I have always been fascinated by tennis scores, I have always looked further into them than just the score that has been published in the paper the next day. I used to cut out newspaper clippings when I was a kid and stick them on my wall.
There is always more to a score line in the game of tennis than what appears to be just a series of numbers. Rather than going back through internet data I will simply go from the memory bank as to the matches that stuck in my mind for reasons other than just a win or a loss to Professional Tennis players.
Czech player Thomas Smid was a player who had some very similar losses as far as score cards were concerned. Thomas once lost two matches within a fortnight by the score of 7-6, 6-1 and 7-6, 6-0. He then won a match not long after these two losses by a score of 7-6, 6-2, from memory. Pardon me for the lack of knowledge on the tournaments these were played in , I simply just remember them even though I was a kid. So why ?
It told me that Smid was a front runner, a player who relied on a first set victory, a player who if down in a match possibly did not have the mindset to come back. A first set tie break loss can be disappointing to say the least , it can break a player. So what of that victory by Smid of a similar score ? That's easy. After a tight first set that's when you are loose, it's party time, the narrow win in the first can often bring an easy win in the second. Not that I am a fan of Women's Tennis but do you remember the Women's Semi Finals at Wimbledon this year ? 7-6, 6-1 and 7-6, 6-2 , pretty obvious what happened there.
Bjorn Borg, the great Swedish Champion destroyed Argentinian Guillermo Vilas in two French Open finals by the scores of 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 and 6-2, 6-3, 6-4, interesting score lines. How does the World's best clay courter beat the second best on that surface at the final match of a Grand Slam Championship ? The mind, simply the mind. If you watch the way both Borg and Vilas played it was very similar , a huge amount of spin, very few volleys, a serve that was simply a point starter and one that won very few cheap points. It all came down to the thought process.
Borg once beat American Eddie Dibbs, a former top ten player in the final of a clay court event by the score of 6-0, 6-0, 6-2, work that one out. Borg in his early career once beat an American Professional by the name of Billy Martin 0-6, 6-0, 6-1. To throw some useless trivia on this particular score it was once stated that former Coach of Vilas, Ion Tiriac came to the side of the court and told Borg to stop going for so many winners, apparently fact.
Rafael Nadal once beat former top Aussie Mark Phillippousis 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 at the US Open, so what's unusual about that ? Nothing but look at the score, what does it tell you ? Rafa knew he only had to step up the pace and pressure on the return of Flip's once each set, any more than that would be a bonus, not a necessity.
Every time a first serve is missed against the return of Rafa the pressure goes up a notch and it can bring on some double faults. A second serve to Rafa is usually a 50/50 situation and when it comes to baseline hitting in a 50/50 who will more often than not come out on top ?
And finally I will dedicate these last paragraphs to my two favourite players of all time , Wilander and Borg. At the US Open in 1980 Borg took on Johan Kriek and after losing the first two sets 4-6, 4-6, Borg won the next three 6-1, 6-1, 6-1. This tells us that Borg was waiting for Kriek to finish playing his best tennis that he knew he could not sustain for 5 sets. After that it was simply a formality for a man as smart as Borg. The Swede not only knew his own limitations but usually he knew his opponent's.
At the 1982 French Open Final Vilas had Mats right where he wanted him at a 6-1 first set win and set point in the second set to gain a strangle hold on the title. Wilander saved the set point, won the set in a breaker , smashed Vilas 6-0 in the third set and claimed the match in the fourth set 6-4. That was a turn around of epic proportions especially when you consider Mats was only 17 years of age. So my theory ? The 'party time' mind set about getting 'out of jail' with a tie break win. It loosens a player up to such an extent that their best tennis can be played from then on, with no fear, with no limitations.
A good player will always weigh up situations in a tennis match that can be used to their advantage , it's what separates the good from the rest........
* FOOT NOTE * My inquisitive mind got the better of me and I looked up Smid's Profile, here were the actual scores and Tournaments that I mentioned earlier. Ok I admit I was a few games out plus his win came before the two losses but hey it was 1983 ;
24-1-1983 Brazil Smid def Dupre 7-5, 6-2
31-1- 1983 Philadelphia McNamara def Smid 7-6, 6-0
7- 2 -1983 Ricmond USA Borowiak def Smid 7-6, 6-0