Match Stats/Report - Wilander vs Lendl, US Open final, 1988

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Mats Wilander beat Ivan Lendl 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 in the US Open final, 1988 on hard court

The win gave Wilander his only US Open title, third Slam title of the year and moved him to number one in the ranking. Lendl had won the event the previous 3 years and was playing in his 7th straight final. Wilander's last win over Lendl had come in '85 French Open final, and he had lost the pair's next 6 matches coming into this final
previously posted - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/stats-for-1987-88-uso-finals-lendl-and-wilander.195835/

Wilander won 166 points, Lendl 161

Wilander serve-volleyed regularly, about a third of the time off first serves

Serve Stats
Wilander...
- 1st serve percentage (156/181) 86%
- 1st serve points won (94/156) 60%
- 2nd serve points won (16/25) 64%
- Aces 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (25/181) 14%

Lendl...
- 1st serve percentage (62/146) 42%
- 1st serve points won (46/62) 74%
- 2nd serve points won (44/84) 52%
- Aces 9, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (24/146) 16%

Serve Patterns
Wilander served...
- to FH 46%
- to BH 39%
- to Body 15%

Lendl served....
- to FH 31%
- to BH 56%
- to Body 13%

Return Stats
Wilander made...
- 120 (49 FH, 71 BH), including 10 runaround FHs & 10 return-approaches
- 2 Winners (2 BH)
- 14 Errors, comprising...
- 4 Unforced (4 BH)
- 10 Forced (5 FH, 5 BH)
- Return Rate (120/144) 83%

Lendl made...
- 156 (85 FH, 71 BH), including 3 runaround FHs & 1 return-approach
- 7 Winners (4 FH, 3 BH)
- 23 Errors, comprising...
- 8 Unforced (7 FH, 1 BH)
- 15 Forced (1 FH, 14 BH)
- Return Rate (156/181) 86%

Break Points
Wilander 6/10 (8 games)
Lendl 5/18 (12 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Wilander 33 (7 FH, 4 BH, 8 FHV, 5 BHV, 9 OH)
Lendl 81 (23 FH, 30 BH, 12 FHV, 3 BHV, 13 OH)

Wilander had 9 from serve-volley points
- 4 first volleys (2 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH)
- 2 second volleys (1 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 1 third volley (1 FHV)
- 2 fourth volleys (1 BHV, 1 OH)

- 1 FHV from a return-approach point

- regular FH - 1 at net
- FH passes - 1 cc and 5 dtl (1 at net)
- BHs - 3 inside-out (1 turnaround pass and 2 returns) and 1 lob

Lendl had 37 passes (10 FH, 27 BH)
- FHs - 4 cc (1 return), 1 dtl return, 4 inside-in and 1 lob
- BHs - 7 cc (1 return), 16 dtl (1 return, 1 net chord pop over... without which Wilander seemed to have ball covered), 1 dtl/inside-out, 1 inside-in return and 2 lobs

- regular FHs - 5 cc, 3 dtl (1 return), 4 inside-out and 1 inside-in
- regular BHs - 2 dtl and 1 running-down-drop volley at net dtl

- 1 FHV was a swinging shot

- 1 OH was not a smash, 1 was on the bounce at net, 1 was from the baseline (on bounce) and 1 was from a return-approach point

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Wilander 56
- 32 Unforced (14 FH, 12 BH, 4 FHV, 2 BHV)
- 24 Forced (8 FH, 13 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 45.6

Lendl 106
- 65 Unforced (31 FH, 20 BH, 7 FHV, 2 BHV, 5 OH)… with 1 baseline OH
- 41 Forced (18 FH, 20 BH, 1 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 1 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.2

(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...
- 78/132 (59%) at net, including...
- 37/59 (63%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 35/57 (61%) off 1st serve and...
- 2/2 off 2nd serve
---
- 5/10 (50%) return-approaching
- 4/10 (40%) forced back/retreated

Lendl was...
- 49/74 (66%) at net, including...
- 3/3 (100%) serve-volleying, all 1st serves
---
- 1/1 return-approaching
- 3/4 (75%) forced back/retreated

Match Report
There are many different ways to look at this match. To my eye, Wilander strikes a smart balance of being steady from the back and attacking the front of the court and plays the important points both well and boldly. He plays about as well as he can. By contrast, Lendl is below his well below his norm in baseline consistency and on the serve and slightly less so on the return and possibly on the pass - but is still the overall better player. He does not play the important points well though - that proves to be the difference

A common measure of who was the better player in a match is break point numbers. Wilander has 10 in 8 games, Lendl 18 in 12 - substantial advantage to Lendl. But Wilander breaks 6 times, once more than Lendl - an even more clear indicator of Wilander playing the important points well (both saving break points against himself and converting his own)

This is unusual; Usually, its the bigger serving players and/or more aggressive one that's able to be more successful in these areas. That Lendl has the bigger serve is clear - Wilander's is just a rolled in shot lacking power or placement most of the time - but that's confounded by Wilander serving at 86% to Lendl's 42% (both figures being extreme in opposite directions). Who the more aggressive player is less obvious, despite Lendl leading winners by a whopping 81-33. Even taking winners + errors forced Lendl comes out on top 105-74. The gap grows still further when serves are taken into account (Lendl adds 25 points, Wilander 16)

What's going on here? Clutch play. Wilander tends to be aggressive on important points - serve-volleying, rallying to net or even return-approaching. In rallies, he tends to come in early even. And plays his best tennis at these key moments. Lendl's almost the opposite. He can rarely find a first serve when it counts most, and makes some terrible errors, especially in the forecourt at such times. Its execution more than passivity that lets him down - he tends to try to take charge of big points, just like Wilander - but muffs attacking plays repeatedly

Another common indicator of quality of play is second serve points won. Wilander leads considerably 64%-52%, though Lendl has 3.5 times more such points. Wilander winning 64% second serve points to 60% first serve points is one of the best indicators of how well he played

Court seems on the slow side and commentators keep talking about wind being strong. Its not as strong as the '87 final. there you could see some slices beings blown sideways as they went through the air. Nothing like that here, though there are at least two indicators of windiness; first is Lendl's serving at 42% - his high ball toss is particularly susceptible to disruption by wind. second is OHs. Lendl makes a hash of a number of smashes and Mats is more conservative in hitting them then anything I've seen

As you'd expect over such a long match, nature of action varies at different times. The typical Lendl-Wilander match tends to feature
- Lendl's first serve winning a lot of cheap points
- large amounts of who-blinks-first baseline rallies, based around BH cc'ng
- Lendl occasionally attacking with big FHs from the back
- both players to varying degrees approaching net to finish points
- quality of volleying and passing varies match to match

In this match -
- Lendl doesn't get may cheap points because of low percentage (42%), court speed and typical uber-consistent returning from Mats (83% return rate)

- relatively little passive rallying. Rather, Lendl looks to take charge of points from the back more than usual and is more error prone - both in attacking shots but also neutral ones (51 baseline UEs, to Mats' 26)

- Lendl approaches after overpowering Mats and/or drawing short ball. Mats serve-volleys a lot, return-approaches a bit and manufactures approaches from neutral positions surprisingly often and well

- Mats volleys very well in terms of covering the net and putting difficult wide and/or low volleys back in play (just 3 forecourt FEs). He misses very little that's easy. he's average as far as killing points with the volley goes though (22 forecourt winners, to Lendl's 28 coming in about half as much), and leaves Lendl second chances on the pass. Lendl passes within himself, short of the all out blasting he sometimes goes in for. Lots of winners, also misses a lot of makeable passes. Semi-strong passes are well dealt with by Mats

- Lendl doesn't volley well. His approach shots are strong enough that Mats can't do much on the pass (just 8 winners) or even make Lendl play difficult volleys (just 3 forecourt FEs - and he wasn't making a bunch of difficult volleys, just wasn't faced with them). Its left for Lendl to mess up at net (13 UEs - including 4 OHs. Mats has 6 coming in twice as much)
 
Last edited:

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Set 1
No feeling out phase in this one. Lendl looks to overpower Wilander from the back, come in and finish points at net. Wilander too doesn't seem to be in outlasting mode and plays a lot of change up dtl shots or well angled FH cc's. Its not clear if he's simply reacting to Lendl's move or if he's going in for a livelier dynamic himself. The norm for the pair, especially early in their matches, is passive who-blinks-first BH cc rallies... not true here

Lendl's problem is that he's terrible of consistency of neutral shots, especially the mildest groundstroke of all, the BH slice. Just keeps missing routine balls. Making errors while being aggressive is understandable and goes with the territory of the style of play he came in with... but missing routine shots isn't. He has 22 UEs in the set (Mats has 7)

Lendl's attacks are mostly successful, though inconsistent and his first serve in count is a 17/35 (good enough against Mats). Its the loose errors on neutral shots that puts him under. Mats meanwhile remains typically steady as a rock. He only serve-volleys 4 times in the set, doesn't particularly look to come in and retreats 3 times when he has come in (also forced back once)

In short, its Lendl attacking versus Mats counter-punching in the set

Lendl's bad lapses are costly. Up 0-30 in game 3, he misses an easy OH, and Mats goes on to hold. Up 15-30 in game 7, he fails to putaway a routine volley, Mats passes him well and goes on to hold.
Mats has his groan moments too. He misses an easy volley on break point in game 8 and Lendl goes on to hold

Mats breaks to take the set and its down to his boldness. He manufactures approaches to win back to back points, and on break point, follows the return to net. Lendl has a good look at the pass but misses. Much sloppy play from Lendl in the set and his attacks isn't good enough to blow away the ever steady Wilander. But at 11th hour, its Wilander's daring that wins him the set

Set 2
buoyed by taking the first, Wilander starts approaching net regularly in the second. In first, he'd serve-volleyed 4 times. In second, he ups it to 15. Breaks early to go up 2 love, wrapping up with two net points and a great drop FHV winner on break point against a powerful, wide, low-ish ball

Lendl though is constantly knocking on the door. He has break points on all 5 Wilander service games, breaking in the last two to take it. In his first return game, he'd missed a putaway OH on break point

Some good shots in the meanwhile. A perfect Lendl BH lob winner, hit particularly high. The pick for Wilander is a turnaround BH inside-out pass as he's forced back from net and Lendl approaches

At 30-30 in game 7, Wilander is hit with a time violation and warning, which seems to bother him. He did take a bit more time than usual on it, but nothing radical and on average, played quicker than Lendl. He goes on to get broken - 2 good net points from Lendl, including after Wilander retreated from net on break point. Wilander is broken again next game. This time its a poor game from him - probably his only one of the match - with 3 FHs UEs in short rallies (including 2 third balls)

Mats made 41/42 first serves in the set. Not serving hard at all. Coming in behind a serve like that to Lendl takes some moxie

Set 3
This is Wilander's best and most adventurous set. He not only comes in regularly, but early in rallies. Slices routine balls and follows it to net. And is excellent up there. You'd think he was a bona fide net player from his showing in the set

Set begins where the last one left off, and its poor play from Lendl that turns the tide though. First game, Lendl misses routine volley on break point. Then is broken next game making two more volleying UEs and a FH winner attempt - though Wilander seals the break with an approach and volley winner

Wilander has better of play by far for rest of set

Set 4
Lendl's best set

Wilander continues serve-volleying regularly but eases back on approaches. There's a fair amount of who-blinks-first rallying with Wilander having slight edge, bringing home just how badly Lendl had fared in this area in first set. Lendl also collars baseline points occasionally

The best passing of the match is what gives it to Lendl

Wilander saves break point in game 2 with Lendl again missing a volley, a bit low, but straight forward enough to be marked unforced error

Wilander breaks first in game 7 - 2 approaches win him point and then Lendl makes 2 FH UEs. Lendl breaks right back, finishing with 3 great passing winners - the middle one a perfect BH cc (he usually went dtl) and the last a lob

Lendl breaks to take the set in a strong game with 4 winners - 2 passes (BH dtl and FH inside-in), an OH from the baseline (a point where both players came in and were forced back) and a FHV on set point

Set 5
Poor serving from Lendl is key to the decider. He makes just 6/25. Still holds comfortably in all the games other than the two he's broken in

Wilander breaks to start the set off baseline errors from Lendl. Lendl evens the match in game 4 with net play and a strong pass, wrapping up with a return-approach point ending with an OH putaway

For a change, what turns out to be the decisive break comes through Wilander hitting a couple of FH dtl passing winners (the first enabled by Lendl not putting away a volley, the second a great shot on the run to deep ball). And a pair of Lendl BH errors

Difficult last game for Mats to serve out. Game lasts 12 points, Wilander is at net regularly, Lendl has 3 passing winners and 2 break points. On first he can't make the return against serve-volleying Mats and on second, Mats comes in to dispatch an OH. Match ends with a serve-volley to BH that Lendl can't put back in play

Serve & Return
First set in count jumps out to hit the eye. Wilander 86%, Lendl 42% - both are remarkable figures

Its not quite what it sounds. Lendl's typical second serve is about strong as Mats' typical first. Mats with 2 aces in 156 first serve tells you his serve wasn't a big weapon and Lendl's 2 double faults tells you he wasn't unduly hurt by quality of second serve itself

Basically, Lendl's first serve points are his 'freebies' - when he gets it in, he has a very high chance of winning the point. Everything else looks a 50-50 deal

In that light, the real standout number is Mats winning 64% second serve points (which is higher than he did off first serves) - that has more to do with quality of play and clutch than it does the quality of the serve though. His second serve is better than usual. Usually, its a take-your-shot ball (and Lendl usually does). Here, its just slightly weaker than his first serve (which is below average of force). Not many second serves to see and Lendl doesn't unduly go after them, though occasionally positioning himself to maximize likelihood of hitting FH returns to them

Very sure returning from Mats, making just 14 errors (and Lendl with 10 unreturnable serves)

Up against serve-volleying, Lendl has potential to do a lot of damage, particularly given ordinariness of Mats' serve. He returns a very high 86%, with conservative hitting. Mats selectively serve-volleying - he does so off 37% first serves - probably also has a hand in keeping Lendl in two minds how to return

Lendl doesn't like to 'waste' returns, and tends to do so only against constant serve-volleying. Against players like John McEnroe or Stefan Edberg, he tends to belt returns hard as can - making lots of errors but giving the volleyer a handful when he gets it in

Here against Wilander's regular but short of constant serve-volleying, he plays quite safe on the return. Even blocks them back. Even the errors he makes tend to be mildly counter-attacking

Was belting returns a good alternative? he'd make more errors, but very likely win more points with third ball errors and winners. He may have underestimated Wilander's net prowess, as he seemed to do in their '83 Aus final

Against a McEnroe, one gathers most games will be holds regardless of how Lendl returns, so there's little to lose by going for big returns. Against Wilander, that's not true. A bagel or breadstick wouldn't be shocking. Hence, relatively conservative returning has a potential upside
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Play - Baseline
Baseline action is largely Lendl looking to overpower and Mats being steady, occasionally trying to move Lendl about. There's still who-blinks-first consistency battles, but relatively few by the pairs standard and those there are more duel winged than normal

Mats is far more consistent. 26 groundstroke UEs to Lendl's 52. Some of this is due to Lendl being more aggressive, but even in purely neutral error ground, Mats is streets ahead. His level in this area is about his norm, Lendl's is well below

21/32 Mats' UEs are neutral shots or 66%. For Lendl its 32/65 or 49% (including 1 defensive shot). Its a fair indicator of Lendl being more aggressive, since they have about the same proportion of forecourt UEs

Both are good in defence too. Mats particularly so - he has a lot more chances to demonstrate. Lendl copes with Mats' dtl change ups and more angled shots without seeming trouble also, making it look easy even

Lendl also wins plenty of points forcefully from the baseline, unlike Mats. Off the baseline, matters are about a wash

Approaching Frequency
Mats' greater risk taking comes shining through here. From rallies, he comes in 65 times to Lendl's 70. Near even, but Mats is serve-volleying 59 times to Lendl's 3... there's far more scope for Lendl to approach

Mats mixes up his approaches too. Usually he comes in off strong shots, particularly those placed wide of Lendl, but also takes to manufacturing approaches from neutral balls. Lendl only seems to come in off strong approaches (and foregoes chances to do so of some).

Mats is predictable in coming in on important points (including serve-volleys). Lendl also looks to come in on them

Lendl's choice of coming in or not is similar to the situation he's in on how to return against serve-volleying. There's no obvious approach, because he can win a good chunk of points from the baseline via power. For Mats the choice would be easier. He doesn't seem to have the power to forcefully end points from the back. Either he comes in to do so, or he plays to outlast Lendl from the back - somewhat leaving his fate in Lendl's hands

Mats goes the bold way. Lendl often doesn't - over overestimates his ability to finish points from the back

Contrast Mats' way with Jimmy Connors in his '85 and '87 semis with Lendl. Mats is more consistent player from back than Lendl - but comes in regularly to give his game some teeth. Connors is clearly less consistent player - but doesn't. Mats pressures Lendl, and is rewarded for risk taking. Connor is squeezed out

Play - Net & Passing
This is key to match

Positives of Wilander's net play -
- fast to get to net and very good at covering it
- against the tough passes - he reaches them and puts them in play as best as can, directing it away from Lendl or drop volleying. Just 3 forced errors - he makes all the other not easy to difficult volleys he can get racquet on
- consistent. he doesn't miss simple ones. Just 6 UEs, and they tend to be on the hard side for being unforced

the negative is not putting away volleys. Note just 4 first volley winners, serve-volleying 59 times. Note 1 third volley and 2 fourth volley winners. Some of this is due to Lendl's strong passing but more so Wilander's non-killing finishing. He leaves Lendl with second and third shots on the pass

As described earlier, Lendl holds back on passing (including on the return) some. He's still got 32 passing winners (sans 5 returns), while virtually all his 38 baseline FEs are pass attempts. That's a great number.

As is 81 winners, 65 unforced errors
As is 86% return rate

While I think Lendl underperformed on return and pass - given Mats average serve and the multiple chances he left Lendl to pass - its evident Lendl played, returned and passed bloody well. Mostly credit Mats, a small 'could have done better' note against Lendl

On Lendl volley vs Mats pass match-up, its a different story. Lendl's approaches only of strong shots (trade off for not coming in as much), leaving Mats with little chance on the pass. Lendl does not volley well... so many bad mistakes, and so often at critical points. Note 5 OH UEs (1s a baseline shot) and 13 OH winners. Mats does his best to make Lendl play one more ball, often just throwing up a desperate lob - some credit for this - but by far, mostly discredit to Lendl for mucking up commanding positions at net

Well as Mats played, he couldn't win without Lendl making a hash of things at the front

Summing up, a great match of strategy, tactics and play. Lendl takes initiative in looking to command play from the back but is loose in his regulations shots, challenged if not thwarted by Mats' cagey defensive play and both a bit conservative in coming forward to finish points and a makes a mess of things there at most important times. Mats is steady as ever, with more moderately attacking direction changing shots than usual and comes to net regularly, riskily, not predictably and with daring to give his game offensive vigour. Match could go either way, but ultimately, fortune ends up favouring the more bold
@NicoMK - thoughts?

Stats for the pair's '87 final - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-lendl-vs-wilander-us-open-final-1987.666177/
Stats for pair's only other 5 setter at '82 French - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-wilander-vs-lendl-french-open-fourth-round-1982.652192/
Stats for Wilander's semi with Darren Cahill - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-wilander-vs-cahill-us-open-semi-final-1988.662524/
 
Last edited:

NicoMK

Professional
Summing up, a great match of strategy, tactics and play. Lendl takes initiative in looking to command play from the back but is loose in his regulations shots, challenged if not thwarted by Mats' cagey defensive play and both a bit conservative in coming forward to finish points and a makes a mess of things there at most important times. Mats is steady as ever, with more moderately attacking direction changing shots than usual and comes to net regularly, riskily, not predictably and with daring to give his game offensive vigour. Match could go either way, but ultimately, fortune ends up favouring the more bold
@NicoMK - thoughts?
Hey Waspsting, what could I add that you haven't said before? Once again, very complete and wise analysis of a match that I've seen hundred times... so many times that I once knew it by heart!

Reading your summary set by set, l could remember almost each and every point, seriously :-D. As I said before, Mats was my childhood hero and I will always love and admire him... and I'm 45 next month :sneaky:.

I agree with you when you say that one of the keys is that Mats played the important points well as Ivan didn't. Also, Mats taking his chance at the net was one of the keys, slicing deep and low on Ivan's backhand too.

But you've said it all and well said so I have not much to add... Thank you for putting this online(y).

One question though, how the hell can you write such complete analysis and summaries? Do you rewatch full matches and take notes point after point or something like that?

Ah the 1988 US Open final! Yes, Mats won his first title there, wining 3 GS the same year and becoming number one, what a great achievement!

BUT... Soon after he was (mentally) done for tennis at the highest level so his victory is kind of biter sweet too.

Mats said recently in an interview that he wished he hadn't "quit" tennis so early because it's what he loves doing most.

I wish he hadn't too...

 
Last edited:

PMChambers

Hall of Fame
Lendl lost this on serve. He was terribly nervous. This was more about Lendl losing than Matt's winning. Poor serving, poor big point play.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Thank you for putting this online(y)….
One question though, how the hell can you write such complete analysis and summaries? Do you rewatch full matches and take notes point after point or something like that?
My pleasure! I'm a bit sad to be done with Mats, there's aren't many full matches of him available

To take stats, I watch full match and jot down all the things I present stats for each point. A typical line looks like -
1B... Wil.... UE FHV(5) Len 15-0 S

adding occasional notes by certain points or check/cross marks for particularly good/bad shots or rallies

Something I stumbled upon that's done a lot for being able to better understand play is noting forced or unforced every shot... as in, if the ball doesn't come, will the shot be a forced error or unforced one

I see all kinds of patterns emerge doing this that had escaped me before
---

Watching all these old matches and of players I've only read and heard about, often as not I've found what I've heard to be quiet off

Common perceptions of Mats though are in line with my take off his play. No big weapons and clever. you can see what he's trying to do by match, and its usually tailored to his opponent's game

Bit surprised he isn't lauded more for his returning and passing. Don't often hear of him spoken as one of the best in these areas the way you do Lendl, Borg, Connors... but he's right up there in these areas, from what I've seen

There's just 1 thing from Mats that I don't think was too clever

What do you make of his serving so much to Lendl's FH? He serves the majority there in both USO finals and French '87. He doesn't in '87 Masters final
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Wow, winning wih 48 less winners. I would imagine that is a real rarity.
No doubt

Probably just as rare to win with 50 more errors, had the result gone the other way

Points in play (i.e. sans unreturned serves and double faults) -
Wilander 139, Lendl 137

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Wilander 33 (7 FH, 4 BH, 8 FHV, 5 BHV, 9 OH)
Lendl 81 (23 FH, 30 BH, 12 FHV, 3 BHV, 13 OH)

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Wilander 56
- 32 Unforced (14 FH, 12 BH, 4 FHV, 2 BHV)
- 24 Forced (8 FH, 13 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 45.6

Lendl 106
- 65 Unforced (31 FH, 20 BH, 7 FHV, 2 BHV, 5 OH)… with 1 baseline OH
- 41 Forced (18 FH, 20 BH, 1 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 1 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.2

The area that costs Lendl the most is the 13 UEs on volleys/OHs at net... and many were at crucial points

A secondary area are the passing errors. I mark virtually all passing errors as 'forced', but a fairly high proportion of makeable ones in this match for Lendl

Even so, he's made more than he's missed... I'd say he played outstandingly if he'd made a few more, rather than discredit him for not doing so

Note also Wilander with very low 3 volley/OH FEs... he put a lot of tough volleys back in play. That leaves Lendl with another shot on the pass, but Mats' handling of the tough volleys made it so that Lendl had to hit the winner - he wasn't winning points with anything less. That's a lot of pressure to be under on the pass
 
My pleasure! I'm a bit sad to be done with Mats, there's aren't many full matches of him available

To take stats, I watch full match and jot down all the things I present stats for each point. A typical line looks like -
1B... Wil.... UE FHV(5) Len 15-0 S

adding occasional notes by certain points or check/cross marks for particularly good/bad shots or rallies

Something I stumbled upon that's done a lot for being able to better understand play is noting forced or unforced every shot... as in, if the ball doesn't come, will the shot be a forced error or unforced one

I see all kinds of patterns emerge doing this that had escaped me before
---

Watching all these old matches and of players I've only read and heard about, often as not I've found what I've heard to be quiet off

Common perceptions of Mats though are in line with my take off his play. No big weapons and clever. you can see what he's trying to do by match, and its usually tailored to his opponent's game

Bit surprised he isn't lauded more for his returning and passing. Don't often hear of him spoken as one of the best in these areas the way you do Lendl, Borg, Connors... but he's right up there in these areas, from what I've seen

There's just 1 thing from Mats that I don't think was too clever

What do you make of his serving so much to Lendl's FH? He serves the majority there in both USO finals and French '87. He doesn't in '87 Masters final
Lendl said himself that he preferred to return with the backhand. Maybe Mats was playing the percentages, hoping Lendl would make more UE on the forehand. Lendl really kicked Wilander's ass in the '87 Masters final.
 

Pheasant

Hall of Fame
Let's also not forget that Lendl had an injured shoulder during this entire tourney. As a matter of fact, he had shoulder surgery shortly after this match and didn't return until the end of November.
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
No doubt

Probably just as rare to win with 50 more errors, had the result gone the other way
Good point. I hadn't thought of it that way. The edge in winners is completely offset by so many more errors. But wow, 48 and 50 more, I don't remember it being that big of a difference in the other matches you guys have done the stats.

I've often stated that I thought Lendl was a better volleyer, specifically at Wimbledon, then some give him credit for. Apparently not in this match, though.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Lendl said himself that he preferred to return with the backhand. Maybe Mats was playing the percentages, hoping Lendl would make more UE on the forehand. Lendl really kicked Wilander's ass in the '87 Masters final.
I saw an interview posted by @pc1 where Lendl says that

But the matches I've watched don't bear it out. Both on eye-test and stats level... he's at worst, equally consistent returning off the FH and a lot more damaging. Not every single match without exception of course, but generally

And his play doesn't match his statement of preference either. He runsaround BHs to hit FHs reasonably often... why would he do that if he prefers BH return?

And in his matches against Wilander, he stands in doubles alley in ad court and in the center of deuce court for second serves, obviously looking for a FH return... why would he do that if he prefers BH return?

Since serving majority to BH is default strategy, I'm sure Mats' patterns weren't an random accident. He knew what he wanted to do it

"hoping Lendl makes more UEs on the FH" is the only thing I can think off... hope Lendl goes for too much and starts missing more than he makes

Its a very, very risky strategy

I've often stated that I thought Lendl was a better volleyer, specifically at Wimbledon, then some give him credit for. Apparently not in this match, though.
From what I've seen, his volleying took an up turn sometime between '85 and '86

His volleying upto '85 (including both matches where he's winning high percentage up front and not), looks at least uncomfortable and not rarely, clumsy. On his better days, he doesn't miss many (an overlooked part of good volleying), but he's not putting balls away or volleying into corners. You don't necessarily have to win points of course... its rare for a player to make more 'makeable' passes than not

In matches from '86 onward, his volley looks very natural. Don't think anyone watching him would think he's an out and out baseliner or 'unnatural volleyer' or all the other things he was pigeon-holed as. He's as good looking on the volley as Boris Becker... and he does put balls away and volley into corners and all that high-quality volleying stuff

Of course, even good volleyers have bad days. That's what this match looks to me like

Not a bad volleyer doing his thing, but a good one having a not great day

If Becker or Stefan Edberg have a day like this, everyone can see it as a bad day for a good volleyer. But with Lendl, reaction seems to be "see? he's a terrible volleyer - proved"
 
Last edited:

NicoMK

Professional
If one watches the highlights of his semifinal against Boris Becker the following year at Wimbledon, one can say that Ivan was also a very good S&V player. Not to mention that, in 1990, he took a 2-month break from the tour - and didn't play at RG - to prepare specifically Wimbledon. There he had to face McEnroe, Cash and prime Becker and Edberg all these years, otherwise he may have won Wimbledon at least once... on true grass of course.

So I think too that he was a very good player at the net, of course not his natural game but his volleys were very solid and most of the time well played.

As well as Mats' by the way who was very intelligent at the net too :)
 
Last edited:

BringBackWood

Professional
I think Lendl made tatical errors in this match. Against Mats, if you mercilessly come in on his backhand (& you're good enough), he's in trouble. Mecir played him like this perfectly in 86 at the open. Then a year later, he was a bit sloppier and not as commited to attack, and he lost in 4.

That was the great thing about Mats. Slight changes could reverse the outcome, because he himself was so relentless and steadfast.
 
Top