Match Stats/Report - Noah vs Wilander, French Open final, 1983

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Yannick Noah beat Mats Wilander 6-2, 7-5, 7-6(3) in the French Open final, 1983 on clay

It would turn out to be Noah's only Slam title and he dropped just 1 set in winning it. Wilander was 18 years old and the defending champion

Noah won 113 points, Wilander 102

Noah serve-volleyed about half the time off first serve

Serve Stats
Noah...
- 1st serve percentage (55/103) 53%
- 1st serve points won (38/55) 69%
- 2nd serve points won (26/48) 54%
- Aces 5, Service Winners 2
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (16/103) 16%

Wilander...
- 1st serve percentage (75/112) 67%
- 1st serve points won (40/75) 53%
- 2nd serve points won (23/37) 62%
- Aces 2
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (11/112) 10%

Serve Patterns
Noah served...
- to FH 53%
- to BH 29%
- to Body 18%

Wilander served...
- to FH 24%
- to BH 51%
- to Body 25%

Return Stats
Noah made...
- 99 (36 FH, 63 BH), including 3 runaround FHs, 3 return-approaches & 1 drop-return
- 1 Winner (1 FH), a runaround FH
- 9 Errors, all unforced...
- 9 Unforced (5 FH, 4 BH), including 1 return-approach attempt
- Return Rate (99/110) 90%

Wilander made...
- 86 (51 FH, 35 BH), including 1 runaround BH & 1 return-approach
- 4 Winners (2 FH, 2 BH)
- 9 Errors, comprising...
- 1 Unforced (1 FH)
- 8 Forced (3 FH, 5 BH)
- Return Rate (86/102) 84%

Break Points
Noah 6/17 (9 games)
Wilander 3/9 (5 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Noah 41 (5 FH, 3 BH, 17 FHV, 6 BHV, 1 BH1/2V, 9 OH)
Wilander 36 (9 FH, 17 BH, 2 FHV, 3 BHV, 5 OH)

Noah had 10 from serve-volley points
- 5 first 'volleys' (4 FHV, 1 BH1/2V)
- 4 second volleys (2 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH)
- 1 fourth volley (1 OH)

- FHs - 2 cc (1 runaround return), 1 dtl pass, 1 inside-in and 1 drop shot at net
- BHs - 2 cc passes and 1 inside-out slice

Wilander's FH passes - 1 cc return, 2 dtl (1 net chord pop over without which Noah seemed to have ball covered), 1 inside-in return and 3 lobs
- regular FHs - 2 inside-out
- BH passes - 8 cc (1 turnaround shot, 1 net chord clipper), 2 dtl, 2 inside-out (1 return - a net chord clipper without which Noah seemed to have ball covered), 1 inside-in return and 3 lobs
- regular BH - 1 dtl at net

- 1 FHV was a swinging pass from no-man's land and has not been counted a net point

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Noah 54
- 34 Unforced (14 FH, 13 BH, 3 FHV, 3 BHV, 1 OH)
- 20 Forced (8 FH, 6 BH, 2 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 BH1/2V, 1 OH, 1 BHOH)... with 1 FH at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 45.9

Wilander 54
- 25 Unforced (14 FH, 8 BH, 1 BHV, 1 OH, 1 BHOH)... with 2 FH at net
- 29 Forced (10 FH, 15 BH, 1 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 BHOH)... with 1 FH running-down-drop-shot at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 51.6

(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...
- 62/103 (60%) at net, including...
- 18/26 (69%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 16/23 (70%) off 1st serve and...
- 2/3 (67%) off 2nd serve
---
- 0/3 return-approaching
- 0/2 forced back

Wilander was...
- 23/39 (59%) at net, with...
- 0/1 return-approaching
- 1/2 forced back

Match Report
Noah comes to net as and when he wants and dominates there, while holding near even from the baseline. Overall, that leaves him well ahead of Wilander in strategically very interesting match

Play - Noah at net
Noah at net on 103/215 points or 48% of all points, which goes up to 51% when aces, service winners and double faults are excluded. Basically, he comes to net whenever he wants. Serve or return game

The overwhelming bulk of it comes from approaches from rallies. He serve-volleys 48% of the time off first serves (and just 3 times of seconds) and chip-charge returns just 3 times. Nor is he in a rush to get there. Not many third ball approaches... just rallies patiently 'til he sees an opening, and then comes in

This is in line with my general assessment of Wilander's groundgame; his shots are uber consistent (in this match, a little down) but not heavy enough to keep a net-hungry opponent back. Unlike a Lendl or Borg - players of comparitive stature who like Wilander were at their best baseline-to-baseline - who hit with some combination of power, depth and heavy spin that makes approaching an awkward task

Getting to net is one thing. What does Noah do when he's there? He volleys superbly

- He swats through the ball to make sure they go for winners (34 of them, including a FH drop shot at net)

- covers the net thoroughly. Wilander's passing is largely 2 part style - first pass wide to try to draw weak volley, followed by looking for a winner with second pass - so its necessary to cover the net. Also very good stretch volleying from Noah to reach wide volleys, usually dropping them for winners

- superb on the OH. Wilander throws up some very challenging lobs (he has 6 winners and several more forceful ones). Inability to cope with these would necessitate a more conservative position at net. Noah though, copes. He maintains a very forward position, allowing him to swat volleys away and when the lobs come, makes full leaps to reach them. 9 OH winners from Noah. He also has 3 errors (1 UE and that wasn't easy) to go with Mats' 6 lob winners

- Mats also frequently just puts tough passes in play over the net and Noah slaps these a way in no-nonsense fashion
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Play - Baseline (& Wilander at net)
So what is Wilander's game here? He doesn't come to net much (more on that later), his serve is rolled in (ups it a bit in third - more on that later) and his groundstrokes are neutral rather than attacking shots. He doesn't even move Noah around much - and Noah's movements are very good, more than up to handling what little its taxed with

Plan seems to be to outlast Noah in passive, who-blinks-first rallies. Two problems come up -

a) Noah easily manufactures approach to turn that on its head
b) Noah proves almost as consistent off ground as Mats himself

FEs, let alone winners, from baseline-to-baseline play are very rare, so the key numbers are the UEs

Noah has 27 groundstroke UEs, Mats 20 (excluding 2 FHs at net)... if bleeding UEs out of Noah is the plan, that is much too small a lead from Mats' point of view. In a match with similar dynamic in '88 Aus final against Pat Cash, Mats led in this area 6-20. He'd need something alone those lines to stay ahead

Furthermore, I'd estimate about 6-8 of Noah's errors are approach attempts. Not desperate ones to get out of rallying from baseline rally either. There are plenty of long rallies and Noah hangs in them very comfortably. In short, who-blinks-first baseline play is near enough even. Sans knowledge of the players games and reputations, I doubt anyone watching would even gather that Wilander would be hugely favoured to outlast Noah regularly

Mats errors tend to be his more attacking shots, indicating he was feeling the heat of not being being able to count on outlasting Noah too. Note his very surprisingly, very high UEFI of 51.6, despite 88% of his UEs being groundstrokes. Noah's score is a moderate 45.9 with 79% groundstrokes. Breakdown of UEs -

- Neutral - Noah 18, Wilander 5
- Attacking - Noah 12, Wilander 11
- Winner Attempts - Noah 4, Wilander 9

Wilander, more often than not, looks to draw the error from Noah's BH. Its a questionable strategy because Noah's drive-slice BH is the most impressive shot on show - it cuts through the air fast as any top spin shot and stays low. Both as an approach shot and standalone, it very effective. Goes all directions with it too - inside-out (on which he even has a winner), let alone longline. Noah topspins BHs as well, though its clear Wilander has the safer shot on that score

Competitively, Wilander looks most in control when moonballing. Bounce seems on the low side for clay and Noah's slices stay genuinely low. The only shot that regularly gets up high are moonballs - and Noah looks uncomfortable against it and can't find a way to approach against the high ball. Mats only rarely goes in for it - one imagines if he had more often, Noah would find a way to approach (and action would be less pleasing to the eye), but probably a mistake by Mats

It takes Mats 2 sets to realize Noah isn't going to bleed baseline errors and can come in whenever he chooses. In third set, Mats hits harder (in all areas - serve, return, groundies) and comes to net more. His volleying is not impressive and fails to place or punch them through. Noah is left with shots on the pass (which he usually can't make) but is like his opponent, is good on the lob. Mats is also quite conservative on the smash

Serve & Return
Noah mixes up his first serves. His full blast delivery is about as hard it gets. No disguise on it at all - the motion changes drastically from an OH to like a swinging FHV - but its hardly necessary. The serve is very powerful, invariably well wide and moving further away in the air. He also throws in slow, kick first serves

Interesting choice to serve 53% to FH and only 29% to BH. And not a good one. He draws 9 errors - 4 FHs and 5 BHs. Some of the BHs would have been to body serves, but still, Mats BH return is more secure and at least equally hard hit. He also runsaround to hit a BH return

Very sure returning from Mats, with 84% return rate against a very good serve and just 1 UE. His ability to put the big serve back in play is particularly good. He tends to err on side of safety against serve-volleys though and leaves regulation first volleys that Noah deals with decisively

Weak serving from Mats and 67% in the way he serves is low. 80%+ wouldn't be surprising with the way he just rolls the ball in. In third set, he serves a bit harder and even then, serve isn't troubling. I'd estimate 6-7 of his serves could be called forceful - and other than the 2 aces, all of them come back. He draws 9 errors and all have been marked unforced

Mats' high 25% to the body (1% more than he directs to FH) is about very conservative serving in middle of box, not targeting the body or trying to cramp Noah. Its easy to move out the way (or not) and return it normally

90% return rate from Noah. He isn't able to attack the serve (which was very doable) but can't fault his consistency. 3 return-approaches all end in him losing point but he does pull of a genuine, drop-return that leads to him winning the point

Match Progression
From 2-2, Noah sweeps the next 4 games to take the first set 6-2. Play is along the lines described above, with Mats being particularly benign with his groundies. For the set, Noah has 3 groundstroke UEs, to Mats' 6 and is at net 26 times in sets 51 points - just as often in return games as service ones

Good, kniefing BH slice approach shots and volleys from Noah and Mats stumbles on the pass

Noah breaks to go up 3-2 in the second after which Mats starts coming to net a bit more. Noah fails to serve out hte set at 5-4 but breaks right back by taking net 4/5 points, before serving it out second time of asking

Third set is best of the bunch with Mats hitting harder, serving harder and coming to net a little more. Noah comes in less - not necessarily because Mats takes net away from him. Neither player is a rush to get forward.

Players trade breaks to start. Noah breaks in a 12 point game where Mats is at net 5 times and Noah not at all. Mats though, slams 3 passing winners in a row next game (FH dtl, BH cc and BH lob) to break right back

Games are tough thereafter, with 3 in a row going to deuce and having break points (2 of them on Mats' serve)

Noah holds game 10 to love with 4 winners - BH cc pass, BH1/2V, OH and FHV. And follows with a break to leave himself serving for the match

For second time in the match, Mats knocks away 3 passing winners in a row and goes on to break back and send set into tiebreak

The tiebreak sums up the match. Noah finds his way to net 8/10 points, with the only exception being 2 unreturned serves. Mats doesn't approach once, though he hits a swinging FHV pass winner from no-man's land

Summing up, consummate from Noah. Serves strong, returns very consistently (against weak serving) and very sure of the ground. This combination of cards would be a handful to beat, but he throws in attacking vigour by regularly coming to net with sharp approach shots and volleys very decisively once there. Timid showing from Wilander. His serve does nothing and he puts groundstrokes in play without heat but finds Noah just as consistent at it and able to come in against it without strain

Not bad passing from Mats, but Noah's volleying is much better still - and this mini-match is the critical one in result

Stats for pair's '88 Davis Cup rubber - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-wilander-vs-noah-davis-cup-semi-final-rubber-1988.647982/
Stats for '88 final between Wilander and Henri Leconte - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-wilander-vs-leconte-french-open-final-1988.659458/
Stats for Wilander's '82 Davis Cup rubber with John McEnroe - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-mcenroe-vs-wilander-davis-cup-quarter-final-rubber-1982.658818/
Stats for '88 Australian Open final between Wilander and Pat Cash - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-wilander-vs-cash-australian-open-final-1988.647410/
 

big ted

Hall of Fame
what a feat to beat defending champion wilander on Roland garros clay in straight sets as a server and volleyer even ! i don't recall watching it but like you said im sure wilander threw up some tremendous lobs and Noah handled them with his superb height & athleticism
 

jeep2008

Rookie
Thank you for giving us these stats!One of the matches that influenced me a lot.Noah said after the match that he had to close it in three cause his legs started to feel weak and he was almost maxed out.Wilander on the other hand could go on forever!Amazing Noah in that match!
 

NicoMK

Professional
@Waspsting, thank you for always bringing interesting stats. I often read them, especially if it was a classic or if it was a match that stands in my memory.

That Noah-WIlander wasn't the best match ever but the atmosphere on and around the court was incredible that day. That was Noah's Slam, and what as Slam! Loved it and still do.

Even today, if you're asking Mats which match he remembers best, he will always answer that final, and that he wouldn't have become the player he was (is) if he hadn't lose that final.

Two great players, two great guys and two friends as well.

 
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Mike Bulgakov

G.O.A.T.
Play - Baseline (& Wilander at net)
So what is Wilander's game here? He doesn't come to net much (more on that later), his serve is rolled in (ups it a bit in third - more on that later) and his groundstrokes are neutral rather than attacking shots. He doesn't even move Noah around much - and Noah's movements are very good, more than up to handling what little its taxed with

Plan seems to be to outlast Noah in passive, who-blinks-first rallies. Two problems come up -

a) Noah easily manufactures approach to turn that on its head
b) Noah proves almost as consistent off ground as Mats himself

FEs, let alone winners, from baseline-to-baseline play are very rare, so the key numbers are the UEs

Noah has 27 groundstroke UEs, Mats 20 (excluding 2 FHs at net)... if bleeding UEs out of Noah is the plan, that is much too small a lead from Mats' point of view. In a match with similar dynamic in '88 Aus final against Pat Cash, Mats led in this area 6-20. He'd need something alone those lines to stay ahead

Furthermore, I'd estimate about 6-8 of Noah's errors are approach attempts. Not desperate ones to get out of rallying from baseline rally either. There are plenty of long rallies and Noah hangs in them very comfortably. In short, who-blinks-first baseline play is near enough even. Sans knowledge of the players games and reputations, I doubt anyone watching would even gather that Wilander would be hugely favoured to outlast Noah regularly

Mats errors tend to be his more attacking shots, indicating he was feeling the heat of not being being able to count on outlasting Noah too. Note his very surprisingly, very high UEFI of 51.6, despite 88% of his UEs being groundstrokes. Noah's score is a moderate 45.9 with 79% groundstrokes. Breakdown of UEs -

- Neutral - Noah 18, Wilander 5
- Attacking - Noah 12, Wilander 11
- Winner Attempts - Noah 4, Wilander 9

Wilander, more often than not, looks to draw the error from Noah's BH. Its a questionable strategy because Noah's drive-slice BH is the most impressive shot on show - it cuts through the air fast as any top spin shot and stays low. Both as an approach shot and standalone, it very effective. Goes all directions with it too - inside-out (on which he even has a winner), let alone longline. Noah topspins BHs as well, though its clear Wilander has the safer shot on that score

Competitively, Wilander looks most in control when moonballing. Bounce seems on the low side for clay and Noah's slices stay genuinely low. The only shot that regularly gets up high are moonballs - and Noah looks uncomfortable against it and can't find a way to approach against the high ball. Mats only rarely goes in for it - one imagines if he had more often, Noah would find a way to approach (and action would be less pleasing to the eye), but probably a mistake by Mats

It takes Mats 2 sets to realize Noah isn't going to bleed baseline errors and can come in whenever he chooses. In third set, Mats hits harder (in all areas - serve, return, groundies) and comes to net more. His volleying is not impressive and fails to place or punch them through. Noah is left with shots on the pass (which he usually can't make) but is like his opponent, is good on the lob. Mats is also quite conservative on the smash

Serve & Return
Noah mixes up his first serves. His full blast delivery is about as hard it gets. No disguise on it at all - the motion changes drastically from an OH to like a swinging FHV - but its hardly necessary. The serve is very powerful, invariably well wide and moving further away in the air. He also throws in slow, kick first serves

Interesting choice to serve 53% to FH and only 29% to BH. And not a good one. He draws 9 errors - 4 FHs and 5 BHs. Some of the BHs would have been to body serves, but still, Mats BH return is more secure and at least equally hard hit. He also runsaround to hit a BH return

Very sure returning from Mats, with 84% return rate against a very good serve and just 1 UE. His ability to put the big serve back in play is particularly good. He tends to err on side of safety against serve-volleys though and leaves regulation first volleys that Noah deals with decisively

Weak serving from Mats and 67% in the way he serves is low. 80%+ wouldn't be surprising with the way he just rolls the ball in. In third set, he serves a bit harder and even then, serve isn't troubling. I'd estimate 6-7 of his serves could be called forceful - and other than the 2 aces, all of them come back. He draws 9 errors and all have been marked unforced

Mats' high 25% to the body (1% more than he directs to FH) is about very conservative serving in middle of box, not targeting the body or trying to cramp Noah. Its easy to move out the way (or not) and return it normally

90% return rate from Noah. He isn't able to attack the serve (which was very doable) but can't fault his consistency. 3 return-approaches all end in him losing point but he does pull of a genuine, drop-return that leads to him winning the point

Match Progression
From 2-2, Noah sweeps the next 4 games to take the first set 6-2. Play is along the lines described above, with Mats being particularly benign with his groundies. For the set, Noah has 3 groundstroke UEs, to Mats' 6 and is at net 26 times in sets 51 points - just as often in return games as service ones

Good, kniefing BH slice approach shots and volleys from Noah and Mats stumbles on the pass

Noah breaks to go up 3-2 in the second after which Mats starts coming to net a bit more. Noah fails to serve out hte set at 5-4 but breaks right back by taking net 4/5 points, before serving it out second time of asking

Third set is best of the bunch with Mats hitting harder, serving harder and coming to net a little more. Noah comes in less - not necessarily because Mats takes net away from him. Neither player is a rush to get forward.

Players trade breaks to start. Noah breaks in a 12 point game where Mats is at net 5 times and Noah not at all. Mats though, slams 3 passing winners in a row next game (FH dtl, BH cc and BH lob) to break right back

Games are tough thereafter, with 3 in a row going to deuce and having break points (2 of them on Mats' serve)

Noah holds game 10 to love with 4 winners - BH cc pass, BH1/2V, OH and FHV. And follows with a break to leave himself serving for the match

For second time in the match, Mats knocks away 3 passing winners in a row and goes on to break back and send set into tiebreak

The tiebreak sums up the match. Noah finds his way to net 8/10 points, with the only exception being 2 unreturned serves. Mats doesn't approach once, though he hits a swinging FHV pass winner from no-man's land

Summing up, consummate from Noah. Serves strong, returns very consistently (against weak serving) and very sure of the ground. This combination of cards would be a handful to beat, but he throws in attacking vigour by regularly coming to net with sharp approach shots and volleys very decisively once there. Timid showing from Wilander. His serve does nothing and he puts groundstrokes in play without heat but finds Noah just as consistent at it and able to come in against it without strain

Not bad passing from Mats, but Noah's volleying is much better still - and this mini-match is the critical one in result

Stats for pair's '88 Davis Cup rubber - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-wilander-vs-noah-davis-cup-semi-final-rubber-1988.647982/
Stats for '88 final between Wilander and Henri Leconte - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-wilander-vs-leconte-french-open-final-1988.659458/
Stats for Wilander's '82 Davis Cup rubber with John McEnroe - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-mcenroe-vs-wilander-davis-cup-quarter-final-rubber-1982.658818/
Stats for '88 Australian Open final between Wilander and Pat Cash - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-wilander-vs-cash-australian-open-final-1988.647410/
I have a vague memory of Wilander saying that Noah took him by surprise by hitting a lot of short approaches in the middle of the court, and he didn't have a response.
 

NicoMK

Professional
Probably. Just as he took it in five against Yannick the year after. But that didn't happen in 1983 and, as much as I love Mats, it's better like this because the victory of Noah in 1983 was a real feast for many, many people, and such a great memory. Plus, Yannick is a great guy too.
 

BringBackWood

Professional
I have a vague memory of Wilander saying that Noah took him by surprise by hitting a lot of short approaches in the middle of the court, and he didn't have a response.
That's absolutely true, and Noah did play a very smart match. I do think Mats dropped the ball playing so passive the first 2 sets. Noah groundtokes were generally safe so Mats was basically banking on his passing shots beating Noah coming in on his own terms behind that very fine slice.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
I have a vague memory of Wilander saying that Noah took him by surprise by hitting a lot of short approaches in the middle of the court, and he didn't have a response.
Interesting

Approaches weren't particularly deep, but I wouldn't say they were short. The emphasis being on under-spin keeping ball relatively low rather than depth

It would be strange for a top notch passer like Mats to be caught out by short approaches. .. as a passer, isn't that what you hope for?

I do think Mats dropped the ball playing so passive the first 2 sets. Noah groundtokes were generally safe so Mats was basically banking on his passing shots beating Noah coming in on his own terms behind that very fine slice.
Wasn't that sort of passivity normal for him in that period?

His groundies have never looked heavy to me. Just keep-ball-in-court, outlasting stuff + directing balls to wing of choice

In later years, he'd come to net to give his game teeth. Would that have been the case in '83?
@NicoMK?

Big problem for Mats in this one is he's not outlasting Noah from baseline

In their '88 Davis Cup match (which went to 5), groundstroke UEs read Mats 12, Noah 35

Here its Mats 22, Noah 27

that leaves Mats having to pull off a blinder of a day passing, or hope Noah messes up on the volley

Not good prospects
 

Mike Bulgakov

G.O.A.T.
Interesting

Approaches weren't particularly deep, but I wouldn't say they were short. The emphasis being on under-spin keeping ball relatively low rather than depth

It would be strange for a top notch passer like Mats to be caught out by short approaches. .. as a passer, isn't that what you hope for?
Approaches that are not too deep and in the middle of the court cut off angles. Noah was unusually tall for a player at the time and covered the net well, and lobbing him was difficult. I was a teenager when I watched the match and have only seen highlights since, so I am basing this on what I remember Mats saying years after the match.
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
I remember watching this match and thinking, why isn't he passing better? Not thinking that Noah's approaches were that impressive. That is true about the angles. Approach down the middle and cut them off. I was very surprised that Noah would beat him in straight sets on that court. Not coming in that quickly and that often. But that's why they play the matches.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
I have to go back and watch this one, if it's available. The Noah win always surprised me. I figured Mats was a shoe in to repeat. It was an odd year...no Borg, Connors was top seed, but washed out early, etc., etc. Noah kind of came out of nowhere for me. But in looking at their H to H, it was close..7 to 5 for Mats. And Yannick beat him in QF at Hamburg in straight sets right before AO. Clearly, Yannick's game was able to disrupt Mats on clay.
 

jeep2008

Rookie
I have to go back and watch this one, if it's available. The Noah win always surprised me. I figured Mats was a shoe in to repeat. It was an odd year...no Borg, Connors was top seed, but washed out early, etc., etc. Noah kind of came out of nowhere for me. But in looking at their H to H, it was close..7 to 5 for Mats. And Yannick beat him in QF at Hamburg in straight sets right before AO. Clearly, Yannick's game was able to disrupt Mats on clay.
 

NicoMK

Professional
Interesting

Approaches weren't particularly deep, but I wouldn't say they were short. The emphasis being on under-spin keeping ball relatively low rather than depth

It would be strange for a top notch passer like Mats to be caught out by short approaches. .. as a passer, isn't that what you hope for?



Wasn't that sort of passivity normal for him in that period?

His groundies have never looked heavy to me. Just keep-ball-in-court, outlasting stuff + directing balls to wing of choice

In later years, he'd come to net to give his game teeth. Would that have been the case in '83?
@NicoMK?

Big problem for Mats in this one is he's not outlasting Noah from baseline

In their '88 Davis Cup match (which went to 5), groundstroke UEs read Mats 12, Noah 35

Here its Mats 22, Noah 27

that leaves Mats having to pull off a blinder of a day passing, or hope Noah messes up on the volley

Not good prospects
I've watched this match a lot of times when I was younger, first because Mats was / is my hero but also because I liked Yannick a lot. The atmosphere during this match was very special, to this extend it was a great match.

But I've always thought that, in terms of tennis, it was not such a great match. Yannick said more or less the same thing just recently on a podcast available on YouTube here :

It's all in French but for those who understand French (and like Yannick), it's very interesting and there's quite a lot on that final.


Mats didn't play very well the first two sets, I mean he did nothing special for a player of his caliber. He said that he was impressed by Yannick and the crowd, that he had the feeling that Yannick was "big" on the court, that's his words. This explains that maybe.

As fellow posters said here, Yannick played very wisely -- short and low-bouncing approaches to neutralize Mats' passing shots, and he was so good at the net too.

After set two, maybe it was too late for Mats, yes he could run for hours -- and Yannick couldn't -- ; at the same time Yannick wanted it so much, it was his tournament… However, fortunately he won the tie-breaker in set 3, otherwise… but that's another story.

Mats "owes" a lot to this lost final because he said that he understood, that day, that he had to change his game to become a better player : coming to the net, improving his serve and develop a sliced backhand ; he did all that perfectly well with the help of his long time coach Jon-Anders Sjogren, and Matt Doyle in 1987-88, which led him to number one.

Against Yannick, their quarterfinal in 1984 in RG or the Davis Cup tie in 1988 were great compared to the 1983 final. The 1988 semi at the Lipton was very good too - top Mats!


Two funny anecdotes about that match :

- Yannick said that the night before the final, he dreamt that he loses in 5 against Mats. When his father wakes him up on Sunday morning, he thought that it was Monday and that the match was lost for good. When he realizes that it was actually Sunday, he said to himself that he didn't have the right to lose again.

- Also, there was a huge party at night at Yannick's home. Later that night, he went to a club… and who does he meet there? Yes, Mats. So the two of them spent the rest of the night partying together.

They are still good friends today.


To conclude on a personal note, I'd say that it was a match that I loved for many reasons : the players, Mats, Yannick, his family, the epoch, the day, hot and sunny Sunday afternoon in June, the crowd, passionate but very respectful, the court, the old and real Court Central etc.

Also, it's probably special to me because I was very young -- and childhood is always special when you get older -- we watched the match with family and friends -- it never happened again for a tennis match. And, I believe that those days, back in the 80s, were golden days in many aspects, much better than the crazy epoch in which we live in today (and I'm not talking only about C19).
 
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flanker2000fr

Professional
As a Frenchman, who was 13 years old at the time, this is the most memorable match I have ever watched. From the quarter finals onwards, when Noah beat Lendl, the atmosphere was effervescent in the country. Then, Roger-Vasselin did a job on Connors, and we knew Noah would be in the final. I expected a much tougher match with Wilander in the final, and was surprised how easily Noah handled him. Then, after match point, it was just collective elation around the country.
 

toth

Professional
what a feat to beat defending champion wilander on Roland garros clay in straight sets as a server and volleyer even ! i don't recall watching it but like you said im sure wilander threw up some tremendous lobs and Noah handled them with his superb height & athleticism
Is there an another serve volley FO Champion ?
 

big ted

Hall of Fame
Is there an another serve volley FO Champion ?
thats what i was thinking.. he seemed to be the last one... there was edberg and mac who came close but
couldnt close it out.. these days you'd be hard pressed for a s/v to win anything, i cant even name a current s/v
off the top of my head lol
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
I've watched this match a lot of times when I was younger, first because Mats was / is my hero but also because I liked Yannick a lot. The atmosphere during this match was very special, to this extend it was a great match.

But I've always thought that, in terms of tennis, it was not such a great match. Yannick said more or less the same thing just recently on a podcast available on YouTube here :

It's all in French but for those who understand French (and like Yannick), it's very interesting and there's quite a lot on that final.


Mats didn't play very well the first two sets, I mean he did nothing special for a player of his caliber. He said that he was impressed by Yannick and the crowd, that he had the feeling that Yannick was "big" on the court, that's his words. This explains that maybe.

As fellow posters said here, Yannick played very wisely -- short and low-bouncing approaches to neutralize Mats' passing shots, and he was so good at the net too.

After set two, maybe it was too late for Mats, yes he could run for hours -- and Yannick couldn't -- ; at the same time Yannick wanted it so much, it was his tournament… However, fortunately he won the tie-breaker in set 3, otherwise… but that's another story.

Mats "owes" a lot to this lost final because he said that he understood, that day, that he had to change his game to become a better player : coming to the net, improving his serve and develop a sliced backhand ; he did all that perfectly well with the help of his long time coach Jon-Anders Sjogren, and Matt Doyle in 1987-88, which led him to number one.

Against Yannick, their quarterfinal in 1984 in RG or the Davis Cup tie in 1988 were great compared to the 1983 final. The 1988 semi at the Lipton was very good too - top Mats!


Two funny anecdotes about that match :

- Yannick said that the night before the final, he dreamt that he loses in 5 against Mats. When his father wakes him up on Sunday morning, he thought that it was Monday and that the match was lost for good. When he realizes that it was actually Sunday, he said to himself that he didn't have the right to lose again.

- Also, there was a huge party at night at Yannick's home. Later that night, he went to a club… and who does he meet there? Yes, Mats. So the two of them spent the rest of the night partying together.

They are still good friends today.


To conclude on a personal note, I'd say that it was a match that I loved for many reasons : the players, Mats, Yannick, his family, the epoch, the day, hot and sunny Sunday afternoon in June, the crowd, passionate but very respectful, the court, the old and real Court Central etc.

Also, it's probably special to me because I was very young -- and childhood is always special when you get older -- we watched the match with family and friends -- it never happened again for a tennis match. And, I believe that those days, back in the 80s, were golden days in many aspects, much better than the crazy epoch in which we live in today (and I'm not talking only about C19).
As a Frenchman, who was 13 years old at the time, this is the most memorable match I have ever watched. From the quarter finals onwards, when Noah beat Lendl, the atmosphere was effervescent in the country. Then, Roger-Vasselin did a job on Connors, and we knew Noah would be in the final. I expected a much tougher match with Wilander in the final, and was surprised how easily Noah handled him. Then, after match point, it was just collective elation around the country.
Nice to read these - thank you, both

I don't know anything about Roger-Vasselin but non-nationalistically, its a small pity he took out Connors, denying Noah chance to take out Lendl, Connors, Wilander in succession

Of course, that's easier to say after the fact of him winning :)

This Noah run reminds me of Stich's at '91 Wimby when he took out Becker and Edberg back to back (and Courier before that)
 

NicoMK

Professional
Is there an another serve volley FO Champion ?
Usually people say that Noah was the last serve and volley FO champion... if we consider the fact that S&V players have all gone for now, we can wonder if we will ever see such a player triumph on clay (and by extension anywhere else... including the Wimbledon pathetic "grass-clay"...).
 

NicoMK

Professional
Nice to read these - thank you, both

I don't know anything about Roger-Vasselin but non-nationalistically, its a small pity he took out Connors, denying Noah chance to take out Lendl, Connors, Wilander in succession

Of course, that's easier to say after the fact of him winning :)

This Noah run reminds me of Stich's at '91 Wimby when he took out Becker and Edberg back to back (and Courier before that)
As for Roger-Vasselin, I think he played great against Connors, but I never saw this match so I couldn't tell. Good for Noah as he had a very easy semi-final before playing Mats.

Also, I think it was good for the French crowd to have two of their champions in the semis that year. Never happened again since.

Agree for Stich. Great achieving too!
 

KG1965

Legend
I remember seeing the match live on TV.
Time has passed.:(
What I remember best is the bh-approach slice and great net coverage.
Wilander was in great trouble.
It reminded me of the Panatta strategy on red clay v Borg.
 

fezer

Rookie
what a feat to beat defending champion wilander on Roland garros clay in straight sets as a server and volleyer even ! i don't recall watching it but like you said im sure wilander threw up some tremendous lobs and Noah handled them with his superb height & athleticism
I think Chesnokov beat def champ Wilander twice in straights at RG. OK No s&v, gut outplaying Wilander from the baseline seems even harder to me.
 

NicoMK

Professional
I think Chesnokov beat def champ Wilander twice in straights at RG. OK No s&v, gut outplaying Wilander from the baseline seems even harder to me.
Beating Mats Wilander on clay is a great achievement be as it may, and Chessy played great both times. However, in 1986 and in 1989, Mats wasn't really into tennis, especially in 1989.

In 1986 he had just met Sonya and was about to marry, so, well… 8-B … and in 1989, he already wasn't the player that he was just a few months ago, he didn't really care any more. It was not a great match from Mats.

A top-form Mats would crunch Andrei, just like he did twice in 1987 (1 and 3 and 2 and 3 in Monte-Carlo and Rome, I think).

But yeah, history will remember that Chesnokov beat Wilander twice on the Roland-Garros center court, that's what it is.

Beating young Mats in 1983 playing S&V remains, to me, a much greater performance (with all respect to Andrei).
 
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NicoMK

Professional
Nice interview, thanks. I've always liked how he talks about passion, about one that has to live his dreams, about handing down to the next generation etc.

Those were great years...
 
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