This is one of the best grass-court matches I've seen: a true contrast of styles, a great comeback, and the underdog playing in the zone. Score: Cash d. Pernfors 2-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 (46 games) The match was played at Kooyong Stadium, a month before the Australian Open was held there for the last time. Cash had 11 aces and 10 doubles. Pernfors had 0 aces and 7 doubles. Cash made 47 winners: 3 forehands, 1 backhand, 11 forehand volleys, 17 backhand volleys, and 15 smashes. Pernfors made 45 winners: 20 forehands, 20 backhands, 3 forehand volleys, 2 backhand volleys, and 0 smashes. [Note: I'm missing two points won by Pernfors at 3-love in the second set]. Cash’s winners by set: 6, 10, 9, 11, 11 Pernfors’ by set: 9, 13, 9, 9, 5 Cash’s 43 smash/volley winners fall just short of the 45 that McEnroe hit in the 1981 Wimbledon final, which was also 46 games long. But Cash is a grasscourt player and this is no surprise. Pernfors, however, had no grasscourt weapons to speak of. This was only the 6th grasscourt match of his career. He was a short guy (5 ft. 8 in., 172 cm.), and he had 0 aces in this match. His service percentage was not particularly high for someone who did not go for aces. He threw in 7 doubles to boot. He had no winning overheads, and only 5 volley winners. He preferred not to slice balls, and generally picked them up with a semi-Western forehand and a loopy two-handed backhand. But what he did with these two wings was impressive. He had 23 passing shots (16 off the FH). In addition he had 13 service return winners (9 off the BH). And he had 3 lob winners (all off the BH). Among Cash’s ground stroke winners there were no service returns, no lobs, and only one passing shot, though it was a crucial one: a fantastic running FH that helped him get the crucial break at 2-all in the fifth. Cash's low count of ground stroke winners may be due to nothing more than Pernfors' style. When Lendl attacked Cash constantly in their Wimbledon final and served much stronger than Pernfors, Cash had many great service returns and winning lobs. By contrast, Pernfors spun his serve in, and Cash simply put in back in play; and Pernfors rarely presented a target at the net. The announcers said that Cash had prepared entirely against serve-and-volleyers; he was not prepared to face this style. But it is still remarkable that Pernfors could go up two sets on him and keep the match competitive for five sets. This is the sort of match that makes me wonder if there's more of an explanation than merely the fact that Pernfors was in the zone. Pernfors hit 40 ground stroke winners, just 1 less than Borg did against Tanner on Wimbledon grass. Pernfors was in the same mold as Borg (except without a serve or net game, and much less power on his ground strokes). Like Borg you might say that his game was not suited to grass. And without a serve or power, that is mostly true. The reason Cash got his man in the end was that he had a better serve. But what Pernfors did with his ground strokes was more than luck, and that's where I wonder about our definitions of what constitutes grasscourt strengths. In the classical game, the ball would bounce low or erratically on grass, and it would arrive so quickly at the racquet that the reply would typically be a slice or a flat drive. Slices were often effective, but they might float high into a waiting volley. Flat drives often ended long or in the net. But with topspin and flicking wrists, you can pick up a ball that used to be sliced, and drive it. Yet unlike a flat drive, you can pick the ball up so it clears the net, while still bringing it back in the court. A topspin player is not able necessarily to dig up balls any better than someone who can chop, slice and dink; and if he has a two-handed stroke he will definitely have a harder time with low balls; but when he does pick it up he is able to drive it (safely), making possible a large number of passing shots and a low error count. This last part is key, because Connors departed in some ways from the classical grasscourt game by driving everything – but he still did it flat. He’d get a lot of passing shots, a lot of putaways with his groundies, etc. But he also put a lot of shots into the net. Topspin was the “next” step away from the classical game. The word has to be in quotes because topspin was not an invention of the 1970s; and Laver is already showing in the 60s how many winners you can produce on grass with topspin. I’ve never seen Ken Rosewall’s matches but I expect him, of course, to have had a lot of passing shots and winning groundies. With his strong slice backhand he may be an exception to the general picture I’m painting. Just that for now. On top of being an exciting match, it was also thought-provoking. Comments welcome as always.