Duel Match Stats/Report - Becker vs Sampras & Agassi vs Becker, Year End Championship round robin, 1991


Hall of Fame
Boris Becker beat Pete Sampras 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-1 in the Year End Championship round robin, 1991 on carpet in Frankfurt, Germany

Becker needed to win in straight sets to advance to the semi-finals, whereas Sampras just needed to win one set. Sampras would go on to win the first of his 5 YEC titles

Becker serve-volleyed off all but 1 first serve and rarely off the second. Sampras serve-volleyed off all but 2 first serves

(Note: I'm missing 1 Sampras first serve point, won by Sampras)

Becker won 100 points, Sampras 77

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (46/80) 58%
- 1st serve points won (39/46) 85%
- 2nd serve points won (22/34) 65%
- Aces 17 (1 second serve), Service Winners 2
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (35/80) 44%

- 1st serve percentage (58/97) 60%
- 1st serve points won (42/58) 72%
- 2nd serve points won (16/39) 41%
- Aces 5, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (29/97) 30%

Serve Patterns
Becker served...
- to FH 38%
- to BH 58%
- to Body 4%

Sampras served....
- to FH 31%
- to BH 62%
- to Body 6%

Return Stats
Becker made...
- 65 (24 FH, 40 BH, 1 ??), including 2 runaround FHs and 3 return-approaches
- 5 Winners (3 FH, 2 BH)
- 22 Errors, comprising...
- 5 Unforced (1 FH, 4 BH)
- 17 Forced (3 FH, 14 BH)
- Return Rate (65/94) 69%

Sampras made...
- 43 (15 FH, 28 BH)
- 3 Winners (1 FH, 2 BH)
- 16 Errors, comprising...
- 3 Unforced (1 FH, 2 BH)
- 13 Forced (3 FH, 10 BH)
- Return Rate (43/78) 55%

Break Points
Becker 3/9 (5 games)
Sampras 0

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Becker 30 (12 FH, 8 BH, 6 FHV, 2 BHV, 2 OH)
Sampras 24 (3 FH, 9 BH, 2 FHV, 8 BHV, 2 OH)

Becker had 8 from serve-volley points
- 5 first volleys (4 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 3 second volleys (1 FHV, 2 OH)

- 8 passes (5 FH, 3 BH)
- FHs - 1 lob at net, 1 longline (a block off an OH), 1 cc return, 1 inside-in return and 1 dtl
- BHs -1 cc, 1 inside-out and 1 dtl return

- regular FHs - 3 cc, 1 dtl, 1 dtl/inside-out and 1 inside-in
- regular BHs - 1 cc, 3 dtl and 1 longline return

Sampras had 11 from serve-volley points
- 5 first volleys (2 FHV, 3 BHV)
- 5 second volleys (4 BHV, 1 OH)
- 1 third volley (1 OH)

- 11 passes (3 FH, 8 BH)
- FHs - 2 cc (1 return) and 1 inside-out
- BHs - 2 cc (1 net chord clipper), 4 dtl (2 returns), 1 dtl/longline, 1 inside-out

- regular groundstrokes - 1 BH dtl

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Becker 21
- 6 Unforced (5 FH, 1 BH)
- 15 Forced (8 FH, 5 BH, 1 FH1/2V, 1 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 48.3

Sampras 32
- 11 Unforced (3 FH, 4 BH, 1 FHV, 3 BHV)
- 21 Forced (8 FH, 9 BH, 2 FHV, 2 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 50

(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
Becker was...
- 33/46 (72%) at net, including...
- 27/38 (71%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 20/27 (74%) off 1st serve and...
- 7/11 (64%) off second serve
- 2/3 (67%) return-approaching

Sampras was...
- 39/56 (70%) at net, including...
- 35/49 (71%) serve-volleying, all first serves...

Match Report
The backdrop is that Becker needed to win in straight sets to advance to the semi-finals, while Sampras - win or lose - just needed 1 set to do the same. Hence, the match can be divided into 2 - the first two sets, when something is on the line, and the complete match. Either way you slice it.... its a great performance from Becker, one of his cleanest. Should be noted that in 1991, needing to beat Sampras in straights on carpet wouldn't have been seen as a hopeless task (particularly for Becker), the way it would be considered a year or two later

85% first serve points won, 65% second serve points won, 44% unreturned serves, outacing Sampras17-5, 0 break points faced, 30 winners to 6 unforced errors.... the numbers look great. They look less great, but still great - if you take out the third set, when Sampras, having qualified for the semis, phones it in a bit.

Becker looks fired up and plays the first two sets like a man on a mission. The impression is enhanced by the home crowd enthusiastically cheering his play and Sampras' more than usual detached demeanour.

First set is a typical Becker-Sampras carpet match. Both players serve-volleying off first serves and staying back on seconds (Becker does s/v off seconds occasionally as a surprise, Sampras not once in the whole match). So there are aces and forced return errors and volleys and passes on first serve points and baseline rallies on seconds.

There's little in it between the two. At 4-4, Becker's won two more points. Neither returner has reached deuce. Becker turns it on the next game to break. He strikes 3 return winners - 2 off them to second serves (meaning, when Sampras was on the baseline). The last one he hits so hard that it goes through cleanly despite not being far from Pete. He forces an volleying error - hard hit, but high - to gain the break. The sort of forced volley that's 'makeable'. and serves out the set.

Second set goes on serve and its Becker that's more of a threat on return. The end of the set is exciting stuff

Serving at 5-5, Sampras has a second serve down break point. Becker hammers a powerful, deep return (good enough to force an error), but Pete is able to half-volley the ball back. The rally continues until Becker misses a BH dtl winner attempt.... the shot was ok, just missed. Next point, Becker chip-charges and makes a full dive volley and the two players trade volleys net-to-net (Becker making the error). Point after that, Sampras makes a third ball error off exactly the same situation he had break point down. Then Becker unleashes a lovely, clean BH cc winner. Sampras' aces away the break point and finishes the game with a perfect, stop BHV off a powerful and low Becker return (and he'd started the game with a one almost as good, an inside-out stop FHV)

The momentum is with Becker starting the tiebreak. First point, a powerful Becker returns elicits a soft, unintentional drop volley from Sampras. Becker races in full speed to meet the ball - and lobs Sampras net-to-net. Great stuff. Pete then does a Pete and Becker can't win a single service point. There are forced return errors, 3 winning passes and a forced half-volleying error. In short, big time clutch stuff from Sampras to take the set and secure his place in the semis, while eliminating Boris.

Mission accomplished, Pete pseudo-tanks the final set. Still, credit to Becker, who hits lines with his serves, makes no UEs, (continues to) volley, return and pass well

Playing Dynamics & Stats
Both players play well, but Becker (even limited to the first two sets) is better. Both serve well (about the same), Becker returns slightly better, passes better and volleys more consistently (0 UEs, to 4 for Sampras on the volley). Baseline to baseline also, he comes off superior and hits some excellent winners or shots that force errors

What might Becker have done to take the match in straights? I think he gave it his all and Sampras' clutch play denied him a breakthrough. But if you have to pick one thing, it'd probably be Becker's returning the second serve

He has 5 UEs returning the second serve (I've also marked a few FEs - not surprising against Pete Sampras). These are mostly aggressive shots that he missed. He also makes a number of such shots (Pete won just 41% of second serve points) and successfully pressures Pete on these points. A few more like that, and maybe he could have got over the line.... but that's basically saying he could have been perfect.

Sampras' rigidity of game struck me. Look at his returns. Not one runaround shot, not one return-approach.... or even an attempt at one. 0 second serve-volleys (Becker has 11). He played a very 'pattern-ized' match.... but played it extremely well

Summing up - great match from both for two sets. Becker the better player - serves about equal, but in other areas (return, passing, groundies, volleys), Becker superior. Sampras still very good in all areas (perhaps not groundies, though he's not bad)…. and showing top notch clutch stuff when in trouble and in the tiebreak (not something he was known for around the time). A high quality match and one of Becker's best performances
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Hall of Fame
Earlier in the round robins, Andre Agassi beat Becker 6-3, 7-5

Sampras also beat Agassi (https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/1991-frankfurt-rr-sampras-agassi-stats.383605/) to complete the trio of matches (all 3 players beat Michael Stich)

Becker serve-volleyed off most first serves and rarely off second

(Note: I'm missing 1 Agassi serve point, won by Agassi)

Agassi won 78 points, Becker 65

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (38/74) 51%
- 1st serve points won (26/38) 68%
- 2nd serve points won (25/36) 69%
- Aces 5
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (22/74) 30%

- 1st serve percentage (37/68) 54%
- 1st serve points won (28/37) 76%
- 2nd serve points won (14/31) 45%
- Aces 12 (1 second serve)
- Double Faults 7
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (25/68) 37%

Serve Patterns
Agassi served...
- to FH 36%
- to BH 64%

Becker served...
- to FH 43%
- to BH 54%
- to Body 3%

Return Stats
Agassi made...
- 36 (13 FH, 23 BH), including 1 return-approach
- 2 Winners (1 FH, 1 BH)
- 13 Errors, comprising...
- 2 Unforced (2 BH)
- 11 Forced (4 FH, 7 BH)
- Return Rate (36/61) 59%

Becker made...
- 50 (15 FH, 35 BH), including 1 runaround FH and 8 return-approaches
- 2 Winners (2 BH)
- 17 Errors, comprising...
- 8 Unforced (3 FH, 5 BH), including 1 runaround FH & 4 return-approach attempts
- 9 Forced (6 FH, 3 BH)
- Return Rate (50/72) 69%

Break Points
Agassi 2/5 (3 games)
Becker 0/5 (2 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Agassi 18 (5 FH, 8 BH, 1 FHV, 2 BHV, 2 OH)
Becker 17 (4 FH, 2 BH, 6 FHV, 3 BHV, 2 OH)

Agassi had 7 passes (3 FH, 4 BH)
- FHs - 1 cc (net-to-net point), 1 longline and 1 inside-in return
- BHs - 3 dtl (1 return) and 1 lob

- non-pass groundstrokes 6 (2 FH, 4 BH)
- FHs - 1 cc (hit just in front of service line) and 1 inside-out (hit just behind service line)
- BHs - 1 cc, 2 dtl and 1 dtl/inside-out

- the FHV was a swinging shot of a 'delayed' serve-volley point, hit from behind the service line
- 1 BHV was played net-to-net

Becker had 8 from serve-volley points
- 7 first volleys (5 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH)
- 1 second volley (1 BHV)

- 4 FHs - 1 cc, 1 dtl (running) and 2 inside-out
- 2 BHs - 2 dtl returns

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Agassi 20
- 9 Unforced (4 FH, 3 BH, 2 FHV)
- 11 Forced (3 FH, 8 BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 43.4

Becker 31
- 19 Unforced (6 FH, 12 BH, 1 OH)
- 12 Forced (3 FH, 3 BH, 2 FHV, 4 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46.8

(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
Agassi was...
- 8/9 (89%) at net, including...
- 1/1 serve-volleying, a delayed, first serve point
- 0/1 return-approaching

Becker was...
- 24/41 (59%) at net, including...
- 18/27 (67%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 15/21 (71%) off 1st serve and...
- 3/6 (50%) off second serve
- 2/8 (25%) return-approaching

Match Report
A tough fight, with Becker the proactive play shaper and Agassi the reactive element (or at least, more so than Becker.... Agassi is rarely fully reactive). Unlike the Sampras match, the match is played at high intensity throughout. Becker multiple times lets out shouts of self-admonishments and Agassi does so a couple of times

Winners are near equal (Agassi 18, Becker 17), errors forced are near equal (Agassi 12, Becker 11). Given Becker is the aggressor, this isn't good enough.... he needs to be well ahead in these areas to compensate for the predictable gap there'd be in unforced errors (Agassi 9, Becker 19). The UEFI (Agassi 43.3, Becker 46.8) tells you who the more aggressive player is

Becker can compensate for coming out behind in play via big serving. But even here, he's not quite doing enough (unreturned serve percentage - Becker 37, Agassi 30). This is largely due to his returning very aggressively - and the errors that come with that type of play (he has 8 return UEs - 4 of them attempted approaches, most of the rest attempted aggressive shots). And that is due to his not wanting to get into a rally situation.... which the figures in the above paragraph are suggesting was justified

In a nutshell, Agassi is significantly better in play and for Becker to override that, he needed to win lots of cheap service points and get hot playing low percentage attacking tennis. He can't quite do it

Set 1
Systematic strangulation

Agassi breaks first chance and holds comfortably thereon. Becker struggles more on serve - and survives a 16 point game where he has to save 2 break points and endure many an uncomfortable moment

Becker is staying back occasionally on first serves but keen to chip-charge the return. The latter doesn't do him much good. Not only does he make return errors, but when he gets to net, he's usually passed, without Agassi looking particularly put out by the play. Becker's biggest mistake in these situations is a at 30-30 when he hits an OH long.... that's the closest he gets to break point

Otherwise, Agassi is in command on serve. Passing Becker when the German ventures forward or systematically bruising him down in baseline rallies. The blend of hitting safely but heavily/deeply from Agassi is a handful... and Becker jus isn't good enough to handle it. Especially off the BH, as the American typically uses his preferred BH cc base to work out off

Set 2
A much more competitive set, with Becker turning on the heat. Agassi has to save 4 break points in his first service game (14 points), 1 in the next (8 points) and hold tough through the third (10 points)

Agassi is upto it though and clutch. He saves all break point by hitting winners or forcing errors - putting away a third ball BH dtl winner from behind the baseline, another BH dtl but this time having time to step in, a delayed serve-volley swinging FHV winner, a return forced error and running Becker all over the court before forcing a FH error

Becker at least holds serve comfortably (doesn't face break point until the very end of the set). He's getting more return errors than he did in the first set and appears to be serving bigger. Still, when the return actually comes back, it leaves him with tough volleys. I wouldn't say he volleyed badly, but he's also not in making-volleys-that'd-be-marked-forced-error if he missed form - and usually does concede the error. 6 forced volleying errors for Becker - none of them easy, most of them makeable.

Interestingly, he chooses to serve more to Agassi's FH than usual (slightly more than half the time). It works - can't argue with results. Return-approaching though still isn't working for him, but he keeps at it. Otherwise, he tries taking it to the Agassi second serve with big cuts... works sometimes, but not consistently.

There's a spectacular point where Becker drop shots the return and approaches net himself. The players exchange volleys at absolutely point blank range and its Agassi who manages to hit the BHV winner.

Finally, Boris gives up the break in Game 11. 3 errors from him in the game - including a third ball BH at net on a serve-volley point - plus a forced volleying error. And Agassi serves out the match... leaving Boris in the hole of having to straight set Pete Sampras to make it through to the next stage of the tournament

Summing up, high risk stuff from Becker, as if he knew that that's what it would take to topple the consistent Agassi. Solid, clutch and in controlled from Agassi... a strong showing against a fairly well executed, dangerous style of play from a very worthy opponent