Match Stats/Report - Stich vs Edberg, Grand Slam Cup semi-final, 1993


Hall of Fame
Michael Stich beat Stefan Edberg 2-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 in the Grand Slam Cup semi-final, 1993 on carpet in Munich, Germany

Stich was the defending champion and would go onto lose the final to Petr Korda

Stich won 133 points, Edberg 119

Stich serve-volleyed of all first serves and all but 4 seconds. Edberg serve-volleyed of all but 1 first serve and all but 3 seconds

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (72/119) 61%
- 1st serve points won (59/72) 82%
- 2nd serve points won (19/47) 40%
- Aces 16, Service Winners 4
- Double Faults 4
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (53/119) 45%

- 1st serve percentage (67/133) 50%
- 1st serve points won (45/67) 67%
- 2nd serve points won (34/66) 52%
- Aces 10 (2 second serves), Service Winners 2 (1 second serve)
- Double Faults 9
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (40/133) 30%

Serve Patterns
Stich served...
- to FH 45%
- to BH 43%
- to Body 11%

Edberg served...
- to FH 40%
- to BH 32%
- to Body 28%

Return Stats
Stich made...
- 84 (36 FH, 48 BH)
- 6 Winners (2 FH, 4 BH)
- 28 Errors, all forced...
- 28 Forced (15 FH, 13 BH)
- Return Rate (84/124) 68%

Edberg made...
- 62 (25 FH, 37 BH), including 14 return-approaches
- 7 Winners (3 FH, 4 BH)
- 33 Errors, comprising...
- 1 Unforced (1 FH)
- 32 Forced (16 FH, 16 BH), including 2 return-approach attempts
- Return Rate (62/115) 54%

Break Points
Stich 6/10 (8 games)
Edberg 4/8 (4 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Stich 35 (11 FH, 11 BH, 11 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH)
Edberg 39 (5 FH, 8 BH, 10 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 13 BHV, 2 OH)

Stich had 17 from serve-volley points
- 9 first 'volleys' (5 FHV, 4 FH at net)
- 6 second volleys (5 FHV, 1 OH)… 1 FHV was a lob
- 1 third volley (1 FHV)
- 1 re-approach volley (1 BHV)

- FHs (all passes) - 4 cc (1 return), 2 dtl (1 return) and 1 lob
- BH passes - 3 cc (2 returns), 4 dtl (1 return), 1 inside-out, 1 over and around net post and 1 running-down-drop-volley cc at net (finely played)
- regular BH - 1 net chord dribbling return

Edberg had 22 from serve-volley points
- 15 first volleys (7 FHV, 8 BHV)
- 5 second volleys (2 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 OH)
- 2 third volleys (1 BHV, 1 OH)

- 4 from return-approach points (1 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 1 BHV, 1 BH at net)

- FHs (all passes) - 5 dtl (3 returns)
- BHs (all passes) - 2 cc, 1 cc/longline and 4 dtl returns

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Stich 36
- 6 Unforced (3 FHV, 3 BHV)
- 30 Forced (7 FH, 10 BH, 4 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 8 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 53.3

Edberg 36
- 15 Unforced (1 FH, 3 BH, 6 FHV, 5 BHV)… with 1 BH at net
- 21 Forced (2 FH, 8 BH, 4 FHV, 7 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 52

(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...
- 60/98 (61%) at net, including...
- 56/91 (62%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 39/52 (75%) off 1st serve and..
- 17/39 (44%) off 2nd serve
- 1/1 retreated

Edberg was...
- 78/127 (61%) at net, including...
- 65/108 (60%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 35/56 (63%) off 1st serve and...
- 30/52 (58%) off 2nd serve
- 9/14 (64%) return-approaching
- 1/4 (25%) forced back

Match Report
This match is a three part tale - the beginning, the transition and the end. All of them are high quality, entertaining and beautiful - Stich steadily so, Edberg fluctuating from otherworldly sublime to merely good

When I say Stich is 'steady', that's relative to Edberg. Stich serves big, serve-volleys just short of always, returns firmly, makes 6 UEs in the match, passes well... you'd call this 'brilliant' ordinarily. What he's not doing is stuff like volleying balls into corners for winners from under the net, return-approaching against one of the biggest serves in the game and half-volleying winners past the serve-volleyer, seemingly teleporting to net, hitting every pass as to give a tough volley etc... stuff Edberg does quite regularly, especially in the first two sets

Beginning - Sets 1 & 2
Stefan Edberg's play in the first two sets is like something out of a dream

He serves huge, as big as Stich. 22/41 serves are unreturned or 54% with 8 aces (1 a second serve) and 2 service winners (1 a second serve)
He has 20 winners (10 groundstrokes, 10 volleys/OHs) to 9 total errors (3 unforced, 6 forced)
He returns like I've never seen him return. Return rate of 65% against the all out serve-volleying of Stich... and Stich barely sees a routine volley, let alone an easy one. Every return that comes back comes back wide or low or very hard (or some combination of the 3). Those that don't go for winners, force errors and those that don't force errors draw defensive volleys/half-volleys that Edberg launches into. If that isn't enough, he comes in behind those returns to volley away winners net-to-net

And all this against the back drop of Stich playing well. Serves as he usually does (well), returns well, volleys particularly well (makes lots of difficult low and wide volleys). There's no scope for him to pass well or otherwise because his returns are whisked away for winners like clockwork. Best he can manage is to get racquet on ball on the dead run and on the stretch... that's what constitutes a 'passing chance'

Stich's left looking bewildered, in an amused 'what-am-I-supposed-to-do-here-exactly?' sort of way

Transition - Set 3
Play turns here

From Edberg's point of view, his serving rhythm goes down. Even while holding serve for first 3 games, he's making a lot of lets and the in the third of those games, can't make a first serve in 6 points (though still holds)

First two sets, Edberg served at 59%. Next 3, its 47%. That actually isn't too big a deal (he'd won 92% first serve points and 65% second serves)… if he'd kept returning and volleying the way he did, it wouldn't have mattered what his serve percentage was like

Its not just the first in count going down, but the rhythm and quality of the serves. He'd looked at least even with Stich's serve in the beginning. Third set onwards, Stich clearly serves stronger

Stich also starts returning more firmly. He'd returned about as well as he was allowed earlier... now he's 'allowed' a bit more. And makes the most of it
Edberg starts faltering on volleys. As in misses a few routine ones
Biggest change is in the Stich serve - Edberg return match up. That turns Stich's way for good and it looks more like what you might have expected: a huge server banging down unreturned serves regularly on a fast court while serve-volleying behind it (as opposed to a huge server getting nothing but balls wide and at his feet, with return-approaching thrown in for good measure). Stich maybe serves a bit better than before (its hard to tell with his ever languid action), but more a drop in Edberg's returning level (which never looked sustainable) accounts for the change

Ending - Sets 4 & 5
Stich dominating. Though fourth set has just 1 break (as opposed to 2 in the tighter 3rd set), Edberg can't get a sniff on return and wins just 4 points in 5 games

Edberg games come to be more and more of a struggle though

Some not good volleying misses from Edberg and ill timed double faults (a problem he faces most of the match) and some incredible low percentage, full run passes from Stich

Stich wins the last 6 games of the match. There's some luck involved with net chord dribblers, but he's far and away the superior player at the end. His steadiness in forecourt is exemplary, far more so than Edberg's and his returning is at its firmest.... the standard return being firm, leaving less than easy first volleys on average


Hall of Fame
Match Progression
Stich is broken to 30 to start the match as he makes 3 volleying UEs. That means he made 3 more UEs in the matches remaining 246 points

Then begins the Edberg shows. Stich can barely return serve - Edberg wraps up the set to love with 3 aces (1 2nd serve) and a forced return error. On return, he's placing balls away from net rushing Stich and coming in off the return. He adds a second break, wrapping up with 3 passing winners (the last two returns - 1 FH dtl, 1 BH dtl)

More of the same in second set. Edberg loses 3 points on serve in 4 games, while anything that isn't an ace means trouble for Stich. First break is spectacular - a net-to-net return-approach volley winner, a running perfectly placed short angled BH cc pass, a return that yorks (when ball, ground and racquet all meet at same point) Stich and a return winner. The second is if anything, even more so - more return-approaches, half-volleys, drop shots and dealing with drop shots and passes and return passes - the works

And that's the last break point Edberg sees. 2-3 down in the third, Stich reels off 5 games in a row. Mostly good shots from him, including a BH return winner and an on the run chip lob that leads to him winning points, but the critical one is Edberg missing a routine BHV . Same thing to close out the set - Stich opens with two strong returns that win points, Edberg ends by missing a regulation volley and a double fault

Stich shuts Edberg out in set 4, giving him just 4 points in 5 service games, while Edberg's games tend to be struggles. Some crazy passing shot winners from Stich in the set... full run and stretched balls that need to be accurate to inches to get by Edberg at net. He gets the break in a game where he pulls off two such passes - and Edberg also misses an easy FHV and again double faults on break point

For a breadstick, the last set isn't too one sided. Bad game for Edberg to give up the first break with 2 doubles and 2 missed volleys in a 6 point game without a first serve. Stich has two piece of luck in succeeding games - a very difficult low volley he makes was going out but catches the net to fall in. And next game on break point, his return dribbles over the net chord for a winner. Stich's reaction to these incidents is as genuinely sympathetic as you'll see

Edberg snatches a point with a tweener. Coming in to cope with a drop volley, he's forced back from net by a Stich lob volley. Edberg hits a hard tweener straight at Stich who can't control the volley. Its strong enough to have been marked forced error

One more spectacular point in the last game as Stich, dragged way out of court, manages a BH pass just about around the net post (it was also over the net), before whacking a FH cc pass to end the match

Serve, Serve-volleying, Return & Passing
Is Edberg a bit over-aggressive with the serve?

He serves like a big server - about Stich's level of pace - not a guy who uses the shot to set up volleying chances. And comes away with just 50% first serves in. Similar thing with the second serve. Not many controlled high kickers, they're mostly flat hard second serves. And he double faults 9 times - often at crucial times, including break points

I would say he played more aggressively both with the serve (and volley) than usual, its not clear if that was a strategic mistake. Stich's typical return is firm and Edberg's first volley is best described as 'not easy'. Not difficult to put in play certainly, but harder than 'routine ball over the net', which would be what he usually elicits with his serves

Now if Stich can return that well against particularly aggressive serving, one understands Edberg's decision to serve extra big. What would Stich have done to less powerful serves?

There's a good number of powerful, potential point winning returns from Stich too. On top of the 6 winners, the majority of Edberg's 11 volleying FEs (most of which are hard forced ones), there's a good number of powerful and low returns. Edberg volleys well enough to cope, but it Stich's returning is of a quality that would encourage Edberg to go for more on serves. It costs him - not clear if the alternative would have been more successful. I'd credit Stich's returning for the difficulties Edberg has with his serve

Again, is Edberg over-aggressive with his volley? He's adept in killing points with his first volley, with 15 first volley winners to 7 on later ones and most the passing errors he forces coming from the first volley too

This isn't outside his norm, but its also not his only approach. Edberg typically is quite capable of hitting the first volley well away from his opponent not to kill the point but leave a difficult, running pass. Its less lethal but also more safe way of playing

In this match, he's in all-out killer mode on the volley. Even low and hard hit returns are volleyed aggressively. Stich's passing in play probably doesn't warrant that degree of aggression. A safer, good firm volley would probably suffice to win points

Whatever the case, Edberg volleys extremely well on the whole. But the approach he takes contributes to 11 volleying UEs (Stich has just 6 by contrast - 3 of them in the first game of the match). And like with the double faults and second serves, they're often at crucial times. Could have exercised better judgment in when to go for the kill with the volley

Good strong returning from Edberg, with 7 winners and giving Stich a host of difficult first volleys. The approaching behind the returns is icing on the cake and 10/14 of them are against first serves. After two sets, he has trouble getting the return in play, in part because Stich serves better. Not much better, just a bit... but the way Edberg returned earlier wasn't sustainable. Its a wonder he was able to keep it up for two sets to begin with

Scope for improvement in just regular returning against strong serve but that's neither here nor there. Not returning more consistently than 54% return rate against Michael Stich on a fast carpet court isn't grounds for criticism... it would be grounds for praise if he'd done better. He gets a reasonable number of challenging returns back in the last 3 sets, but Stich's up to handling the tough volleys

Stich's play is remarkably steady throughout the match. One doesn't notice him at the start, so brilliantly does his opponent play, but that's probably about the level he played all match

The serving is about his normal, very good effort
Normal returns are at least firm and many more beyond that. Made to look like just the background of Edberg's volleying demo, but its good stuff from Stich. Excellent timing on the return and handling of the large 28% serves directed at the body. He just takes a step out the way and doesn't seem to do much more than tap the ball, but it flies away with force. He's good at reaching balls out wide too

Stich volleys normally (as opposed to particularly aggressively like his opponent). The down-side is it leaves Edberg a small chance on the pass, which is normal and Edberg can't make too many of them, which is likewise. The upside - just 6 UEs - more than outweighs it

He probably also faces more difficult volleys than Edberg and is forced into 14 errors (Edberg has 10). Near equal on how well each handles the tough ones, Edberg probably puts a few more back in play and has a thin edge

After the return, clearly Edberg has the stronger passes. Stich barely has a shot at pass with Edberg volleying to kill first up. Facing so many near impossible passes on the full run and out of corners, Stich manages to make a few. Best he could hope for. He also gets off a couple good running defensive lobs that wins him points

Summing up, a stunning high quality, all out 'Big Game' match. Stich plays machine like consistent - good serve, good volley, good return, makes do with what he can on the pass - the sort of showing that has no weakness and can roll over opponents. He doesn't because Edberg plays an otherworldly high quality and aggressive game for two sets but can't sustain it beyond that. A well deserved win for Stich but the highlight is Edberg's showing in the first two sets, which is about as good as anything you'll see from anyone, anywhere

Stats for Stich's YEC final win over Pete Sampras -


A good example of late career Edberg - still capable of brilliant tennis, but couldn't keep it up for very long. Certainly not for several matches in a row which it takes to win tournaments, and often also, as in this case, not even for a whole match. My memories of late career Edberg is exactly this. Brilliant for a set and half, then the magic just goes away.