Match Stats/Report - Wilander vs Cash, Australian Open final, 1988

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Mats Wilander beat Pat Cash 6-3, 6-7(3), 3-6, 6-1, 8-6 in the Australian Open final, 1988 on hard court

With the win, Wilander set a then record of 3 Open Era Australian Open titles - and remains the only man to win the title on both grass and hard courts. He would go onto win 2 more Slams to become the first player to win 3 in a year in 14 years and it wouldn't be another 16 years since the feat was done again

Wilander won 175 points, Cash 156

Cash serve-volleyed off all his first serves and the majority of seconds. Wilander did so about half the time off first serve

Serve Stats
Wilander...
- 1st serve percentage (116/153) 76%
- 1st serve points won (83/116) 72%
- 2nd serve points won (20/37) 54%
- Aces 2, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (40/153) 26%

Cash...
- 1st serve percentage (106/178) 60%
- 1st serve points won (72/106) 68%
- 2nd serve points won (34/72) 47%
- Aces 7 (1 second serve), 3 Service Winners
- Double Faults 9
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (44/178) 25%

Serve Patterns
Wilander served...
- to FH 60%
- to BH 39%
- to Body 1%

Cash served....
- to FH 36%
- to BH 57%
- to Body 7%

Return Stats
Wilander made...
- 125 (47 FH, 78 BH), including 4 runaround FHs and 3 return-approaches
- 7 Winners (5 FH, 2 BH)
- 34 Errors, comprising...
- 1 Unforced (1 BH)
- 33 Forced (16 FH, 17 BH)
- Return Rate (125/169) 74%

Cash made...
- 111 (72 FH, 39 BH), including 2 runaround FHs and 22 return-approaches
- 2 Winners (2 BH)
- 37 Errors, comprising...
- 10 Unforced (6 FH, 4 BH), including 1 runaround FH attempt
- 27 Forced (14 FH, 13 BH)
- Return Rate (111/151) 74%

Break Points
Wilander 8/21 (11 games)
Cash 4/11 (6 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Wilander 40 (15 FH, 11 BH, 4 FHV, 6 BHV, 3 OH, 1 BHOH)
Cash 59 (5 FH, 9 BH, 18 FHV, 18 BHV, 7 OH, 2 BHOH)

Wilander had 7 returns, all passes (5 FH, 2 BH)
- FHs - 1 cc and 4 dtl
- BHs - 1 cc and 1 inside-out

- 18 other passes (10 FH, 8 BH)
- FHs - 3 cc, 4 dtl and 3 inside-out
- BHs - 1 cc, 4 dtl, 3 inside-out

-1 non-pass groundstroke - a BH dtl

- 8 from serve volley points
- 4 first volleys (2 FHV, 2 BHV)
- 4 second volleys (2 BHV, 1 OH, 1 BHOH)

Cash had 33 from serve-volley points
- 14 first 'volleys' (6 FHV, 7 BHV, 1 FH at net)
- 16 second volleys (2 FHV, 6 BHV, 7 OH, 1 BHOH)
- 2 third volleys (1 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 1 fourth volley (1 BHV)

- 15 passes (4 FH, 9 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)
- FHs - 3 cc (1 net-to-net) and 1 inside-out
- BHs - 1 cc, 6 dtl (2 returns) and 2 lobs
- FHV was net-to-net
- BHV was played from closer to baseline than service line and not a net point

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Wilander 51
- 9 Unforced (4 FH, 2 BH, 3 FHV)
- 42 Forced (15 FH, 19 BH, 2 FHV, 3 BHV, 2 BH1/2V, 1 BHOH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 50

Cash 86
- 38 Unforced (9 FH, 11 BH, 8 FHV, 8 BHV, 2 OH)
- 48 Forced (12 FH, 13 BH, 5 FHV, 2 FH1/2V, 12 BHV, 2 BH1/2, 1 OH, 1 Other)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 50

(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)

(Note 3: Cash's 'other' FE was an over-the-shoulder-back-to-net attempt to retrieve a lob)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Wilander was...
- 50/79 (63%) at net, including...
- 30/42 (71%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 28/38 (74%) off 1st serve and...
- 2/4 off second serve
---
- 1/3 return-approaching
- 1/1 forced back

Cash was...
- 116/186 (62%) at net, including...
- 89/139 (64%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 64/97 (66%) off 1st serve and...
- 25/42 (60%) off second serve
---
- 13/22 (59%) return-approaching
- 1/5 forced back
----
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Match Report
What a fantastic match. In one corner, the equal parts rock solid of play/stupendous of counter-punching/ very good of calculated risk-taking of Mats Wilander and in the other corner, the high risk, high reward, streaky, constant net seeking and fabulous volleying of Pat Cash... I can only guess this match isn't commonly spoken of as one of the greatest ever because the players involved aren't super big names. In my view, its up there with the ballyhooed Borg-McEnroe '80 Wimbledon match and a darn sight better than their '80 US final

A word on the court, which was recently laid and apparently came in for much comment. According to commentary, it was designed to play like grass. The bounce is relatively low - typically, shots are hit from waist height - but the pace doesn't seem overly quick. I'd call it quicker than average for a hard court. Maybe slightly favouring Cash, but basically, a good court rewarding good play of any type

The action can be divided into 4 parts

Part 1 - first 1 and 1/2 sets
Dominated by Wilander. For a number of reasons

1) Cash poor serving and Wilander good returning.... Cash dishes out a low first serve percentage (he's serve-volleying off most of his second serves throughout the match), and Wilander is getting most returns in play good and low - without getting carried away and trying to hit too hard or be too cute with the placement. Mats' footwork in return is noteworthy... he takes quick steps to meet the return, apparently reading it well and seeing it early enough to do so

2) Cash's volleying strategy. Seems to have decided to volley down the middle of the court, possibly to cut off Wilander's angles on the pass. Doesn't work too well. Wilander obviously can reach the ball easily and hits many fine passes (winners and error forcing shots) inside-out off both wings

3) Wilanders serve and serving game strategy, coupled with Cash's weak returning. Wilander's reputed weak serve looks fine too me.... the first serve is a handful (second admittedly looks below average). Cash concedes many a return error to the first, which though a handful, a good returner could have got back in play more consistently (for example, Wilander returning Cash's more potent serve) and makes a hash of many second serve returns trying to go for to much

Wilander frequently serve-volleys and otherwise, looks to come into net on his serve games. This helps forcing return errors and he's good enough on the volley to do damage against an opponent not returning or passing well. Nothing earth shattering about Wilander's volleying, just doing enough

4) Cash's poor ground play. When the two battle out from the baseline, Cash makes unforced errors in short rallies, while Wilander makes next to none. As with the return, Mats does just enough, not getting carried away and trying to cut an opponent who promises to bleed himself out

Part 2 - second 1/2 of second set and third set
Dominated by Cash. For a few reasons (Note: there's a rain delay of unknown length that seems to trigger the change in play)

1) Cash ups his serve and dishes out a much better percentage (it'd have been below 50% til this point, and is about 65% for the period in question). This is directly connected too...

2) Cash volleying better. Serving better naturally gives him chances to make easier volleys, but he also drops the down-the-middle approach and takes a more traditional approach of volleying deep into the corners, away from his opponent. He uses a 'snap' to put away medium high volleys, is very good at putting in play difficult low ones and better still at placing the low-ish ones (below net level but not near 1/2 volleys) deep and out of Wilander's immediate reach.

Classic volleying from Pat in this phase. Wilander for his part continues to return and pass relatively well.... but he's up against a much stiffer challenge then he had been and the results go Cash's way. He's playing clutch as demonstrated in the tiebreak. Down 0-2 in the tiebreak, he wins the next 7/8 - including to superb BH lobs and one point where he moves forward to confront an at net Wilander and wins the net-to-net battle with a FHV winner

Part 3 - Fourth set and early fifth
Wilander dominates. He hardly loses a point on serve and starts coming in - off the serve or soon afterwards - on his service games, and draws a lot of return errors. Cash has a phase where he keeps missing volleys (particularly FHVs) and Wilander starts targeting that. The missed volleys in question are almost all low ones, well below the level of the net and mostly marked forced errors. I don't think its feasible to play for 5 sets, coming in 186 times and not have a phase where you don't miss volleys, if the ones your faced with making are consistently low.... credit to Wilander for getting the balls in like that

Part 4 - Finale - Extension of Part 3
With Wilander seemingly in the drivers seat, Cash stages a fightback. Down a break and not having been able to threaten on return for a good long time, he breaks back stunningly to level at 2-2 with 6 winners in a 12 points game - 2 passes, 3 volleys and a BHOH.

Wilander though, continues to dominate... holding serve comfortably and looking far more likely to gain the break, but the game has established what the threat is; Cash doesn't need to be 'the better player' to win.... he just needs to hold on to his serve and have 1 good return game to win the match. A game that one imagines will come sooner or later for as impressive as Mats is, he's not taking the racquet out of Cash's hands, nor does he seem able to do so. Can Wilander break through before a random Cash assault seals the match for him?

Turns out he can. Serving at 6-6, the Aussie is broken in a 10 point game. There are three critical points in this. Cash misses an easy BHV on game point, Wilander raises break point by making three near 'impossible' gets, forcing Cash back from net, approaching himself and dispatching an OH and finally, Cash missing a BHV on which he was rushed but which was very makeable to yield the break
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Stats and Playing Dynamics
Analyzing the stats are of limited value for this match. It goes without saying Wilander was the better player for most of the match.... but the highly aggressive Cash seems most capable of gaining the win based on a few, timely moments of superiority.

Serve & Return
Note Wilander leading the unreturned serve count 26% to 25%. This is mostly due to his huge superiority in returning. Consistently, he gets the ball back in play, frequently low and sometimes well placed. Cash by contrast, makes a boatload of return errors - note the huge 10 UEs (Wilander has 1)…. these are against second serves, which are not strong at all. Wilander does have a good first serve (and typically, dishes it out at a high 76%), but its made to look even better by Cash's indifferent returning. The one area Cash is impressive on this front is on return-approaching. 22 he makes (winning 13) and no errors trying though that's a bit misleading; he was approaching often after making the return (a 'delayed' approach so to speak), and likely would have attempted to come in off some of the errors he made, though they aren't obvious return-approach attempts and haven't been marked such

Note Wilander's serving pattern of 60% to the FH. In the last couple sets in particular, he directs the vast majority to that wing. Its effective, but the stats aren't supporting it being necessary.... Note Cash with near identical forced return errors on each side (14 FH, 13 BH) and UEs are similar to (6 FH, 4 BH.... but with 1 runaround FH attempt, which would have been directed to the BH). Had his BH return truly been stronger, we'd expect to see far higher proportion of 14 errors …. @KG1965 this is the sort of thing I want to examine for Jimmy Connors that you pointed out recently

Had Wilander the returner had to face his own serve....I think the returner would fancy his chances of doing regular damage

Volleying & Passing
Same deal as above. Cash has lapses - and a questionable strategy early on - but overall, volleys splendidly. Puts away what can be put away - 45 winners from volleys and OHs and at least 1 groundstroke at net - and largely putting low volleys in play with authority. But he's facing very stiff challenge. Wilander gets returns and passes in low so regularly that Cash was bound to make errors - 22 forced volley/half-volley/OH ones and 18 UEs for a total of 40.... and that's with him coping exceptionally well with Wilander's lobs (which he plays regularly, but doesn't have a winner off)

By comparison, Wilander's volleys are just average. Puts them in play without punching them through the court and adequately placed. Small potatoes next to Cash's exhibition in the forecourt, but Cash's passing isn't even a shadow of Wilander's

Again, had Wilander the passer had to deal with his own volleying...I think the former would have gotten the better of the latter

Baseline
6 unforced errors from the baseline in 5 sets from Mats (Cash has 20) - and at least 1 of those was a passing error. Unbelievable

Its a mismatch from the back off the court.... Wilander is miles and miles ahead. Never seems to miss a shot, while Cash does so regularly and early in rallies. I'd credit Wilander's solidity more, but put a black mark next to Cash's showing too

Cash is fairly proactive in trying to escape these rallies by finding a way to net and Wilander also looks to come in. One imagines the Swede's doing so would be motivated by a desire to prevent Cash from taking the net... but there's nothing in the action on show (as opposed to the players reputations) that would make one think so. Wilander seems to just be playing his game... rallying consistently, and coming in when the opportunity is there to do so

----

Summing up, fantastic and underrated match. Good stuff from Cash in the forecourt and even better stuff from Wilander on the return, pass and solidity itself from the baseline.... a fitting result for a top notch performance
 

krosero

Legend
I love this match, Wasp, so glad you thought of it

Thorough contrast of styles, a surface fair to both, finishing 8-6 in the fifth ... just the second GS final of the OE to go to 6-all in the fifth, after '80 Wimbledon final.

Did you notice in the fourth set, Wilander yelled out what seemed like “damn it” when he fell behind 15-30, while serving at 2-love. He then won 15 straight service points including his opening service game of the fifth, by my count. It reminded me of the 1987 French final, where he was playing conservatively against Lendl and threw his racket down in a rare show of frustration, after which the momentum went to him (as pointed out by Bud Collins).

Note Wilander leading the unreturned serve count 26% to 25%. This is mostly due to his huge superiority in returning. Consistently, he gets the ball back in play, frequently low and sometimes well placed. Cash by contrast, makes a boatload of return errors - note the huge 10 UEs (Wilander has 1)…. these are against second serves, which are not strong at all. Wilander does have a good first serve (and typically, dishes it out at a high 76%), but its made to look even better by Cash's indifferent returning.
This happened also in their meeting at '86 Wimb, won by Cash 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-3

Cash 145 service points, 34 serves unreturned - 23.4%
Wilander 114 service points, 35 serves unreturned - 30.7%

(credit to Moose for these numbers)
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Good to see you, Kros

Did you notice in the fourth set, Wilander yelled out what seemed like “damn it” when he fell behind 15-30, while serving at 2-love. He then won 15 straight service points including his opening service game of the fifth, by my count. It reminded me of the 1987 French final, where he was playing conservatively against Lendl and threw his racket down in a rare show of frustration, after which the momentum went to him (as pointed out by Bud Collins).
missed that particular 'outburst' but can confirm your count of 15 straight service points won afterwards. That streak came to an end in that wonderful game Cash broke in - 6 winners from him in it (12 point game)

Wilander went on an 11 point service points winning streak right after the game too

Some show of emotion from Wilander in this match. He approached and queried a couple of calls with the chair umpire


Have a look at the point starting at 2:00 minute mark - and tell me what you make of it

I've rewatched this about 20 times... it looks very much to me like Cash hits a BH passing winner

But the point is Wilander's - and there's zero reaction from anyone (players, commentators, fans) that suggest anything to the contrary

I think Cash hits the ball into the ground and it bounces over? - doesn't look that way, but can't think of anything else
 

NicoMK

Professional
What a match, one of my favourites ever! Both players played so well, Mats mixing serve and volley and passing shots so well, Cash going on attacking despite fatigue in the 4th and 5th... Thank you for bringing all these detailed statistics !

These two are good friends. Cash was understandably disappointed (he also lost the previous final there against Edberg and would never win "his" slam) but he and Mats had a beer together later that night after the final... good old tennis :cool:.
 

NicoMK

Professional
But the point is Wilander's - and there's zero reaction from anyone (players, commentators, fans) that suggest anything to the contrary

I think Cash hits the ball into the ground and it bounces over? - doesn't look that way, but can't think of anything else
I think the ball first bounces in Cash's side. It was not very clear during the broadcast but I think that it's what happened.... what else? :unsure:
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
I think the ball first bounces in Cash's side. It was not very clear during the broadcast but I think that it's what happened.... what else? :unsure:
By process of elimination, that's what I got too

I marked the point with a triple check mark (about the highest mark I give for a good shot) thinking it was a Cash winner. Then saw it wasn't. Then rewatched it 20 times... and it still looks like what it did the first time

Funny thing is, I wouldn't have though the bounce on that court was high enough for Cash to hit the ball into the ground and then have it bounce over the net to Wilander's side... would have expected it to go into the net

You can hear a soft, thud sound as Cash makes the shot... that's probably the ball being hit into the ground (I thought it might have been Cash's racquet hitting the ground, but its not close to doing so)

Helluva optical illusion
 

krosero

Legend
Good to see you, Kros



missed that particular 'outburst' but can confirm your count of 15 straight service points won afterwards. That streak came to an end in that wonderful game Cash broke in - 6 winners from him in it (12 point game)

Wilander went on an 11 point service points winning streak right after the game too

Some show of emotion from Wilander in this match. He approached and queried a couple of calls with the chair umpire


Have a look at the point starting at 2:00 minute mark - and tell me what you make of it

I've rewatched this about 20 times... it looks very much to me like Cash hits a BH passing winner

But the point is Wilander's - and there's zero reaction from anyone (players, commentators, fans) that suggest anything to the contrary

I think Cash hits the ball into the ground and it bounces over? - doesn't look that way, but can't think of anything else
I did a double-take myself, because it looks like a Cash winner, at least on YT (I don't have access to a larger screen at the moment). But I paused the ball in its flight and it looks like it hits the tape, the bottom of the tape, and slides away along the netting and to the floor. It doesn't look to me like it bounces on Cash's side first.
 

krosero

Legend
Wilander had a higher % of unreturned serves than his opponent in:

- three GS finals against Lendl (87 FO/USO; 83 AO)
- one against Curren (84 AO)
- and this one against Cash

Also he did in a few GS semis (Cahill 88 USO, McEnroe 85 FO, Agassi 88 FO), as well as the fourth-rounder against Cash at 86W.

His unreturned rate was lower than his opponent's, in all his remaining GS finals (82/83/85/88 FO; 85 AO; 88 USO).
 
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krosero

Legend
Wasp what was the first-serve percentage broken down by set, I'd be particularly interested in the fifth set
 

krosero

Legend
Return Stats
Wilander made...
- 125 (47 FH, 78 BH), including 4 runaround FHs and 3 return-approaches
- 7 Winners (5 FH, 2 BH)
- 34 Errors, comprising...
- 1 Unforced (1 BH)
- 33 Forced (16 FH, 17 BH)
- Return Rate (125/169) 74%
1 measly UE on return, in a 5-set match!
 

BringBackWood

Professional
I detest the high camera angle on the AO mid 80's to mid 90's. For that reason alone I rank the US open 80 F above it! Also the first 1.5 sets of this match aren't that interesting because Cash
@Waspsting have you considered statting Mcenroe Sanchez 92 AO. Its on YT in great quality.
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
I did a double-take myself, because it looks like a Cash winner, at least on YT (I don't have access to a larger screen at the moment). But I paused the ball in its flight and it looks like it hits the tape, the bottom of the tape, and slides away along the netting and to the floor. It doesn't look to me like it bounces on Cash's side first.
I'll add name to this list. To my naked eye, it looked like Cash's point. It would have been some shot if it was.

I was thinking that was a lot of unforced net errors from Cash. But I guess that might happen if you come to the net 186 times.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Wasp what was the first-serve percentage broken down by set, I'd be particularly interested in the fifth set
5th set - Wilander 37/43 @ 86%, Cash 33/48 @ 69%

rest -
for Wilander -
1st set - 18/24 @ 75%
2nd set - 27/39 @ 69%
3rd set - 21/28 @ 75%
4th set - 13/19 @ 68%

for Cash -
1st set - 14/29 @ 48%
2nd set - 24/44 @ 55%
3rd set - 22/35 @ 63%
4th set - 13/22 @ 59%

1 measly UE on return, in a 5-set match!
Mostly a product of Cash serve-volleying so much. I usually mark all serve-volley point return errors as forced. How do you do it?

Wilander made errors on 12 second serve returns (and was aced once)… only one of those was Cash staying back on. So it got marked unforced

-----

I was more struck By Wilander's ridiculous 9 UEs in play (Cash had 38)

I remember he made one late in the fifth and it gave me a little jolt, "hello. where did that come from?"
 

krosero

Legend
5th set - Wilander 37/43 @ 86%, Cash 33/48 @ 69%

rest -
for Wilander -
1st set - 18/24 @ 75%
2nd set - 27/39 @ 69%
3rd set - 21/28 @ 75%
4th set - 13/19 @ 68%

for Cash -
1st set - 14/29 @ 48%
2nd set - 24/44 @ 55%
3rd set - 22/35 @ 63%
4th set - 13/22 @ 59%



Mostly a product of Cash serve-volleying so much. I usually mark all serve-volley point return errors as forced. How do you do it?

Wilander made errors on 12 second serve returns (and was aced once)… only one of those was Cash staying back on. So it got marked unforced

-----

I was more struck By Wilander's ridiculous 9 UEs in play (Cash had 38)

I remember he made one late in the fifth and it gave me a little jolt, "hello. where did that come from?"
Actually yes, just a had a little brain-freeze there, absolutely if the other guy is coming in behind serve then it should be marked as forced. Only in the rare cases of someone coming in behind a true feather of a serve would I consider marking it UE.

So on Wilander's second-serve return errors Cash only stayed back once; yeah I would have marked it the same way, 1 return UE for the match.

Excellent service percentages from both men, in the last and longest of the five sets.

I think the ESPN commentators noticed Wilander on a kind of streak in the fifth set, going out to 40-love in his service games four or five straight times or something like that.
 
ESPN put him at 77%.

They said that he'd served at 60% for the tournament.

You asked me if I was doing a thread on that match, but there's not much to tell. I did what you did with Edberg-Mecir; I counted forward from a midmatch stat.

At 4-3, 15-love in the fifth, Wilander had 14 volley winners, Cash 40.

I counted 4 more Cash net winners (2 FHV’s, 2 smashes) and 2 more for Wilander before the end. That would put Wilander at 16 volley winners, Cash at 44. Three of Wilander’s points at 4-5 are missing from my disc, but I think it's fairly safe to leave him at 16.

And ESPN provided full-match counts on other stats:

Wilander had winners on 20 FH's and 17 BH's. He had 2 aces, 2 doubles, and 14 ue's. He served at 77%, winning 67% of points started on first serve. He won 38 pts. at net.

Cash had winners on 6 FH's and 12 BH's. He had 7 aces, 9 doubles, and 56 ue's. He served at 61%, winning 69% of points started on first serve. He won 78 pts. at net.

(Per the Washington Post, Wilander had 21 unforced errors, Cash 48 ).

At 3-love in the fourth, both players had a winning rate of 63% at net.

At 2-1 in the fifth, both had made 22 service winners.

They had played 300 points as of 4-5, 40-15 in the fifth. Wilander led 156-144. By my count through the end, Wilander increased his edge to 175-157.

That's basically what I've got for that match. Doing it that way involves three missing points, but if I did my own full count from the beginning I would actually have to deal with 5 points missing on Wilander's serve and a full Cash service game, all missing on my dvd.
Some stats on this match from espn that krosero posted in his thread on '88 USO final.
 
I detest the high camera angle on the AO mid 80's to mid 90's. For that reason alone I rank the US open 80 F above it! Also the first 1.5 sets of this match aren't that interesting because Cash
@Waspsting have you considered statting Mcenroe Sanchez 92 AO. Its on YT in great quality.
I did stats on that years ago, but my copy has some points/games missing. I was interested in how many net points Mac had(about as many as Edberg vs Chang at 92 USO - 250ish)
I thInk Mac had the most fh volley winners I've seen in this match.
 

krosero

Legend
Alan Trengove in the Sydney Morning Herald called it “one of the most gripping matches in Australian tennis history.”

It was a classic confrontation between a talented serve-and-volley player and a stubborn baseliner whose immaculate and searching returns finally swung the match his way.​
It was also a worthy climax to the first Open held at the National Tennis Centre. Yesterday’s crowd swelled the aggregate attendance to 244,859 – more than 100,000 in excess of the Kooyong record.​
Cash, who was runner-up to another Swede, Stefan Edberg, in 1987, looked tired in the fourth set in which he could win only 13 points. He lost the first two games of the fifth set but lifted himself heroically as the crowd of 15,000 cheered him on almost hysterically.​
However, the robust Australian had spent a little too much energy in his semi-final against Ivan Lendl on Friday. That match lasted three hours 56 minutes.​
As Cash put it: “I wasn’t feeling physically tired, but I think the Lendl match just took a little bit of edge off me in the fifth set. I was not as quick as I would have liked to have been. It’s tough to play two five-setters in three days.”​
His feet were blistered and black. “They would make you sick to look at them,” he said.​
Wilander agreed that the Lendl match had taken some toll of Cash.​
“In the fourth set he still got down to his volleys, but he was missing them and not serving very well,” the always perceptive Swede said.​
“He came back in the fifth set after I got a break, but I think he was tired and I wasn’t tired at all.”​
…. “I think I played the best tennis I have ever played in my life in the first two sets,” Wilander said. “I don’t know how I lost the second set. But that is one of Pat’s strengths. He is going to be an unbelievably good player because he can always come back.”​
“After the first rain break I was so very confident,” Wilander said. “I didn’t think I would lose my serve and that I could break him any time.​
“I thought if I came in he would know I wasn’t going to be defensive. But perhaps I did it too much.” Wilander was smart enough to concentrate on baseline play in the second half of the match. As a result, he gave away fewer unforced errors than the Wimbledon champion, and his dipping returns had Cash stretching and diving to make difficult volleys.​
Cash’s forehand was a glaring weakness. He made 22 forehand errors, most of them unforced.​
However, he was rightly proud of the fight he put up.​
“I feel I played pretty well throughout the match,” he said. “I gave my best, and Mats was too good on the day. I’m not greatly disappointed.”​
The expectations of the fans imposed an additional burden on Cash and their clamor as the match teetered in the fifth set actually hindered him.​
He played the first set as though he was carrying 200 years of Australian history on his shoulders. The more his fans chanted his name or waved their flags the more he made mistakes, especially off his forehand.​
Cash’s chief problem at this stage was his service. He could not find any rhythm with his first serve and was often forced to rely on his brilliant volleying to get him out of trouble.​
 

krosero

Legend
And a few months later Sports Illustrated had this:

In the Comfort Zone Mats Wilander is happy being almost the top tennis player in the world. Question is, will he take the next step?​
by FRANZ LIDZ​
Originally Posted: May 23, 1988​
YOU DIDN'T READ ABOUT IT IN Rolling Stone, but a couple of years ago Mats Wilander became Sweden's underground singing sensation. He was headed for a press conference after losing the final of the 1986 Stockholm Open when his buddies kidnapped him. Wilander was blindfolded, stuffed into a pair of old pajamas and driven around town for an hour. When the blindfold was removed, Wilander found himself cradling an acoustic guitar on a subway station platform in downtown Stockholm. His pals wouldn't let him leave until he sang a few songs. Subway cars rattled by, and a large crowd gathered. ''In all the years I've known Mats,'' says fellow pro Joakim Nystrom, who was one of the perpetrators, ''it was the only time I've ever seen him nervous.'' But Wilander drew on his ample self-confidence and settled into a cozy groove. ''People must have liked the way Mats sang,'' says Nystrom. ''They threw 43 kronor into his guitar case. That's almost seven dollars!''​
The same sort of courtly cool has netted Sweden's aboveground tennis sensation more than $5 million in prize money. Wilander, 23, the world's third-ranked player, exploded on the scene at 17 by winning the 1982 French Open and has been in the top 4 since '84. He has been in nine Grand Slam singles finals all told, winning five (two French, three Australian), and is in line for the crown if Ivan Lendl abdicates. It doesn't look as if Wilander is going to depose Lendl any time soon, however. The 28-year-old Lendl has always overpowered him.​
Wilander plays as if he had four lungs, and legs that could run forever. And he can read his opponent with the precision of a CAT scanner. ''I've never seen Mats make a bad mistake in a big match,'' says Nystrom. ''He always stays the same level, maybe even rises.'' Yet Wilander's calm, methodical detachment on court is sometimes taken for indifference. John McEnroe once called him complacent and accused him of trying to inherit the top ranking instead of fighting for it. ''I play tennis to play tennis,'' says Wilander. ''It's strictly an American attitude to think that if you're not the best, you're a failure. I want to have fun, make a living and have good friends. Being Number 1 is somewhere down the line.''​
.... Wilander was unseeded at Roland Garros in '82. Borg, who had won the four previous French championships, was embroiled in a dispute with the Men's International Professional Tennis Council and was boycotting the tournament. None of the remaining Swedes was given a chance. As a result, several Swedish newspapers had not bothered to send reporters to Paris. But a reporter for one of Sweden's three national radio stations was on hand, broadcasting results and highlights during the news. Wilander seemed on his way out in the fourth ) round as his opponent, the second-seeded Lendl, won two of the first three sets. But Wilander came back to win the fourth set, after which the reporter excitedly called the station. ''Keep me on the air!'' he pleaded.​
The station complied and broadcast the play-by-play of the fifth set, which Wilander won. The next day just about every sportswriter in Stockholm boarded a plane for Paris. Borg, who was vacationing in the Greek Isles, returned to Sweden so that he could watch the match on TV. Wilander knocked off three more of the world's Top 10 players -- Vitas Gerulaitis, Clerc and Guillermo Vilas -- to supplant Borg as the youngest male ever to win a Grand Slam singles title. Wilander was immediately hailed in Sweden as the new Borg. He did seem to be made in the image of Borg -- slight build, long blond hair, two-fisted backhand, looping forehand, nonpareil stamina -- but the comparison so annoyed Wilander that he cut his hair short. ''I'm not Borg Two,'' he said. ''I'm Wilander One, and that's enough for now.''​
In fact, Borg was never a role model. ''I wanted to be like Jimmy Connors or Ilie Nastase,'' says Wilander. ''You don't idolize someone who is like yourself. You idolize somebody you'd like to be like.'' Wilander played Borg only once, when Wilander was 16 and Borg was 25. Borg won, 6-1, 6-1. They hardly know each other and have little in common, except tennis. ''Mats is more curious and outward looking,'' says Per Yng, a sportswriter for the newspaper Goteborgs-Posten. ''He's interested in far more things. And he has much more confidence socially.''​
Borg had such a bad relationship with Swedish journalists that he addressed them in English. Wilander is adept at handling the press. ''Mats always leaves reporters satisfied,'' says Magnusson. ''You never read a negative word about him.'' Wilander was even forgiven after cutting out for Monte Carlo in 1983. ''When Borg moved there, a lot of Swedes said, What a bad guy!'' Magnusson says. ''But when Mats did, everyone said, Of course!''​
Wilander has problems with motivation. He psychs himself up for tournaments on a sliding scale. ''At Grand Slam events,'' Wilander says, ''I get into every match 100 percent. I get into tournaments like the Masters 99 percent. There's something about the Masters that tells me it's not one of the best; it's fifth or sixth. The smaller tournaments I might get into 70 or 80 percent.''​
At exhibitions Wilander's enthusiasm barely registers. ''They're usually badly run, and nobody's watching,'' he says. ''I don't try to miss, but I don't care if I win or lose. I just swing my racket. It's just entertainment.'' Wilander is perhaps the world's worst exhibition player. Though his tournament record against Connors is 5-0, Wilander is 0-4 against him in exhibitions. ''I need tension,'' says Wilander. ''I think I handle pressure better than other players.''​
Still, Wilander has never made the run for No. 1 that would really test him. To reach the top, you have to play well week after week in places such as Livingston, N.J., and Kitzbuhel, Austria, as well as at Wimbledon. And you can't lose early-round matches to the Thierry Tulasnes of the world. Lendl doesn't.​
But then, Wilander is not even the best player in Greenwich. Lendl, a Czech emigrant who also lives there, works hard at maintaining his No. 1 ranking. He has a grueling training regimen and a special diet. To keep pace, Wilander recently began his own conditioning routine. He jogs and lifts weights with Matt Doyle, a 1978 Yale graduate who plays on Ireland's Davis Cup team. And Wilander has adjusted his style of play. No longer just another Swedish backcourt counterpuncher, he has kicked up his game and varied his attack. In particular, he has a developed a one-handed slice backhand to complement his two-hander and has improved his net play. Indeed, in 1986 he won the Wimbledon doubles with Nystrom.​
''The improvement in Mats has been unbelievable,'' says Andreas Maurer of Germany. ''His serve is unbelievable. His court coverage: unbelievable. He plays important points unbelievably well. But most unbelievable of all is that he can now be very aggressive.'' Opponents who read Wilander's insouciance as passivity are now getting burned when he takes the play to them.​
Trailing Pat Cash 5-4 in the fifth set of the grueling 4 1/2-hour final at this year's Australia Open, Wilander twice charged the net behind his serve and hit winners. He went on to win the set, 8-6, and the match. ''I might have done that a year ago,'' he says, ''but never two years ago. Never. My old coaches wouldn't have liked that. They think, when you're down, always play the way you've played best. But now everybody's so good from the baseline that the game is at another level. You have to go against your will.​
''You're serving and running into the unknown, something you've never done. When I win a point, I think I've really played it like a man. And when I lose, I think, Why did I listen to those people?'' It's not a question Wilander has to ask very often.​
But then there's Lendl. Wilander hasn't beaten him since the finals of the 1985 French Open. Last year Lendl outlasted Wilander in excruciatingly long games of patty-cake at the French and U.S. Opens. At the Masters Lendl blew him away in straight sets.​
To beat Lendl, says Wilander, ''I have to hope he isn't serving too well and to make him play every point. I have to use psychology to unnerve him, to take control.​
''Until now, I never thought I was good enough to be Number 1. But I'm so close and still improving. I must improve to keep on going and keep on going. I want to get there deservedly, like I've reached my limit.''​
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Interesting how people see things differently

I think describing Wilander as a "stubborn baseliner" is a bit of an injustice and incomplete - the guy came to net 79 times and serve-volleyed 42!

A difference in frame of reference maybe... with so many pure serve-volleyers, like Cash, around back then... 79 approaches and 42 s/v's are 'stubborn baseliner' figures (today, they'd be charging mad man numbers!)

“In the fourth set he still got down to his volleys, but he was missing them and not serving very well,” the always perceptive Swede said.... and his dipping returns had Cash stretching and diving to make difficult volleys.
these seem a bit contradictory

The first part implies Cash's tiredness was the reason behind his missing volleys and the second credits Wilander's returning for it

My feeling is more in line with the second. Cash started missing volleys at the time described, but they were almost all low volleys. He also made a lot of low volleys in the match, but my feeling was its very harsh to hold missing a bunch of low volleys against the guy.... if you're faced with enough of them, your bound to miss a bunch

Cash’s forehand was a glaring weakness. He made 22 forehand errors, most of them unforced.
I have him with 21 (excluding returns), 9 unforced, 12 forced
And more still on the BH - 24 (11 UEs, 13 FEs)

so this focus on his FH being a weakness... think the writers just playing into stereotypes. Commentators also talked about how his FH was weaker than his BH and how Lendl was of that opinion

Trailing Pat Cash 5-4 in the fifth set of the grueling 4 1/2-hour final at this year's Australia Open, Wilander twice charged the net behind his serve and hit winners.
Only he didn't

He charged the net twice behind his serve, made a BH1/2V error on one and the other is the optical illusion point we've been looking at

I can see poetically exaggeratedly saying the second was a winner, but not the first

Wilander had just one winner in that game - point 3, a BH dtl


I think the ESPN commentators noticed Wilander on a kind of streak in the fifth set, going out to 40-love in his service games four or five straight times or something like that.
he reached 40-0 in 8 of his last 9 service games - 3 on one end, 5 on the other

Held to love in 6 of them,

----

A word on the crowd. They were making a fair bit of noise, and on Cash's request, the umpire requested them to remain quiet during play a couple of times

There was also a small but very loud group of Wilander fans, painted up in Swedish flag pattern.... so the noise seemed almost as much when Wilander won a point as Cash did (note the reaction to the optical illusion point)
 
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NicoMK

Professional
Exactly. How can you call a guy who came to the net 79 times a baseliner?
In life, the first impression that you give seems to be the one that remains. For good or bad.

Seems that many people remember Mats mainly for his first victory at the French in 1982. But Mats was a very smart and versatile player. His 1988 year was crazy. The Aussie Open final and the USO final are amongst the greatest matches that I have ever seen, both in terms of quality and intelligent game.
 

NicoMK

Professional
And a few months later Sports Illustrated had this:

In the Comfort Zone Mats Wilander is happy being almost the top tennis player in the world. Question is, will he take the next step?​
by FRANZ LIDZ​
Fantastic post, never read this article before, thanks for sharing!​
 

krosero

Legend
In life, the first impression that you give seems to be the one that remains. For good or bad.

Seems that many people remember Mats mainly for his first victory at the French in 1982. But Mats was a very smart and versatile player. His 1988 year was crazy. The Aussie Open final and the USO final are amongst the greatest matches that I have ever seen, both in terms of quality and intelligent game.
The first impression stuck, with the '82 French. After that, the story was always that Wilander was now adding a volley to his game. They said that in '87 as if it was a new thing. Go back through the newspaper reports and you see they were saying it in '85 a lot, and even as far back as '83. Always it was reported as a new thing, something that this baseliner was trying out for the first time.
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
In life, the first impression that you give seems to be the one that remains. For good or bad.

Seems that many people remember Mats mainly for his first victory at the French in 1982. But Mats was a very smart and versatile player. His 1988 year was crazy. The Aussie Open final and the USO final are amongst the greatest matches that I have ever seen, both in terms of quality and intelligent game.
Yes. Once you have a reputation it can often be very difficult to change. I used to feel that way sometimes with Lendl at Wimbledon, where I thought he sometimes volleyed very well. Like the tv announcers were just waiting for him to miss an easy volley or two so they could say, look he's not a very good volleyer.

Remember how much Wilander came in at the 1988 US Open? The final with Lendl.
 

NicoMK

Professional
Sure, these guys could do well on any surface : clay, hard courts, fast carpets and real grass. Lendl was a clever volleyer as well, much, much better than 95% of today's field. He didn't win Wimbledon simply because he played on fast grass during the Becker-Edberg-McEnroe and Cash years. These four guys were REAL grass players, tough to beat on that surface. And in the worst scenario, if you wanted to win at Wimbledon, you almost had to beat them all. Crazy.

Mats and Ivan would win multiple Wimbledon if it was played in the 80s on such a slow surface as nowadays. Lame grass btw.
 
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andreh

Professional
Players also went to the net more in general back in those days. Lendl also played a fair amount of S&V on fast courts, yet he is remebered as someone who played the baseline exclusively.
 

fezer

Rookie
1988 Australian Open is my all time favorite tournament. Although my favorite player was not playing.
Both sf and f were classic matches with great match ups. Wilander/Edberg and Cash /Lendl Wilander/Cash. I watched these matches from start to finish midnight to noon here in Germany. It was thrilling and superb tennis by all those legendary players.
 

andreh

Professional
1988 Australian Open is my all time favorite tournament. Although my favorite player was not playing.
Both sf and f were classic matches with great match ups. Wilander/Edberg and Cash /Lendl Wilander/Cash. I watched these matches from start to finish midnight to noon here in Germany. It was thrilling and superb tennis by all those legendary players.
Yeah, the Edberg/Wilander semi I've seen as well. It was quite good.
 

NicoMK

Professional
Best picture quality that you can get from this final. Too bad it's not the full match but still much enjoyable. Maybe one day full broadcast will come, hopefully before we are too old to remember :alien:. This AO Classics channel is a good idea, a reminiscence of the "Australian Open Vault" that you could find a few years ago, now gone (shame).


Cheers all!
 
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