Duel Match Stats/Report - Sampras vs Agassi, Year End Championship finals & round robin 1999

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Pete Sampras beat Andre Agassi 6-1, 7-5, 6-4 in the Year End Championship (now known as the World Tour Finals) final, 1999 on carpet in Hanover, Germany

This was Sampras' 5th and last Year End title, while Agassi had ended his run off 6 successive years finishing year end number one

Sampras won 98 points, Agassi 78

Sampras serve-volleyed on all his first serves and the majority of the seconds

Serve Stats
Sampras...
- 1st serve percentage (52/85) 61%
- 1st serve points won (45/52) 87%
- 2nd serve points won (14/33) 42%
- Aces 14 including 2 off second serves, Service Winners 3
- Double Faults 10
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (29/85) 34%

Agassi....
- 1st serve percentage (43/91) 47%
- 1st serve points won (28/43) 65%
- 2nd serve points won (24/48) 50%
- Aces 4, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 7
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (33/91) 36%

Serve Patterns
Sampras served...
- to FH 40%
- to BH 57%
- to Body 3%

Agassi served....
- to FH 24%
- to BH 73%
- to Body 4%

Return Stats
Sampras made...
- 51 (10 FH, 41 BH), including 1 runaround FH and 8 return-approaches
- 3 Winners (2 FH, 1 BH)
- 28 Errors, comprising...
- 12 Unforced (1 FH, 11 BH), including 1 return-approach attempt
- 16 Forced (8 FH, 8 BH)
- Return Rate (51/84) 61%

Agassi made...
- 46 (20 FH, 26 BH)
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 11 Errors, all forced...
- 11 Forced (3 FH, 8 BH)
- Return Rate (46/75) 61%

Break Points
Sampras 5/9 (6 games)
Agassi 1/4 (3 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Sampras 28 (5 FH, 5 BH, 4 FHV, 6 BHV, 8 OH)
Agassi 10 (1 FH, 7 BH, 2 BHV)

Sampras had 18 from serve volley points
- 11 first 'volleys' (1 FH at net, 2 FHV, 4 BHV, 4 OH)
- 7 second volleys (1 FHV, 2 BHV, 4 OH), one of the BHV being a drop

- FHs - (3 cc, 1 longline). 1 cc and the longline were both returns

- regular BHs - 2 dtl (1 return) and 1 dtl/inside-out
- 2 passes, both cc

Agassi's FH was dtl

- BHs were all passes - 2 cc, 3 dtl (including a one handed return), 1 longline and 1 inside-out

- 1 BHV was played rapid fire with both players at the net

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Sampras 25
- 13 Unforced (7 BH, 5 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 12 Forced (5 FH, 1 BH, 1 FHV, 4 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 48.5

Agassi 34
- 17 Unforced (8 FH, 8 BH, 1 BHV)
- 17 Forced (7 FH, 9 BH, 1 FHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.1

(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
Sampras was 44/66 (67%) at net, including 39/54 (72%) serve-volleying - off first serves 30/37 (81%), off second serves 9/17 (53%) - and 4/8 (50%) return-approaching
He was 1/3 when forced back or retreated from net

Agassi was 4/8 (50%) at net, including 0/1 serve-volleying - a first serve point
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Match Report
This carpet is on the slow side but you wouldn't know that watching the recently dethroned number 1 Sampras. He's in full scale kill mode and basically steamrolls Agassi.

Sampras serve-volleys off all his first serves and most of the seconds. The first serve alone is powerful enough to win him free points and the second isn't far behind. I'd estimate on average his second serve is bigger than Agassi's first delivery. Securing the early break to go up 2-0 immediately, Sampras takes his return game to levels of aggression on par with his service efforts.

On the serve itself, he doesn't hold back on the second serve and just keeps going for big ones. Hence the 10 double faults and 2 aces. Not once does he look bothered or worried about missing the second serve - even though the only time he's in trouble in the match is when he's down a break (due to back to back double faults) for most of the second set. And he pulls the equivalent on return. With Agassi directing 74% of his serves to Sampras' BH, Pete chip-charges, takes the return very early, stands inside the court to return, steps in still further to take huge cuts with the BH and so on

Like with his serve, its high risk, high reward on the return. Agassi actually leads the unreturned serve percentage! - that's because Sampras is returning with abandon and committing may UEs with it (11 to 0 for Agassi - it would be difficult to get a UE against Sampras' delivery). Agassi's serve is very much returnable, Sampras' doesn't seem to be

Having been swept aside in the first set, Agassi gets a look in in the second when he breaks, courtesy of 2 double faults and an easy volleying miss. Sampras' volleying isn't particularly impressive in this match as a whole. Most of the ones he makes are easy - set up by powerful serves - and he nets some downright simple ones (4 UEs, most of them clear cut ones). Agassi has 2 break points to go up 4-0 - this time, earned through his own fine play. The first is on his own racquet but he misses a makeable BH dtl which he had to run to as Sampras hit a mediocore volley and ran back to try to cover the upcoming shot - the rest of the game is Sampras banging down unreturnable serves (including a second serve ace)

Agassi's relatively slow movement is a problem. The missed break point is one example - many players could have reached that ball and play it more comfortably than he did. Another example is when Sampras strikes a return of serve FH winner near enough down the middle of the court a foot or two away from Agassi. The ball is hit hard but so close to Andre that his inability to get a racquet on it at all is telling.

The persistent pressure Sampras puts Agassi's serve under leads to a rattled Andre serving doubles at crucial moments. There's one as Sampras breaks back and another when Sampras breaks again to take the lead. Agassi also starts missing his more aggressive baseline attempts at winners to give Pete more of a chance

As Sampras serves for the set and goes up 40-0, Agassi seems resigned. He very casually eases a second-serve over for a winner with a 1 handed BH and there is weariness written all over the shot.

A still rattled Agassi is broken at once at the start off the third, through his own errors from the baseline and a half-hearted attempt at serve-volleying. Awhile later, with Sampras tight in at net and Agassi having time to line up the pass, Andre smacks a wild FH that Sampras has to jerk his head out of the way off. The ball lands comfortably out... I don't know what the intent of the shot was, but it looks very much like Agassi wanted to hit Sampras and couldn't care less about making the pass.

Agassi manages to gain one further break point (again, largely due to back to back double faults), only for his fire breathing important to reel off 3 successive winners in the forecourt. The break point itself is erased with a third ball OH and the last point is Sampras' sole touch volley winner. No more chances for Agassi after that. He looks listless and resigned. Sampras by contrast has looked raring to go from ball one - even when he's down a break or double faulting or making errors of ordinary second serves

Other ways the match could have played out?
The match was on Sampras' racquet - no question about that. If he serves big, he'll win points and if his aggressive returns land in, he'll win frequently. Still, credit to him for backing up the aggressive returning with accurate baseline play. No FH unforced errors from Pete.... a rare occurence

The key for Agassi I think would have been to remain committed to playing his own game. Instead, he gets frazzled and starts making errors of the ground - mostly attacking shots. Agassi has 16 groundstroke errors o Sampras' 7 and despite Sampras having 3 extra volleying errors (invariably attacking shots or winner attempts), the players UEFI are about the same (Sampras 47.3, Agassi 47.1). You can see this in Agassi dishing out a low first serve percentage (48% to Pete's 61%) and large number of double faults (6 to Sampras' 10). Given how much bigger Pete was serving - as stated earlier, his second serve is bigger than Andre's first - this is an indication Agassi played poorly

Or to be more specific, the intense pressure Sampras' vicious attack put on him got to him and resulted in his playing relatively poorly.

Nothing to do if Sampras brings his 'A' game. Agassi doesn't have the firepower to respond in kind. But he can hold his own ship steady amidst the storm, rather than crack. A hint of a mental kink in Andre then

Summing up, despite Agassi dropping his level of play, primarily the credit goes to Sampras playing an uber aggressive brand of tennis - huge serves, blasting smashes, early and big cut returns and reasonably safe attacking groundstrokes. A handful to deal with, even on a less than fast court. Their round robin match earlier in the tournament was a different story.... (to be continued...)
 
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NonP

Hall of Fame
That demolition was probably the most jaw-dropping display of all-court power tennis I've ever seen. And I place equal emphasis on "all-court" and "power," because this wasn't the same Sampras from as recently as two years ago who could seemingly float on the court with a preternatural degree of grace and creativity that was largely missing from this match. (The only other player that has given me this otherworldly impression is Federer.) Of course the power was always there with any version of Pistol Pete, but this was more like a bulldozer crushing everything in its tracks with no regard whatsoever for any obstacles, because there's really nothing you can do. It's fun to watch in its own right, but not as fun (for moi) as its more graceful past incarnations.

Also this may border on heresy but I think Pete was in even more imperial form here than in the frankly somewhat overrated Wimby final of the same year. Maybe the serve wasn't as deadly, but I think he returned better (too lazy to check the stats now) and also was so dialed in even off the ground. Didn't know about that zero UFE off the FH but not surprised, this was probably the last A+ Sampras or at least something close to it that we may not see ever again.
 
That's interesting about the unreturned serve rates. I guess it's another example of how stats often don't tell the whole story with Sampras(doesn't care about return errors, making double faults, just the end result)

I remember Agassi trying to hit Sampras, he could be rather petulant on court when he was frustrated. Kudos to Sampras for just ignoring it, most players today wouldn't have.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
In the round robin stage, Agassi beat Sampras 6-2, 6-2

(Note: I'm missing an unknown number of points - a minimum of 2 whole points and partial data for 1 point
1 Agassi serve point won by Sampras, which according commentary was a chip-charge return point. Very likely, its a second serve point directed to the BH
A Sampras service game with Sampras up 30-15 cuts to the end. Sampras wins the game
I've assumed the Agassi serve point is 2nd serve directed to the BH, and given Sampras additional two points won - possibly he won more if the game went to deuce. Agassi may also have won more points in the game)

Sampras serve-volleys on all his first serve points and mostly of the seconds

Agassi won 56 points, Sampras 38

Serve Stats
Agassi....
- 1st serve percentage (27/44) 61%
- 1st serve points won (24/27) 89%
- 2nd serve points won (11/17) 65%
- Aces 1
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (15/44) 34%

Sampras...
- 1st serve percentage (34/48) 71%
- 1st serve points won (23/34) 68%
- 2nd serve points won (3/14) 21%
- Aces 4 including 1 second serve, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 5
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (11/48) 23%

Serve Pattern
Agassi served...
- to FH 7%
- to BH 90%
- to Body 2%

Sampras served...
- to FH 49%
- to BH 49%
- to Body 2%

Return Stats
Agassi made...
- 32 (16 FH, 16 BH)
- 2 Winners (1 FH, 1 BH)
- 6 Errors, all forced...
- 6 Forced (4 FH, 2 BH)
- Return Rate (32/42) 64%

Sampras made...
- 27 (3 FH, 24 BH), including 4 return-approaches
- 2 Winners (2 BH)
- 14 Errors, comprising...
- 6 Unforced (6 BH), including one return-approach attempt
- 8 Forced (8 BH)
- Return Rate (27/42) 64%

Break Points
Agassi 4/7 (4 games)
Sampras 0/3 (2 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding aces)
Agassi 12 (3 FH, 7 BH, 2 FHV)
Sampras 14 (4 BH, 5 FHV, 2 BHV, 2 OH)

Agassi's FHs - 2 cc and a dtl return pass

- 1 regular BH, a dtl
- BH passes - 3 dtl (1 return), 1 cc, 1 inside-out and 1 dtl/inside-out

- Both FHVs were first volleys off serve-volley points - 1 a swinging shot

Sampras had 10 from serve-volley points - 6 first volleys (3 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 OH), 3 second volleys (2 FHV, 1 OH) and a 3rd volley (1 OH)

- BHs - 1 dtl, 1 inside-in return, 1 net chord dribbling return and 1 pass cc

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Agassi 8
- 2 Unforced (2 BH)
- 6 Forced (2 FH, 2 BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 40

Sampras 24
- 10 Unforced (2 FH, 5 BH, 3 FHV)
- 14 Forced (3 FH, 1 BH, 2 FH1/2V, 6 BHV, 2 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46

(Note 1: all half-volleys refer to such shots played at net. Half -volleys played from other parts of the court are included within relevant groundstroke counts)

(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 2/3 (67%) at net, including 2/2 serve-volleying - both first serve points

Sampras was 20/42 (48%) at net, including 19/36 (53%) serve-volleying - off first serves 18/30 (60%), off second 1/6 (17%) - and 1/4 (25%) return-approaching.
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Match Report
Sampras starts the match the stronger. He holds to love and 15 and showcases his usual bag of tricks; aces of both serves, forced return errors, volley winners. Agassi meanwhile has to stave of 3 break points across his first couple service games - which he does splendidly - forcing a BH error, passing a chip-charge returning Pete and even serve volleying to put away a clean first volley FHV winner

The tide turns for good in game 5, an extended 14 point affair. Agassi makes some powerful returns, forcing half volley errors or making Pete hit difficult low volleys, Sampras hits his share of good volleys, Agassi passes well. And Sampras throws in 3 doubles - the last one on the third break point he faces. He breaks a second time - a double from Pete and a loose FHV error couple with excellent passing shots from Andre to enable this

Second set goes much the way of the first, except that Agassi is completely secure on his service games (he loses 2 points in 4 games - 1 to a double fault). At 2-2, Sampras is broken - a couple points due to his errors (double fault and BH at net), a couple due to Agassi (forcing a pair of BHV errors)

Agassi secures his second break of the set in a high quality game. Sampras serves big, Agassi returns powerfully in it. And Agassi wraps up the match with a hold to love

Playing Dynamics
I'll use the report from the final as a frame of reference to describe the action of this match.

- Agassi plays a much cleaner match. About as clean as you can get to be more precise. Just 2 UEs in play + 1 double fault... no free points for Pete. In the final by contrast, Andre tended to make errors of both the aggressive and neutral variety at regular intervals

- Agassi returns better. He not only gets stuck into the Sampras second serve - forcing volleying and half-volleying errors with the shot - but also does damage to Sampras' first delivery. Pete has to play a number of difficult low volleys

- Sampras' returning is less successful. In the final, Sampras persistently pressured his opponent with attacking returns. Here, he's not trying to be as aggressive and is less successful at it. Note the high number of Sampras return UEs in both matches.... if a UEFI is useful to shed light for anybody, its Pete Sampras: It doesn't matter if he throws away points or even games on return.... as long as he can hold serve comfortably (which he can't in this match, unlike the final), his low percentage return attacks are enough to get a break sooner or later

Sampras also doesn't return Agassi's first serve well here - and those for the most part, he was trying to return normally

- On his service games, Agassi persistently plays to Sampras' BH, mostly with BH cc's. This doesn't lead to Sampras' BH "breaking down" exactly, but it does keep Pete from taking charge of the point

Statistical Points of Interest
- Note Agassi again outdoing Sampras on unreturned serve percentage (34% to 23%). More indicative of Sampras returning poorly, but Agassi returning well also has a hand in this

- Agassi serving 90% to the BH (in the final its just 74%)…. an exceptionally high rate. Sampras does not attempt runaround FH returns against this line of attack

- 0 FH winners from Sampras. And in the final, he had 0 FH unforced errors in play... both odd outcomes

- Agassi's UEFI score of 40 - dead neutral and the lowest I've tracked. This is deceptive since he only made 2 unforced errors

- Sampras' low net number of 48% points won. Here I would credit Agassi's passing more than discredit Sampras' net play. The volleying UEs he makes in the final were easy shots, the 3 I've given him here were more makeable than not but not easy... if anything he volleys better in this match than the final, but he's facing a much meatier test

Summing up - Agassi returning better than he did in the final and playing much more securely off the ground making the difference. Part of this might be that Sampras isn't able to pressure Agassi with successful attacking returning as he did in the final
 
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Waspsting

Hall of Fame
That demolition was probably the most jaw-dropping display of all-court power tennis I've ever seen. And I place equal emphasis on "all-court" and "power," because this wasn't the same Sampras from as recently as two years ago who could seemingly float on the court with a preternatural degree of grace and creativity that was largely missing from this match.
A raging Pete Sampras is just about the most intimidating thing I've seen on a tennis court - and I agree, its on display here

But I like the Cincy match better - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-sampras-vs-agassi-cincinnati-semi-final-1999.636368/
There, Agassi played better than here - where he makes a number of loose errors off the ground and is less apt on the return

That's interesting about the unreturned serve rates. I guess it's another example of how stats often don't tell the whole story with Sampras(doesn't care about return errors, making double faults, just the end result)
Does it again in the round robin, even more so. I agree - stats can't capture Pete properly. Or Becker

I remember Agassi trying to hit Sampras, he could be rather petulant on court when he was frustrated. Kudos to Sampras for just ignoring it, most players today wouldn't have.
Agassi could be ruthless in these situations. He hit Stich in the '94 US Open final and absolutely blasted an on-the-bounce OH from the service line right at Todd Martin at the '99 US Open final. Martin ducked last minute and humourously feigned being close to a heart attack afterwards. I don't blame him... the ball must have been going well over 100 miles per hour

But in those instances, the guys were asking for it by staying up at net, their bodies covering Agassi's most natural option - and I like the play in general

Here though, he doesn't seem to be trying to win the point but just hit Sampras. Ball goes well out after Sampras barely moves out the way

Sampras could demonstrate cocky, self-celebratory body language when he was hitting good shots (he does this in the Cincy match I mentioned above. Also Indian Welles 2001 and I'm sure many others) which I can see getting up his opponents' noses and making them want to smack him one

But I didn't see any of that in this match. He's just intensely focused on business at hand
 
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