Match Stats/Report - Stich vs Becker, Wimbledon final, 1991


Hall of Fame
Michael Stich beat Boris Becker 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-4 in the Wimbledon final, 1991 on grass

It would turn out to be Stich's sole Slam title. Becker was playing his 4th straight final at the event, having met Stefan Edberg in the previous 3 finals. To win the title, the 6th seeded Stich defeated 4th seed & French Open champion Jim Courier in the quarters, 1st seed & would go onto become US Open champion for the year Edberg in the semis while Becker was the 2nd seed & Australian Open champion

Stich won 111 points, Becker 103

Both players serve-volleyed off all serves

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (46/100) 46%
- 1st serve points won (37/46) 80%
- 2nd serve points won (30/54) 56%
- Aces 15 (2 second serves), Service Winners 2
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (51/100) 51%

- 1st serve percentage (66/114) 58%
- 1st serve points won (44/66) 67%
- 2nd serve points won (26/48) 54%
- Aces 10, Service Winners 2
- Double Faults 4
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (40/114) 35%

Serve Patterns
Stich served...
- to FH 33%
- to BH 61%
- to Body 6%

Becker served...
- to FH 35%
- to BH 56%
- to Body 8%

Return Stats
Stich made...
- 70 (19 FH, 51 BH)
- 13 Winners (4 FH, 9 BH)
- 28 Errors, all forced...
- 28 Forced (12 FH, 16 BH)
- Return Rate (70/110) 64%

Becker made...
- 46 (11 FH, 35 BH)
- 6 Winners (2 FH, 4 BH)
- 34 Errors, all forced...
- 34 Forced (12 FH, 22 BH)
- Return Rate (46/97) 47%

Break Points
Stich 4/16 (10 games)
Becker 2/3 (3 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Stich 34 (8 FH, 17 BH, 5 FHV, 3 BHV, 1 OH)
Becker 23 (5 FH, 7 BH, 6 FHV, 4 BHV, 1 OH)

Stich had 9 from serve-volley points
- 5 first 'volleys' (2 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 BH at net)... the BH at net was a drop shot
- 4 second volleys (3 FHV, 1 OH)

- 1 non serve-volley BHV played net-to-net

- 13 returns (4 FH, 9 BH)
- FHs (all passes) - 1 cc, 1 inside-out and 2 inside-in
- BH passes - 6 dtl and 2 inside-in
- regular BH - 1 net chord dribbler

- regular FH passes - 3 dtl
- regular FH - 1 dtl at net
- regular BH passes - 2 cc, 1 cc/longline, 2 dtl and 2 inside-out

Becker had 11 from serve-volley points
- 3 first volleys (3 FHV)
- 5 second volleys (2 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 OH)
- 2 third volleys (1 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 1 fourth volley (1 BHV)

- 6 returns (2 FH, 4 BH), all passes
- FHs - 2 cc
- BHs - 4 cc

- regular FH passes - 1 cc, 1 dtl/inside-out and 1 longline
- regular BH pass - 1 cc

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Stich 37
- 8 Unforced (1 FH, 2 FHV, 5 BHV)... with 1 FH at net
- 29 Forced (5 FH, 14 BH, 3 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 2 BHV, 4 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 52.5

Becker 22
- 9 Unforced (2 BH, 5 FHV, 2 BHV)... with 1 BH at net & 1 BH pass attempt
- 13 Forced (3 FH, 3 BH, 2 FHV, 4 FH1/2V, 1 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 56.7

(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
Stich was...
- 52/82 (63%) at net, including...
- 50/80 (63%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 22/31 (71%) off 1st serve and...
- 28/49 (57%) off 2nd serve

Becker was...
- 58/98 (59%) at net, all serve-volleying, comprising...
- 32/54 (59%) off 1st serve and...
- 26/44 (59%) off 2nd serve

Match Report
The return is the key difference between two similar, big serving, serve-volleyers. Stich is outstanding, Becker is below par

Statistically, this match is a bit odd. After two sets, there's nothing between the two on that level to differentiate between the two players. Both had won exactly 73 points, similar numbers on first and second serve points won.... it looks very much like a typical grass court point-here, point-there affair. By the end, that has changed. Becker faces break points in all 5 service games in the third set and the final break point numbers - Stich 4/16 in 10 games, Becker 2/3 in 3 - speaks to the winners superiority

Nor are the stats for first two sets deceptive. Becker holds to love a number of times and his only break is to love. But... during periods when Stich is getting returns in, Boris has a challenging time seeing him off. Meanwhile, Stich loses odd points on serve without being under any real danger of being broken

In that light, one would tend to favour Stich coming out ahead, but its not that simple when Boris is concerned. He often does this... doing next to nothing in return games, then suddenly pulling out top notch game of heavy returns and passes to get the break. In fact, that's exactly what he does do to get his sole break of the match, where he breaks to love with 4 passing winners

As it turns out, Boris continues to struggle to return in general as he'd done all match. While whatever returns Stich makes are very challenging

Return rate - Stich 64%, Becker 47%
Return winners - Stich 13, Becker 6
First 'volley' winners - Stich 5, Becker 3

A combo of the above stats largely tells the story of the match. In close Big Game matches, unreturned serve rate tends to be inversely related to first volley winners (in words - 1 guy wins points with unreturned serves, the other knocks of easy volley winners... it comes to the same thing)

Here, Stich's winning points with unreturned serves, but Boris isn't knocking off easy volley winners. In fact, he's getting passed and being forced into first 'volley' errors. Note high 5 half-volley FEs. He has just 2 volleys by contrast. Most are first 'volleys'

Another unexpected finding is that its Boris relative lack of success on first serves rather than seconds that's key to result
Second serve points are near same - Stich winning 56%, Boris 54% - speaks to both players serving and volleying well
First serves though - Stich wins 80%, Boris 67% - for a big server, Boris' number is low. In fact, serve-volleying (i.e. sans aces/service winners and double faults), he wins 59% behind both serves

That's Stich's return at work. Unless aced, he's liable to do big damage with the return. Boris by contrast can barely get the ball back in play


Hall of Fame
Stich's Serve Games
Well as Stich serves, he does not serve 51% unreturned serves well

15 unreturnable out of 46 first serves speaks to the quality of the first serve... as is often the case against such players, not a whole lot the returner can expect to do against it. Even then, there's some small chances that Becker can't seize. When serving to FH, his delivery become noticably more round-armed, and one would think Becker would have picked up on it. He doesn't seem to and usually guesses direction, often moving slightly to wrong side. Even had he read the serve or when he guessed right, returning that serve is still a hefty handful. Very powerful, precise and deceptive first serving from Stich. Occasionally, he sends down second serves indistinguishable from firsts (he has 2 second serve aces)

Good second serving to on the whole but more discredit here to Becker's return. Its a simple numbers game question... inevitably he misses some chunk of regular to second serves against the serve-volleying of Stich but how many is too many? Whatever the answer, 47% return rate is too few

Why so few? He's not returning with particular, blast-everything-he-can-reach aggression. In fact, I think he errs in returning as powerfully as he tries, though its short of all-out. Stich's volleying is not particularly consistent, nor looks like it would be - it was well worth returning more conservatively to test him on the regulation volley... would probably get a few UEs doing just that

In short, standard good serving from Stich, not good returning from Becker

Not too much going on in volley-pass battle. Stich volleys ok - not overly consistent (8 UEs in forecourt), not particularly good against tough volleys (he doesn't face many but probably misses more often than not), not particularly decisive in his volleying (8 winners and forcing 8 errors). Best part of his volleying is covering net on his second volley, where he is good. Becker passes reasonably, usually getting his shots wide and Stich's up to covering it to finish points

Becker's Serve Games
Decent serving from Boris but the standout is outstanding returning from Stich, especially off the BH

On top of those 13 winners, Boris scarcely gets an easy first volley which is why he only has 3 first volley winners. There are passages of play where Boris is getting more first 1/2volleys than volleys first up to make.
Boris starts with standard, serve-to-BH - and gets passed a number of times. He's wise to mix it up more and shifts more to serving to FH. Doesn't make much difference - Stich apparently can whack passing returns of either side, though his FH returns don't deliver the stream of low returns that the BH does

In light of Stich returning so well, one imagines Boris might be tempted to go for bigger serves. To an extent he does, but unless its very widely placed (i.e. near unreturnable at least), its apt to get breezed back to his feet anyway. And... he does win enough cheap points in bundles where he wouldn't necessarily feel the need to change things up to the tune of risking lowering percentage of first serves

Plenty of easy holds on back of unreturned serves for Boris too. Stich doesn't fire on returns every game... its just that when he does, he does in a very high quality way - winners and returns to the feet. Very tricky for Boris

Here, I'd overwhelmingly credit Stich's returning rather than discredit Boris serving

Not great on the volley from Boris either, though he's better than Stich. For one thing, he faces a lot more tough, low 'volleys'. And makes a few more than he misses (7 FEs - 5 of them are 1/2volleys). The one's he makes naturally leave Stich with decent shots on the pass

Of form, he looks better in forecourt than Stich. Same number of UEs in forecourt having had to be actually play a volley when there more often. Placement of volleys drops a bit in third set and hits a few regulation ones where Stich can reach them without much hassle. Predominantly volleys to Stich's BH, though he's often not in a position to choose. He puts tough volleys over anyway he can, and BH is better place to put it than FH

Stich's superb on the BH pass with 7 winners, most of which he has time to line up after forcing non-aggressive volley. Would almost certainly have done as well had Becker volleyed to his FH

Match Progression
Becker misses a regulation FHV to start the match and goes on to get broken as Stich piles on 4 winners. Stich has to save a break point to consolidate

Stich's returning is fantastic early on and it seems all Becker gets are low volleys. He holds on to serve though before breaking back to love with 4 winners, including 2 BH cc passing returns

Stich breaks right back. Becker misses all 6 first serves, double faults twice and is forced into error two other times

Strong return games sees the two trade breaks early in the second set. Boris starts losing his composure. He's muttering to himself regularly for rest of match beyond the norm of frustration. At times, he looks like a person who talks to lamp posts and trees. Frustration also builds... more at being thwarted by great returns or Stich's net coverage than at his own mistakes, though there's some of that too when he misses makeable returns

Starts to mildly dilly-dally between points too, including holding a read-to-serve Stich up. And eventually gets a warning for delay of game in game 11, where it takes him 12 points to hold despite making 11 first serves

Terrible FHV miss from Boris to start tiebreak. The ball was almost an OH. He gains the mini-break back at once with power passing but Stich moves ahead again with what by now, looks a routine BH dtl return winner. Meanwhile, Boris can't get a return in play after his sole mini-break

Boris' rattled demeanour stands in contrast to Stich's calm one. In conjunction with Stich leading and playing the memorable shots, you might think there was a thrashing going on. Actually, there still hasn't been much difference between the two players, though Stich has been the better one, particularly with regards to raising his play on choice return games

That changes in third set. Stich holds comfortably, Boris struggles every game. Stich serves 26 points to Boris' 46. Boris faces break points in all 5 service games and is probably fortunate to only lose the set 6-4

Summing up, great returning from Michael Stich, striking away winners with seeming ease and giving his opponent a steady diet of low volleys and half-volleys to cope with. By contrast, Becker struggles to put regulation returns in play - while regularly facing very strong serving against which neither he nor anyone else could hope to return

Stats for the '90 final between Becker and Stefan Edberg -