Match Stats/Report - McEnroe vs Wilander, Davis Cup, 1984


Hall of Fame
John McEnroe beat Mats Wilander 6-3 5-7 6-3 in a Davis Cup final dead rubber, 1984 on an indoor clay court in Gothenburg, Swedan

Wilander's Swedan team had already clinched the title, with Wilander having beaten Jimmy Connors and McEnroe having lost to Henrik Sundstrom in the first leg of singles rubbers. This was the only rubber won by Team USA

(Note: I'm missing serve direction data for 4 Wilander serve points - and McEnroe's corresponding return stat)

McEnroe won 112 points, Wilander 96

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (56/93) 60%
- 1st serve points won (46/56) 82%
- 2nd serve points won (19/37) 51%
- Aces 9, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 4
- Unreturned serve percentage (32/93) 34%

Wilander. ...
- 1st serve percentage (81/114) 71%
- 1st serve points won (51/81) 63%
- 2nd serve points won (17/33) 52%
- Aces 1
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned serve percentage (10/114) 9%

Serve Pattern
McEnroe served...
- to FH 43%
- to BH 53%
- to Body 4%

Wilander served...
- to FH 37%
- to BH 61%
- to Body 2%

Return Stats
McEnroe made...
- 101 (47 FH, 50 BH, 4 ??), including 10 runaround FHs
- 1 Winner (1 FH)
- 9 Errors, comprising...
- 7 Unforced (1 FH, 6 BH)
- 2 Forced (1 FH, 6 BH)
- Return Rate (101/111) 91%

Wilander made...
- 57 (24 FH, 33 BH), including 3 runaround FHs
- 3 Winners (2 FH, 1BH) - all passes
- 22 Errors, comprising...
- 4 Unforced (2 FH, 2 BH)
- 18 Forced (10 FH, 8 BH)
- Return Rate (57/89) 64%

Break Points
McEnroe 3/16 (6 games)
Wilander 1/7 (3 games)

Winners (including returns)
McEnroe 37 (9 FH, 8 BH, 8 FHV, 6 BHV, 6 OH)
Wilander 20 (4 FH, 4 BH, 4 FHV, 4 BHV, 4 OH)

(Note: 2 McEnroe winners - a FH and a BHV were not clean winners and have been included as judgement calls)

- for McEnroe, 4 FHVs were S/V points - 2 first volleys, 2 second volleys. 1 first volley was a neat little inside-out drop volley

- 1 FHV was a swinging shot from behind the service line and not a net point

- 4/6 BHVs were S/V points, all of them first volleys and 1 of them Wilander got the lightest of touches on

- 1 other BHV was a drop volley

- 1 OH was hit on the bounce from close to the baseline and another was an excellent shot leaping backwards and struck from behind the service line. The other 3 were regulation OHs

- he had 6 passes (1 FH, 5 BH). 3, including the FH were cc and 3 BHs were dtl. 1 of the BH dtl was a delicate chip

- 1 FH was a shot at net, 1 dribbled over the net while the remaining 6 were all dtl (some slightly inside-out but essentially dtl), including his sole return winner

- of the 3 non-pass BHs - 1 was a sliced drop shot, 1 was a sharply angeled cc and 1 was a would-be inside-out approach shot

- Wilander's only non-pass groundstroke was a FH at net

- he had 7 passes (3 FH, 4 BH).

- 2/3 of the FH passes were returns - 1 dtl and 1 a cc played from well back and fairly wide of the court. The non-return was dtl

- 1 BH pass was a return - an inside-in, 1 was a lob, 1 was a running down a McEnroe drop volley played at net and 1 was dtl from a slightly defensive position

- 3/4 FHVs were played to powerful McEnroe attempted passes - 1 was a well controlled drop volley, 1 was a reflex volley on the stretch and 1 bounced over after hitting the top of the net

- 1 FHV was a first volley from a S/V point, which hit the net and dribbled over

- 1 OH was on the back pedal and 1 was the third OH in a row on the point, after McEnroe made a miraculous get off the previous one

- Note the perfect symmetry of Wilander's winners breakdown

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
McEnroe 63
- 36 Unforced (12 FH, 19 BH, 3 FHV, 2 BHV)
- 27 Forced (10 FH, 14 BH, 1 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 1 BH1/2V)

UE forcefulness index 52.2/20-60

(Note: All half volleys refer to such shots played at net. Groundstroke half volleys have been included within the broader category of groundstrokes)

Wilander 39
- 23 Unforced (10 FH, 11BH, 2 BHV)
- 16 Forced (7 FH, 7 BH, 1 FHV, 1BHV)

UE forcefulness index 45.2/20-60

(Note: the UE forcefulness index is a measure of how aggressive the average UE for a player. 20 is minimum [Passive], 40 is neutral and 60 is maximum [Aggressive])

Net Points & Serve-Volley
McEnroe was 46/60 (77%) at net, including 29/37 serve-volleying (78%) - 28/36 off the first serve

He was 17/23 (74%) on all other approaches

He was forced back from net once but won the point from the baseline

Wilander was 31/42 (73%) at net, including 1/2 serve-volleying

He was 31/42 on all other approaches

He was forced back twice (1 S/V, 1 non-S/V) and won one such point (the non-S/V point)

Match Report
This was an excellent match and a fine demo of McEnroe balancing his aggressive tendencies with sound judgement

McEnroe serve-volleyed 36 times and stayed back 10 times off the 1st serve (in addition to serving 10 aces/service winners) and only S/V'd once off the 2nd

Maybe most tellingly, he returned 91% of Wilander's serves... the highest rate I've seen yet. While Wilander is hardly a big server and seemed to tone down his delivery on the clay, I would primarily credit the American here for an excellent showing on this front

With Mac excelling at S/V, aces and forcing returned serves, the critical part of the match became the baseline-to-baseline scenarios on his 2nd serve points and Wilander's service games

Wilander was the safer player here. There is a solidity about his strokes which make it easy to see why he was so successful on clay. Mac for his part, did not take a step back

He maintained a position on or close to the baseline and was content to rally from there without any undue desire to come forward

Mac's go-to shots to open up the court were the BH cross-court and FH down-the-line. The inevitable errors came mostly from his BH

Wilander looked to move Mac around and for the most part did - but couldn't count on his opponent making an unforced error to end the point. Thus, he was forced to attack a bit more - which left him vulnerable to Mac's go-to groundstrokes and net approaches

I was impressed by Wilander's net play also. He not only looked comfortable at net but was open to seeking out chances to come in. Once there, he volleyed very well - showing both touch and reflexes in putting away winners

Most Wilander holds in the 2nd set were tough affairs but he secured the decisive break against the run of play to push the match into a decider with a couple of excellent returns (and 2 poor volleying errors from his opponent)

The third featured the liveliest play of the match, with Wilander looking to up the ante from the baseline.

Errors from both players were a product of aggresion rather than being worn down and there were a lot more forced errors also

Though safe, Mats had been unable or unwilling to go after Mac's 2nd serve all match... and the final outcome probably tipped on this point

Mac held a 12 point game where he missed his first serve 9 times and in the very next game, Wilander was broken despite making 9/12 first serves

All in all, a fine performance from McEnroe - deadly off his first serve and wise in his baseline play - while Wilander was steady, versatile but unable to maintain the pressure as persistently as he needed

Primary credit to Mac's ability to open the court with moderately aggressive shot choices and exemplary returning
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New User
If it would have been 2-2 in matches. Wilander would have won. Wilander have never been a player to win matches that does not mean anything.

Moose Malloy

Surprised that the 'forcefulness index' on this for mac is close to what you had for Fed in his horrible performance vs bruguera. And the very low unreturned serve % for Wilander is rather surprising. Have to check what it was in their RG and USO meetings in 1985.

My strongest memory of the 84 D.C. Final was Connors very bad behavior in the first match, seemed to be trying his best to get defaulted.


Connors was worse, but both his and Mcenroe's behavior led to a big blow up the next year. The USTA wanted them to sign a paper promising good behavior. One of the sponsors was very upset by what happened in Sweden. Not surprisingly, neither player would sign the paper.

I didn't remember Wilander coming in that much. Very few free points on his serve as well. There is the difference in points each player won right there.


Hall of Fame
Surprised that the 'forcefulness index' on this for mac is close to what you had for Fed in his horrible performance vs bruguera

A product of the limitations of the index

Both a crazy, low percentage attempt at a winner from a regulation position and a measured attempt to force the play (say, make the opponent run to get the ball or hitting it a bit harder than normal) get slotted into category 'attacking', thus scored the same way.

In words, I'd say Fed in his match made a number of errors on "wild, attacking shots". Mac here I'd say made errors trying "to put some edge into the point"

Rally length would come into subjectively assessing how aggressive each player was too. Mac was making his errors in longer rallies relative to Fed

Back to square one... someone sometime differentiated errors between 'forced' and 'unforced' to give a more realistic picture of play.

I found that commonly used unforced errors was sometimes similar for players playing completely differently and further differentiated to attacking, neutral and defensive unforced errors to show that difference in numbers... but even here, two players can have similar numbers and be playing quite differently

The index does work in this match to show the difference in the way McEnroe played from the way Wilander played though

What I'd really like to differentiate further is net points.... slotting them all into that one category - approaching on huge serves, being forced to approach to intercept a drop shot, approaching and being forced back etc..... its too simplistic, doesn't paint a picture

And the very low unreturned serve % for Wilander is rather surprising. Have to check what it was in their RG and USO meetings in 1985

from your own stats thread on RG 1985 -

Wilander was 91 of 127 on 1st serves, or 72%
Mac was 60 of 106 or 57%

Mac had 5 aces & 2 doubles
Wilander had 1 ace, 1 double

Wilander had 22 unreturned serves, 2 of which I judged as service winners
Mac had 10 unreturned serves, 1 I judged as a service winner

I find this very surprising

I saw Wilander serving much more aggressively against Becker Cincy 1985, so I know he's capable. Unlike say Connors, whose first serve and second serve appear to be almost the same on every surface

Here I thought Wilander was taking something off the serve, as players tend to on clay. And McEnroe was not looking to attack the serve

Overall, my subjective take of the dynamic was crediting McEnroe for good returning rather than discrediting Wilander for bad serving

Very few free points on (Wilander's) serve as well. There is the difference in points each player won right there.

Of course

What I was interested in was how even they are on second serve points won, given McEnroe was staying back on all of his

From a neutral baseline-to-baseline opening scenario... its about 50-50

McEnroe....- 2nd serve points won (19/37) 51%
Wilander. ...- 2nd serve points won (17/33) 52%

Wilander would probably have wanted/expected it to be more in his favour and I primarily credit Mac's play for it not being so (as opposed to judging that Wilander played badly)

Moose's unreturned stats for their French 85 encounter is giving me pause for thought though, regarding just what Wilander was capable of on serve

Moose Malloy


I'm not sure what Wilanders highest unreturned serve rate was, but it was only 18% vs Mac at 85 RG. Mac was 14%. It's been a while since I've seen it, but I'm sure a lot of the missed returns were because Mac was trying to attack serves. Very entertaining match, you should check it out.

As far as the connors serve you should watch him in 74 and 75, he was a lot more aggressive with it back then.