mac twists and turns and puts in straining effort to make the difficult ones. And largely succeeds. 'A' for effort, but 'B' for quality of volleying.

Becker shows a certain lack of heart against Mac's return-approaches. A small number are just regular chip-charges, but the regular 'rip'-charges seem to have disheartened him. Plays some very lacklustre pass attempts even against returns which left him in good position to pass. Note despite winning 15/21 return-approach points, Mac doesn't have a single winner from such a play. That's mostly because the returns are usually so strong the Becker can't get third ball in play, but in minority cases where he has the chance, he passes poorly. Small blackmark against Boris in this area

Match Progression
In first set, Becker returns Mac's serve easily and while staying back on his own, overpowers Mac from the back even more easily. He's broken though mostly due to missing two easy volleys. And breaks right back - half due to his confident hitting, half Mac missing easy shots in forecourt

Becker continues to make moderate inroads in Mac's service games without being too troublesome, but set ends with a sensational return game from Mac. After Becker goes 15-0 up with a full run, running-down-drop-shot FH dtl winner at net, Mac evens by slapping away a BH dtl at net, taking advantage of Becker's volley having popped over on a net chord

Mac return-approaches next 3 points, the middle one going for a winner. Becker has look at the last pass but misses - and Mac takes the set

Mac scores the first break in the second set with more very bold approaching. It seems to be wearing on Boris. Break point down, he offers no shot to a hard hit, charging return that lands well in right in front of him. Next game, he pats a return into the ground the way one does a fault - only the ball was well in. Strange to see 2 such misjudgements in quick succession.

Becker breaks back in similar fashion to the first, but is broken in a curiously badly played game. He misses an easy BHV into wide open court trying to cutely drop volley the ball, and follows up with a wild mishit FH winner attempt to go down 30-40. He save that break point with a service winner, but its the return-approaches again that finish him. Or rather, this time, he allows them to finish him. The first return is excellent and strongly forces an error. The next 2 though are both against first serves and Becker has good looks on the pass, with Mac not in good position. He misses both by a long way, almost carelessly

With Mac serving for the set, Becker fights back from 40-0 down to have break point with powerful returns and passes - but Mac sees it through with volleying winners, finishing with his second ace

Third set is best of the bunch. Becker serves harder and comes to net more. Mac also serve more strongly and adventurously of placement. Mac breaks to love in game 3 in one of the best return games you'll see - dispatching a flub volley for a winner, a BH inside-in return pass winner, a very strong charge return against the first serve and finally, a runaround charge return that goes for another winner

Becker again, breaks back at once

Couple of games later, there's a point that makes a point about who's the boss out there. Becker in this set had taken to return-approaching Mac style... hitting strong groundies and coming in. He does so to a typical Mac second serve to the body and hits it very powerfully and deep. Its the sort of return Mac had been hitting at him, and leaving him helpless with all night

Mac though, isn't helpless. He BHVs Becker's return from very low and just inside the baseline. And begins to follow that to net... but the shots good enough to force Becker to error. Great play from Becker... an even better reply from Mac

Becker finally gives up the last break in a game where he's at net regularly and Mac's strong on the pass. Game ends though same way as other breaks had - 2 return-approaches, 2 BH pass errors. Mac serves out the match with 3 unreturned serves in a row - 2 of them aces

Summing up, an incredible display of attacking returning from McEnroe leaves Becker helpless and apparently disheartened to the point of learnt helplessness. Play is otherwise unexceptional - Becker more powerful off the ground, Mac quite steady there and odd lapses from Boris, particularly on the volley and pass playing a hand in the result


Two players that I like very much. Only saw snippets of this match but I remember this pretty surprising defeat of Boris, the defending champion, against a Mac far from his prime (last pro season if I'm not mistaken).

Always thought that a defeat in three sets sounded a bit harsh. Wasn't Boris struggling with a leg injury or something, as he wore those blue "protections" that he used to wear from time to time between 1990-92...?

Nice review as always. :cool:

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Hall of Fame
Wasn't Boris struggling with a leg injury or something, as he wore those blue "protections" that he used to wear from time to time between 1990-92...?
Don't know, but there's a simpler explanation for the 'under-shorts' or whatever they're called

commentary isn't in a language I understand, so didn't pick up anything from there, but its obvious that it was cold. Fans are wearing jackets, as are lines people and ball boys. McEnroe puts on his track suit top during changeovers. And Becker was playing in a sleeveless sweater throughout

He played over half the match in regular shorts, and added the under-shorts thing late in the second set... my guess would be he was just feeling cold


Well, you could all be right Waspsting.

I'll just add "for the records" :cool: that I'm not sure that coolness was an issue for Boris. I may be wrong of course but I remember that he said in an interview circa 1991 or 92 that he didn't like the hot temperatures in Australia, that he had to go there way before the tournament to adapt to the heat... depends of course how cold it was that night...

As for the undershorts, I saw Boris use them on and off between end of 1990 and let's say 1992... he first wore them at the ATP Masters in 1990 which took place two weeks after the Paris Open final.

Boris was supposed to play that final against Edberg but had to retire at 3-3 1st set due to a leg injury. It all started here.

Two weeks after, he was barely on feet to play at the Masters where he lost, I think, to Agassi in the semis. Number one ranking was at stake - what he would actually achieve a few weeks later in... Australia - and I believe that he and his doctors made whatever was possible to compete, even if not at 100 percent. It's during that Masters that I first saw the blue undershorts that he would wear on and off in various tournaments, indoors or outdoors for two years or so.

I'm pretty sure that he struggled with his legs for a certain period of time after that injury in Bercy in November 1990. More I can't say because I don't know...

I'm not saying that he was diminished that night against Mac, I was just trying to find a sort of rational explanation for this rather severe loss.

But all credits to Mac of course ! :cool:
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