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

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
John McEnroe beat Jimmy Connors 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 in the French Open semi-final, 1984 on clay

McEnroe would go onto lose the final to Ivan Lendl. He had been unbeaten in the year to date and this is the only time he reached the final at the event

McEnroe won 102 points, Connors 72

McEnroe serve-volleyed off all but 2 first serves

(Note: I'm missing a Connors service game, which he held and 1 McEnroe service point, which he won. Connors' total points includes 4... i.e. total points are as if the missing game was a love hold - which is unlikely)

Serve Stats
McEnroe...
- 1st serve percentage (44/92) 48%
- 1st serve points won (36/44) 82%
- 2nd serve points won (26/48) 54%
- {Unknown serve point (1/1) 100%}
- Aces 12, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (28/92) 30%

Connors...
- 1st serve percentage (54/77) 70%
- 1st serve points won (23/54) 43%
- 2nd serve points won (15/23) 65%
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (14/77) 18%

Serve Patterns
McEnroe served...
- to FH 39%
- to BH 57%
- to Body 5%

Connors served...
- to FH 53%
- to BH 37%
- to Body 9%

Return Stats
McEnroe made...
- 61 (40 FH, 21 BH), including 8 runaround FHs & 4 return-approaches
- 1 Winner (1 FH)
- 14 Errors, comprising...
- 6 Unforced (5 FH, 1 BH), including 2 runaround FHs & 1 return-approach attempt
- 8 Forced (6 FH, 2 BH)
- Return Rate (61/75) 81%

Connors made...
- 61 (21 FH, 40 BH)
- 3 Winners (3 BH)
- 15 Errors, comprising...
- 3 Unforced (2 FH, 1 BH)
- 12 Forced (7 FH, 5 BH)
- Return Rate (61/89) 69%

Break Points
McEnroe 6/8 (7 games)
Connors 1/7 (4 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
McEnroe 27 (4 FH, 5 BH, 8 FHV, 3 BHV, 7 OH)
Connors 14 (3 FH, 8 BH, 1 FHV, 2 OH)

McEnroe had 11 from serve-volley points
- 4 first volleys (2 FHV, 2 BHV)
- 7 second volleys (3 FHV, 1 BHV, 3 OH)

- 1 other FHV was a stop

- FHs - 2 dtl (1 return), 1 dtl/inside-out pass and 1 drop shot
- BHs - 1 cc pass, 2 dtl (1 pass), 1 inside-out pass and 1 lob

Connors' FHs - 1 cc at net, 1 dtl and 1 inside-out
- BH passes - 1 cc, 3 dtl returns, 1 longline and 1 inside-out/longline
- regular BHs - 2 drop shots (1 at net)

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
McEnroe 37
- 18 Unforced (8 FH, 4 BH, 5 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 19 Forced (7 FH, 10 BH, 1 BHV, 1 OH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 49.4

Connors 44
- 36 Unforced (17 FH, 17 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 8 Forced (2 FH, 6 BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46.7

(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...
- 35/49 (71%) at net, including...
- 22/31 (71%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 21/29 (72%) off 1st serve and...
- 1/2 (50%) off 2nd serve
--
- 1/4 (25%) return-approaching

Connors was...
- 13/21 (62%) at net, with...
- 0/1 forced back/retreated

Match Report
A lively, though below average playing quality of a match. McEnroe serves at just 48% and doesn't volley particularly well. Connors not only doesn't play well, but bafflingly so... his numbers and strategy (or lack of) are more than a little odd

Look at Connors service numbers

- 1st serve points won 43%, 2nd serve points won 65%

That's strange enough... but its the same in all three sets

- 1st set.... 1st serve points won 52%, second serve points won 67%
- 2nd set... 1st serve points won 20%, second serve points won 67% (missing 1 game, which Connors held)
- 3rd set... 1st serve points won 41%, second serve points won 63%

What gives? I think Connors served well. Obviously his first serve isn't huge, but he serve pretty hard and places it well. McEnroe, as ever, reads it perfectly and moves to cover it when needed. My observation is Connors, probably psychologically more than anything else, played differently of his two serves

First serve points, he hit his groundstrokes hard and harder. Second serve points, he played a bit more conservatively. No real reason other than psychological for this to be so... Mac returned both serves at about the same level of aggression. And he tended the harder he hit the ball, the more UEs he made

Next, we come to Connors serving patterns. He serves 53% to Mac's FH and 37% to the BH

Why would he do this? Its obvious Mac hits his FH returns harder and covers more ground with it. Mac has runaround 8 BHs to hit FHs (including a couple of first serves).... he's smacking FH returns while guiding/pushing BHs back in play and he obviously prefers returning with the FH. And Connors, apparently likes serving there. By what reasoning, I don't know

In play, Connors falls into the same self-defeating trap I've seen in almost all his matches with McEnroe and Lendl from this period. He's hammering his groundstrokes hard and heavy... but its clearly not enough to regularly force errors. However, the heavier/harder he hits, the more unforced errors he himself makes... its not a winning plan

But he goes on with it. And yields 34 unforced errors of the ground (17 of each wing). On the positive side, he's hit 3 baseline-to-baseline winners (including a drop shot) and forced a total of 17 groundstroke errors (mostly via net play). Not a winning a plan

He does well at net, winning 13/21, with 1 point lost being when he was forced back from net. But he doesn't come in much, preferring to blast away from the baseline - with the results shown in the above paragraph

Connors has the better of the match for most of the first set, breaks to go up 5-4 and leave himself serving for the set. In this first set - the only real competitive part of the match, he's hammering groundstrokes, the BH particularly varied and strong. Most of these heavy groundies would make good approach shots

In this match and in general, Connors doesn't seem to like approaching of his regular groundstrokes... he premediates his approach shots, which while heavier than most players', are a lot softer than his own regular shots

He's the more aggresive player, baseline-to-baseline. McEnroe goes toe-to-toe with him on FHs, but is a lot more passive on BH, often slicing. McEnroe is the one doing most of the running... Connors has good control in changing direction

But its not enough to force points to an end on clay. In other matches, its usually not enough to force points to an end on hard court or carpet even (he does seem to be hitting the ball even harder here, making his own power). He won't come in to finish points but keep blasting away... and usually, the point ends when he makes an unforced error

Good scampering and defence from Mac... steady on the BH (just 4 UEs, Connors has 17) and a match for Jimbo on power of the FH (while being a lot more secure - 8 UEs to Connors' 17).... but mostly discredit for Connors planning. More so than his execution even

Note Connors with 17 UEs of both FH and BH. Usually, its heavily tilted towards the FH. That's how it is in for the first set. On the FH, it looks like if you he has to hit enough of them, he'll make an error sooner rather than later - one gets the sense its just not a very steady shot. On BH, he probably just has a bad day

To highlight Connors' peculiar choices, he gets passed approaching off of shots that aren't a patch on the heavy groundstrokes he'd been hitting and staying back off

McEnroe for his part doesn't have great service day, with just 48% first serves in. But his serve his excellent - first and second.

12 aces (and 1 service winner) from 44 first serves against Jimmy Connors on clay is no easy feat. Connors doesn't even move for about half the aces... wouldn't have mattered if he had. Second serve isn't far off as strong as Connors' first... can probably force errors with it on a faster surface and even on this slow clay, the returns aren't gimmes. Connors returns solidly

Reading the Connors' serve as well as he does (and with most of them coming to his FH), Mac returns well and strongly. Initially, he chip-charges a few second serves (winning just 1/4), but later, takes to attacking second serves by running round and/or moving forward to take a big swing. Misses a few returns doing this... scope for improvement here

Baseline-to-baseline.... Mac has the edge due to Connors significanly greater error proneness, though he is more passive ("smartly realistic" might be another way to look at it)

On the pass, Mac is good and makes winning passes that are on the cards. A number of Connors' approaches leave are in situations when it would have taken a spectacular pass to get by ... the kind of shot that'd force an error even without an approach

6 volleying unforced errors for Mac is high for a short match. But the volleys he makes are crisp and precise... Connors passes with customary vigour

Summing up, a mismatch with John McEnroe having big advantages on the serve, volley and baseline. Connors perseveres with trying to overwhelm him from the baseline, though its obviously not working and doesn't even look to come in much as an alternative attacking angle. Primarily, bad strategy and little adaptation to it being so by Connors
 
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jrepac

Hall of Fame
I have to watch this on You Tube....it was not broadcast when it took place, I seem to recall. Was kind of bummed, since I figured JC had a good shot at McEnroe on the clay surface. And, he was ahead in that first set, only to squander it. I do recall JC being asked about Mac's play on clay and he said something along the lines of "he plays the same, on all surfaces" which was a testament to the greatness of Mac's S&V game at the time. I figured Mac was a lock to win it all and shut the final off when he was 2 sets up, as I had to go to a picnic. What a surprise when I got home and heard what happened.
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
I think USA showed the match on tape delay. By that point they were showing second week action that way. NBC had the finals live.

Pretty big point differential, although nothing like Wimbledon. While I thought the red clay would help Connors specifically towards Mcenroe, I was not expecting him to win. Closer than this, but not win. Mcenroe had destroyed him in Dallas a month or so before. More importantly, the way Mcenroe was playing on clay that year. Won Forest Hills, beating Lendl easily. The World Team Cup he won all his matches. I think he beat Lendl and Clerc badly. Straight sets. Maybe 2 and 3, something like that.

Again, I wasn't really expecting Connors to win. Just the way he lost. Of course, Wimbledon made this match look like a nail biter. But you never know. It's why they play. It certainly wouldn't have shocked me if Connors had won. They had played on har tru several times in the 70s and Connors won.

That really was Mcenroe's year until the third set of the final. At that point, who could possibly have thought Lendl would win. Back to that's why they play the matches.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
I think USA showed the match on tape delay. By that point they were showing second week action that way. NBC had the finals live.

Pretty big point differential, although nothing like Wimbledon. While I thought the red clay would help Connors specifically towards Mcenroe, I was not expecting him to win. Closer than this, but not win. Mcenroe had destroyed him in Dallas a month or so before. More importantly, the way Mcenroe was playing on clay that year. Won Forest Hills, beating Lendl easily. The World Team Cup he won all his matches. I think he beat Lendl and Clerc badly. Straight sets. Maybe 2 and 3, something like that.

Again, I wasn't really expecting Connors to win. Just the way he lost. Of course, Wimbledon made this match look like a nail biter. But you never know. It's why they play. It certainly wouldn't have shocked me if Connors had won. They had played on har tru several times in the 70s and Connors won.

That really was Mcenroe's year until the third set of the final. At that point, who could possibly have thought Lendl would win. Back to that's why they play the matches.
Mac was clearly on a roll in '84...I remember Forest Hills where he cleaned Lendl's clock. That was simply amazing. He made Ivan look like a piker. Prior to '84, Mac had never beaten JC on clay, so figured he had a decent chance. sure, he was a bit of an underdog, but I would've figured on a closer match. Credit to Mac who bounced back at Wimby 2 weeks later after a devastating loss...again hammering Connors who had a pretty good tournament up until that point.
 

Moose Malloy

G.O.A.T.
@Waspsting
I have the complete match, did stats on it a few years ago. I recall talking about it with WCT.

Connors 58-83 (70%)
1st serve pts won 27-58 (47%)
2nd serve pts won 14-25 (56%)

Have the same break points as you, so Connors didn't face break points in the missing game.

As far as Mac serving at only 48% here, well he only served at 50% vs Arias in the previous round. Much was made of his % dropping during the final(it was at 54% after 2 sets, by the end of the match it was 43%), but based on his QF and SF, 54% may have not been the norm for him during the tournament, so it may have been hard for him to keep it that high even if he didn't get tired.
 
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Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Connors 58-83 (70%)
1st serve pts won 27-58 (47%)
2nd serve pts won 14-25 (56%)
Connors...
- 1st serve percentage (54/77) 70%
- 1st serve points won (23/54) 43%
- 2nd serve points won (15/23) 65%
One point discrepancy between our counts aside, looks like Connors won 4/4 first serve points and possibly lost 1 or 2 second serve points

- 2nd set... 1st serve points won 20%, second serve points won 67% (missing 1 game, which Connors held)
My raw figures were first serve points won 2/10, second serve 4/6
Adding 4/4 first serve points won and say, giving him 0/2 second serve points comes to

- first serve points won 6/14 @ 43% and second serve points won 4/8 @ 50%

... still second serve point percentage > first serve point percentage in every set

That must be pretty rare

As far as Mac serving at only 48% here, well he only served at 50% vs Arias in the previous round. Much was made of his % dropping during the final(it was at 54% after 2 sets, by the end of the match it was 43%), but based on his QF and SF, 54% may have not been the norm for him during the tournament, so it may have been hard for him to keep it that high even if he didn't get tired.
k, thanks

Assuming he stayed back mostly on second serves, its a testmant to how good his ground game was

I reckon round about this period, he would have been top dog contender sans serve-volleying... his ground game is that strong.

Think he takes Connors purely from the baseline... Lendl is probably a bridge too far. That second serve is very good too... even on clay, not a gimme to attack or even get back (lot better than Lendl or Wilander's judging by the other semi final)
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
My memory is that Mcenroe serving % being in the 50s, or even high 40s, was not that unusual. I used to think that if he served 60% or above that he was serving well. He wasn't gong to be in the 70s like Connors, but he served so much bigger.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
My memory is that Mcenroe serving % being in the 50s, or even high 40s, was not that unusual. I used to think that if he served 60% or above that he was serving well. He wasn't gong to be in the 70s like Connors, but he served so much bigger.
correct; breaking 60% was very good for him...50'ish was typical
 
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