Match Stats/Report - Rafter vs Becker, Wimbledon fourth round, 1999

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Pat Rafter beat Boris Becker 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 in the Wimbledon fourth round, 1999 on grass

Rafter would go onto lose in the semi-final to Andre Agassi. This was the last match of Becker’s career

Rafter won 98 points, Becker 66

Both players serve-volleyed off all serves

Serve Stats
Rafter...
- 1st serve percentage (49/69) 71%
- 1st serve points won (37/49) 76%
- 2nd serve points won (10/20) 50%
- Aces 3 (1 not clean)
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (26/69) 38%

Becker...
- 1st serve percentage (47/95) 49%
- 1st serve points won (29/47) 62%
- 2nd serve points won (15/48) 31%
- Aces 9 (1 second serve - possibly not clean)
- Double Faults 13
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (24/95) 25%

Serve Patterns
Rafter served...
- to FH 35%
- to BH 48%
- to Body 17%

Becker served....
- to FH 28%
- to BH 65%
- to Body 7%

Return Stats
Rafter made...
- 58 (17 FH, 41 BH), including 1 return-approach
- 15 Winners (7 FH, 8 BH)
- 15 Errors, all forced...
- 15 Forced (4 FH, 11 BH)
- Return Rate (58/82) 71%

Becker made...
- 40 (16 FH, 24 BH), including 1 runaround FH & 1 return-approach
- 4 Winners (3 FH, 1 BH)
- 23 Errors, all forced...
- 23 Forced (8 FH, 15 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- Return Rate (40/66) 61%

Break Points
Rafter 8/17 (9 games)
Becker 3/3

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Rafter 42 (12 FH, 16 BH, 7 FHV, 4 BHV, 1 BH1/2V, 1 OH, 1 BHOH)
Becker 24 (5 FH, 4 BH, 9 FHV, 3 BHV, 2 OH, 1 BHOH)

Rafter had 14 from serve-volley points
- 9 first 'volleys' (4 FHV, 3 BHV, 1 BH1/2V, 1 FH at net)
- 5 second volleys (2 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH, 1 BHOH)

- 27 passes (11 FH, 15 BH, 1 FHV) - 15 returns (7 FH, 8 BH) & 12 regular (4 FH, 7 BH, 1 FHV)
- FH returns - 2 cc, 1 dtl and 2 inside-in and 2 inside-in/cc
- BH returns - 4 cc, 1 dtl, 2 inside-out, 1 inside-in
- regular FHs - 3 cc and 1 dtl
- regular BHs - 2 cc and 5 dtl
- the FHV was a swinging, non-net shot

Becker had 15 from serve-volley points
- 6 first volleys (4 FHV, 2 BHV)
- 7 second volleys (3 FHV, 1 BHV, 2 OH, 1 BHOH)
- 2 third volleys (2 FHV)

-9 passes (5 FH, 4 BH) - 4 returns (3 FH, 1 BH) & 5 regular (2 FH, 3 BH)
- FH returns - 3 cc
- BH return - 1 dtl
- regular FHs - 1 cc and 1 inside-out
- regular BHs - 1 cc, 1 dtl and 1 inside-out

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Rafter 15
- 6 Unforced (1 BH, 2 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 2 BHV)
- 9 Forced (2 FH, 2 BH, 1 FHV, 4 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 53.3

Becker 17
- 6 Unforced (1 BH, 2 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 2 BHV)... with 1 BH pass attempt
- 11 Forced (4 FH, 3 BH, 2 FH1/2V, 1 BHV, 1 BH1/2V).... with 1 BH at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 55

(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 are keyed on 4 categories - 20 defensive, 40 neutral, 50 attacking and 60 winner attempt)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Rafter was...
- 44/65 (68%) at net, including...
- 44/63 (70%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 34/46 (74%) off 1st serve and...
- 10/17 (59%) off 2nd serve
---
- 0/1 return-approaching
- 0/1 forced back

Becker was...
- 35/74 (47%) at net, including...
- 35/73 (48%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 21/39 (54%) off 1st serve and...
- 14/34 (41%) off 2nd serve
---
- 0/1 return-approaching

Match Report
100% serve-volley match and a top drawer, beautiful showing from Pat Rafter - particularly on the return and pass - as he wipes a not-bad Boris Becker off the court

As this is the last match of Boris' career, its easy to attribute the result to his being old and past it or something like that. That would be completely misleading. Boris serves poorly in terms of his in-count and double faulting and to lesser degree, the force of his second serve. Drawbacks in his showing that might be enough to lose him a match on grass - but not to 3, 2 and 3 degree. That's overwhelmingly down to Rafter's stellar showing

Boris breaks 3 times, once in each se
t. Good job vs Rafter's usual high quality serve-volley game. But he's broken 8 times, while holding just 5. How and why?

Serving at just 49% has a hand, but for him, that's not too unusual. 13 double faults is a trainwreck, but note his winning just 13/34 or 41% second serve-volley points. His second serving isn't particularly good, but nothing terrible either. About the same quality as much of the '90 final

As far as first serving strenght goes, he's got 8 aces from 47 serves or an ace 17% of the time. Comparing to his showings in older finals -
- in '85 - 26%
- in '88 - 7%
- in '89 - 12%
- in '90 - 6%
- in '91 - 15%
- in '95 - 19%

A fair indicator of his first serve being good and around his norm. Rafter serves an ace 6% of the time for further comparisons sake. But Boris can only win 54% 1st serve-volleying points behind that healthy serve. That's all on Rafter. Rafter's ability to read the serve stands out (he's not caught out by direction) and his ability to reach and place/guide the return wide or low are exceptional

'volley' UEs - Boris 5, Rafter 5 (curiously, both players have a FH1/2V in their yields)
'volley' FEs - Boris 5, Rafter 5
serve-volleying winners - Boris 15, Rafter 14

9/14 Rafter winners are first volleys - normal for him dispatching anything above net. Just 6/15 of Boris' are... he doesn't get as many routine volleys to begin with, and isn't so decisivie with them. Often has to move to cover the 2nd volley, which he does well

Near identical numbers in about same number of approaches. Nothing wrong with any of that. Boris faces more difficult first volleys on average and is very good at making the half-volley (only Rafter keeps dispatching the pass after it) and not much problem missing regulation volleys. The damaging quality of his volleys is average. He doesn't punch through fully or get ball too far away. Rafter's able to run it down comfortably and take his shot on the pass

Again, that might lose a match, but not by the scoreline of this one. What Rafter does on the pass is staggering
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
He's got 15 return winners to 15 errors. I've never seen a 1:1 ratio on that front on the return
He's got 42 winners, 15 errors (that's UE + FE). More winnes than errors is common enough on grass - but a near 3:1 ratio is unheard of. Comparing with choice, celbrated high end showings from Wimbledon finals -

Here - 42 winners, 15 errors - 2.8 ratio
'74 Jimmy Connors - 0.83
' 76 Bjorn Borg - 1.14
'83 John McEnroe - 1.95
'84 McEnroe - 1.92
'87 Pat Cash - 1.57
'89 Becker - 2.10
'95 Pete Sampras - 1.46
'97 Sampras - 1.25
'99 Sampras - 1.41
'03 Roger Federer - 1.45

Ironically, Becker himself is the only other over 2 on the list

On the return - Rafter 15 winners, 15 errors

5/6 first return winners are FHs. Rafter stretches out to reach them and hooks them back. 2/4 of his technically FH inside-ins are better described as 'inside-in/cc'
7/9 second return winners are BHs. These are of all kinds. Steps in early and smacks the return cc or dtl. There are a couple of very different inside-out winners against body serves - 1 where he steers the ball just wide enough to go through, the other where he manages to hit it with same result, both times while cramped for room

On the pass in play - Rafter 13 winners, 4 errors (a first 'volley' FH at net winner is technically a pass). Bulk are BHs he can set himself for. He holds the shot to last instant, and usually goes dtl. The FH cc's are inch perfect

And Boris on the pass? 9 winners (4 returns, 5 regular) to 7 errors (1 a UE). Discouting the returns, 5 winners on the pass to 7 errors is top notch - hence the 3 breaks. Water onto wine to Rafter's showing though

To be clear, its not a great showing by Boris - the low in-count, the terrible spate of double faults, the average second serving are the down-side. On positive-ish side, he moves just fine, doesn't miss much on the volley, makes most difficult volleys but doesn't volley penetratingly. 'Not a great showing from Boris' isn't the point. He's got more winners than errors too (24 winners, 17 errors)... its flawed, but a good showing

What Rafter does to him is remarkable by any standard is the point - sure returning at 71% return rate, often getting it in low and with a bucketload of perfect winners off both sides and against both serves thrown in, and flawless follow-up passing while barely missing anything

And that's to say nothing of Rafter's grooved serve-volley performance - dispatching whatever's there to be dispatched. Boris' return rate of 61% could do with a bump, but he returns heftily enough - its not why he loses

Match Progression
After routine first hold, Rafter foreshadows what's to come by dispatching Boris' 2 second serves for return winners in the second game - 1 cc, 1 dtl, both taken early, both perfect. Boris wins his 4 first serve points to hold though

Its Boris who breaks first, forcing Rafter back on first point and on break point, Rafter misses a regulation BHV. Then the double faulting starts. Boris has 3 in his next game, but holds

He makes just 2/12 first serves in service game after and double faults twice more (also serves his sole 2nd serve ace). Rafter dispatches 3 passing winners on the trot to secure the break (FH inside-in return, BH cc and BH cc return)

Beautiful BH1/2V winner by Rafter in the next game. Boris just misses a running BH dtl pass at 30-30 before Rafter holds. Boris opens game after with another double - his 6th of the set, Rafter dispatches a first return winner to go up 0-30. On break point, Rafter draws a first half-volley, that he dispatches BH dtl. Rafter serves out the set with 4 unreturned serves

Nominally, terrible 13/32 or 41% first serves in for the set from Boris and 6 double faults. Its not as bad as it looks, and sans the 1 game (where he's justly broken), number is reasonable 11/20
Second set is worse, with just 9/24 or 38% first serves in

Rafter breaks to love to open - couple of strong passes from him, a double fault and a ill-judged FH1/2V UE from Boris. Boris breaks back to level at 2-2, only for Rafter to break again right after

There's a couple of doubles by Boris in the break, but fabulous passing winners from Rafter too. A great return draws a weak half-volley that he dismisses BH dtl to open the game and later on, manages to swing at a tight body serve well enough to get it by BH inside-out for another winner. Rafter adds another break with 3 passing winners - the last, a perfectly placed running FH cc. Boris faces break points in all 4 service games for the set, and can hold just once

Boris holds a 12 point game to open the third set, without double faulting or facing break point. Rafter's getting particularly bold and tries returning approaching (is forced into error) and later, smacks a swinging FHV pass winner from well behind service line

Rafter breaks next time, with 5 passing winners in 10 point game, the last 3 on the trot. BH cc and BH dtl winners follow drawing weak first volleys against low returns and on break point, a stretched out, unlikely FH cc pass

Boris does some drawing half-volley + dispatching pass of his own next game which lasts 10 points before Rafter holds. And BHOHs a winner the game after in holding, before leveling the set 3-3 with a break after that

Odd game from Rafter. He steps in to drag a FH1/2V to a forced gentle return wide to open. Down break point, he plays a semi-swing volley and Boris hops away to make room as he smacks it BH inside-out for winner. 3-3

Its the last game Boris wins. Couple of Rafter pass winners and couple Boris volleying UEs get him broken to go down 3-4. A double fault and a missed drop BHV (along with Rafter BH dtl passing an ordinary volley) brings up break and match points. Boris saves the first witha good serve, but can't handle the BH1/2V he's faced with on the second

Summing up, a top class showing from Pat Rafter - reading the serve, stretching and reaching to guide returns away for winners or stepping in and smacking them to same effect, FHs, BHs, cc, dtl, inside-out - it doesn't matter. And when he's not doing that, drawing half-volleys that he dispatches with regularity or punishes ordinary volleys in the same way. All while serve-volleying with customary grace and thoroughness. Not a good match from Boris Becker, with some ordinary second serving (though not as bad as its made to look) and while sure on the volley (difficult ones or otherwise), not too damaging with them (though again, not nearly as bad as its made to look) but not a bad one either

Overwhelming credit to a fantastic performance from Rafter, though it might get lost in the sentimentality of Boris Becker's last match
 
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BorgTheGOAT

Hall of Fame
Remember that I watched the match live back in the day and was surprised even as a kid since I had read a lot of talk that while Rafter was a great serve and volley player his returns and passing shots were seen as a clear weakness. Couldn’t believe this after watching the match.
 

dryeagle

New User
Boris was terrible, just look at the lack of knee bend on serve. He was a part time player at that point.

Never understood his reasoning for walking away in 97. Had a great indoor season in 96 and pushed Pete to limit in Hannover. If he had the dedication of Nadal, Fed or Djokovic then he could have played a few more strong years after 96.
 

Drob

Hall of Fame
Boris was terrible, just look at the lack of knee bend on serve. He was a part time player at that point.

Never understood his reasoning for walking away in 97. Had a great indoor season in 96 and pushed Pete to limit in Hannover. If he had the dedication of Nadal, Fed or Djokovic then he could have played a few more strong years after 96.

He got totally distracted by the first of his tax-investigation problems, starting in 1997. Marital things too. Becker describes that first tax investigator as a real Javert. Allowing for subjective exaggeration, I basically believe Becker on that one. He just lost focus and probably was not training to speak of in 1997, which otherwise should have been a darn good year for him.
 

Mustard

Bionic Poster
And after losing this match to Rafter at 1999 Wimbledon, Becker ended up having that encounter with Angela Ermakova in a broom cupboard or staircase at Nobu's restaurant later in the day, which had long term consequences for Becker's post-playing career and life.

Boris was terrible, just look at the lack of knee bend on serve. He was a part time player at that point.

Never understood his reasoning for walking away in 97. Had a great indoor season in 96 and pushed Pete to limit in Hannover. If he had the dedication of Nadal, Fed or Djokovic then he could have played a few more strong years after 96.
He got totally distracted by the first of his tax-investigation problems, starting in 1997. Marital things too. Becker describes that first tax investigator as a real Javert. Allowing for subjective exaggeration, I basically believe Becker on that one. He just lost focus and probably was not training to speak of in 1997, which otherwise should have been a darn good year for him.
Becker's house was raided just before Christmas 1996, on 20 December, and a criminal investigation had begun in Germany into Becker's tax affairs, as Becker was officially resident in Monte Carlo. After that house raid, Becker went from that amazing late 1996 tennis form to a complete shell of that. One of the biggest "what ifs" of tennis history should be what if Becker's house had never been raided in December 1996? How would his 1997, and late 1990s tennis career have been? Sampras was in awe of Becker in late 1996. Becker later said that he had played his best tennis in the 1996 YEC final in Hanover and that it wasn't enough to beat Sampras. I don't buy that as a reason for Becker walking away at all, especially had the house raid and criminal tax investigation not happened. Becker had already beaten Sampras a couple of times in late 1996 before that biggest match, including in the 1996 Stuttgart Indoor final (a Super 9 event) in 5 sets. And in his last match before the house raid, Becker dismantled Ivanisevic 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, in the 1996 Grand Slam Cup final in Munich, winning the event without dropping a set.
 
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It is really crazy how everything wen so wrong for Becker after the end of 96.
He played his best tennis in 1996 and was set for 2-3 really good twillight years of his career.
But then it all came crashing down and he totally destroyed his career and life.
His semi retirement after Wimbledon 1997 was strange to say the least. Until this day I fail to see any logic behind this.
 

Mustard

Bionic Poster
It is really crazy how everything wen so wrong for Becker after the end of 96.
He played his best tennis in 1996 and was set for 2-3 really good twillight years of his career.
But then it all came crashing down and he totally destroyed his career and life.
His semi retirement after Wimbledon 1997 was strange to say the least. Until this day I fail to see any logic behind this.
Becker probably realized that he wasn't focused properly on big time tennis because of the criminal tax investigation, and I think he always wanted Wimbledon to be his big-time finish. At that time in 1997, he was probably hoping the tax investigation might go away at some point as well, hence the semi retirement. After nearly 2 years of faffing about and only playing smaller tournaments, Becker decided to play Wimbledon again in 1999 and then retire properly. The tax investigation was still going on, even then. It went on up to 2002.

Becker's daughter should thank Rafter every day for existing.
In a sense, we all exist exactly as we are because of the precise moment of conception (and later upbringing), so it's all sheer chance that we exist as we are. If a different sperm fertilizes the egg instead of the one that did, then we're a different person, certainly a different look, perhaps a different personality or gender altogether.
 
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