Meta Match Stats/Reports - Lendl vs McEnroe, Masters finals '82, '83 & '84

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Presenting Stats for three Ivan Lendl vs John McEnroe Masters finals (1982, 1983 and 1984) in one thread for convenient comparison of numbers and easy discussion. All played at Madison Square Garden in New York, USA, all on carpet

In 1982, Lendl beat McEnroe 6-4 6-4 6-2
In 1983, McEnroe beat Lendl 6-3 6-4 6-4
In 1984, McEnroe beat Lendl 7-5 6-0 6-4

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Stats for 1982
Lendl beat McEnroe 6-4 6-4 6-2

Lendl won 100 points, McEnroe 75

McEnroe serve-volleyed 100% off his first serve and rarely off his second

Serve Stats
Lendl....
- 1st serve percentage (34/80) 43%
- 1st serve points won (28/34) 82%
- 2nd serve points won (31/46) 67%
- Aces 5, Service Winners 4
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (26/80) 33%

McEnroe. ...
- 1st serve percentage (45/95) 47%
- 1st serve points won (34/45) 76%
- 2nd serve points won (20/50) 40%
- Aces 8, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 5
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (27/95) 28%


Serve Pattern
Lendl served...
- to FH 29%
- to BH 70%
- to Body 1%

McEnroe served...
- to FH 27%
- to BH 56%
- to Body 18%

Return Stats
Lendl made...
- 63 (24 FH, 39 BH), including 9 runaround FHs
- 4 Winners (4 BH)
- 18 Errors, comprising...
- 2 Unforced (2 BH)
- 16 Forced (3 FH, 13 BH)
- Return Rate (63/90) 70%

McEnroe made...
- 51 (17 FH, 34 BH), including 3 runaround FHs and 4 chip-charges
- 17 Errors, comprising...
- 6 Unforced (1 FH, 5 BH)
- 11 Forced (2 FH, 9 BH)
- Return Rate (51/77) 66%


Break Points
Lendl 4/11 (6 games)
McEnroe 0/2 (2 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Lendl 30 (9 FH, 13 BH, 3 FHV, 4 BHV, 1 OH)
McEnroe 19 (5 FH, 1 BH, 5 FHV, 6 BHV, 2 OH)

Lendl had 15 passes (5 FH, 10 BH), including 4 returns

- 1 FH was played at net and 1 was a running down a drop shot

- 1 1st volley of a S/V point - a BHV

McEnroe had 2 passes, both FHs. 1 was a running cc, the other a lob

- 1 FH at net

- the BH was a drop shot

- 3 first volleys (2 FHV, 1 BHV), 4 second volleys (1 FHV, 3 BHV) and 1 third volley (BHV) off serve-volley points

- 1 other BHV was played point blank, with both men at net

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Lendl 27
- Unforced 11 (6 FH, 4 BH, 1 BHV)
- Forced 16 (6 FH, 9 BH, 1 BHV)


McEnroe 39
- Unforced 21 (5 FH, 12 BH, 2 FHV, 2 BHV)
- Forced 18 (7 FH, 9 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)

Net Points & Serve-Volley

Lendl was 19/26 (73%) at net, including 3/5 (60%) serve-volleying - all first serve points

He was 1/1 when forced back from net

McEnroe was 41/65 (63%) at net, including 31/43 (72%) serve-volleying - 25/36 (69%) off 1st serves, 6/7 (86%) off 2nd - and 1/4 (25%) chip-charge returning

He was 0/2 when forced back from net and 0/1 when he retreated

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Stats for 1983
McEnroe beat Lendl 6-3 6-4 6-4

McEnroe won 90 points, Lendl 74

McEnroe serve-volleyed 100% on 1st serves and the majority of time on the 2nd

(Note: I'm missing data for 1 McEnroe second serve point won by Lendl)

Serve Stats
McEnroe....
- 1st serve percentage (55/89) 62%
- 1st serve points won (43/55) 78%
- 2nd serve points won (22/34) 65%
- Aces 6, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 4
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (33/89) 37%

Lendl. ...
- 1st serve percentage (33/75) 44%
- 1st serve points won (25/33) 76%
- 2nd serve points won (25/42) 60%
- Aces 5
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (18/75) 24%


Serve Pattern
McEnroe served...
- to FH 23%
- to BH 69%
- to Body 8%

Lendl served...
- to FH 37%
- to BH 63%

Return Stats
McEnroe made...
- 55 (21 FH, 34 BH), including 20 chip-charges
- 4 Winners (2 FH, 2 BH)
- 13 Errors, comprising...
- 5 Unforced (5 BH), including 2 chip-charge attempts
- 8 Forced (3 FH, 5 BH)
- Return Rate (55/73) 75%

Lendl made...
- 51 (10 FH, 41 BH)
- 5 Winners (2 FH, 3 BH)
- 26 Errors, comprising...
- 1 Unforced (1 BH)
- 25 Forced (6 FH, 19 BH)
- Return Rate (51/85) 60%


Break Points
McEnroe 3/4 (3 games)
Lendl 0/3 (3 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
McEnroe 30 (3 FH, 5 BH, 10 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 10 BHV, 1 OH)
Lendl 25 (11 FH, 8 BH, 2 FHV, 1 BHV, 3 OH)

McEnroe had 17 S/V point winners 9 first volleys/half-volleys (4 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 4 BHV), 6 second volleys (3 FHV, 3 BHV) and 2 third volleys (2 BHV)

- 4 passes (2 FH, 2 BH). The FHs were both returns. 1 BH was a lob and 1 was 1/2 volley from the baseline

- 1 BH drop shot and 2 BH returns, both cc

Lendl had 14 passes (8 FH, 6 BH), including 4 returns (2 FH, 2 BH)

- 1 FH drop shot at net

- 1 BHV was a first volley S/V point and 1 OH was hit from the baseline


Errors (excluding returns and serves)
McEnroe 26
- 12 Unforced (1 FH, 5 BH,4 FHV, 2 BHV)
- 14 Forced (4 FH, 2 BH, 1 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 5 BHV, 1 OH)

Lendl 25
- Unforced 7 (1 FH, 2 BH, 3 FHV, 1 BHV)
- Forced 18 (8 FH, 9 BH, 1FH1/2V)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
McEnroe was 64/95 (67%) at net, including 54/68 (79%) serve-volleying - 37/48 (77%) off 1st serves, 17/20 (85%) off 2nd - and 9/20 chip-charge returning

Lendl was 12/23 (52%) at net, including 4/9 serve-volleying - all first serve points

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Stats for 1984
McEnroe beat Lendl 7-5 6-0 6-4

McEnroe won 101 points, Lendl 76

McEnroe serve-volleyed on all but 1 first serve and rarely off the second serve

Serve Stats
McEnroe....
- 1st serve percentage (58/89) 65%
- 1st serve points won (44/58) 76%
- 2nd serve points won (20/31) 65%
- Aces 11 (1 2nd serve), Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (35/89) 39%

Lendl. ...
- 1st serve percentage (59/88) 67%
- 1st serve points won (36/59) 61%
- 2nd serve points won (15/29) 52%
- Aces 2 (1 2nd serve), Service Winners 2
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (20/88) 23%


Serve Pattern
McEnroe served...
- to FH 28%
- to BH 57%
- to Body 15%

Lendl served...
- to FH 44%
- to BH 44%
- to Body 12%

Return Stats
McEnroe made...
- 66 (35 FH, 31 BH), including 4 runaround FHs and 15 chip-charges
- 6 Winners (4 FH, 2 BH)
- 16 Errors, comprising...
- 7 Unforced (3 FH, 4 BH), including 5 chip-charge attempts
- 9 Forced (4 FH, 5 BH)
- Return Rate (66/86) 77%

Lendl made...
- 51 (16 FH, 35 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 2 Winners (2 FH)
- 23 Errors, comprising...
- 3 Unforced (1 FH, 2 BH)
- 20 Forced (4 FH, 16 BH)
- Return Rate (51/86) 59%


Break Points
McEnroe 5/7 (6 games)
Lendl 0/3 (2 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
McEnroe 30 (10 FH, 2 BH, 6 FHV, 8 BHV, 4 OH)
Lendl 26 (12 FH, 10 BH, 3 BHV, 1 OH)

McEnroe had 9 volley winners off S/V points + 2 OHs and 2 FHs at net. The majority of these were 1st volleys/3rd ball shots

- 1 pass, a BH cc return. His only other BH was also a return (dtl)

- 4 FH returns (2 cc, 1 dtl, 1 i-i). One of the cc's dribbled over the net chord

- 3 other FHs (1 cc, 2 i-o)

Lendl had 14 passes (5 FH, 9 BH)

- the 5 FH passes comprise 3 cc, 1 i-o and a return dtl

- 9 BH passes comprise 6 dtl (2 running), 2 cc (1 running) and 1 lob

- 1 BHV was first volley of a serve-volley point while the other was a drop volley


Errors (excluding returns and serves)
McEnroe 27
- 16 Unforced (3 FH, 5 BH, 4 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 3 BHV)
- 11 Forced (6 BH, 1 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 1 BHV, 2 BH1/2V)

Lendl 34
- Unforced 12 (2 FH, 7 BH, 1 BHV, 2 OH)
- Forced 22 (9 FH, 12 BH, 1 BHV)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
McEnroe was 59/82 (72%) at net, including 43/56 (77%) serve-volleying - 38/46 (83%) off 1st serves, 5/10 (50%) off 2nd - and 9/16 (56%) chip-charge returning

Lendl was 8/15 (53%) at net, including 3/6 (50%) serve-volleying - 3/5 (60%) off 1st serves, 0/1 off 2nd
 
Last edited:

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
It seems to me that John McEnroe represents the proactive element of this match up and Ivan Lendl the reactive. Hence, it's most convenient to report from McEnroe's point of view

Match Report 1982
A thrashing. McEnroe looks intimidated and with good reason: he'd lost his last 6 matches to Lendl, winning all of 1 set in the process.

Lendl looks bulkier (in a muscly way) than I've seen him. He actually looks a bit like Arnold Schwazenegger.

Mac gets the job done on 1st serve with his typical serve-volley tactics, but dishes out a low percentage. He stays back most of the time on his second serves - and doesn't seem keen to work his way to net either.

Lendl blasts down his first serve, apparently unafraid to miss it because he knows he can take Mac out from the baseline on his second serve points. And he's right

The baseline duels coming out of both players second serve are a mismatch. Lendl dominates them completely. Mac's chips/slices/dinks many BHs but still makes many errors off that wing.... watching the clean, crisp Lendl FH sending down its load to the little Mac BH reminds me of a man playing a boy

Mac plays a silly 'chip-retreat' return all match. He moves forward to chip the return just as he would if he was going to charge, but invariably falls back to the baseline instead

What the thinking behind this is, I can't imagine. He does it so often that it can't be he planned to charge but then aborted. He doesn't chip-charge return until the third set

Mac actually retreats - is not forced back, but simply abandons the net - on one occasion!

In short, Mac is scared of being at net and justifiably so since Lendl passes well all match. But the alternative - rallying from the baseline - is probably an even worse option. Even shorter, a thrashing
--------------------------

Match Report 1983
What a difference a year makes. Last year, McEnroe was scared to come to net. This year, he's desperate to get there - and get there he does 95 out of 164 points (58%)

This is the closest of the 3 matches, and the key stat is McEnroe's 1st serve percentage

By set, it's 69%, 63% and 53%. Serving like that, there's not much Lendl can do. Mac serve-volleys on most of his 2nd serves too, chip-charges the return every chance he gets
and otherwise looks to find the net as soon as possible

Lendl for his part plays his own game, seemingly unbothered by the excess aggresion. Again he's unafraid to go for the big 1st serve, though Mac returns better than the previous year

He continues to direct second serves to Mac's BH, despite knowing it will be chip-charged - and usually passes the American in these exchanges

When he can keep Mac back, which isn't often, he pulverizes him almost as thoroughly as the previous year

Both players play well. Mac gains 4 break points, Lendl 3. Mac takes 3/4, Lendl 0

Small differences make the difference in the end. The breeziness of Mac's serve-volleying probably makes the win look easier than it was

-----------------------

Match Report 1984
In 82, we had scared to approach. In 83, mad to approach. In 1984, we see the all courter

Mac's baseline play is on par with Lendl's in this match. And aggressive. The cute dinks have been replaced by sledgehammer shots of both wings - and it's thrown Lendl for a loop. Mac's 2 big court-openers are the FH dtl and BH cc

Lendl takes a bit off the first and McEnroe is not slow to attack with the return. The Czech tends to step in after his first serve, looking for a initiative grabbing 3rd ball FH, but is pushed back on the defensive frequently by powerful, deep returns

Lendl's shifted his serving patterns as well. Previously, he'd mostly gone to the BH, but this year he's balanced, possibly to avoid the chip-charge return.

It doesn't work. Mac mixes heavy returns with chip-charges off both wings. He even tries to chip-charge the first serve 6 times - making 2 errors but winning 3/4 of the points when he makes this ambitious play

Mac's second serve shot is excellent. I've marked a number of forced return errors of them - and he has one ace.

Lendl for his part does not play badly. He hits some spectacular running passes, but you can see he's been pushed way outside his comfort zone.

He's being attacked from an unpredictable mix of baseline and net play, facing big first and second serves. He has no go-to safe play

Brilliant match from McEnroe - both serves, the return, the groundstrokes, everything clicking. Probably volleying is the worst part of his showing(!) - he misses a few straightforward ones, usually at unimportant junctures - and even that's still very good
 
Last edited:

The Green Mile

Bionic Poster
Awesome thread. Very clean and clear layout of stats, and the match report in the next post, which is personally my favorite piece of writing in these kind of threads. Context is most certainly needed when comparing stats, and you get a much clearer picture with the report included. Haven't seen any of three matches, but I do look forward to comparing my notes on the matches when I do. Appreciate the effort.
 

KG1965

Legend
It seems to me that John McEnroe represents the proactive element of this match up and Ivan Lendl the reactive. Hence, it's most convenient to report from McEnroe's point of view

Match Report 1982
A thrashing. McEnroe looks intimidated and with good reason: he'd lost his last 6 matches to Lendl, winning all of 1 set in the process.

Lendl looks bulkier (in a muscly way) than I've seen him. He actually looks a bit like Arnold Schwazenegger.

Mac gets the job done on 1st serve with his typical serve-volley tactics, but dishes out a low percentage. He stays back most of the time on his second serves - and doesn't seem keen to work his way to net either.

Lendl blasts down his first serve, apparently unafraid to miss it because he knows he can take Mac out from the baseline on his second serve points. And he's right

The baseline duels coming out of both players second serve are a mismatch. Lendl dominates them completely. Mac's chips/slices/dinks many BHs but still makes many errors off that wing.... watching the clean, crisp Lendl FH sending down its load to the little Mac BH reminds me of a man playing a boy

Mac plays a silly 'chip-retreat' return all match. He moves forward to chip the return just as he would if he was going to charge, but invariably falls back to the baseline instead

What the thinking behind this is, I can't imagine. He does it so often that it can't be he planned to charge but then aborted. He doesn't chip-charge return until the third set

Mac actually retreats - is not forced back, but simply abandons the net - on one occasion!

In short, Mac is scared of being at net and justifiably so since Lendl passes well all match. But the alternative - rallying from the baseline - is probably an even worse option. Even shorter, a thrashing
--------------------------

Match Report 1983
What a difference a year makes. Last year, McEnroe was scared to come to net. This year, he's desperate to get there - and get there he does 95 out of 164 points (58%)

This is the closest of the 3 matches, and the key stat is McEnroe's 1st serve percentage

By set, it's 69%, 63% and 53%. Serving like that, there's not much Lendl can do. Mac serve-volleys on most of his 2nd serves too, chip-charges the return every chance he gets
and otherwise looks to find the net as soon as possible

Lendl for his part plays his own game, seemingly unbothered by the excess aggresion. Again he's unafraid to go for the big 1st serve, though Mac returns better than the previous year

He continues to direct second serves to Mac's BH, despite knowing it will be chip-charged - and usually passes the American in these exchanges

When he can keep Mac back, which isn't often, he pulverizes him almost as thoroughly as the previous year

Both players play well. Mac gains 4 break points, Lendl 3. Mac takes 3/4, Lendl 0

Small differences make the difference in the end. The breeziness of Mac's serve-volleying probably makes the win look easier than it was

-----------------------

Match Report 1984
In 82, we had scared to approach. In 83, mad to approach. In 1984, we see the all courter

Mac's baseline play is on par with Lendl's in this match. And aggressive. The cute dinks have been replaced by sledgehammer shots of both wings - and it's thrown Lendl for a loop. Mac's 2 big court-openers are the FH dtl and BH cc

Lendl takes a bit off the first and McEnroe is not slow to attack with the return. The Czech tends to step in after his first serve, looking for a initiative grabbing 3rd ball FH, but is pushed back on the defensive frequently by powerful, deep returns

Lendl's shifted his serving patterns as well. Previously, he'd mostly gone to the BH, but this year he's balanced, possibly to avoid the chip-charge return.

It doesn't work. Mac mixes heavy returns with chip-charges off both wings. He even tries to chip-charge the first serve 6 times - making 2 errors but winning 3/4 of the points when he makes this ambitious play

Mac's second serve shot is excellent. I've marked a number of forced return errors of them - and he has one ace.

Lendl for his part does not play badly. He hits some spectacular running passes, but you can see he's been pushed way outside his comfort zone.

He's being attacked from an unpredictable mix of baseline and net play, facing big first and second serves. He has no go-to safe play

Brilliant match from McEnroe - both serves, the return, the groundstrokes, everything clicking. Probably volleying is the worst part of his showing(!) - he misses a few straightforward ones, usually at unimportant junctures - and even that's still very good

Only an historical record.
1982-1984 is a period in which McEnroe is considered the number one (as we know it is difficult to unseat the number one ...) in fact John in 1982 does not play well than the previous, in my opinion is very deteriorated, too skinny. At the end of the year he is ATP number one only because Connors from the US Open at the end plays only exhibitions and Lendl fails at Flushing Meadows.
Lendl is >> McEnroe in 1982.

In 1983 it is another story.
McEnroe is number one ATP and probably real number one but Connors and Wilander are very close.
Lendl no. He plays badly during 1983. If I remember correctly Ivan was number 2 ATP but IMHO was number 4.

In 1984 it is another story yet ....
Lendl is very strong but Mac has taken measurements on his racket and is the greates player I have seen playing in a year.

Clarification: I have not analyzed the numbers yet. I remember seeing at least two of these matches live on television.
 

KG1965

Legend
Relationship between Winner / errors
- Lendl is in equilibrium in 1982-83 while in 1984 it is - 8.
- Mac sucks in 1982, is balanced in 1983, while in 1984 it is very well put.
- Net points: Lendl is > 50% in 3 years but has few rallies so the figure is not significant. Mac is incredible in 1984 (73% with 95 rallies), good also in 1982-83.

Definitely:
in 1982 to decide the matches are the multiple errors of Mac.
in 1983 the match is very balanced, much more than the final score, decided by a better ability to John's ability in break-points.
in 1984 there is no match. Mac too much better than Ivan.
 

KG1965

Legend
Interesting the idea of comparing three similar matches (same tournament) between two opponents in the following three years.

I think that the three matches are the perfect photograph of the force in those three years of the two great rivals.

Macchine-Fotografiche-88591.gif
 

krosero

Legend
Awesome thread. Very clean and clear layout of stats, and the match report in the next post, which is personally my favorite piece of writing in these kind of threads. Context is most certainly needed when comparing stats, and you get a much clearer picture with the report included. Haven't seen any of three matches, but I do look forward to comparing my notes on the matches when I do. Appreciate the effort.
Couldn't agree more. Will have more comments later, very interesting stats.
 

Moose Malloy

G.O.A.T.
Nice work. Some thoughts:

It's very surprising to see Lendl serve at 43% in 82 and win that easily, usually when he plays attacking players he serves at a higher %. I get that Mac wasn't attacking much, but still. I took stats on their USO meeting earlier that year and he served at 53%. I didn't take net stats in that match but did note when he stayed back, which was a lot by his standards. Still he managed to win 62% of his 2nd serve pts in that loss, while only winning 40% here. I guess he regressed even more in this one. I have some stats on the 81 YEC SF, will try to find them.

In 83, he was now using graphite of course which gave him the confidence to attack Lendl more relentlessly. I've often posted in the past that I thought 84 Mac was the most aggressive player I've seen. Your stats showing he didn't S&V much on 2nd in 84 compared to 83 is surprising, but your description of his ground game shows that his baseline game that year was incredibly aggressive and matches my observations. Mac is generally remembered as a touch player today but he was a lot more than that. He played with plenty of power in 1984. @abmk had similar stats on net approaches on 2nd serve in the 84 USO final(only 11 S&V on 2nd serve pts)

It's interesting that his net numbers are very good to great in all 3 finals(63, 67, 72)
There aren't a lot of published stats on
Macs net numbers, but we've gathered a good sample at this point. Abmk had him at 77% at net in the USO final, the highest we've come across. he said he might start a thread with just his net numbers, would be nice to have them in one place(and I have a bunch I never posted here)

The gap in unreturned serves in 84 YEC is pretty big, it was even bigger in the 84 USO final. Another sign of how in the zone Mac was pretty much all year long.

We now have stats on a lot of Mac vs Lendl matches. It's surprising that the winner in these 3 finals was unbroken and faced so few break points. That was also the case in their USO meetings in 82, 84, and 87. And the 83 W SF. Guess they really stepped up their serve games when they played each other.
 

krosero

Legend
It's very surprising to see Lendl serve at 43% in 82 and win that easily, usually when he plays attacking players he serves at a higher %. I get that Mac wasn't attacking much, but still.
I was surprised too with Lendl's number, but even more so with Mac's 47%, which he remedied nicely in the next two YEC finals.

I had this list of Lendl's service % against Mac, updating now with Wasp's 3 new matches:

82 USO – 53%
82 YEC – 43%
83 Wimb – 72%
83 YEC - 44%
84 RG – 70%
84 USO – 64%
84 YEC - 67%
85 Canadian – 54%
85 USO – 57%
87 USO – 63%
 

krosero

Legend
Match Report 1984
In 82, we had scared to approach. In 83, mad to approach. In 1984, we see the all courter

Mac's baseline play is on par with Lendl's in this match. And aggressive. The cute dinks have been replaced by sledgehammer shots of both wings - and it's thrown Lendl for a loop.
I would enjoy seeing this, it was truly rare. Some people could boss Lendl in baseline play but you'd never expect Mac to do it. I have to catch this match some time, I saw the first two but not this one.

These 3 matches really show this rivalry turning around. I love the two extremes: in '82 Mac is at rock-bottom with lendl and he's even uncertain in volleying; in '83 he remedies that and in '84 he's even bossing from the baseline.

Anyway let me put your net stats for Mac together, to get a good look at the change.

82 - McEnroe was 41/65 (63%) at net, including 31/43 (72%) serve-volleying - 25/36 (69%) off 1st serves, 6/7 (86%) off 2nd - and 1/4 (25%) chip-charge returning

83 - McEnroe was 64/95 (67%) at net, including 54/68 (79%) serve-volleying - 37/48 (77%) off 1st serves, 17/20 (85%) off 2nd - and 9/20 chip-charge returning

84 - McEnroe was 59/82 (72%) at net, including 43/56 (77%) serve-volleying - 38/46 (83%) off 1st serves, 5/10 (50%) off 2nd - and 9/16 (56%) chip-charge returning

You know the famous story of how Don Budge told Mac, in Feb. '83, to just attack Lendl relentlessly, to get into the net at every opportunity. Specifically he suggested approaching down the middle, and I saw a lot of that in the '83 YEC match.

But your stats really show the difference. You can see in '83 and '84 his total number of approaches go up. But the biggest difference is in his chip-charge returning. No comparison with '82 when he was barely doing it.

And he was more willing to come in on his own second serve, which you can also see in the stats.

Great stuff.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Awesome thread. Very clean and clear layout of stats, and the match report in the next post, which is personally my favorite piece of writing in these kind of threads. Context is most certainly needed when comparing stats, and you get a much clearer picture with the report included. Haven't seen any of three matches, but I do look forward to comparing my notes on the matches when I do. Appreciate the effort.

Thanks

I gather you watch more matches than just about anyone, would welcome your contributions on these threads and get your take on the play

in 1984 there is no match. Mac too much better than Ivan.

Other than a 10 game run, they were actually pretty equal... I know saying "other than a 10 game run" sounds stupid:p, but let me explain

Upto 5-5 first set, they're equal. Mac breaks to leave himself serving for the set. That last game was a tough, long one. Lendl has two break points, Mac with second serves on both of them

Lendl misses the returns. they were good serves - dragging Lendl wide of the court and kicking up. I think I marked one forced error - both could have been labeled so). So Mac holds, and take the set.

it was a 50-50 set. Mac runs away with the second. Mac breaks to start the third.... and then they remain on serve, both holding serve pretty easily for rest of the match

So, first set, Mac = Lendl, with one break and holding off not being broken back
Second set, Mac >>>>> Lendl
Third set, Mac = Lendl, with one break. There's a certain Sampras-esque quality to Mac in the third - he has the early break and plans on serving it out, not stress for another break. And he does

I thought the biggest beatdown of the 3 was 1982... Lendl was the better player throughout the match, in almost every way (though not enough to break too much). The '84 match, Mac has a golden middle run (enough to break consistently), but the rest of the way, its pretty even

1982, Lendl won 100 points, Mac 75
1984, Mac won 101 points, Lendl 76

Interesting the idea of comparing three similar matches (same tournament) between two opponents in the following three years.

I think that the three matches are the perfect photograph of the force in those three years of the two great rivals.

Would've liked to do the 81 semi, Lendl won

I was surprised too with Lendl's number, but even more so with Mac's 47%, which he remedied nicely in the next two YEC finals.

I had this list of Lendl's service % against Mac, updating now with Wasp's 3 new matches:

82 USO – 53%
82 YEC – 43%
83 Wimb – 72%
83 YEC - 44%
84 RG – 70%
84 USO – 64%
84 YEC - 67%
85 Canadian – 54%
85 USO – 57%
87 USO – 63%

One more - 53% at Forest Hills 1984 https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/ind...rt-mcenroe-vs-lendl-forest-hills-1984.607707/

where he had higher second serve points won than first serve

I did the Lendl-Connors semi for that too and can verify that Lendl took a fair bit of the first serve against Mac. I assumed this was because he didn't want Mac approaching of the 2nd serve

My reading of the these three Masters finals was he didn't care if he missed the first in 82.... he treated Mac like a guy who couldn't hurt his second serve.

in '83 maybe he was bit slow to adapt to the net-rampage tactics. The chip-charges hurt Lendl (relatively speaking, 9/20 is hurting), but he still held comfortably most of the time... his main problem was he couldn't get a sniff against Mac's serve, the percentage on which was hovering around 70 for awhile

in '84, I think he eased up on big first serve so got a lot more in but faced a fusillade. 1st serve, second serve.... didn't matter, they both got chip-charged and hammered back off both wings at times... Mac's 77% return rate is impressive given how aggressive he was with the return and from what I've seen anyway, how uncharacteristic big cut returning is for him

---

The other thing I keyed in on is Lendl's net play, something Moose has told me about (the inaccurate reputation Lendl has for being poor in the forecourt). He's volleyed A-ok in everything I've seen - both in look and results - whether he comes in much or not, but most of that has been after he took on Tony Roche, who apparently worked with him on volleying

I can see where the rep came from. He's not bad on the volley, but is distinctly uncomfortable looking at net... and looks even more so by contrast to how fluent he looks in all baseline situations (and how comfortable McEnroe is at net, too)
 

Moose Malloy

G.O.A.T.
FYI, Lendl only started working with Roche in 1985. Another big myth here is that he only started S&V when Roche joined him. But at 1983 W, he was S&V on 1st and 2nd serve(and quite well, maybe the best volleying I've seen from him)
The real reason he hired Roche was to solve McEnroe(Roche is a lefty)
 

KG1965

Legend
Other than a 10 game run, they were actually pretty equal... I know saying "other than a 10 game run" sounds stupid:p, but let me explain

Upto 5-5 first set, they're equal. Mac breaks to leave himself serving for the set. That last game was a tough, long one. Lendl has two break points, Mac with second serves on both of them

Lendl misses the returns. they were good serves - dragging Lendl wide of the court and kicking up. I think I marked one forced error - both could have been labeled so). So Mac holds, and take the set.

it was a 50-50 set. Mac runs away with the second. Mac breaks to start the third.... and then they remain on serve, both holding serve pretty easily for rest of the match

So, first set, Mac = Lendl, with one break and holding off not being broken back
Second set, Mac >>>>> Lendl
Third set, Mac = Lendl, with one break. There's a certain Sampras-esque quality to Mac in the third - he has the early break and plans on serving it out, not stress for another break. And he does

I thought the biggest beatdown of the 3 was 1982... Lendl was the better player throughout the match, in almost every way (though not enough to break too much). The '84 match, Mac has a golden middle run (enough to break consistently), but the rest of the way, its pretty even

1982, Lendl won 100 points, Mac 75
1984, Mac won 101 points, Lendl 76
Very curious, so interesting.
 

krosero

Legend
Aggressive Margins, all using Wasp's UE counts

1982
Lendl 29.7%
McEnroe 15.4%

1983
McEnroe 36.0%
Lendl 26.2%

1984
McEnroe 32.8%
Lendl 18.6%


One more - 53% at Forest Hills 1984 https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/ind...rt-mcenroe-vs-lendl-forest-hills-1984.607707/

where he had higher second serve points won than first serve
Lendl winning only 53% of his first-serve points, possibly a sign of being too careful to get the first serve in.

AMs for that one, somewhat lower since it was on clay:

McEnroe 21.6%
Lendl 11.2%
 

WCT

Professional
FYI, Lendl only started working with Roche in 1985. Another big myth here is that he only started S&V when Roche joined him. But at 1983 W, he was S&V on 1st and 2nd serve(and quite well, maybe the best volleying I've seen from him)
The real reason he hired Roche was to solve McEnroe(Roche is a lefty)


I just posted about that in the last week or 2. I found an old New York Times article talking about. Connors was mentioned with Mcenroe. But the point was to learn more about playing these lefties.

I said this in the same thread. I would see Lendl go near a set without missing a volley, miss 1 or 2, and it's the tv guys, or girls, telling you how he's not a good volleyer. Mcenroe misses a volley or two, nobody says anything. I'm talking Wimbledon here when Lendl is s/v both serves. Going a set without missing a volley is a bunch of volleys.

Watch the matches without considering his reputation or how pretty he looks doing it. I keep saying it, I'm only going by memory. I kind of wish all these Wimbledon matches weren't taken down. I'd probably look at a few of them again to see how well my memory matches reality.

Also, my recollection of the 83 Mcenroe semi and the Becker semi was that Lendl was consistently having to play the more difficult volleys. Either they were serving better or they were returning better. But the volleying that he did was very good. Damn good if you consider his reputation. Not Cash, Edberg or Mcenroe good, but good enough to make 2 finals and multiple semis.

Another great job on the stats, Wasp. Speaking of memory vs reality, these 3 matches. Some of the stats back up how I remember these matches. Others, though, surprised me. One example. Lendl's 1982 1st serve %. Very low.
 

Drob

Hall of Fame
The other thing I keyed in on is Lendl's net play, something Moose has told me about (the inaccurate reputation Lendl has for being poor in the forecourt). He's volleyed A-ok in everything I've seen - both in look and results - whether he comes in much or not, but most of that has been after he took on Tony Roche, who apparently worked with him on volleying

I can see where the rep came from. He's not bad on the volley, but is distinctly uncomfortable looking at net... and looks even more so by contrast to how fluent he looks in all baseline situations (and how comfortable McEnroe is at net, too)[/QUOTE]


What is your take on the peak Lendl in regards to net play?

One of my favourite matches ever is the November, 1988 Masters Final between Becker and Lendl. I counted Lendl going to the net something like 43 times in the five-set match, almost entirely off the approach. And he volleys damn good. I have seen similar tactics by Ivan in non-grass matches, although maybe not quite to that extent. And it seems he became a very good volleyer, albeit not a serve-volleyer. How do you see him in that regard?
 
Last edited:

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
One of my favourite matches ever is the November, 1988 Masters Final between Becker and Lendl.

Done stats for that one, too. Will post it up soon... and yes, it was a great match. Hard to imagine a more dramatic or tense finale

I counted Lendl going to the net something like 43 times in the five-set match, almost entirely off the approach

40ish sounds about right... 43 is a highly specific figure for a "something like":)

What is your take on the peak Lendl in regards to net play? .... he volleys damn good. I have seen similar tactics by Ivan in non-grass matches, although maybe not quite to that extent. And it seems he became a very good volleyer, albeit not a serve-volleyer. How do you see him in that regard

Damn good, you said it

I've seen relatively little of him. The best I've come across is '85 USO final, where I have him with 31/36 (86%) at net, including 14/17 total serve-volleying (14/15 off 1st serves, 0/2 off 2nd)

He was 17/19 on other approaches

Winners include 12 volleys and an OH, to UEs of 2 on the volley and an OH

The whole stats thread is here -
https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/ind...d-lendl-vs-mcenroe-us-open-final-1985.610102/

and that was as good on the volley as you'll see from anyone. Stylistically he's fine too

Can't remember who the commentators were but one (a buddy of Tony Roche's) mentioned that Roche had been working with Lendl on the volley. Two guys I hold in high regard here assure me he was no slouch pre-Roche either

I think Lendl was big on safety factor and maybe tended to err on that side when he could go either way (come in or stay back). He volleys well, but I get the sense he doesn't want to. Unlike say, Jimmy Connors

I get the sense Connors doesn't come in much because he thinks he'll lose the point if he does
With Lendl, I don't get that feeling.... he doesn't come in because he'd rather stay back is all

Even the 88 Masters final... 40ish approaches in a long 5 setter is still a fairly conservative rate of approaching. Especially for a guy whose so good at net. Opinions about the quality of his net play may vary, but the numbers don't... he's excellent-to-good in everything I've done
 

Drob

Hall of Fame
Done stats for that one, too. Will post it up soon... and yes, it was a great match. Hard to imagine a more dramatic or tense finale



40ish sounds about right... 43 is a highly specific figure for a "something like":)



Damn good, you said it

I've seen relatively little of him. The best I've come across is '85 USO final, where I have him with 31/36 (86%) at net, including 14/17 total serve-volleying (14/15 off 1st serves, 0/2 off 2nd)

He was 17/19 on other approaches

Winners include 12 volleys and an OH, to UEs of 2 on the volley and an OH

The whole stats thread is here -
https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/ind...d-lendl-vs-mcenroe-us-open-final-1985.610102/

and that was as good on the volley as you'll see from anyone. Stylistically he's fine too

Can't remember who the commentators were but one (a buddy of Tony Roche's) mentioned that Roche had been working with Lendl on the volley. Two guys I hold in high regard here assure me he was no slouch pre-Roche either

I think Lendl was big on safety factor and maybe tended to err on that side when he could go either way (come in or stay back). He volleys well, but I get the sense he doesn't want to. Unlike say, Jimmy Connors

I get the sense Connors doesn't come in much because he thinks he'll lose the point if he does
With Lendl, I don't get that feeling.... he doesn't come in because he'd rather stay back is all

Even the 88 Masters final... 40ish approaches in a long 5 setter is still a fairly conservative rate of approaching. Especially for a guy whose so good at net. Opinions about the quality of his net play may vary, but the numbers don't... he's excellent-to-good in everything I've done


Thanks.

But surprised at your take on Connors.

Can't remember all the times Connors went to net off the approach at critical junctures in the biggest matches, usually hitting a winning volley. Total approaches might not be that high, but it is when Connors did them that show me he had utmost confidence in his net play . . . and with reason. I actually thought this characteristic was a strength in his game.
 

treblings

Hall of Fame
Connors iirc came to the net often but chose his approaches particularly well. Often he had easy volleys as a result of having played high quality approach shots.
But memory is a tricky thing and I might remember wrong;)
 

Moose Malloy

G.O.A.T.
Ok for anyone who cares, there is a thread with a ton of stats at the top of this forum. You can see Connors net stats from many matches from 1974 to 1991. Waspsting has seen very little of Connors(and admits this) so please remember that. Using one or 2 matches to make a generalization about a player is a big mistake. I've been posting stats on this board for 10 years(and have seen Connors play live), for the most part he came in a lot in his career. again, look up all the stats I and krosero took. And published stats. Heck, he came in 100 times vs Wilander in 4 sets at 88 Miami. 86 times vs Borg in 4 sets at 76 USO. S&V on every first serve in 1974 and 1975 W finals. Just a few examples of how agressive he was.

And I have net stats for many Lendl matches as well.
 
Last edited:

Drob

Hall of Fame
Ok for anyone who cares, there is a thread with a ton of stats at the top of this forum. You can see Connors net stats from many matches from 1974 to 1991. Waspsting has seen very little of Connors(and admits this) so please remember that. Using one or 2 matches to make a generalization about a player is a big mistake. I've been posting stats on this board for 10 years(and have seen Connors play live), for the most part he came in a lot in his career. again, look up all the stats I and krosero took. And published stats. Heck, he came in 100 times vs Wilander in 4 sets at 88 Miami. 86 times vs Borg in 4 sets at 76 USO. S&V on every first serve in 1974 and 1975 W finals. Just a few examples of how agressive he was.

And I have net stats for many Lendl matches as well.


That is consistent with my memories of Connors. I remember the big points, but no surprise he came in frequently.

Treblings is right, too. Often Connors had set up the volley so well with his offensive ground shots that the volley was an easy winner. But I also remember him just dashing to the net in the middle of a tough rally and working for the point with three volleys, even more.

86 net approaches at the 1976 USO final. That is a great statistic. What was his success ratio in that particular match? I do remember him going to the net at key moments in that extraordinary tiebreaker. Splendid match.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Thanks.

But surprised at your take on Connors.

Can't remember all the times Connors went to net off the approach at critical junctures in the biggest matches, usually hitting a winning volley. Total approaches might not be that high, but it is when Connors did them that show me he had utmost confidence in his net play . . . and with reason. I actually thought this characteristic was a strength in his game.

Sorry, should have been more specific - I was thinking of a particular period for Connors, round about the time he slipped behind Borg and McEnroe 79-80ish - a period where a good chunk of the few Connors matches I've done are from and a time I gather he was a little low on confidence(?)

He seems hesitant to approach there - like he's looking to come up, but thinks better off it and stays back. I've never seen Lendl appear this way - he just seems content on the baseline

I think Connors may have rediscovered his net rushing gusto later, 82/83ish(?)... and understand he had no qualms approaching at his peak (74-78)... so i'm referring to a small window of time in his long career

The being in two minds about coming in or staying back I perceived in the given period lines up with the memory of a couple of posters I regard highly (and the stats of one of them too)

The point in bringing up Connors was to set a standard against which to weigh Lendl's enthusiasm (or lack of) for coming in... I think they're both highly effective in the forecourt but see a difference in attitude

Connors has a desire to approach - how much he actually does might vary at different stages of his career - but the desire seems to be there consistently

Lendl? I don't see that in him

On a different note, I have Lendl at 25/38 @ 66% at net in '88 Masters final with 12 volley winners (2 were not net points) to 5 errors (forced + unforced and including a half-volley at net)
 
Last edited:

WCT

Professional
First off Lendl. I have somewhat praised his net play at Wimbledon. It really caught my attention because of how totally he changed his game. He went from rarely s/v on other surfaces to textbook grass court s/v on both serves every serve. However, I didn't find that it translated to other surfaces. Like in 83, after Wimbledon, I don't recall him coming in that much more or volleying that much better on other surfaces.

Connors. As someone who has made a study of it, he absolutely is coming in far less circa 79-81ish. But even before that I don't think he came in as much as he did some of the 74/75 matches I have. I'm convinced it was Segura's absence. Even something like 82 Wimbledon where Bud Collins ranted for 5 sets about Jimmy Connors discovering the net, he was not coming in as much as he did at the 74 US and Wimbledon finals, the 75 Australian final or the 75 US Open final(on clay). I've never done the stats for the 75 Wimbledon final, but I'd wager he was in a higher % of the total points than he was in the 82 final.

I always try to make this point clear, though. Even when he didn't come in as much overall, Connors always came in on big points. The 83 US Open final. Connors isn't in that much. A lot less than the 82 final. However, those close 2nd and 3rd sets. All over the net at the end of those sets.

Wasp did the stats on is 1980 US Open match with Mac. Wasp had Connors with more net approaches than me. I think I had 50, but he might have had close to 20 the last set. That is memory, I didn't keep track by sets. I do know that Connors was the net more in the 5th set tiebreaker. IIRC, 6 -4. Connors s/v 4 times in that tiebreaker.

Again, though, it is so glaring in some matches. 1981 French and Jose freaking Clerc is coming in way more than Connors. Watch any 1974-1976 Jimmy Connors match then watch the 1979 US Open semi vs Mac and tell me there is not a glaring difference in his inclination to come to net.

I've said this before. Neither Rosewall or Connors s/v on every serve in their 2 1974 matches. I think overall, both serves Connors was 65 to 70%. I didn't do Rosewall's stats, but I'd guess in the same neighborhood. I think he might have had a higher % on 1st serves, but less on 2nd than Connors. Connors was like 75% of his 1st and 50 to 60 on his 2nd. I have the exact numbers if anyone wants them.

Anyway, in 2 matches, there is 1 15 stroke rally. Even when they don't s/v, forget the first ball at or inside the service line, it's the first ball that lands closer to the service lane than the baseline and someone is coming in.

Now look at the 1981 Connors/Borg semi. How many 15 stroke rallies do you think there were? I don't know, I didn't keep the stat. However, I'd bet my house it was a helluva lot more than 1. That is what Connors/Rosewall had in 6 sets.

Did Borg have great groundstrokes that made you think twice about coming in? Sure, but Ken Rosewall didn't? The difference is Connors and his approach to playing. It had changed somewhat.

All that said, hard for me to think, overall-all surfaces, of Lendl as being more confident about coming. Even on grass, the match we have stats for 84 Wimbledon, Connors came in far more than Lendl.

I've got a slew of matches with Connors net stats. Unfortunately, the majority I didn't keep total points played. How I took stats evolved over time. I regret that because % of points he came in is really the stat to look at and without the total points played you don't have it. Same with free points on serve. That stat really interested me because of the seeming disadvantage Connors so often had in his matches. But ideally you don't want that Borg had 25 to Connors 9. You want to know the % of unreturned for each. It gives the bulk numbers context.

If anyone wants numbers, at least total approaches, I have them for many matches.

Wasp, I see in your stats unforced errors on 1/2 volleys. How do you judge that? For me, it being a 1/2 automatically leans me towards calling it unforced. A 1/2, in and of itself, I think of as a reasonably difficult shot.
 

krosero

Legend
Treblings is right, too. Often Connors had set up the volley so well with his offensive ground shots that the volley was an easy winner. But I also remember him just dashing to the net in the middle of a tough rally and working for the point with three volleys, even more.

86 net approaches at the 1976 USO final. That is a great statistic. What was his success ratio in that particular match? I do remember him going to the net at key moments in that extraordinary tiebreaker. Splendid match.
I have him winning 64 of 86, or 74%, just phenomenal. Borg at 23 of 35 (63%).
 

krosero

Legend
1982 YEC

Sports Illustrated:

If this seems a trifle outrageous, how about the allegation that Ivan Lendl can't win the big ones? True, he has yet to win one of the Big Three (the French, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open), but under a roof he's nails. In 1982 Lendl won both major indoor titles—the Masters and the WCT Finals in Dallas—and with his 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 victory over John McEnroe on Sunday he joined Borg and Ilie Nastase as the only players to win the Masters in consecutive years.

…. Keeping McEnroe pinned on the baseline with his lethal forehand and knocking off his garbage collection of short balls for easy winners, Lendl broke McEnroe in the first game of both the first and third sets and never really let him into the match at any juncture. Seldom has a winner treated victory in an important final so solemnly as Lendl, who after striking a service winner on championship point merely strolled to the net hangdog to collect the handshakes, the crystal, the keys to a Volvo and $100,000. "I'm glad I didn't have to spend so many nerves this time," said Lendl, comparing the match with last year's final, when he had to overcome a two-set deficit and a match point against Vitas Gerulaitis before winning. "I was looking for John to try something different, but I guess he did the best he could."

It isn't as if McEnroe doesn't give his all in these frustrating tussles with his nemesis. He simply has neither the offensive tools nor the armor to combat Lendl's aggressive weaponry. And when the court is slow enough to afford Lendl time to set up for McEnroe's careening, hooking first serves, Mac is practically at the mercy of Lendl's return arsenal. "I prepared myself all week with nothing but tennis," said McEnroe. "I don't understand it. I felt so alive out there." But maybe the answer is for McEnroe to get ready for this otherworldly customer by departing from normal life. Perhaps he should immerse himself in a sensory deprivation tank or listen to Brahms or watch Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.

McEnroe did add some new wrinkles this time. He had new socks with M-C-E-N-R-O-E spelled out down the sides and a new rapport with the crowd. He once raised his racket to orchestrate cheers from the cheap seats. At 3-3 in the second set, McEnroe smashed his racket on the court, breaking it in several places. Two games later he missed a let-cord setup, thought about the error for a few seconds and then slowly turned a somersault.

Nothing seemed to work. By the third set McEnroe had reverted to bickering with the spectators and linesmen. In the opening game, he yelled, "Let me tell you how much fun it is to play in front of you people. At least I'm trying out here." Once he nearly disappeared deep into a corner of the court to seek refuge inside a Volvo partially hidden by potted plants. But the car was locked. "You don't belong on this arena, for Chrissakes!" he bellowed at a service linesman. To another he said, "You're bad, really bad. You're about as bad as I am today." Well, maybe the truth shall set him free.

McEnroe reached break point in the fourth game of the match and then not again until the 24th game. On both occasions Lendl went to his holster for the big flat one to McEnroe's backhand. Boom! Boom! McEnroe barely drew wood on the first and didn't even bother swiping at the second. "Every single time I'm hitting the first serve I'm going for the ace," said Lendl, as if witnesses didn't understand an assassination attempt when they saw one. "I'm glad the match went only three sets. My arm was getting tired."

"The guy played almost incredibly," said McEnroe. "He always had me off balance. He was all over me. And it's not as if Lendl's serve is like Clerc's or Vilas' or anybody's, even mine. My serve is about 30 miles per hour slower than his. In blunt terms, he kicked my ass."

…. In beating America's famous tennis twins, Connors and McEnroe, Lendl dropped but 14 games in five sets. He lost his serve only once in three matches. The Masters also happened to extend Lendl's indoor victory streak to 13 tournaments and 58 matches since October 1981.​

New York Times:

For 1982, with the Masters as the season-ending event, the 22-year-old Lendl's singles log was 107 victories and only nine defeats. Although raised as a clay-court player in Czechoslovakia, he has not lost an indoor singles match since April 1981, a string that now spans 59 consecutive matches.

''I don't think there's any question he outplayed me,'' McEnroe said to newsmen, after having told the Madison Square Garden crowd of 18,257 that he felt almost embarrassed about accepting the runner-up check of $64,000.

Lendl's seventh straight victory over McEnroe (he now has won 19 of their last 20 sets) appeared to leave the 23-year-old New Yorker more discouraged than ever. He beat Lendl in a round-robin exhibition match several weeks ago in Chicago and, feeling fit and confident, had looked forward to yesterday's final as an opportunity to assert his southpaw serve-and-volley game.

But where Lendl held serve throughout, confronted by only 2 break points, McEnroe faulted all five first serves in the opening game, was broken and never quite recovered.

With each set in the 2-hour-9-minute match, McEnroe's spirits sank lower. .... But his problems against Lendl are more than psychological.

Lendl strings his racquet at 72 pounds of tension and hits harder and faster than McEnroe, a touch player whose racquet is strung at about 50 pounds.

''My first serve is like 30 miles per hour slower than his,'' McEnroe said. In recent years, Lendl has strengthened important aspects of his game, especially his serve and backhand. Ironically, his game now may be more suited for indoor play, with its true bounce and absence of weather complications, than clay.

His Serve Greatly Improved

When asked what surface he felt would be his best against Lendl, McEnroe said grass. Then, suggesting his current problems, he added, ''At this point, maybe mud.''

....''There's no question he's improved his serve,'' said Arthur Ashe, the Davis Cup captain who was at courtside and who has made a science of studying the serve. ''His toss now is higher, more to the right and in the court. So he's getting more power behind it. Before, he used to just toss it straight in the air. That's the way all claycourt players in Europe and South America are taught to serve -just toss it up. Now he's serving more like the Australians and Californians. He no longer has a clay-courters' serve.''

The Southpaw Factor

Another factor that helps Lendl against McEnroe and Connors is that both Americans are southpaws. Thus, when Lendl serves to their backhands, they have to take a step across on their returns. McEnroe is known to have slower reflexes going to his right than to his left, which allows Lendl to establish better court position for his ground strokes.

Lendl converted only 47 percent of his first serves. But he won 30 of the 38 points on the first serve, and also attacked McEnroe's serve more aggressively than baseline players such as Borg or Guillermo Vilas have done.​
 

krosero

Legend
One of my favourite matches ever is the November, 1988 Masters Final between Becker and Lendl. I counted Lendl going to the net something like 43 times in the five-set match, almost entirely off the approach.

Done stats for that one, too. Will post it up soon... and yes, it was a great match. Hard to imagine a more dramatic or tense finale
So glad you're doing that match, Wasp. And Drob it's one of my favorites too. Nowadays I like Lendl a lot but back then I thought it was high time for him to be knocked off his throne. Needless to say I was thrilled with the USO final that year. I was in college then, and I tuned in to the Becker-Lendl final late at night, in the common room of the dorm, with no one else around, which was just fine by me because I was always having to give up the TV to large crowds of students more interested in football, baseball and basketball. The match ended around midnight and it just had me by the throat, it was so close. I haven't seen it in a long time now, but I may take another look at it (your threads have been prompting me to watch old tennis again). It will never again be so tense as it was then or live up to memories but it was a great match, and like you say a much different and more mature Becker.
 

krosero

Legend
Incidentally, I went to YT to see the '84 YEC final, first time seeing it. Has to be one of McEnroe’s alltime best matches. It’s more impressive, in a way, than dumping Connors at the ’84 Wimbledon, because this was prime Lendl indoors. And Lendl is playing fairly well in this match; he’s frustrated, but he’s not fighting himself; he’s just out-played.
 

WCT

Professional
I may have to take a look at that 84 match. Haven't seen any of it since it was played. I don't recall being awed by Mcenroe's level of play the way I was at Wimbledon. Toyed is the word I tend to use for that match. He really just toyed with Connors. Perhaps the Masters match didn't leave the same impression because I wasn't as invested in who won.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Wasp, I see in your stats unforced errors on 1/2 volleys. How do you judge that? For me, it being a 1/2 automatically leans me towards calling it unforced. A 1/2, in and of itself, I think of as a reasonably difficult shot.

I very rarely give an unforced for a 1/2 volley, so much so that I can largely remember the specifics of the ones I did

The one in these three matches... Lendl hits a weak ball as Mac is approaching and Mac hesitates. Doesn't know whether to go all out forward to hit the volley or take a couple steps back and hit a groundstroke. Ends up half-going forward and hitting the half volley that lands wide.

I gave it an unforced... more for the shot choice than the shot itself

Worth noting - I've seen Lendl with clear intent hit a soft shot to guys who are in half & half positions and it can be an effective shot.... that wasn't the case here. He just hit a weak shot

I gave Newcombe one vs Borg WITC 77. The shot was most definitely not unforced. Newcombe made a suicidal approach... approach shot was a gentle push right in Borg's hitting zone but he charged like the Light Brigade and the half volley he missed was very, very forced

Whimsically maybe, I gave it an unforced on shot choice grounds

I remember Roger Federer netting a half-volley of a gentle shot from Lleyton Hewitt at USO '04. The crowd groaned the way they do when there's a surprising unforced

That's about the easiest half-volley you'll see... and I'd still think twice before calling it unforced
 

WCT

Professional
Yes, I agree it's possible to have an unforced error on a 1/2 volley. I just find it to be the great exception to the rule.
 

Moose Malloy

G.O.A.T.
Here are some stats I took on the 83 YEC SF, Mac d Wilander 6-2, 6-4

Mac
33-62 1st serve 53%
27-33 points won on 1st serve 81%
11-29 points won on 2nd serve 38%
4 aces, 1 df
5-8 on break points
14-62 unreturned serves(22.5%)

Wilander
40-63 1st serve 63%
18-40 points won on 1st serve 45%
12-23 points won on 2nd serve 52%
1 ace, 1 df
2-6 on break points
6-63 unreturned serves(9.5%)

Both the final and semi had lopsided scores, but Wilander returned Macs serve better, especially his 2nd(only at 38% success here while he was at 65% vs Lendl) and Mac had a considerably lower unreturned serve % vs Wilander compared to Lendl(22% to 37%)

Mac's return rate(first time I've calculated that) 56-62(90%)

Wilander: 47-61(77%)
 
Last edited:

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Here are some stats I took on the 83 YEC SF, Mac d Wilander 6-2, 6-4

Mac
33-62 1st serve 53%
27-33 points won on 1st serve 81%
11-29 points won on 2nd serve 38%
4 aces, 1 df
5-8 on break points
14-62 unreturned serves(22.5%)

Wilander
40-63 1st serve 63%
18-40 points won on 1st serve 45%
12-23 points won on 2nd serve 52%
1 ace, 1 df
2-6 on break points
6-63 unreturned serves(9.5%)

Both the final and semi had lopsided scores, but Wilander returned Macs serve better, especially his 2nd(only at 38% success here while he was at 65% vs Lendl) and Mac had a considerably lower unreturned serve % vs Wilander compared to Lendl(22% to 37%)

Mac's return rate(first time I've calculated that) 56-62(90%)

Wilander: 47-61(77%)

Mac's 2nd serve points percentage is surprisingly low... do you remember if he was serve-volleying a lot off it? In the final he was

Hadn't thought about it before, but curious to know whether the exaggerated net rushing was something he cooked up just for Lendl or he was doing it against all and sundry round about that time

I'll get to round to doing a few Wilander matches soon. The very little I've seen of him has me asking questions, which I'm sure will clear up a bit in time

Against Becker Cincy '85, his first serve looked a decently powerful strike (second not so much). I didn't think he served weakly vs Mac Davis Cup 84 either though Mac had a 90%+ return rate

But yielding a 90% return rate on this surface is surprising

And you have him with quite a lot of unreturned serves vs Mac again on French clay, which you put down to Mac being too aggressive on the return

nice stats
 

WCT

Professional
Interesting stats. Surprised at Mcenroe only have 22% on unreturned serves. Wilander's number looks like some I've seen from Connors.

Going in, I thought this match was going to be closer. Wilander had beaten him, in the Australian, on grass, not that long before.
But I guess this was 1984 Mcenroe and that was another level.
 

krosero

Legend
Here are some stats I took on the 83 YEC SF, Mac d Wilander 6-2, 6-4

Mac
33-62 1st serve 53%
27-33 points won on 1st serve 81%
11-29 points won on 2nd serve 38%
4 aces, 1 df
5-8 on break points
14-62 unreturned serves(22.5%)

Wilander
40-63 1st serve 63%
18-40 points won on 1st serve 45%
12-23 points won on 2nd serve 52%
1 ace, 1 df
2-6 on break points
6-63 unreturned serves(9.5%)

Both the final and semi had lopsided scores, but Wilander returned Macs serve better, especially his 2nd(only at 38% success here while he was at 65% vs Lendl) and Mac had a considerably lower unreturned serve % vs Wilander compared to Lendl(22% to 37%)

Mac's return rate(first time I've calculated that) 56-62(90%)

Wilander: 47-61(77%)
Added this match to the match links thread.

Wilander doing slightly better on second serve than on first, which we've seen a few times with him.

Interesting how Wilander returned Mac's serve better than Lendl did. I recall we saw something similar in the last two matches of the '87 Wimb: Connors returning Cash's serve a little better than Lendl.
 

krosero

Legend
Nice point from the '84 YEC final, Mac gets the break at 5-all in opening set:


Link should go to the 15:32 mark
 

Vincent-C

Hall of Fame
Thanks.

But surprised at your take on Connors.

Can't remember all the times Connors went to net off the approach at critical junctures in the biggest matches, usually hitting a winning volley. Total approaches might not be that high, but it is when Connors did them that show me he had utmost confidence in his net play . . . and with reason. I actually thought this characteristic was a strength in his game.
The Rosewall "sneak approach"- Connors made it his own.
 

Drob

Hall of Fame
The Rosewall "sneak approach"- Connors made it his own.
I think that's right. Unfortunately, I have only seen maybe 3 or 4 complete matches, along with a number of highlights. Ken would also s/v on first serve a high percentage of the time.

Thanks for the idea. I am going to look into whether there is commentary about Rosewall doing something like a "sneak approach"
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
All these comments re: Connors net play. I really miss his style of play...I can't think of anyone who comes close to being an offensive baseliner the way he was, while still being strong on defense. Guy was always looking to come forward. Who does that anymore? I miss that and S&V....yes, I'm an old fart...but baseline bashing gets dull. Really enjoy the diversity Carlos brings...the kid can do some of everything...incredibly entertaining :cool:
 

WCT

Professional
The Rosewall "sneak approach"- Connors made it his own.
I can't say as I remember Rosewall being that prone to sneak approaching, but he was about 39 when I started watching tennis closely. Early Connors, Segura coached Connors, did not at all, or very rarely, employ the sneak approach. He came in a lot more and made no bones about coming in. But I would not call that player an offensive baseliner. I would call him an all court player.

By the time he is playing Lendl in the 80s maybe half his net approaches are sneaks. A high % against Mcenroe as well. Players who sliced that much against him. 3, 4, 5 slices against him and he'd sneak in trying to catch the slice floating for an easy volley.
 
Top