Match Stats/Report - McEnroe vs Connors, Wimbledon final, 1984

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
John McEnroe beat Jimmy Connors 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 in the Wimbledon final, 1982 on grass

McEnroe was the defending champion and playing in his 5th straight final at the event and this would turn out to be his last Wimbledon title and final. For Connors, it was his last Slam final. He had beaten McEnroe in the title match two years ago
@krosero previously posted stats for this match - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/stats-for-1984-w-final-mcenroe-connors.171490/

McEnroe won 83 points, Connors 42

McEnroe serve-volleyed off all serves, Connors off the majority of first serves and about half the time off seconds

Serve Stats
McEnroe...
- 1st serve percentage (40/55) 73%
- 1st serve points won (34/40) 85%
- 2nd serve points won (10/15) 67%
- Aces 10 (1 second serve and 1 not clean), Service Winners 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (27/55) 49%

Connors...
- 1st serve percentage (47/70) 67%
- 1st serve points won (24/47) 51%
- 2nd serve points won (7/23) 30%
- Double Faults 5
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (17/70) 24%

Serve Patterns
McEnroe served...
- to FH 44%
- to BH 42%
- to Body 15%

Connors served...
- to FH 48%
- to BH 45%
- to Body 8%

Return Stats
McEnroe made...
- 48 (31 FH, 17 BH), including 5 return-approaches
- 7 Winners (4 FH, 3 BH)
- 17 Errors, comprising...
- 2 Unforced (2 BH)
- 15 Forced (7 FH, 8 BH)
- Return Rate (48/65) 74%

Connors made...
- 28 (13 FH, 15 BH)
- 2 Winners (1 FH, 1 BH)
- 15 Errors, all forced...
- 15 Forced (8 FH, 7 BH)
- Return Rate (28/55) 51%

Break Points
McEnroe 7/12 (7 games)
Connors 0

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
McEnroe 25 (7 FH, 9 BH, 5 FHV, 1 BHV, 3 OH)
Connors 12 (2 FH, 6 BH, 3 FHV, 1 BHV)

McEnroe had 10 from serve-volley points -
- 7 first 'volleys' (4 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 FH at net, 1 BH at net)
- 3 second 'volleys' (1 FHV, 1 OH, 1 BH at net)

- 1 other OH came from a return-approach

- FH passes - 3 inside-out (2 returns), 1 inside-in return and 1 lob
- regular FH - 1 dtl return
- BH passes - 1 cc, 1 dtl return, 1 inside-out, 1 lob and 1 net chord pop over
- regular BHs - 1 cc return and 1 net chord dribbler (with Connors at net)

Connors had 4 from serve-volley points -
- 2 first volleys (1 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 2 second volleys (2 FHV)

- FHs (both passes) - 2 cc (1 return)
- BH passes - 3 cc and 2 dtl (1 return, 1 at net)
- regular BH - 1 cc

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
McEnroe 13
- 3 Unforced (1 FH, 1 BH, 1 FHV)
- 10 Forced (6 FH, 1 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 43.3

Connors 26
- 8 Unforced (3 FH, 2 FHV, 3 BHV)
- 18 Forced (5 FH, 5 BH, 3 FHV, 3 BHV, 2 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 51.3

(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...
- 36/49 (73%) at net, including...
- 32/43 (74%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 23/29 (79%) off 1st serve..
- 9/14 (64%) off 2nd serve
--
- 3/5 (60%) return-approaching
- 1/2 forced back/retreated

Connors was...
- 24/50 (48%) at net, including...
- 23/46 (50%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 20/35 (57%) off 1st serve and..
- 3/11 (27%) off 2nd serve
--
- 0/2 forced back/retreated

Match Report
As close to flawless as you can get from McEnroe - serving, volleying, passing and returning. Famous blowouts usually feature a healthy dose of the loser playing badly (and usually, that's underplayed to play up the winners showing). Not here. Connors plays about as well as he's capable and allowed to - he even plays smart - but McEnroe just toys with him

Serve & Return
McEnroe serving at 73% on grass while serve-volleying 100% of the time is likely to mean his opponent isn't going to get a sniff on return. Even Jimmy Connors. And so it proves. 49% unreturned serves, 85% first serves won, 67% second serves won, 10 aces and no doubles.... its a hopeless uphill task facing Connors

I've seen Mac place serves more aggressively (i.e. more ace likely). "Just" 10 aces is probably lower than what he's capable. This is largely due to his serving a healthy chunk at the body (8 serves or 15%... and a not insignificant of others are directed crampingly close to Connors). Still gets unreturned serves of these, just not aces

Quality of Mac's second serve is worth noting. He's not serving 2 first serves by any means - the first serves is more powerful and more adventurously placed - but the second serves he delivers are good enough to act as normal first serves. Probably stronger than Connors' firsts... and he doesn't miss a one

Connors returns well. The ones he gets back, he mostly gets back with authority. Fair few low and/or powerfully hit balls for McEnroe to volley first up

Connors' I suppose doesn't serve particularly well. 67% is low for him and what you might get if he was looking to serve particularly hard. Doesn't look particularly hard to me - just his usual pace, so could probably have had a higher percentage. Note also the high 5 double faults

Not that his serving higher percentage would have been likely to make much difference. As often the case, his first serve and second serve are about the same of strength

McEnroe returns fantastically. Taking his serving for granted, its usually the returning that catches my eye in his better performances

With Connors mostly serve-volleying, he's greeted with a host of low or wide first volleys of decent power. And 7 return of serve winners (4 passes, 2 normal and 1 net chord dribbler). The effortlessness of style adds to the impression of toying... strong returns, including winners against Connors on the baseline seem to just be tapped back. Scarcely an easy first volley for Jimbo

Connors serve isn't strong... but there's not much more anyone could do to it than Mac did

Note Connors serving 48% to FH and 45% to BH. Don't think that's the ideal distribution. Mac's more likely to chip-charge off the BH, but he hits FH returns a lot harder and covers that side more comprehensively

Serve-Volleying, Net Play & Passing
When the return is made, Mac usually has a difficult to not-easy first volley. He makes errors on 3 near impossible ones but everything else he puts in play. Usually with decisive placement (couple of winners from not easy volleys from under the net). Near flawless in the forecourt too for Mac

Facing a handful coming forward, Connors struggles up front, winning just less than 50% at net and exactly 50% serve-volleying. That's overwhelmingly down to quality of Mac's returning and passing. Even the 5 volleying UEs of Connors are on the harder side

So why does he keep coming in?

Because the alternative is Mac doing so. Mac chip-charges the first return he faces in the match... a first serve Connors comes in behind. Connors is up to making the first volley winner on that occasion, but its obvious Mac's in the mood to come in to net when he can. Also, that was largely how he was playing round about this period

Connors staying back on serves would likely lead to baseline rallies he'd probably lose the bulk of, or McEnroe manufacturing an approach of (which I suspect Connors would lose a lot more than 50% of)

I think Connors serve-volleying so much, despite getting passed and troubled doing so was still his best shot

Most of Mac's 5 return-approaches aren't chip-charges. 2-3 are strong and/or well placed regular returns that Connors has to move to and Mac comes in on that chance

Both players pass well - Connors more powerfully, Mac with better placement - but Mac is far better at covering the net and on the volley
---

Quality of Mac's play is so high that few points stand out, the norm is just that good. He slips when making a first volley, Connors runs forward to angle the pass at net but Mac manages to get up, chase the ball down on the other side of the forecourt and ease a BH over the net for a winner. Impressive as than the volley winners are, Mac's aggressive low volleys to the corners are even more so. Balls which might be marked forced errors had he missed whisked away almost everytime as to leave Connors with no chance
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
McEnroe's Unforced Errors & Stats Taking
One of the things this match is famous for is McEnroe having 2 (sometimes quoted as 3) unforced errors for the match

We get to examine that closely because they put up stats regularly, and Bud Collins is good enough to specify exactly what was Mac's first UE (as marked by whoever was tracking it, not by Bud's judgement)

I think they undercounted slightly. I have Mac with 3 in play and 2 returns for a total of 5. Broadcast have him with 2... and I know 1 of them for sure because its pointed out

Usually, when UE counts are given for a match, the figure includes returns and double faults (I tend to speak of UEs for a match excluding those) So I'd tend to think Mac's generally quoted figure of 2-3 includes return UEs

He misses two routine second serve returns on which Connors stays back, which I think anyone would mark unforced. But broadcast stats don't seem to have regarded them so - they still have him on 0 going into the third set. If so, they regard all return errors as being forced.... you won't get more unforced than those two

Broadcast stats taker gives Mac his first on a FH lob error, Set 3, Game 4, Point 1. Its simple as far as passes go. I very rarely give UEs of passes and didn't mark it so

The contradiction is that there was a significantly easier passing error Set 1, Game 4, Point 2 which they marked forced. Connors had been forced to make a defensive first 1/2volley, Mac had time to step in to about 1/2 way between baseline and service line, line up the shot... and hit it half way up the net. I thought about marking that one unforced, but erred on the side of technical correctness and let it go as a forced error

The point though is... if the point in set 3 was marked UE, so should the point in set 1. Either that - or neither... hard to justify marking 1 and not the other as UE

I marked a Mac FHV as UE which they didn't. Its not an easy volley... above average power, slightly below the net (thigh height). Not easy, not hard... more easy than hard.... that one can be marked either way

The second UE they marked (in common with me) is a BH. This one is straightforward... Mac smashes on the backpedal and keeps going back, Connors manages to get that back with no great authority and Mac on the baseline nets the BH

The third UE I marked (and they didn't) is a marginal one that can go either way. Mac has to move to a ball to his FH. He has to move significantly, but is there in good time, the ball isn't particularly powerful but is very deep (lands on the baseline) but Mac's a few feet behind and has time to see it bound and play it normally (i.e. not 1/2volley it as he tends to)…. in a nutshell... average power, deep (but with Mac in position to play it normally), wide (but Mac there in good time)

Summing this up -
- they've excluded 2 return errors that I think are clearly UEs
- 1 BH we agree on
- 1 FHV I gave and they didn't (could go either way)
- 1 FH I gave and they didn't (could go either way)
- 1 passing error they gave that I didn't (could go either way, but whichever way it does, there's another shot that has to go the same way)

Making allowance for judgement calls (and including returns), Mac with minimum 3 and maximum 7 UEs then
Excluding returns as I like to report, Mac with minimum 1 and maximum 5
---

Summing up the match, near perfect from McEnroe and a performance up there as a best ever candidate. Connors doesn't play badly - even plays smart - just can't get anywhere doing it

Stats for the pairs match at the French Open that here - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-mcenroe-vs-connors-french-open-semi-final-1984.656176/
 

urban

Legend
Nice summary. Macs performance was breathtaking, with his "murderous" serving, as Dan Maskell observed, and impeccable returning and volleying. I recall this point, when he fell and got up to place a deadly volley. And i remember another point, when he played a little, low lob down the middle over Connors, who was misguided to a side moving. It is to be said, that the older Connors looked to me a bit rusty, coming of a hard semi with Lendl, and lacked his earlier mobility. He serve wasnt that effective on grass, he needed a high percentage of first serves like in the 1982 final, when he served much, much better. Connors could be blown away on grass by good returnig, Ashe did that for two sets in 1975, Borg in 1978 and 1979, even Curren in 1985. Even Rosewall in his 1, 1 and 4 losing match with Connors in 1974 had two service breaks.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
I recall this point, when he fell and got up to place a deadly volley. And i remember another point, when he played a little, low lob down the middle over Connors, who was misguided to a side moving.
if the first point is the one I'm thinking off, it wasn't a volley (was deadly though - ended the point). He slipped again a couple points later, but Connors made the FH cc winner

He serve wasnt that effective on grass, he needed a high percentage of first serves like in the 1982 final, when he served much, much better.
In this match, don't think it would have mattered much... and with Connors so frequenlty winning higher percentage of second serve points than first serve, can't even say it wouldn't have hurt. Mac just returned too well.... he'd have to have a stronger serve. Don't think there's anything he could do with it being what it was that would have been a big dampener on Mac's parade

What happened to his serve? I saw the '74 finals' on grass against Ken Rosewall. In those, Connors has a normal, strong serve game for grass (strong serve, frequent serve-volley). I get he might have been regarded as unorthodox at the time because he wasn't serve-volleying religously as was the norm(?), but near enough as to make little difference

But just a couple of years later, his serve seems to have devolved into a gimme, and understandably, he doesn't want to serve-volley behind it. Now his style of play is a category removed from classic or even quasi-classic

Haven't seen the '82 Wimby final, but statt-ed '82 Queens final. Connors volleyed sensationally there, and I see in my report, I've noted that the commentators went on about his "improved serve", but it looked about the same to me

Connors could be blown away on grass by good returnig, Ashe did that for two sets in 1975, Borg in 1978 and 1979, even Curren in 1985. Even Rosewall in his 1, 1 and 4 losing match with Connors in 1974 had two service breaks.
Agree completely and it seems to me to be broader than just that - and go into the weakness of his serve itself

On grass, the base of a strong game is having strong enough serve that you can mostly take holding serve for granted... and what little you can do on return putting you over against quality players of the same type

Connors doesn't have the first going for him, which puts him at a huge handicap

I did the '78 final with Borg. Just watching it, I think people would correctly say Borg played fabulously. Now sans serve-volleying and Borg's powerful first serve, the two were dead even. So if Borg played fabulously and Connors was his equal.... it follows logically, Connors played fabulously too

But he sure doesn't look it... because his serve is a gimme and he has to scrape for everything on it (much credit to Borg's returning too, but Connors serve is the biggest factor in this)

For the most part, a returner can only return as well as he's allowed on grass. Mac, Borg, Ashe, Curren can return at their best... if they do so against fellow strong servers, 6-4 is a likely scoreline. Against Connors, 6-1 or 6-2s tend to happen - a blowout
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
@Waspsting I gotta say I'm not a fan of creating separate threads for match stats/reports. I get that you've spent a lot of time on yours for nothing and want your work to be recognized, but so do other posters and in my ten years as an active member I honestly can't recall a single instance where they didn't post their work in an existing thread when available. This Former Pro (sub)forum especially serves in large part as a repository of otherwise inaccessible/obscure records about the sport's past and I can only imagine the chaos that would ensue if everyone created a new thread with their own stats for a match as famous as this.

I normally report duplicate threads like this to be merged with the old ones but out of respect for all your contributions I'll let you make the call. Hope you'll take my suggestion to heart.

As for the issue of counting UFEs, my understanding is that return errors per tradition are always excluded. But perhaps Moose or @krosero can point to a different official practice from the past.
 

krosero

Legend
Up to Wasp of course, but keeping stats in one thread would be good if only to keep things simple. When I've looked through the big Match Statistics thread, and I've looked for stats for a particular match, I usually assume there's one thread for it, and once I find a thread for it, I stop looking.

Incidentally it turned out to be a tremendous idea to set up that thread as a sticky, just from the point of view of efficiency. I use it all the time now.
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
Up to Wasp of course, but keeping stats in one thread would be good if only to keep things simple. When I've looked through the big Match Statistics thread, and I've looked for stats for a particular match, I usually assume there's one thread for it, and once I find a thread for it, I stop looking.

Incidentally it turned out to be a tremendous idea to set up that thread as a sticky, just from the point of view of efficiency. I use it all the time now.
Forgot to reply to this earlier and just getting to it now. Yeah I just don't like the idea of having to browse multiple threads for match stats. Again it's up to each and every contributor, but keeping 'em all in the same place is one of the (rare) TTW traditions worth keeping. (Just think about those that are not!)

And that's by the best sticky in TTW history. Absolutely agree it's paid multiple dividends (though I still google individual matches to be on the safe side).

BTW do you know the A to my earlier Q? Whether official stats always count return-of-serve errors as UFEs?
 

krosero

Legend
BTW do you know the A to my earlier Q? Whether official stats always count return-of-serve errors as UFEs?
Wimbledon seems to have excluded return errors from UE counts, at least generally. There was an article in USA Today back in 2007, in which Brad Gilbert said:

"The difference between stats in Australia and Wimbledon is mind-boggling. Guy hits a 123-mph second serve in Australia and it’s an unforced error. If it’s a 72-mph serve at Wimbledon, it’s not."​
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
Wimbledon seems to have excluded return errors from UE counts, at least generally. There was an article in USA Today back in 2007, in which Brad Gilbert said:

"The difference between stats in Australia and Wimbledon is mind-boggling. Guy hits a 123-mph second serve in Australia and it’s an unforced error. If it’s a 72-mph serve at Wimbledon, it’s not."​
You know, we've been wondering how Wimbledon seems to inflate its winner/UFE ratio compared to most other events, 'cause there's really not so much room for interpretation with respect to winners/UFEs off the ground, and I think we might finally have our answer. (Or maybe you already did, dunno.) The difference must be in how they count serves and returns, and Brad's observation makes a lot of sense now.

Which also means I mostly got the official practice of (not) counting return errors right. :happydevil: Still it's annoying that not even the majors can agree on this rather important stat. If the most important events in tennis choose to use a tracking system of their own choosing then how on earth can you expect the sport as a whole to adopt a consistent one across the board?
 
I notice something very surprising about these stats. Connors had an unreturned serve percentage of 24%. That is pretty good for Connors. I have seen plenty of times he has had unreturned serve stats much lower than this, and in matches he won. How on earth did he get such a decent percentage in the 1984 Wimbledon final, and lose 7 out of 11 of his service games? Was McEnroe going for his returns so much he missed a fair number? Or did Connors serve decently (by his standards) and still get his serve taken apart?
I haven't seen the match since it happened in 1984 when I was a child, and I remember little of the match.
 

bjsnider

Hall of Fame
This match took place right in the middle of the worst upheaval in equipment perhaps in tennis history. Some players, including, thanks to his brother, Mac, had switched to graphite sticks early. Many players and tennis cognoscenti thought that Mac was dominating the tour in '84 at least in part because most of his opponents were still using wood racquets. That was not quite true of Connors, but he was using an old stick. After this match, he switched to the Pro Staff mid. He played Mac at the Open in the semi with a lead taped Pro Staff and did much better -- he didn't win, but he hung in there.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
I notice something very surprising about these stats. Connors had an unreturned serve percentage of 24%. That is pretty good for Connors. I have seen plenty of times he has had unreturned serve stats much lower than this, and in matches he won.
Connors was serve-volleying a lot here - 35/47 off 1st serve at 74% and 11/18 off 2nd at 61% - I think that accounts for the high number

I gather he didn't serve-volley that much too often? in the few matches of his I've looked at where he does, his unreturned rate is about the same

- 24% vs Rosewall '74 Wimby - serve-volleying 35/57 off 1st at 61% and 18/30 off 2nd at 60%
- 29% vs Rosewall, '74 US Open - serve-volleying 31/45 off 1st at 68% and 14/23 off 2nd at 61%
- 28% vs Newcombe, '75 Aus Open - serve-volleying 73/93 off 1st at 78% and 11/40 off 2nd at 28%
- 31% vs Tanner, '75 Wimby - serve-volleying 33/43 off 1st at 76% and 9/22 off 2nd at 41%

By contrast
- 7% vs Borg, '78 Wimby - serve-volleying 11/58 off 1st at 19% and 1/39 off 2nd at 3%
- 19% vs Borg, '78 US Open - 5/62 off 1st at 8%, 0 off 2nd

Couple of things here. His serve in those '74-75 matches looks significantly stronger than in '84 - which would also explain why he didn't serve-volley behind it as much in later years as well as partially account for the higher unreturned rates

All of these 20%+ matches are on grass, where serve-volleying is more effective than other surfaces
I haven't seen him serve-volley regularly off grass. At '80 Masters vs Borg on quick carpet court, he s/v's 0 times

How on earth did he get such a decent percentage in the 1984 Wimbledon final, and lose 7 out of 11 of his service games? Was McEnroe going for his returns so much he missed a fair number? Or did Connors serve decently (by his standards) and still get his serve taken apart?
I think he served harder than he was wont to in this period, as you do when serve-volleying

His percentage of 67% is actually low (for him).... 80% is common, certainly in this period
Also matters less for him than most others. He wins as many or even more second serve points than first regularly

From Mac's point of view, Connors with 24% unreturned serves is very good

Against regular serve-volleying, players return lower percentage because they're mindful that any weak returns will be dispatched at net. Making 3/4 returns when returning aggresively enough to leave at least a challenging first volley is good for the returner

In Lendl's wins (including even thrashings) over McEnroe, he typically gives up 30-35% unreturned serves. For example, Mac with 37% unreturned in '87 US Open match

37% unreturned serves seems huge... but from returners point of view, its acceptable to ensure challenging third balls
24% by contrast is low and a relative fail for the server. He'd have to volley very, very well to keep holding with a figure like that

Numbers aside, my feeling is Connors' serve was weak enough in this match that there's potential for a good returning taking it apart, though he'd have to return and play well to do it. Mac does both in spades
 

robow7

Professional
I once saw an interview with Mac and he was talking about where only in a few instances over his entire career that he was "in the zone" and this was one of them. He said that on that day, the tennis ball looked as large as a basketball.
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
At the time I thought that was the best I'd ever seen anyone play. He just toyed with him, literally. And I'd seen Connors play matches that were so much worse than he played here. Matches where he was spraying unforced errors all over the place. That was not the case here. Certainly not playing great, but not terrible. Yet he lost 2/3 of the points.
Imagine telling someone that Mcenroe would win only 1 more grand slam tournament after this. Without bad injuries or something flukely like that.
 
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