Match Stats/Report - Wilander vs Leconte, French Open final, 1988


Hall of Fame
Mats Wilander beat Henri Leconte 7-5, 6-2, 6-1 in the French Open final, 1988 on clay

Wilander had won a then Open Era record breaking 3rd Australian Open earlier in the year and this was his third French title. He would go onto add the US Open to finish the year with 3 Slam titles - a feat last accomplished 14 years ago and not to be repeated until 16 years later. This was the only Slam final Leconte reached

Leconte serve-volleyed about half the time off first serves

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (71/73) 97%
- 1st serve points won (50/71) 70%
- 2nd serve points won (1/2) 50%
- Aces 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (11/73) 15%

- 1st serve percentage (40/74) 54%
- 1st serve points won (24/40) 60%
- 2nd serve points won (11/34) 32%
- Aces 1, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (13/74) 18%

Serve Patterns
Wilander served...
- to FH 27%
- to BH 70%
- to Body 3%

Leconte served....
- to FH 18%
- to BH 73%
- to Body 8%

Return Stats
Wilander made...
- 58 (19 FH, 39 BH), including 5 runaround FHs
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 11 Errors, comprising...
- 3 Unforced (1 FH, 2 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 8 Forced (1 FH, 7 BH)
- Return Rate (58/71) 82%

Leconte made...
- 62 (17 FH, 45 BH), including 1 runaround FH & 8 return-approaches
- 10 Errors, comprising...
- 7 Unforced (1 FH, 6 BH)
- 3 Forced (2 FH, 1 BH)
- Return Rate (62/73) 85%

Break Points
Wilander 7/12 (8 games)
Leconte 2/4 (2 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Wilander 22 (7 FH, 15 BH)
Leconte 25 (3 FH, 6 BH, 5 FHV, 7 BHV, 4 OH)

Wilander's FH passes - 1 cc, 2 dtl and 1 inside-out
- BH passes - 9 cc, 2 dtl (1 return), 2 inside-out and 1 lob
- regular FHs - 2 cc (1 Leconte couldn't reach because he'd fallen to the ground) and 1 dtl
- regular BHs - 1 dtl running-down-drop-shot at net

Leconte had 4 from serve-volley points - 3 first volleys (2 BHV, 1 OH) and 1 second volley (1 BHV)

- 3 from return-approach points (2 FHV, 1 OH)

- FHs - 2 cc and 1 inside-out
- BHs - 1 cc, 4 dtl (1 pass) and 1 lob

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Wilander 19
- 4 Unforced (3 FH, 1 BH)
- 15 Forced (8 FH, 7 BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 40

Leconte 54
- 38 Unforced (6 FH, 27 BH, 1 FHV, 4 BHV)
- 16 Forced (2 FH, 4 BH, 3 FHV, 6 BHV, 1 OH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46.1

(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
Wilander was...
- 6/9 (67%) at net

Leconte was...
- 34/71 (48%) at net, including...
- 13/28 (46%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 11/22 (50%) off 1st serve and..
- 2/6 (33%) off 2nd serve
- 4/8 (50%) return-approaching
- 0/3 forced back

Match Report
A great first set of Leconte's attack vs Wilander's steadiness turns out to be the high point of the match. Thereafter, its one way traffic with Wilander playing extremely well and Leconte extremely badly. Its hard to say which is more prominent in the end result

First Set
Leconte plays a balanced attacking game. He comes to net regularly, but rarely off the serve. The 1 second serve he sees, he chip-charges. His first serve is huge and the second, not easy to attack. Off the ground, he's fairly consistent and mixes slices with powerful drives. His stronger groundstrokes are enough to go for winners or force errors - and he often comes in behind them to boot

Wilander serves with tremendous consistency. This match is best known for his having made 71/73 first serves. I would have expected to see rolled in, effectively 'second' first serves but in the first set, he serves reasonably strongly (you can tell they're first serves at least, though not particularly powerful ones), strongly enough to genuinely discourage ambitious attacking returning. He's at his best returning... and seems to get every ball back in play, which is no mean feat against the huge Leconte serve. Off the ground, he's typically consistent and noticeably favours playing the ball to Leconte's BH. He does what he's allowed to on the pass... Leconte's approaches and volleying are often overwhelming and in this light, Wilander does quite well

First set stats in play - Wilander-Leconte
- Winners 4-10
- UEs 4-18
- FEs 9-6

... so Wilander coming out ahead overall 28-23 (+5 is also the margin with double faults and unreturned serves thrown in), so you'd have to say brilliantly as he played, just a few too many UEs from Leconte

Leconte breaks first in third game, the points he wins including a sharp angle BH cc that forces a FH error, a BH dtl winner and on break point, a picture perfect drop FHV

Wilander breaks back a couple games later with one of his subtle, just-well-enough played games. A decent pass forces a BHV error - the ball being a bit wide and bit above average of power - a decent return dips to force Leconte to volley up, which Wilander decently lobs to force an error off an awkward OH (there are also a pair of Leconte UEs)

"Decent" being the operative word here. Nothing overwhelming or so great as to leave Leconte without a chance, but enough to make things difficult. And Leconte falls to these plays. He'd have to have been playing very, very well not to... Wilander's play in the match in general is characterized by this type of measured counter-punching (after first set, its not as noticeable because Leconte spraying errors takes the eye)

Leconte sensationally breaks to love to leave himself serving for the set. 4 stunning BHs - 3 cc, 1 dtl & 2 forcing errors, 2 going for winners - do the job for him. Great shots regardless of style, but his particularly aesthetically appealing sweeping shots make it even better

Wilander though scrapes the break back. There's a scrappy serve-volley, net vs passer battle that ends with a in-the-process-of-retreating Leconte forced into error to open the game and Wilander has two break points. Leconte misses an easy volley on the second

Wilander breaks again to seal the set. couple of errors from Leconte opens the door, but Wilander shuts it with some stunning stuff. An unlikely running, sliding FH pass forces volleying error and on set point, strong return draws weak volley that Mats steps up and dispatches FH inside-out

Second & Third Sets
On the 65th point of the match - Wilander's first break point as Leconte served for the first set - Mats had missed a routine FH. There are 82 more points in the match after that, covering two sets and 3 games. 0 unforced errors from Mats Wilander in them... amazing consistency

It gets tainted a bit and is made a lot easier because Leconte deals in UEs from thereon too. He plays almost as badly as Wilander plays well - and both sets are blowouts

An example of interplay of the two players can be seen in the two breaks in the second set. Both are to love. First features 3 Leconte BH UEs. Second features 3 strong Wilander passes

Almost exactly the same thing in the third. First break comes on 3 Leconte UEs and a double fault. Second with 4 strong passes from Wilander

In third set, Wilander has 2 break and match points to finish with a bagel, but Leconte manages to make Mats serve it out, which he does without trouble

Serve & Return
97% first serve in is the highest count I've heard of and implies the server was serving gently. As outlined earlier, this isn't fully the case in the first set. Thereafter, Wilander does take to serving gently. Most of his first serves are of such quality that they'd be marked unforced error (and indeed, 7/10 have been)

There's a trigger for this. Opening game of second set, Leconte misses 3 returns in a row. He wasn't even trying to be aggressive on them... just soft misses to soft serves. Perhaps Wilander decided on seeing this that he could afford to serve still gentler. For most of the last two sets, Wilander's serve is like a good second serve, and mostly directed to BH. Leconte attacks when he does with return-approaches, but otherwise, returns orthodoxly with little if any attempt to grab the initiative

85% return rate is good figure for Leconte. On this surface and against this type of serving, he could have done even better in terms of swinging aggressively with the return. I'm not too familiar with Leconte's game or his capability of so doing... but his drive BH cc's in play are excellent. If you can hit shots like that in play, you should be able to hit the kinds of serves Wilander sends down the same way

Mats' returning is excellent. Leconte has a bomb of a first serve and follows it to net regularly. And Mats not only returns 82% but does so with subtle control

Its rare for Leconte to have an easy first volley, and its even rarer to get one on his FHV. Mats returns inside-out from deuce court and down the middle from ad court. And usually gets the ball in low too. These are the kinds of subtleties in Wilander's play that get overlooked, relative to the overt impressiveness of power in the returning of someone like Andre Agassi. Mats is returns aren't overly powerful, but placed just where he wants them to be to maximize his Leconte's discomfort. And all this in light of just getting racquet on Leconte's deliveries being no mean feat... I think Mats reads the serve well, though Leconte is unnecessarily predictable in his direction (73% to BH)
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Hall of Fame
Play - Baseline
Leconte lives and dies of his BH. Mostly dies

27 BH unforced errors is more than the total winners (Mats 22, Henri 25), forced errors (Mats 15, Henri 16), unreturned serves (Mats 11, Henri 13) for either player, as well as Mats' unforced errors (4) and Leconte's own non-BH UEs (11)

The BH UEs are mostly of two types; slices and cc drives

The slices are innocuous and no trouble at all to Mats. The cc drives are powerful and a handful. One problem Leconte has is that he makes too many slice errors. If consistency of shot isn't his game and he's counting on winning points with aggressive plays... why slice so much?

A minority of slice errors are attempted approaches or drop shots, but the bulk are just rallying shots. Not much difference in the balls he chooses to slice from the ones he chooses to drive. I imagine this is a particularly bad slicing day for him, and he wouldn't have counted on it happening coming into the match, but its apparent that it is happening fairly early in the match. Why not put the shot away and go with big cc drives for the day? If he misses, nothings changed and if he doesn't, he might steal pinch a few points. If anything, he's more consistent with his BH drives, even though its a much more aggressive shot

Mats targets the BH more and more as the match wore on with FH cc and also BH inside-outs. The FHs are fairly heavy by his standard without being close to overpowering. The BHs are well controlled. Common sense from Mats, still some credit to how often he could find Leconte's BH... but overwhelming discredit to Leconte. A very poor showing on the BH

I have not seen a player utilize or control BH inside-out as well as Mats Wilander, including on the pass

Play - Leconte volley vs Wilander pass
This is the best part of the match and again, Wilander comes out on top

Note Leconte winning just 48% net points. And a small number of the points won are 'insurance policy' approaches

Note Leconte's being about equally effective on all types of approaches
- serve-volleying 46%
- from rallies 49%
- return-approaching 50%

He volleys decently but not well enough for clay, where anything less than perfect tends to not finish points. A few easy misses (5 UEs), but a lot more forced ones (10) in forecourt, along with Wilander having 18 passing winners to 14 Leconte volley/OH winners is indicating that quality of Wilander's passing was the main factor

There's subtlety to Mats' passing, again, different from someone like Lendl, who also passes very well. Most players go for a passing winner.... what else are you supposed to go for in that situation? In regular situations, Wilander goes for 1-2 combinations.... the first pass not unduly strong or particularly well placed, but giving Leconte an awkward volley. These sometimes mildly force an error but more often come back not strongly. Then he goes for the winner - and usually gets it. This seems to be a regular feature of his play and its out of the ordinary. Only extraordinary volleying performances can thwart it by hitting awkward volley decisively, and Leconte's well short of that level here

When the approach shot has put Mats on the defensive, then he goes for the winner outright first up. And in this match, usually gets them. Most of his 9 BH cc passes are of this type and they're brilliant, going by the longer reaching FHV side of Leconte without trouble

Leconte still errs some. For one thing... he seeks out Wilander's BH pass, which is default volleying procedure, but I'm not sure it applies to Mats. It doesn't in this match - Leconte does better when volleying to FH, and that's despite his strongest approaches being directed to BH. Second, though Wilander keeps passing him cc, he keeps approaching with undue attention to cover the dtl. The cc passes Wilander makes are still amazing and I wouldn't have backed him to keep doing it as often as he does... but why cover dtl when Wilander keeps going (and nailing) cc?

There is no Wilander at net vs Leconte on pass mini-match. Mats comes in just 9 times. Leconte does pull of a fabulous, longline BH lob that he just hits up rather than top spins for the winner from an awkward corner. Mats wins 6/9 points. That he felt no need to come in is an indicator of how comfortably superior he was from his baseline stronghold

Summing up, lively first set after which Wilander is very, very good and Leconte very, very poor. Of the ground, I would primarily discredit Leconte's showing while at net, primarily credit Wilander's passing for the overall result. Near flawless from Wilander, with opposition too weak to test for flaws

Stats for Australian Open final between Wilander and Pat Cash -