The Wimbledon Men’s Final, 1984. I’ve always wanted to record the stats of this match, won by McEnroe 6-1, 6-1, 6-2. In an interview with Bud “Mr Tennis” Collins following the match, it was pointed out to McEnroe that he only made 2 unforced errors for the entire match.
2?! Seriously, 2?!
Not possible? I think NBC might have been a little forgiving in their analysis, but McEnroe’s play was quite brilliant.
Time and Circumstance
McEnroe was the top seed. Connors was seeded 3. Connors had beaten McEnroe two years earlier in the Wimbledon final. McEnroe was coming off a famous loss to Ivan Lendl at the French Open final the previous month. Trailing 2 sets to love, Lendl went on to win in 5 sets.
The other thing of note was how slick Wimbledon center court was back then. The two extremes of tennis surfaces were much faster (grass) and much slower (clay) than they are now. After two weeks of play, Wimbledon’s centre court was looking a little bare. The temperature for the start of play was around 90F or 31C. Hot by London standards.
Everything looked in McEnroe’s favor and he was the raging hot favorite.
The Match and the Stats to go with it
A lot is made of serving and returning in tennis today. Junior tennis players are taught that most points are over inside 4 shots and that it’s not like the long rallies of days gone by.
No rallies in this Wimbledon Final. McEnroe’s serving and return of serve stats are phenomenal:
- 25 aces/unreturnable serves.
- 0 double faults.
- 19 winners and forced errors on return of serve.
- 1 unforced error on return of serve
The point count for the match was 83-42. More than half the points won by McEnroe were from serving and returning.
Connors’ job was made doubly difficult by McEnroe’s first serve percentage: almost 73% for the match. 78% for the first two sets. He won 34 out of 40 points on his first serve. Connors won 51% behind his first ball and a tiny 30% behind his second serve, largely due to the McEnroe return.
I can’t agree with NBC’s stats-man on the 2 unforced errors to McEnroe. They had him down for zero in the first two sets. I had him making 6 unforced errors in total. Rally length helped that stat, but it was his serving and returning that won the match.
If you ever see it, watch out for the frosty handshake at the end! These two weren’t the greatest of buddies.