Duel Match Stats/Report - Rafter vs Agassi, Wimbledon semi-finals, 2000 & 2001

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Pat Rafter beat Andre Agassi 7-5, 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in Wimbledon semi-final, 2000 on grass

Rafter would go onto lose the final to Pete Sampras. The players had met at the same stage the previous year (Agassi win) and would do so again the following year (Rafter win)

Rafter won 162 points, Agassi 157

Rafter serve-volleyed off all but 3 first serves and all but 5 seconds

Serve Stats
Rafter...
- 1st serve percentage (100/167) 60%
- 1st serve points won (69/100) 69%
- 2nd serve points won (40/67) 60%
- Aces 18 (2 second serves & 1 not clean), Service Winners 5 (1 second serve)
- Double Faults 7
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (54/167) 32%

Agassi...
- 1st serve percentage (91/152) 60%
- 1st serve points won (63/91) 69%
- 2nd serve points won (36/61) 59%
- Aces 7 (1 second serve), Service Winners 4 (1 second serve)
- Double Faults 8
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (39/152) 26%

Serve Patterns
Rafter served...
- to FH 39%
- to BH 55%
- to Body 6%

Agassi served...
- to FH 35%
- to BH 63%
- to Body 2%

Return Stats
Rafter made...
- 105 (38 FH, 67 BH), including 1 runaround FH, 15 return-approaches & 2 drop shots
- 3 Winners (2 FH, 1 BH)
- 28 Errors, comprising...
- 9 Unforced (2 FH, 7 BH), including 1 return-approach attempt
- 19 Forced (8 FH, 11 BH)
- Return Rate (105/144) 73%

Agassi made...
- 106 (40 FH, 66 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 11 Winners (8 FH, 3 BH)
- 31 Errors, comprising...
- 1 Unforced (1 BH)
- 30 Forced (12 FH, 18 BH)
- Return Rate (106/160) 66%

Break Points
Rafter 5/12 (7 games)
Agassi 4/9 (7 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Rafter 56 (9 FH, 5 BH, 20 FHV, 11 BHV, 2 BH1/2V, 8 OH, 1 BHOH)
Agassi 52 (24 FH, 21 BH, 2 FHV, 1 BHV, 4 OH)

Rafter had 41 from serve-volley points -
- 25 first 'volleys' (12 FHV, 7 BHV, 2 BH1/2V, 3 FH at net, 1 BH at net)... the BH at net being a drop shot
- 15 second volleys (6 FHV, 2 BHV, 6 OH, 1 BHOH)… 1 BHV was a diving volley
- 1 third volley (1 OH)

- 1 other FHV was a lob

- FHs - 2 cc, 1 dtl, 2 inside-in returns and 1 running-down-drop-shot drop shot at net
- BHs - 1 cc, 2 dtl (1 return) and 1 drop shot

Agassi had 11 returns (8 FH, 3 BH), all passes -
- FHs - 1 cc, 2 dtl, 2 inside-out and 3 inside-in
- BHs - 2 dtl and 1 inside-in

- 23 regular passes (7 FH, 15 BH, 1 BHV)
- FHs - 1 cc, 1 dtl, 2 inside-out and 3 lobs
- BHs - 3 cc, 6 dtl, 2 inside-out, 1 longline/inside-out, 1 cc running-down-drop-shot at net and 2 lobs
- BHV - was driven just like a groundstroke from just inside the baseline and not a net point

- 1 FHV was a swinging shot from behind the service line and has not been counted a net point
- OHs - 1 first volley of a serve-volley point, 1 from the baseline, 1 on the bounce and 1 net-to-net which struck Rafter

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Rafter 59
- 28 Unforced (8 FH, 9 BH, 5 FHV, 6 BHV)
- 31 Forced (14 FH, 4 BH, 4 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 5 BHV, 2 BH1/2V, 1 BHOH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 48.6

Agassi 44
- 22 Unforced (10 FH, 10 BH, 2 FHV)
- 22 Forced (10 FH, 9 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 Tweener)
- 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
Rafter was...
- 97/157 (62%) at net, including...
- 83/129 (64%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 49/77 (64%) off 1st serve and..
- 32/52 (65%) off 2nd serve
--
- 6/15 (40%) return-approaching

Agassi was...
- 17/26 (65%) at net, including...
- 4/5 (80%) serve-volleying, all first serves
--
- 2/4 (50%) forced back/retreated

Match Report
If there has been a better tennis match, I haven't seen it. High quality from both players from start to finish and as even matched as possible. Just look at the most basic stats -

First serves in - Rafter 59.9%, Agassi 59.9%.
First serve points won - Rafter 69%, Agassi 69.2%
Second serve points won - Rafter 59.7%, Agassi 59.0%

And to finish to wrap it all up, a complete contrast of playing styles. Rafter is the classic serve-volleyer with a good but not overwhelming serve and exquisite volleying and Agassi is the powerful baseliner with devastating returns and passing shots.

Rafter deserves the win because he's virtually impregnable on serve (loses 3 points in 5 games - including the last 11, which includes both games after going up a break) in the final set. Agassi mind you loses just 2 points in the 3 service games he holds but a couple of errors - a double fault and an ill executed charge to the net - coupled with good play from Rafter leads to the decisive break

Given the two players being absolutely equal on the whole, I suppose Rafter being better in the decider is another way of saying Agassi edges the rest of the match. Probably fair to say, seeing Rafter served 167 points to Agassi's 152, despite the mammoth game of the match (a 20 pointer) being on Agassi's serve. As far as getting breaks go though, they're still dead even

In one sentence, Rafter's service games are all about Rafter volley vs Agassi pass and Agassi's service games are baseline battles. Rafter does not unduly try to find the net in the latter

In the first set, Rafter oddly stays back on 3 first serves near the start of the match, but always comes in behind second. I would take that as a sign of lack of confidence, but he soon gets over it. Rafter exquisitely BH drop shot returns an Agassi second serve, Agassi gets to the ball even as Rafter takes the net. Agassi has to hit up to get the ball over, but Rafter is there to lob FHV a winner... hard to say whether Rafter's first shot or last was the more beautiful shot. Another shot worth mentioning is a Rafter first volley, BH1/2V winner off a thundering Agassi FH dtl return. Plays it as easily as medium height volley

Its Rafter who's had the harder time holding serve and saved the sole break point, but he breaks to take the set 1 game short of tiebreak. A beautiful BH drop shot wins him a point and he follows up with knifing BH inside-out chip-charge return to the corner that forces a passing winner. Down 15-30, Agassi double faults and makes a hash of BH dtl winner attempt from mid court, hitting it long to give up the set.

Second set starts with a bang. Forced to net, Agassi wins a net-to-net battle as he smacks an OH that hits Rafter on the backside in the first game. In the second game, Rafter breaks sensational. He creeps into net.. moving a step or two forward with each groundstroke til he's at net where he stop BHVs a winner. He adds 3 more after a couple of points - all of them special in their own way. First is a chip-charge return point, the return being strong enough that Agassi has to defensively lob and Rafter smashes that. Next is a BH dtl winner with power, which stands out given Rafter was almost exclusively slicing BHs crosscourt. Finally, a FH inside-in return gives him the break. He seems in charge

Only Agassi breaks back even more sensationally. Strong return elicits weak volley, which Agassi smacks away from the middle of the court. Next returns are even stronger - they go for winners. Rafter does get a good volley in the point after, but Agassi, running and stretching, still manages to lob to for a winner

Many other fine points in the set. Rafter lob volleying Agassi, cozing up the net and volleying away Agassi's retrieval. Agassi somehow managing to make a passing shot off an ankle high ball, and dipping it to force a volleying error from a completely in control Rafter. There's an extended BH-BH rally, Agassi driving, Rafter slicing. There had been 1 earlier which had gone on for about 15 shots that ended with a Rafter error... this one ends more colourfully. Agassi changes to a one handed BH longline slice that stays lower than any of Rafter's had, enough to force a FH error

Rafter gains a couple of break points on the back of 3 Agassi UEs, but they're erased by net play. Good move from Agassi coming in under pressure. And next game, the American breaks with 3 passing winners - the last a return that he has to stretch to barely reach, but he's able to guide it dtl for the winner
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Rafter responds in the 3rd set by beefing up his serve a bit. It had got a lot of stick at the end of the 2nd. The extra power helps, but it continues to get pounded. Rafter saves break points in back to back games with unreturned serves. A ploy he uses on important points is to serve to the body. Some strange things happen on Agassi's service games. He holds game 4 in about a minute with 4 unreturned serves and seems to be completely untroubled on serve. Out of the blue, he's broken to love in an about 90 second game, leaving Rafter serving for the set.

Only Agassi turns out another stunning return game to break back. No fault of Rafters (other than he didn't just serve aces). The first point he loses, he makes two very difficult volleys - the first to a low powerful ball, the second a reflex volley against a full blooded shot - but Agassi pushes the ball BH inside-out for winner. Another BH pass winner and 2 very, very forced forecourt errors later, set is back is back on serve. About a minute later, Agassi's 1 game up

Momentum can't save Agassi though. Again serving to take set into tiebreak, he opens with two double faults. He adds a routine FH UE to go down 2 set points, approaches net to deal with the crisis but Rafter forces the error with a very good running FH cc pass

Agassi breaks to start the 4th, his winning returns and passes interspersed between Rafter's service and volley winners. And then manages to hold a 20 point game, saving 5 break points largely by coming to net. Both players hold therafter, and its a highlights reel set. Agassi hits good drop shot, Rafter chases it down and drop shots a winner with a lovely touch. Rafter stop volleys, Agassi chases it down, Rafter lob volleys him, Agassi tries to retrieve with a tweener but nets it. Gorgeous volleys from Rafter - regular and drop/stops. Two lob winners - 1 of each wing - within a few points by Agassi. A crazy, clay court sharp FH cc angle amidst a routine rally from Agassi that forces an error. Agassi drop shots Rafter in, then lobs him, Rafter retrieves with an over-the-shoulder-back-to-net shot, Agassi drop shots again to end the point.

The gist though is that 20 point game aside, Agassi is more a threat to break than Rafter - and the momentum is on his side going into the decider.

No let up to start the 5th. There are 5 winners in the opening game (the 6th point is a service winner). Rafter serves particularly well, but still has to back it up with unwavering volleys. Agassi drive BHVs a winner from the baseline and next point, Rafter has to make a full dive to make a 2nd volley winner... the action never stops

Like the break in the first set, the critical break game comes out of both players. Agassi runs in to hit a swinging FHV to a chip return by Rafter - and goes long. Its the first time he's tried the shot all match, though I believe he played it regularly in the tournament. Its not a foolish shot (as commentators seem to imply), the ball was there for it - the execution was just off. Unfazed, Agassi lobs a chip charging Rafter next point for a winner. The next point is the most critical one - and its all down to Rafter. From the baseline, Agassi had dictated all match primarily with BH cc's, with Rafter mostly slicing but occasionally doing damage with BH dtl. Agassi initiates the play again, the rally matures.... and Rafter ends it with a powerful, sharp angled BH cc winner. 1 double fault later, he has 2 break points. He only needs one, but that too is a quality point. Rafter approaches BH inside-out off the first short ball he gets and Agassi's FH dtl pass attempt just hits the top of the tape, with Rafter nowhere near the ball

Rafter has no problems holding serve twice more - he does so to love both times, with 6 unreturned serves (including 3 aces and a service winner) - to seal the match

Serve & Return
Rafter serves well all match and mixes them up cleverly - a good ploy given he doesn't have the kind of serve that can just blow past Agassi. Some hard second serves (he has 2 second serve aces and 1 service winner), some soft first serves, sometimes going for lines, sometimes not. He likes the body serve when in a hole. 18 aces and 32% unreturned serves... given the quality of his serve in general and the opposition, he got as much out of the serve as possible

Agassi returns a lot better than Rafter serves though. Even by his standards, the returning is very high quality - powerful and precise. There's the small matter of 11 winners (including at least 1 of all 4 kinds of FH returns) but more than that, he gives Rafter a real handful on the first volley. That it doesn't lead to many Rafter errors is down to the Aussie's volleying

Agassi serves reasonably well too. In minor bits of trouble (e.g. 0-15, 15-30), he tends to win points with his bigger serves. But he errs on the side of safety (which he does in play too) by targeting distributing serve 35/63 to Rafter's FH/BH

I saw nothing to suggest Rafter's FH return was particularly better than the BH. Stats are somewhat supporting this too (FEs - 8 FH, 11 BH), though on the UE side of things, Agassi's strategy seems to have worked (UEs - 2 FH, 9 BH)

Serving too much to one side allows the returner to get into a groove and unless one side is obviously stronger than the other, its usually best to mix it up more
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Rafter volleying vs Agassi returns/passes
This is the highlight of the match... both parts are outrageously good

Statistically - note Rafter with 20 FHV winners to 10 errors (forced, unforced and with 1/2volleys thrown in). On the BHV and 1/2volley, its 13 winners to 13 total errors. Great figures, but they don't tell the whole tale

The best stat to indicate quality of volleying in my view is to count the number of difficult volleys made (i.e. volleys that would have been marked forced error had they been missed). I haven't tracked this stat (it would be time consuming) but estimate that it would be very high for Rafter in this match.... the number of difficult volleys he makes - many of them with authority and some for winners even - is astounding. Low volleys, powerfully hit passes, wide volleys or some combo of the 3.... Rafter at the net is a wall, as a well as a shotgun

Lets play with the numbers. He won 97 net points, of which 30 are return errors, leaving 67.... so he has hit clean winners 41/67 points won. I haven't studied this, but I'm sure this is an abnormally high number (usually, the bulk of net points won are via passing errors). The only time your likely to see a number like this is when the volleys are mostly easy putaways, but here, they are not. Lots and lots of difficult volleys (made to look easy) and of course, the easy ones are putaway with complete certainty. To watch Rafter half-volley, you'd think it was a medium high volley... hits it as natural as that

An alternative way of looking at it is through Agassi's small 19 groundstroke FEs (most, but not all of which would be passing shots)? Usually, losing 67 points at net would entail at least double that number. It doesn't because Rafter's volleys don't come back

Rafter also has 11 volleying UEs. Only 1 was a very easy putaway volley. That could be improved on

And its not just the numbers, its the style and variety. The regular volleys are swished away flat and deep and there are many, many touch volleys of both easy and hard types. The same ball he volleys deep next point he might stop volley... and both are likely to be winners. A++ for Rafter in the forecourt

Note Rafter doing just as well serve-volleying of either serve - 64% first serves won, 65% second serves. The magic is in the volley, not the serve

So why is he 'only' winning 62% of net points? Because he's up against an A+ returning and passing demo. Agassi is on point with his passes and returns, of both sides. Its a typical grass court and he has to dig some balls from below knee height, but still somehow manages to get power on them, or that failing, dip them just so. Also lobs exceptionally well with 5 winners. His is the kind of showing that would have completely wrecked even good volleyers. 'Just' an A+... but he's up against an A++

In a nutshell, Rafter's best volleys leave Agassi helpless, Agassi's best passes leave Rafter helpless and neither ever falls far short of their best unless strongly forced... Just an all round fantastic battle

Starting on the baseline
Agassi's service games by contrast are baseline affairs. Rafter doesn't look to come in particularly during these exchanges (or chip-charge return too much), neither does Agassi

Rafter's groundstrokes don't look particularly strong, while Agassi's are as you'd expect. Agassi looks to mostly keep things BH-BH and he typically hits BH cc's with an eye to breaking down Rafter's vulnerable looking BH. Rafter mostly slices cc in reply

Agassi bosses these plays, but Rafter does a good job holding on. Sometimes Agassi makes routine error or misses going for a bit too much. Non-pass ground stroke UEs are all but the same (Rafter 17, Agassi 19), indicating that Rafter did a very good job holding steady. Of course, Agassi forces far more errors and hits winners too to give him a large overall lead though

Rafter's surprise weapon is BH dtl drive. He comes up with a few meaty ones amidst cc slicing that turn the tables on Andre. And the very timely, stunning BH cc winner (only 1 of the match) to level 30-30 in the game where he breaks in the 5th set - but that's a 1 off

Perhaps Agassi is more passive than was optimal. Its his modus operandi at the time, high percentage play and clearly, he's doing well enough to not have any alarm bells go of. But Rafter's FH is just as vulnerable looking as the BH... and had Agassi chosen to lead with his own FH, could possibly have won more off the baseline.

There would be risk to such a ploy as Rafter would likely swing for the fences off the FH... a couple of those go in every few games, that's probably a break. FH-FH would be more dynamic - Agassi likely thrashing Rafter more, but Rafter sneaking aggressively successful points too. Agassi prefers more smothering BH-BH stuff, it works well enough

One area where Agassi does err is in not coming to net more. He's at least neutral and for the majority, in charge of baseline rallies.... pushing Rafter back or moving him around. There are plenty of chances to come in off short balls (leaving aside manufacturing an approach, which just isn't Agassi's game) which he lets slip. Fair few Rafter slice floaters too that could have been dealt with from the net. Doing that would have changed the status quo of the baseline rallies, which were in Agassi's favour. Maybe it would have given made it even more his advantage or maybe Rafter would have risen to the occasion. As things stand, we don't see enough of Rafter on the pass to judge how capable he was of dealing with a more net-eager Agassi

Rafter's strategy from the baseline is to hang in there and hope Agassi makes UEs. He hangs tough, despite being out of his weight class baseline-to-baseline and does well (note again, Rafter with 1 fewer groundstroke UE). He could have tried manufacturing approaches more... its what most net-players would try when so far behind from the baseline, but given he's supposed to lose return games anyway, I thought he was judicious in his caution. Leaving aside that manufacturing approaches against Agassi's heavy hitting would not have been easy (probably a bunch of approach shot errors), dealing with his passes from stable positions wouldn't be much fun either

Summing up, as good a tennis match as you'll see - highest level volleying vs highest level passing (with good, but not the highest level serving that kills off everything else on grass), supplemented by good heavy baseliner vs hanging in their baseliner stuff. Rafter the deserved winner, having fewer lapses at in his net game than Agassi does baselining
 

ibbi

Legend
Definitely one of the greatest matches I've ever seen. The other two parts of their Wimbledon trilogy really are not all that close. Though I did love their Australian Open semi in 2001 when Rafter fought on under the lights in spite of crippling cramp. If this Wimbledon duel was their classiest match, that Melbourne one was the most dramatic. Hell of a rivalry they had for a few years there.
 

BringBackWood

Professional
Definitely one of the greatest matches I've ever seen. The other two parts of their Wimbledon trilogy really are not all that close. Though I did love their Australian Open semi in 2001 when Rafter fought on under the lights in spite of crippling cramp. If this Wimbledon duel was their classiest match, that Melbourne one was the most dramatic. Hell of a rivalry they had for a few years there.
Totally agree, their match a year later doesn't hold a candle to this one in terms of quality, and to be fair that's largely down to Rafter. Agassi has every advantage: the type of serve he loves with a guy presenting a target, and on a slower than normal centre court. If agassi can kept & refined his greater net rushing tendencies of his early years he would have won matches like this one. The most recognisable feature of this match (which is saying something for a HQ match) was an agassi UE after a baseline rally where Rafter just kept slow balling him. Very smart and atheletic of Pat, but vulnerable to even a passable volleyer with a willingness to come forward.
 

BorgTheGOAT

Professional
Rafter volleying vs Agassi returns/passes
This is the highlight of the match... both parts are outrageously good

Statistically - note Rafter with 20 FHV winners to 10 errors (forced, unforced and with 1/2volleys thrown in). On the BHV and 1/2volley, its 13 winners to 13 total errors. Great figures, but they don't tell the whole tale

The best stat to indicate quality of volleying in my view is to count the number of difficult volleys made (i.e. volleys that would have been marked forced error had they been missed). I haven't tracked this stat (it would be time consuming) but estimate that it would be very high for Rafter in this match.... the number of difficult volleys he makes - many of them with authority and some for winners even - is astounding. Low volleys, powerfully hit passes, wide volleys or some combo of the 3.... Rafter at the net is a wall, as a well as a shotgun

Lets play with the numbers. He won 97 net points, of which 30 are return errors, leaving 67.... so he has hit clean winners 41/67 points won. I haven't studied this, but I'm sure this is an abnormally high number (usually, the bulk of net points won are via passing errors). The only time your likely to see a number like this is when the volleys are mostly easy putaways, but here, they are not. Lots and lots of difficult volleys (made to look easy) and of course, the easy ones are putaway with complete certainty. To watch Rafter half-volley, you'd think it was a medium high volley... hits it as natural as that

An alternative way of looking at it is through Agassi's small 19 groundstroke FEs (most, but not all of which would be passing shots)? Usually, losing 67 points at net would entail at least double that number. It doesn't because Rafter's volleys don't come back

Rafter also has 11 volleying UEs. Only 1 was a very easy putaway volley. That could be improved on

And its not just the numbers, its the style and variety. The regular volleys are swished away flat and deep and there are many, many touch volleys of both easy and hard types. The same ball he volleys deep next point he might stop volley... and both are likely to be winners. A++ for Rafter in the forecourt

Note Rafter doing just as well serve-volleying of either serve - 64% first serves won, 65% second serves. The magic is in the volley, not the serve

So why is he 'only' winning 62% of net points? Because he's up against an A+ returning and passing demo. Agassi is on point with his passes and returns, of both sides. Its a typical grass court and he has to dig some balls from below knee height, but still somehow manages to get power on them, or that failing, dip them just so. Also lobs exceptionally well with 5 winners. His is the kind of showing that would have completely wrecked even good volleyers. 'Just' an A+... but he's up against an A++

In a nutshell, Rafter's best volleys leave Agassi helpless, Agassi's best passes leave Rafter helpless and neither ever falls far short of their best unless strongly forced... Just an all round fantastic battle

Starting on the baseline
Agassi's service games by contrast are baseline affairs. Rafter doesn't look to come in particularly during these exchanges (or chip-charge return too much), neither does Agassi

Rafter's groundstrokes don't look particularly strong, while Agassi's are as you'd expect. Agassi looks to mostly keep things BH-BH and he typically hits BH cc's with an eye to breaking down Rafter's vulnerable looking BH. Rafter mostly slices cc in reply

Agassi bosses these plays, but Rafter does a good job holding on. Sometimes Agassi makes routine error or misses going for a bit too much. Non-pass ground stroke UEs are all but the same (Rafter 17, Agassi 19), indicating that Rafter did a very good job holding steady. Of course, Agassi forces far more errors and hits winners too to give him a large overall lead though

Rafter's surprise weapon is BH dtl drive. He comes up with a few meaty ones amidst cc slicing that turn the tables on Andre. And the very timely, stunning BH cc winner (only 1 of the match) to level 30-30 in the game where he breaks in the 5th set - but that's a 1 off

Perhaps Agassi is more passive than was optimal. Its his modus operandi at the time, high percentage play and clearly, he's doing well enough to not have any alarm bells go of. But Rafter's FH is just as vulnerable looking as the BH... and had Agassi chosen to lead with his own FH, could possibly have won more off the baseline.

There would be risk to such a ploy as Rafter would likely swing for the fences off the FH... a couple of those go in every few games, that's probably a break. FH-FH would be more dynamic - Agassi likely thrashing Rafter more, but Rafter sneaking aggressively successful points too. Agassi prefers more smothering BH-BH stuff, it works well enough

One area where Agassi does err is in not coming to net more. He's at least neutral and for the majority, in charge of baseline rallies.... pushing Rafter back or moving him around. There are plenty of chances to come in off short balls (leaving aside manufacturing an approach, which just isn't Agassi's game) which he lets slip. Fair few Rafter slice floaters too that could have been dealt with from the net. Doing that would have changed the status quo of the baseline rallies, which were in Agassi's favour. Maybe it would have given made it even more his advantage or maybe Rafter would have risen to the occasion. As things stand, we don't see enough of Rafter on the pass to judge how capable he was of dealing with a more net-eager Agassi

Rafter's strategy from the baseline is to hang in there and hope Agassi makes UEs. He hangs tough, despite being out of his weight class baseline-to-baseline and does well (note again, Rafter with 1 fewer groundstroke UE). He could have tried manufacturing approaches more... its what most net-players would try when so far behind from the baseline, but given he's supposed to lose return games anyway, I thought he was judicious in his caution. Leaving aside that manufacturing approaches against Agassi's heavy hitting would not have been easy (probably a bunch of approach shot errors), dealing with his passes from stable positions wouldn't be much fun either

Summing up, as good a tennis match as you'll see - highest level volleying vs highest level passing (with good, but not the highest level serving that kills off everything else on grass), supplemented by good heavy baseliner vs hanging in their baseliner stuff. Rafter the deserved winner, having fewer lapses at in his net game than Agassi does baselining
Thanks for the stats. Agree with everything you say one of the greatest match I ever watched. It was this match that convinced me that rafters volleys were every bit as good as Macs or Edbergs and that he was one of the greatest volleyer in history. His two backhand half volleys after deadly Agassi returns, his touch volleys, backhand overhead, he truely showed to whole package here.
 

BorgTheGOAT

Professional
Rafter serves well all match and mixes them up cleverly - a good ploy given he doesn't have the kind of serve that can just blow past Agassi. Some hard second serves (he has 2 second serve aces and 1 service winner), some soft first serves, sometimes going for lines, sometimes not. He likes the body serve when in a hole. 18 aces and 32% unreturned serves... given the quality of his serve in general and the opposition, he got as much out of the serve as possible
Slightly disagree about the “given the quality of the opposition” part. Rafter usually showed his best serving stats against Agassi. 18 aces in this match, 30 aces in their 2001 Wimbledon match, 22 in their AO encounter the same year - I think those are close to career highs for him and again shows the tendency of Agassi to get aced he hell lot of times.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Pat Rafter beat Andre Agassi 2-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 8-6 in Wimbledon semi-final, 2001 on grass

Rafter would go onto lose the final to Goran Ivanisevic

Rafter won 148 points, Agassi 145

Rafter serve-volleyed off all first serves and all but 6 seconds

Serve Stats
Rafter...
- 1st serve percentage (98/161) 61%
- 1st serve points won (72/98) 73%
- 2nd serve points won (29/63) 46%
- Aces 30 (3 second serves), Service Winners 5
- Double Faults 9
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (67/161) 42%

Agassi...
- 1st serve percentage (85/132) 64%
- 1st serve points won (55/85) 65%
- 2nd serve points won (32/47) 68%
- Aces 7 (1 second serve, 1 not clean), Service Winners 3 (1 second serve)
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (35/132) 27%

Serve Patterns
Rafter served...
- to FH 41%
- to BH 56%
- to Body 3%

Agassi served...
- to FH 40%
- to BH 58%
- to Body 2%

Return Stats
Rafter made...
- 96 (40 FH, 56 BH), including 1 runaround FH, 15 return-approaches & 2 drop shots
- 6 Winners (3 FH, 3 BH), including 1 drop shot
- 25 Errors, comprising...
- 8 Unforced (1 FH, 7 BH), including 1 runaround FH & 3 return-approach attempts
- 17 Forced (10 FH, 7 BH)
- Return Rate (96/131) 73%

Agassi made...
- 85 (32 FH, 53 BH)
- 9 Winners (6 FH, 3 BH)
- 32 Errors, all forced...
- 32 Forced (14 FH, 18 BH)
- Return Rate (85/152) 56%

Break Points
Rafter 5/9 (5 games)
Agassi 4/15 (8 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Rafter 37 (6 FH, 7 BH, 9 FHV, 12 BHV, 2 OH, 1 BHOH)
Agassi 48 (23 FH, 20 BH, 2 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 OH)

Rafter had 22 from serve-volley points -
- 14 first 'volleys' (5 FHV, 8 BHV, 1 FH at net)… including 2 drop/stop BHVs
- 8 second volleys (3 FHV, 2 BHV, 2 OH, 1 BHOH)…. including 2 drop/stop FHVs

- 1 other BHV was a drop

- 6 returns (3 FH, 3 BH)
- FHs - 2 cc and 1 inside-out drop
- BHs - 2 dtl (1 pass) and 1 inside-out

- FHs - 1 cc and 1 inside in
- BHs - 2 cc (1 pass, 1 played with Agassi having slipped to the ground), 1 drop shot and 1 running-down-drop shot at net

Agassi had 9 returns (6 FH, 3 BH), all passes
- FHs - 2 cc, 1 dtl and 3 inside-in
- BHs - 2 cc and 1 dtl

- 23 passes (10 FH, 12 BH, 1 BHV)
- FHs - 4 cc, 4 dtl, 1 longline and 1 dtl running-down-drop-shot at net
- BHs - 5 cc, 3 dtl, 1 dtl at net, 1 inside-out, 1 longline/inside-out and 1 lob
- BHV - was a drive from just inside the baseline and not a net point

- 2 first volleys from serve-volley points (1 FHV, 1 BHV)

- 1 other FHV was a swinging shot hit from well behind the service line and has not been counted a net point

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Rafter 53
- 29 Unforced (7 FH, 12 BH, 4 FHV, 5 BHV, 1 BHOH)
- 24 Forced (5 FH, 5 BH, 2 FHV, 3 FH1/2V, 6 BHV, 1 BH1/2V, 1 OH, 1 BHOH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 49.3

Agassi 43
- 20 Unforced (6 FH, 13 BH, 1 BHOH)
- 23 Forced (12 FH, 9 BH, 1 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 50.5

(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
Rafter was...
- 81/143 (57%) at net, including...
- 66/111 (59%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 42/66 (64%) off 1st serve and..
- 24/45 (53%) off 2nd serve
--
- 4/15 (27%) return-approaching
- 0/2 forced back/retreated

Agassi was...
- 13/19 (68%) at net, including...
- 3/5 (60%) serve-volleying, all first serves
--
- 1/1 forced back/retreated

Match Report
A slight drop in Agassi's level and about the same rise in Rafter's at the 11th hour decides a match that Agassi had been much the better player in. The conditions appear to be significantly slower than the previous year. Balls are typically hit hip/stomach high as opposed to knee/thigh height last year. Rafter's kick serve is rising to Agassi's shoulder at least and sometimes, higher. Rafter doesn't slice much - might be he was more confident in his groundies this year, but possibly because the slices aren't staying as low. Players aren't rushed to skidding balls in playing their groundstrokes like last year

Nothing close between the two players like it had been the previous year. See Agassi winning 68% second serve points to Rafter's 46%, while on first serve, Rafter leads 73% to 65% (Note also Agassi wining more second serve points than first - both a sign of his superiority in play and his not utilizing the power of the potential of his first serve)

The key for Rafter is the serve - 42% unreturned (Agassi had just 27%), 30 aces and 5 service winners. With Agassi dominating rallies - he's +11 on winners and +10 on errors for a lead of 20 points - the stats make the match look like a serve bot vs skilled player with small serve affair

That it was not. So why such figures for Rafter on serve?

Serve & Return
Rafter serves well and cleverly. Agassi returns well, but probably not well enough

Rafter isn't a 30 aces kind of server. Commentators note when he's served about 25 that that's half as many as he'd served in the tournament coming into the match. I'd bet he wasn't serving in the rest of tournament the way he did here because all those aces are kissing lines; they'd be aces against anyone and most of them, on any surface. In other words, he's adjusted his serving to account for Agassi's ability to swat anything within reach - easy thought to have, not so easy to execute

That's not all he does though. Most of his first serves aren't line kissers but rather, body-ish serves. The risk of this is obvious (and he pays the price for it... Agassi does the kind of damage you'd expect), but it serves to keep Agassi off-guard against the line kissers

Against a huge server like Philippousis, Krajicek, Ivanisevic etc., a returner would likely turn to guessing which way the first serve would go, there's no way to return even half-regularly otherwise. Rafter's pace though, lends itself to returning orthodoxly. If he'd aimed for lines every serve, not only would his first serve percentage dropped (as it is, its a very good 61%), it'd probably result in Agassi guessing. The way Rafter plays it though, Agassi remains stationary as the serve comes down and the ones that hit the lines go for aces. A good weapon to have up one's sleeve

Credit also to Rafter for Agassi apparently not being able to read his serve, another strength of the American's returning. Good, smart serving from Patrick Rafter

I'll skim over Agassi's returning. Its damaging as you'd expect with 9 winners and a host of other powerful shots. Its inevitable to miss makeable returns against a serve-volleyer, but I think Agassi misses too many. Certainly Rafter served well, but not 42% unreturned serves well... a little black mark against Agassi's returning then

Agassi serves very ordinarily. There's nothing about his serve that looks dangerous or even hard to neutralize. Rafter returns fairly poorly - on top of the 8 unforced errors, he misses makeable returns and returns makeable balls very passively (e.g. blocking back FHs). Agassi usually misses his attempted bigger first serves - the complete opposite of Rafter

Ivan Lendl once said its not how many aces you serve but when you serve them. Same is true for Rafter's chip-charging here. He'd won 1/10 such points as Agassi stepped up to serve for the match.... but is 3/5 from thereon, winning crucial poinst on both games he breaks in

Baseline
Baseline action is relatively passive. Agassi doesn't gain a big advantage with his serve and points tend to start more or less neutrally. Agassi doesn't look to put Rafter to the sword but prolongs points. He commands without attacking.... hitting a heavier ball and sometimes moving Rafter around, but not going for winners or overtly aiming to force errors

Commentators think this might be long-term strategy to wear Rafter, who supposedly had a fitness problem, down (in their Australian Open 5 setter earlier in the year, Rafter apparently started cramping mid-way through the match and only then did Agassi gain the ascendency). I suppose it works in that Rafter is clearly the more tired in 5th set

Rafter doesn't slice much but hits with topsin. Agassi prefers keeping play BH-BH.... its a safer option because Rafter tends to look for attacking FHs that could lead to anything. BH-BH by contrast, leaves Agassi in control. Rafter is more skilled at finding a way to net than previous year, but doesn't actively seek the forecourt

Volley vs Pass
Good battle here, though its not a patch on the previous year (few battles in history are). Agassi getting the better of matters, with Rafter missing a few easy volleys and not making difficult ones in the way he did last year. Agassi's passing is closer to the 2000 match than Rafter's volleying is, but that's down a notch too

Lot less lobbing from Agassi and touch volleying from Rafter too
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
First set, Agassi mashes Rafter, winning all but 2 service points and making just 1 UE

Second set, couple of net approaches and a couple of Agassi UEs give Rafter the early break. He doesn't have it easy holding on to it and needs good serves to keep his nose in front.

Agassi takes the third with 1 break - and regularly threatens to break again.

While Rafter feeling tired is more obvious, Agassi's feeling the strain to by the 4th. Lets a in-reach serve go through for an ace and declines to try running down a drop shot. He hasn't happy with 2 line calls in the first game he's broken and wants the linesman removed. The umpire shifts him instead. 1 of the calls was correct (ball on the line, Agassi thought it was out) and the other probabaly so as well. What might have annoyed Agassi about the linesman is he was wearing sunglasses.... why would someone whose job centers on making fine visual calls cozy up in shades? Agassi plays a very loose game to be broken a second time and yield the set

Agassi breaks to start the 5th and is flagrantly the better player for most of the set. He holds comfortably while Rafter is in trouble every service game (has to save 5 break points over 2 games). The most telling of these is a one where a strong Agassi returns elicits a defensive volley, leaving him time to line up the passing shot, which he proceeds to belt from inside the court. Rafter guesses/anticipates right and manages to reflex volley a winner. The other break points are saved via unreturned serves - some more makeable than others

So when Agassi steps up to serve for the match, it would have seemed unlikely that this would be anything but the end

Instead, Rafter breaks with authority, taking the net 5/6 times. This is when chip-charge returning suddenly starts working for him, but he also overpowers Agassi from the baseline to approach and putaway a FHV winner on break point

Couple of games later, Rafter is cruising at 40-0 when Agassi lets loose with a bunch of big returns that go for winners or force volley or half -volley errors to give him a break point. Riskily, Rafter goes with a slow first serve and nicely BHV stop volleys the third ball for a winner

Agassi goes down 0-40 next game on the back of missing a simple mid court BH dtl and a routine BH from the baseline. Saving 2 match points, he decides to come to net for the third, only for Rafter to pass him BH cc for the winner

Summing up, Rafter serving well and cleverly to stay within touching distance of Agassi, who otherwise dominates him thoroughly, for most of the match. When it counts most though, its Rafter who's able to play his best, and with Agassi faltering slightly, its enough to get the win
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Couple of interesting stuff that came up in commentary in the two matches

- John McEnroe talks about drop shot returns and how in his day, it was considered an insult to the server. Still is, isn't it?

- Also, says swinging volleys were considered improper (can't remember the exact word he used). Impression I got was it would be like serving underarm or hitting a pass at the body of a guy at net. Says he did it in doubles, but not in singles

- reminisces about his first US Open. Orantes apparently kept dropping shotting him to net and then lobbing him.... says he must've done it 30 times. Anyone remember this match - 1977 on green clay?
(if McEnroe says 30, my guess would be 10-15 in reality)

- Mac's co-commentator brings up Mac having faced Agassi back in 1986, Agassi's debut year when he was 16. Asks Mac if he remembers, Mac doesn't seem to. According to co-commentator, Mac came off the court in 1986 saying he'd just come across the best FH he'd faced (strangely, the co-commentator saying this gives it more credibility to me than if Mac had)

- Funny story as Mac remembers Tony Roche. Says he met Roche at his first Queens Club tournament and thought there was no way he could lose to this old man. He did (Roche would have been 33, Mac 19)

- Rafter expresses his emotion on missing balls a couple of times with an unusual sound.... hard to describe, sounds like the mad cackle of a Disney cartoon villainous. Not sure how often he did this... commentator reactions to the first time suggests they weren't familiar with it, but he does it once in 2001 too. Gets a laugh from the crowd

- statistical sidebar - the 8 point ending shots I track are FH, BH, FHV, BHV, OH (common) and FH1/2V, BH1/2V and BHOH (less common)

I think the 2001 match is the first I've come across when a player goes through the entire lot in any one basic category (winners, unforced errors, forced errors)... Rafter having FEs in all the shots.

Would be keen to find a match with winners of all the types. Rafter is a FH1/2V short in the 2000 match... and as he'd checked off BH1/2V and BHOH by the first set, was hopeful he'd manage it, but no luck

Very, very unlikely to find a match with all 8 UEs.... 1/2volleys don't lend themselves to being unforced
 
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Mac hit swinging volleys all the time in singles, weird he would say otherwise. Just watched him get the decisive break vs Cash in the 84 W SF with a swinging volley passing shot.
 

BringBackWood

Professional
Mac hit swinging volleys all the time in singles, weird he would say otherwise. Just watched him get the decisive break vs Cash in the 84 W SF with a swinging volley passing shot.
I guess that's the key - he wouldn't use it when a conventional volley was sufficient. He did the same in saving a match point in 80 W F.
 

krosero

Legend
Match Report
A slight drop in Agassi's level and about the same rise in Rafter's at the 11th hour decides a match that Agassi had been much the better player in. The conditions appear to be significantly slower than the previous year. Balls are typically hit hip/stomach high as opposed to knee/thigh height last year. Rafter's kick serve is rising to Agassi's shoulder at least and sometimes, higher. Rafter doesn't slice much - might be he was more confident in his groundies this year, but possibly because the slices aren't staying as low. Players aren't rushed to skidding balls in playing their groundstrokes like last year

Nothing close between the two players like it had been the previous year. See Agassi winning 68% second serve points to Rafter's 46%, while on first serve, Rafter leads 73% to 65% (Note also Agassi wining more second serve points than first - both a sign of his superiority in play and his not utilizing the power of the potential of his first serve)

The key for Rafter is the serve - 42% unreturned (Agassi had just 27%), 30 aces and 5 service winners. With Agassi dominating rallies - he's +11 on winners and +10 on errors for a lead of 20 points - the stats make the match look like a serve bot vs skilled player with small serve affair

That it was not. So why such figures for Rafter on serve?

Serve & Return
Rafter serves well and cleverly. Agassi returns well, but probably not well enough

Rafter isn't a 30 aces kind of server. Commentators note when he's served about 25 that that's half as many as he'd served in the tournament coming into the match. I'd bet he wasn't serving in the rest of tournament the way he did here because all those aces are kissing lines; they'd be aces against anyone and most of them, on any surface. In other words, he's adjusted his serving to account for Agassi's ability to swat anything within reach - easy thought to have, not so easy to execute

That's not all he does though. Most of his first serves aren't line kissers but rather, body-ish serves. The risk of this is obvious (and he pays the price for it... Agassi does the kind of damage you'd expect), but it serves to keep Agassi off-guard against the line kissers

Against a huge server like Philippousis, Krajicek, Ivanisevic etc., a returner would likely turn to guessing which way the first serve would go, there's no way to return even half-regularly otherwise. Rafter's pace though, lends itself to returning orthodoxly. If he'd aimed for lines every serve, not only would his first serve percentage dropped (as it is, its a very good 61%), it'd probably result in Agassi guessing. The way Rafter plays it though, Agassi remains stationary as the serve comes down and the ones that hit the lines go for aces. A good weapon to have up one's sleeve

Credit also to Rafter for Agassi apparently not being able to read his serve, another strength of the American's returning. Good, smart serving from Patrick Rafter
Really nice write-ups on both matches, and very interesting analysis of Rafter's high ace count in '01. Also interesting that the conditions in '01 struck you as clearly different than '00, and slower. That's not a surprise, but it's good to know from someone who saw these matches back-to-back (I saw them years apart, too far apart to go on my memories).

Do you have the fifth-set service percentages?

(And 1st serves made on break points would be great too -- if you have them already.)

Commentators didn't give the final service percentages but they did say in '00 that Rafter dropped only 3 services points, in his 5 service games in the fifth set.
 
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Pat Rafter beat Andre Agassi 7-5, 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in Wimbledon semi-final, 2000 on grass

Rafter would go onto lose the final to Pete Sampras. The players had met at the same stage the previous year (Agassi win) and would do so again the following year (Rafter win)

Rafter won 162 points, Agassi 157

Rafter serve-volleyed off all but 3 first serves and all but 5 seconds

Serve Stats
Rafter...
- 1st serve percentage (100/167) 60%
- 1st serve points won (69/100) 69%
- 2nd serve points won (40/67) 60%
- Aces 18 (2 second serves & 1 not clean), Service Winners 5 (1 second serve)
- Double Faults 7
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (54/167) 32%

Agassi...
- 1st serve percentage (91/152) 60%
- 1st serve points won (63/91) 69%
- 2nd serve points won (36/61) 59%
- Aces 7 (1 second serve), Service Winners 4 (1 second serve)
- Double Faults 8
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (39/152) 26%

Serve Patterns
Rafter served...
- to FH 39%
- to BH 55%
- to Body 6%

Agassi served...
- to FH 35%
- to BH 63%
- to Body 2%

Return Stats
Rafter made...
- 105 (38 FH, 67 BH), including 1 runaround FH, 15 return-approaches & 2 drop shots
- 3 Winners (2 FH, 1 BH)
- 28 Errors, comprising...
- 9 Unforced (2 FH, 7 BH), including 1 return-approach attempt
- 19 Forced (8 FH, 11 BH)
- Return Rate (105/144) 73%

Agassi made...
- 106 (40 FH, 66 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 11 Winners (8 FH, 3 BH)
- 31 Errors, comprising...
- 1 Unforced (1 BH)
- 30 Forced (12 FH, 18 BH)
- Return Rate (106/160) 66%

Break Points
Rafter 5/12 (7 games)
Agassi 4/9 (7 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Rafter 56 (9 FH, 5 BH, 20 FHV, 11 BHV, 2 BH1/2V, 8 OH, 1 BHOH)
Agassi 52 (24 FH, 21 BH, 2 FHV, 1 BHV, 4 OH)

Rafter had 41 from serve-volley points -
- 25 first 'volleys' (12 FHV, 7 BHV, 2 BH1/2V, 3 FH at net, 1 BH at net)... the BH at net being a drop shot
- 15 second volleys (6 FHV, 2 BHV, 6 OH, 1 BHOH)… 1 BHV was a diving volley
- 1 third volley (1 OH)

- 1 other FHV was a lob

- FHs - 2 cc, 1 dtl, 2 inside-in returns and 1 running-down-drop-shot drop shot at net
- BHs - 1 cc, 2 dtl (1 return) and 1 drop shot

Agassi had 11 returns (8 FH, 3 BH), all passes -
- FHs - 1 cc, 2 dtl, 2 inside-out and 3 inside-in
- BHs - 2 dtl and 1 inside-in

- 23 regular passes (7 FH, 15 BH, 1 BHV)
- FHs - 1 cc, 1 dtl, 2 inside-out and 3 lobs
- BHs - 3 cc, 6 dtl, 2 inside-out, 1 longline/inside-out, 1 cc running-down-drop-shot at net and 2 lobs
- BHV - was driven just like a groundstroke from just inside the baseline and not a net point

- 1 FHV was a swinging shot from behind the service line and has not been counted a net point
- OHs - 1 first volley of a serve-volley point, 1 from the baseline, 1 on the bounce and 1 net-to-net which struck Rafter

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Rafter 59
- 28 Unforced (8 FH, 9 BH, 5 FHV, 6 BHV)
- 31 Forced (14 FH, 4 BH, 4 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 5 BHV, 2 BH1/2V, 1 BHOH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 48.6

Agassi 44
- 22 Unforced (10 FH, 10 BH, 2 FHV)
- 22 Forced (10 FH, 9 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 Tweener)
- 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
Rafter was...
- 97/157 (62%) at net, including...
- 83/129 (64%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 49/77 (64%) off 1st serve and..
- 32/52 (65%) off 2nd serve
--
- 6/15 (40%) return-approaching

Agassi was...
- 17/26 (65%) at net, including...
- 4/5 (80%) serve-volleying, all first serves
--
- 2/4 (50%) forced back/retreated

Match Report
If there has been a better tennis match, I haven't seen it. High quality from both players from start to finish and as even matched as possible. Just look at the most basic stats -

First serves in - Rafter 59.9%, Agassi 59.9%.
First serve points won - Rafter 69%, Agassi 69.2%
Second serve points won - Rafter 59.7%, Agassi 59.0%

And to finish to wrap it all up, a complete contrast of playing styles. Rafter is the classic serve-volleyer with a good but not overwhelming serve and exquisite volleying and Agassi is the powerful baseliner with devastating returns and passing shots.

Rafter deserves the win because he's virtually impregnable on serve (loses 3 points in 5 games - including the last 11, which includes both games after going up a break) in the final set. Agassi mind you loses just 2 points in the 3 service games he holds but a couple of errors - a double fault and an ill executed charge to the net - coupled with good play from Rafter leads to the decisive break

Given the two players being absolutely equal on the whole, I suppose Rafter being better in the decider is another way of saying Agassi edges the rest of the match. Probably fair to say, seeing Rafter served 167 points to Agassi's 152, despite the mammoth game of the match (a 20 pointer) being on Agassi's serve. As far as getting breaks go though, they're still dead even

In one sentence, Rafter's service games are all about Rafter volley vs Agassi pass and Agassi's service games are baseline battles. Rafter does not unduly try to find the net in the latter

In the first set, Rafter oddly stays back on 3 first serves near the start of the match, but always comes in behind second. I would take that as a sign of lack of confidence, but he soon gets over it. Rafter exquisitely BH drop shot returns an Agassi second serve, Agassi gets to the ball even as Rafter takes the net. Agassi has to hit up to get the ball over, but Rafter is there to lob FHV a winner... hard to say whether Rafter's first shot or last was the more beautiful shot. Another shot worth mentioning is a Rafter first volley, BH1/2V winner off a thundering Agassi FH dtl return. Plays it as easily as medium height volley

Its Rafter who's had the harder time holding serve and saved the sole break point, but he breaks to take the set 1 game short of tiebreak. A beautiful BH drop shot wins him a point and he follows up with knifing BH inside-out chip-charge return to the corner that forces a passing winner. Down 15-30, Agassi double faults and makes a hash of BH dtl winner attempt from mid court, hitting it long to give up the set.

Second set starts with a bang. Forced to net, Agassi wins a net-to-net battle as he smacks an OH that hits Rafter on the backside in the first game. In the second game, Rafter breaks sensational. He creeps into net.. moving a step or two forward with each groundstroke til he's at net where he stop BHVs a winner. He adds 3 more after a couple of points - all of them special in their own way. First is a chip-charge return point, the return being strong enough that Agassi has to defensively lob and Rafter smashes that. Next is a BH dtl winner with power, which stands out given Rafter was almost exclusively slicing BHs crosscourt. Finally, a FH inside-in return gives him the break. He seems in charge

Only Agassi breaks back even more sensationally. Strong return elicits weak volley, which Agassi smacks away from the middle of the court. Next returns are even stronger - they go for winners. Rafter does get a good volley in the point after, but Agassi, running and stretching, still manages to lob to for a winner

Many other fine points in the set. Rafter lob volleying Agassi, cozing up the net and volleying away Agassi's retrieval. Agassi somehow managing to make a passing shot off an ankle high ball, and dipping it to force a volleying error from a completely in control Rafter. There's an extended BH-BH rally, Agassi driving, Rafter slicing. There had been 1 earlier which had gone on for about 15 shots that ended with a Rafter error... this one ends more colourfully. Agassi changes to a one handed BH longline slice that stays lower than any of Rafter's had, enough to force a FH error

Rafter gains a couple of break points on the back of 3 Agassi UEs, but they're erased by net play. Good move from Agassi coming in under pressure. And next game, the American breaks with 3 passing winners - the last a return that he has to stretch to barely reach, but he's able to guide it dtl for the winner
wow someone needs a wife and some kids
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
Not a fan of the except-on-serve caveat when judging the quality of a match. Admittedly I'm biased as I'm a die-hard fan of the big game, but it makes no sense to relegate the serve to some sort of second-class status when it's widely (and correctly) acknowledged to be the sport's most important shot. This reminds me of the times when people go gaga over the '77 Wimbledon SF between Borg and Vitas or some other classic of their choosing, and when krosero and others name other GMOAT contenders that featured perhaps fewer scintillating rallies but decidedly superior serving such pleas are all but ignored largely on the ground that, well, there's more to tennis than serving. Call it circular reasoning, question begging or what you will but it usually does little except to betray one's bias and certainly close to nothing to convince the other side.

Anyhoo I agree that the earlier Rafter-Agassi Wimby showdown is indeed superior to the next year's sequel in pure tennisy terms. As I've noted before it was in 2001 rather than 2002 that Wimbledon debuted with 100% ryegrass, which probably explains the seemingly slower conditions. Of course that didn't exactly help reverse the outcome of the previous year's SF or prevent Goran's Hollywood run as the only wildcard in history to win the whole shebang. No wonder Dre was p!$$ed, LOL.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Do you have the fifth-set service percentages?
2000
Rafter (17/23) 74%
1st won (14/17) 82%
2nd won (6/6) 100%

Agassi (8/20) 40%
1st won (5/8) 63%
2nd won (9/12) 75%

2001
Rafter (33/56) 59%
1st won (22/33) 67%
2nd won (13/23) 57%

Agassi (24/40) 60%
1st won (15/24) 63%
2nd won (9/16) 56%

(And 1st serves made on break points would be great too -- if you have them already.)
2000
Rafter 7/9.... lost 3/7 first serve points, 1/2 second
Agassi 7/12... lost 3/7 first serve points, 2/5 second

2001
Rafter 9/15.... lost 1/9 first serve points, 3/6 second
Agassi 7/9... lost 5/7 first serve points, 0/2 second


Patrick had won 11 five-setters in a row, between losses to Bruguera at '94 Wimb and a fifth-set retirement against Pioline at '99 USO: https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/atp-5-set-records-five-set.335267/#post-4810754

I know of only few better streaks than that. Borg and Vines each won 13 straight; Gottfried von Cramm had at least 11 straight.
commentators mentioned a streak of 11... and after it ended, he lost every match bar these two (think they said he'd lost 3 or 5, not sure)

I seem to recall reading Jan Kodes having the best 5th set record in the Open Era(?)... maybe he'd have something comparable

Mac hit swinging volleys all the time in singles, weird he would say otherwise. Just watched him get the decisive break vs Cash in the 84 W SF with a swinging volley passing shot.
I guess that's the key - he wouldn't use it when a conventional volley was sufficient. He did the same in saving a match point in 80 W F.
I don't actually believe much of what McEnroe says, but just note it

That said, I haven't seen him swing volleying much, nor does he need to

Usually, he gets in good and tight to net and... when he gets caught behind the service line while coming in (the situation where swing volleys are a good option), likes to go with his stop volleys

I can see why given his game, he'd use it more in doubles than singles

The idea of what is and isn't considered good etiquette can be interesting, along with the personalities that violate them

Connors for example, I would have imagined would have been a guy to violate them. But I've never seen him aim a pass at the guy at net... and he's not only had plenty of chances to do so, but frequently, its was objectively the best shot choice
 
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