Match Stats/Report - Noah vs Lendl, Forest Hills semi-final, 1986


Hall of Fame
Yannick Noah beat Ivan Lendl 6-3, 7-5 in the Forest Hills semi-final, 1986 on green clay

Noah would go onto beat Guillermo Vilas in the final to win the title. Lendl was the defending champion and would go onto win the French Open shortly afterwards. The result saw the head-to-head go to 7-6 in Lendl's favour

Noah won 79 points, Lendl 55

Noah serve-volleyed off all but 4 first serves

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (38/57) 67%
- 1st serve points won (34/38) 89%
- 2nd serve points won (9/19) 47%
- Aces 5, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (29/57) 51%

- 1st serve percentage (41/77) 53%
- 1st serve points won (25/41) 61%
- 2nd serve points won (16/36) 44%
- Aces 1
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (12/77) 16%

Serve Patterns
Noah served...
- to FH 48%
- to BH 48%
- to Body 2%

Lendl served...
- to FH 22%
- to BH 73%
- to Body 5%

Return Stats
Noah made...
- 62 (12 FH, 50 BH), including 5 return-approaches & 1 drop-return
- 11 Errors, comprising...
- 4 Unforced (4 BH)
- 7 Forced (3 FH, 4 BH)
- Return Rate (62/74) 84%

Lendl made...
- 27 (12 FH, 15 BH)
- 2 Winners (1 FH, 1 BH)
- 23 Errors, comprising...
- 3 Unforced (1 FH, 2 BH), including 1 return-approach attempt
- 20 Forced (10 FH, 10 BH)
- Return Rate (27/56) 48%

Break Points
Noah 4/10 (7 games)
Lendl 1/6 (2 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Noah 13 (1 FH, 4 BH, 1 FHV, 4 BHV, 3 OH)
Lendl 23 (9 FH, 9 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV, 3 OH)

Noah had 5 from serve-volley points
- 3 first volleys (1 FHV, 2 BHV)
- 2 second volleys (1 BHV, 1 OH)

- FH pass - 1 inside-out
- BHs - 1 dtl, 1 running-down-drop-shot dtl at net and 2 inside-out (1 pass)

Lendl's FHs - 3 cc (1 pass), 2 dtl passes, 1 inside-in pass, 1 longline return (that Noah more or less left, it landed on baseline), 1 lob and 1 drop shot
- BH passes - 3 cc, 3 dtl, 1 inside-in return and 1 lob
- regular BH - 1 running-down-drop-shot dtl at net

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Noah 19
- 7 Unforced (2 FH, 3 BH, 2 FHV)
- 12 Forced (5 FH, 7 BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 42.9

Lendl 34
- 13 Unforced (7 FH, 6 BH)
- 21 Forced (1 FH, 18 BH, 2 BHV)... with 3 BH running-down-drop-shot at net & 1 non-net BHV pass attempt
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46.9

(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
Noah was...
- 48/64 (75%) at net, including...
- 29/33 (88%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 26/28 (93%) off 1st serve and...
- 3/5 (60%) off 2nd serve
- 3/5 (60%) return-approaching

Lendl was...
- 14/21 (67%) at net, including...
- 1/1 serve-volleying, a 1st serve

Match Report
Top notch performance from Noah, like clockwork on serve and a very regular threat on return

There are a number of standout stats. Leading the way would be unreturned rates - Noah 51%, Lendl 16%... with a handicap like that, Lendl would have to play out of his skin (and hope Noah falters in play) to think of having a chance of winning

Regarding Noah's figure... overwhelmingly credit to his serve. He serves huge and sends in 67% first serves, serve-volleying behind all but 4 of them. Lendl returns from well behind baseline and is still left hopping and jumping to get racquet on ball. It would be a difficult serve to return even without the serve-volley support. Scarcely a 'routine' return to make. Lendl doesn't return badly... one barely notices him. 51% unreturned rate against Ivan Lendl on slow green clay. Quite a showing from Noah

Regarding Lendl's figure... overwhelming credit to Noah's returning. Lendl mixes up his first serves - the one's he goes all in with are about as powerful as Noah's deliveries and nothing is gentle. Perhaps most impressively, his second serve is strong too. Not at all easy to attack. Could pass for an average servers first serve. Perhaps a bit predictable in that 73% is directed to Noah's BH, but that's not an abnormal pattern. Noah though, returns very steadily to tune of 84% return rate

Surface doesn't look particularly slow (especially when Lendl's getting rushed on return). Beat down baseline play is a good option (in other words, its quick enough for power hitting to do damage, which is often not the case on red clay). Bounce is typically hip to stomach high and Noah's kniefing slices stay below knee height when he gets them just so. Lendl's low unreturned count cannot be explained in terms of slow surface... almost all credit to Noah for the return

And in play? Noah has 5 groundstroke UEs (and 1 of them is a defensive shot, i.e. difficult for a UE),Lendl has 13. Lendl does lead the groundstroke dance and engages in hard hitting, beat down play (as opposed to gentle, outlasting play that often characterizes action on clay), but Noah proves rock steady in coping. He is pushed back and Lendl hits a couple winners as well forces a small number of errors baseline to baseline but its not enough. Noah holds steady and its Lendl who ends up missing more

Neutral UEs are almost a wash (Noah 4, Lendl 5) and both have 2 winner attempts misses. The big difference is in the attacking UEs. Lendl has 5, Noah 0 (which among other things, means he doesn't miss an approach shot - and he approaches 26 times in rallies)

From the baseline, either player can approach. Since its Lendl leading hard hitting, he has more ready chances too - but that's not what he looks to do.

From rallies, Lendl approaches 20 times, winning 13 at 65%. Noah approaches 26 times, winning 16 at 62%. Lendl's lot includes 3 forced approaches that he loses also. In other words, Lendl's doing better than Noah approaching from rallies + he's commanding baseline action, giving him more chances to come in - but its Noah that comes in more

I'm seeing this dynamic regularly when strong baseliner plays net rusher. When the net rusher holds steady from the back, it upsets the apple cart for the baseliner because he can't count on winning points outlasting or beating down his opponent from the back (in this match, is more beating down than outlast). The change-up needed would be for baseliner to come to net more since they at least tend to be leading baseline rallies, but sometimes, they're reluctant to do so

Some terrific approach shots by Noah. Not only does he not miss any attempts, he keeps the ball low with his BH slice. Its beautiful look at - good approach shots without being overwhelming (which makes volleying a formality) and great volleying to back it up.

Some excellent passing shots by Lendl, including on the run, but Noah's superb at covering net, including against the lob. Just 2 volleying errors - both UEs, 1 of them not particularly easy. And he volleys just where he wants to. Note Lendl with just 1 FH FE to 18 BHs... that's where Noah wants to and does go

Match Progression
Action is great all around, though not necessarily competitive. Noah wins first set leading with 2 breaks, which is comfortable enough. In second set, he loses 2 points on serve in 6 games, so Lendl's never in it

Noah breaks in game 3, with a pair of BH dtl's winning him points and finishing up with an approach. To consolidate the break, he has to save 5 break points in a thrilling 16 point game with 8 winners in it, including 6 in successive points. Lendl eventually breaks to even the score at 3-3, starting the game with a BH running-down-drop-shot dtl at net winner and winning it when Noah double faults

Its the last game he wins in the set. Noah breaks right back, winning a pair of points with superb drop-cum-approach shots and on break point, plays a 1-2 passing combo, finishing with a FH inside-out winner. He breaks again to wrap up the set. Pair of Lendl FH UEs brings up break point and on it, Noah hits a superb, flick BH inside-out pass winner

Noah completely breezes through service games in set 2. He serves at 85% and 69% are unreturned. As commanding a serving display as you'll see. Goran Ivanisevic on grass might do something like this, only this is clay and Ivan Lendl is at the other end. This isn't a Lendl swinging-hard with miss-some-but-whatever's-made-will-be-challenging deal gone wrong from Ivan's point of view. He's struggling to get return back anyway possible

Lendl serves 46 points in the set to Noah's 26 and he's regularly under the gun on serve

Having faced break points in 3/6 games, including getting out of a 0-40 hold by improbably hitting passing winners, Lendl's finally broken to 15 to give up the match

Summing up, top drawer from Noah - serves up a storm, returns surely against good opposition, holds steady against hard hitting from the back, approaches like an artist and finds his best passes at key moments. Not bad from Lendl, but he's shut out and blown away

Stats for '84 final between Lendl and John McEnroe -
Stats for '84 semi between Lendl and Jimmy Connors -