Duel Match Stats/Report - Sampras vs Becker, Paris final, 1995 & second round, 1997


Hall of Fame
Pete Sampras beat Boris Becker 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-4 in the Paris Indoor final, 1995 on carpet

The win was instrumental in Sampras finishing the year at number 1

Sampras won 132 points, Becker 116

Sampras serve-volleyed on all but 1 first serve point and very rarely on the second. Becker serve-volleyed on all first serves and frequently off the second

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (56/111) 50%
- 1st serve points won (46/56) 82%
- 2nd serve points won (28/55) 51%
- Aces 12, Service Winners 4
- Double Faults 5
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (41/111) 37%

- 1st serve percentage (64/137) 47%
- 1st serve points won (45/64) 70%
- 2nd serve points won (36/73) 49%
- Aces 19 - including 1 second serve, Service Winners 6
- Double Faults 6
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (44/137) 32%

Serve Patterns
Sampras served...
- to FH 37%
- to BH 61%
- to Body 2%

Becker served....
- to FH 33%
- to BH 61%
- to Body 6%

Return Stats
Sampras made...
- 87 (22 FH, 65 BH), including 2 runaround FHs and 2 return-approaches
- 9 Winners (3 FH, 6 BH)
- 25 Errors, comprising...
- 4 Unforced (1 FH, 3 BH)
- 21 Forced (12 FH, 9 BH)
- Return Rate (87/131) 66%

Becker made...
- 65 (21 FH, 44 BH), including 4 return-approaches
- 4 Winners (2 FH, 2 BH)
- 25 Errors, comprising...
- 9 Unforced (2 FH, 7 BH)
- 16 Forced (7 FH, 9 BH)
- Return Rate (65/106) 61%

Break Points
Sampras 3/15 (8 games)
Becker 1/7 (4 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Sampras 40 (15 FH, 16 BH, 2 FHV, 2 BHV, 3 OH, 2 BHOH)
Becker 27 (9 FH, 6 BH, 7 FHV, 3 BHV, 2 OH)

Sampras had 11 from serve-volley points
- 6 from first 'volleys' (2 BHV, 3 FH @ net, 1 BH @ net)
- 5 from second volleys (2 FHV, 1 OH, 2 BHOH)

- 20 passes (6 FH, 14 BH)
- FH passes - 3 cc (2 returns), 1 dtl, 1 inside-in return and 1 lob
- BH passes - 6 cc (3 returns), 6 dtl (2 returns), 1 inside-out and 1 inside-in return

- 6 non-pass FHs - 3 cc, 1 dtl, 1 inside-in and 1 net chord dribbler
- 1 BH @ net, running-down-a-drop-shot

Becker had 9 from serve-volley points
- 5 first 'volleys' (2 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH, 1 FH @ net)
- 3 second volleys (1 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH)
- 1 third volley (1 FHV)

- 8 passes (5 FH, 3 BH)
- FH passes - 4 cc (2 returns) and 1 dtl
- BH passes - 3 dtl (1 return)

- 3 non-pass FHs - 1 cc, 1 dtl and 1 inside-in
- 3 non-pass BHs - 1 cc, 1 dtl 1 inside-in return

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Sampras 39
- 18 Unforced (7 FH, 6 BH, 3 FHV, 2 BHV)
- 21 Forced (5 FH, 11 BH, 2 FHV, 3 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.8

Becker 45
- 21 Unforced (8 FH, 7 BH, 3 FHV, 3 BHV)
- 24 Forced (7 FH, 8 BH, 5 FHV, 3 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 51.4

(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...
- 35/56 (63%) at net, including...
- 30/41 (73%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 29/39 (74%) off 1st serve and...
- 1/2 (50%) off second serve
- 0/2 return-approaching
- 1/1 forced back from net

Becker was...
- 47/86 (55%) at net, including...
- 37/62 (60%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 26/45 (58%) off 1st serve and...
- 11/17 (65%) off second serve
- 1/4 (25%) return-approaching
- 1/1 forced back from net

Match Report
A high quality performance from Sampras and a streaky one from Becker on a quick carpet court

Becker starts horrifically. He's made 5/21 first serves (and been broken once) when yet another serve is called out. Sampras sportingly concedes it to be an ace, and Becker's fortunes change from there. Sampras himself is just 22/48 first serves in for the set himself. The whole set showcases the problems of covering these two players with stats.

Both hit fine shots, but the errors in between are dreadful. Hitting regulation groundstrokes half way up the net. Missing easy put-away volleys. Hitting pass attempts miles out of court. Missing highly makeable passes. Whacking returns way out

In the book, it all goes down as 1 error (forced or unforced)…. no less so than one that hits the very top of the tape or misses the line by a centimetre... but the way Sampras and Becker make their errors does enhance the impression of streaky play.

The next two sets are better fortunately. With both men serve-volleying on all first serves, Sampras always staying back on seconds (Becker mixes it up on his second delivery)…. there's scope to see the full repertoire of tennis.

In this sense, the baseline play is disappointing. Both players hit hard (without going overboard with it) and both look to open the court. But its the errors that catch the eye... many poor ones and in short rallies. Not great consistency in the baseline encounters. And Becker's movement, which is slow by any standard (he looks like an injured player), is another drawback. Its probably movement that is the decisive factor in Sampras getting the better of the backcourt exchanges

While both have ordinary first serve percentages, Sampras' first delivery is clearly more powerful. Boris struggles to return it - and most Sampras first serve points seem to end up unreturned.

On the other hand, Sampras is able to return Becker's serve quite well. Naturally, the German sends down his share of unreturned serves - but Sampras also knocks away return winners regularly. Plus, Becker isn't at his best at net. He's slow to get there, poor at covering the net (so he's virtually forced to do big damage with his first volley - if not, he finds himself in trouble) and overall, his volleying is ordinary. Misses a few easy ones, doesn't do enough with a large number of the of the highly makeable ones he does get over. Not many volleys from Boris in this match that one looks at and says, "wow" to.

Sampras does much better at the front. Makes the low volleys consistently, placing them well.

The passing is a no-contest. Sampras is far superior (partially because Becker's volleying is less precise). A similar story to how the two stack up in serving-returning.... each part connected to the other, with Sampras coming up ahead

Good clutch play shown by both. Sampras can only break 3 times, though he had break points in 8 games. Becker only once in four games.... I'd predominantly attribute both to the server stepping up when it mattered

Statistically, its clearly the American on top. He leads in every single area - first serves in (50% to 47%), first serves won (82% to 70), second serves won (51% to 49%), unreturned serves (37% to 32%). The last mentioned is particularly relevant since Becker was serve-volleying a lot more than Pete - and the German leading on aces/service winners (20 to 16)

Sampras also has more winners (40 to 27), makes fewer unforced errors (18 to 20) and forces more errors (24 to 21). Again, the last mentioned is surprising, given Becker is at the net 30 more times

Summing up, a hit or miss match with good shot making interspersed with random errors. Sampras superior in just about every way - serve, return, passing, volleying and baseline play. Pete's biggest advantage is in movement. He's quick, Becker is not. Close scoreline, but its always clear who the better player is.

That might be a bit deceptive, since Becker is quite capable of winning matches in which he is not the "better player", but he needs to be clutch to do that. But here, Sampras is also more clutch than him

So final verdict - Sampras the better player in all areas and also more clutch. Biggest difference between the two is movement - Becker is sluggish


Hall of Fame
In 1997, Sampras beat Becker 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-3 in the second round/round of 32

Sampras would go onto win the tournament, beating Jonas Bjorkman in the final and follow up by winning the Year End Championship for the 4th time. This was the last match Becker and Sampras were to play against one another. The final head-to-head stood 12-7 in Sampras' favour. On indoor carpet courts, Becker led 7-6

Sampras won 96 points, Becker 85

Both players serve-volleyed off all first serves and rarely off seconds

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (55/86) 64%
- 1st serve points won (45/55) 82%
- 2nd serve points won (18/31) 58%
- Aces 15, Service Winners 2
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (33/86) 38%

- 1st serve percentage (54/95) 57%
- 1st serve points won (44/54) 81%
- 2nd serve points won (18/41) 44%
- Aces 11, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 8
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (38/95) 40%

Serve Patterns
Sampras served...
- to FH 32%
- to BH 63%
- to Body 5%

Becker served...
- to FH 41%
- to BH 51%
- to Body 8%

Return Stats
Sampras made...
- 49 (19 FH, 30 BH)
- 4 Winners (4 FH)
- 26 Errors, comprising...
- 2 Unforced (2 BH)
- 24 Forced (10 FH, 14 BH)
- Return Rate (49/87) 56%

Becker made...
- 51 (15 FH, 36 BH), including 1 return-approach
- 1 Winner (1 FH)
- 16 Errors, comprising...
- 6 Unforced (1 FH, 5 BH), including 1 return-approach attempt
- 10 Forced (5 FH, 5 BH)
- Return Rate (51/84) 61%

Break Points
Sampras 1/6 (3 games)
Becker 1/2 (2 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Sampras 25 (10 FH, 1 BH, 10 FHV, 2 BHV, 2 OH)
Becker 14 (3 FH, 6 FHV, 4 BHV, 1 OH)

Sampras had 15 from serve-volley points
- 10 first 'volleys' (8 FHV, 2 FH at net)… including 1 swinging and 1 stop FHV
- 4 second volleys (2 FHV, 2 OH)… including 1 drop FHV
- 1 third volley (1 BHV)

- 7 passes (5 FH, 1 BH, 1 BHV)
- FHs - 1 cc, 2 dtl (1 return) and 2 inside-in returns
- BH - 1 cc
- BHV - a drive from well behind the service line and not a net point

- regular FHs - 2 cc and 1 net chord dribbler return

Becker had 9 from serve-volley points
- 6 first volleys (4 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH)
- 3 second volleys (1 FHV, 2 BHV)

- 1 other BHV was a drop

- 3 FH passes - 2 cc (1 return) and 1 dtl

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Sampras 31
- 15 Unforced (5 FH, 6 BH, 2 FHV, 2 BHV)
- 16 Forced (3 FH, 9 BH, 2 FHV, 2 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 48

Becker 30
- 17 Unforced (8 FH, 2 BH, 5 FHV, 2 BHV)
- 13 Forced (7 FH, 4 BH, 1 FHV, 1 Tweener)
- 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
Sampras was...
- 32/44 (73%) at net, including...
- 30/42 (71%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 28/38 (74%) off 1st serve and..
- 2/4 (50%) off 2nd serve
- 0/1 forced back

Becker was...
- 41/57 (72%) at net, including...
- 35/49 (71%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 32/42 (76%) off 1st serve and...
- 3/7 (43%) off 2nd serve
- 1/1 return-approaching
- 0/1 forced back

Match Report
The last carpet encounter between the two leading players on the surface of the time plays like most of the rest of their others - despite Becker supposedly being on his last legs. Becker had played so little during the year that he was unseeded, thus drawn to face the world number Sampras in the second round. The match might play like those before it, but quality of play is down, certainly for Becker

Huge serving (for Becker, second serves as well as firsts). Serve-volleying of all first serves (for Becker, sometimes on seconds too. Sampras does that only when he's well in front). Slim chances for the returner. Lots of unreturned serves and put away volleys. That's the show. Becker's movements are slow, he second serves too big (seems to be going for aces on second serves regularly) to double fault 8 times and his volleying is below par. Sampras' volleying is a bit off too

In first set, while Sampras serves almost entirely to the BH, Becker throws in a fair few serves to the FH. Not many, but it seems everytime he does, it comes back with a blast. Becker saves 3 break points in game 4 and can't convert on his only chance 3 games later. Set heads into tiebreak

Becker missing an easy FHV gives Samp the mini-break, but the American returns the favour by missing an easy BH into the open court to get things back on serve. But Sampras wins the next 2 points on return to take the set. The first point ends with a full stretched Sampras loopily guiding a FH return wide of Becker for the winner. On the second, Becker makes a good FH dtl approach, but it's met by a better BH cc pass that he can only weakly volley. And Sampras makes no mistake in slotting that away FH cc for the winner and the set

Second goes on serve easily til game 6. Sampras misses 2 makeable volleys (1's been marked UE and 1 FE) and double faults on break point. Serving for the set, a couple of bad volleying errors from Becker opens the door for Sampras... but Boris shuts it firmly, ending with an unreturned serve and 3 volleying winners

Sampras wins the first 13 points of the 3rd set, including a break. The break game is a terrible one from Becker - 4 unforced errors, including a downright easy FHV. Sampras holds easily from thereon to close out the match

Few good shots and points. A very finely angled Sampras FHV drop winner. Great moving FH cc pass from Becker in the game he breaks. Couple of uncharacteristic shots - a drive BHV passing winner from Sampras, hit just inside the baseline (the motion identical to his normal BH groundstroke) and a swinging FHV first volley winner. A perfect FHV stop from Sampras - just kills all pace on the ball

A testy match too. Both players get into it with the umpire. Becker directs a long, animated monologue to the chair early in the first set... no telling what the reason might have been (no bad calls preceding it). Sampras lets loose with a very audible obscenity for which he isn't cautioned. I don't recall seeing Sampras express himself so on the court

Something I keep forgetting to mention about Sampras behavior in general... the amount of time he takes to switch racquets after he pops a string. In this match, he goes through more racquets than any I've seen - 5-7, I say, - but doesn't take much time to change. But in general, he tends to dawdle, sometimes even sitting down casually as he picks out a new racquet (and he's apt to break a string at anytime). Opponenets would be justified in complaining about the time he takes I think

Serve & Return
Usual big serving stuff. Becker going more all out with it... he seems to be looking for aces with his second serve, let alone first

Serve big, he does. Lots of forced return errors drawn with the second serve... but 8 double faults. and just 44% second serve points won. This is the most 'serve-botty' Becker showing of the pair's carpet matches (and he has a few that are in that range)

Directs serve more evenly (i.e. more to the FH) than usual. Not a great move and he pays for it. Still, 40% unreturned serves... can't ask for much more that

Sampras does what he can in getting back big serves to the BH but is particularly explosive with the FH return. 4 winners out of 19 returns... for awhile in the first set, it looks like anything to Sampras' FH is going to get whacked back. Though obviously stronger on that wing, not often he reached that degree of fear-inspiring from the FH

Sampras serves big enough too. On top of the 38% unreturned serve, note the 10 first volley winners - most of them putaways

Becker's return numbers look better than what they felt. He's returned 61% serves... watching, I didn't think he got much done with the return at all.

Bit down from the norm from Sampras and Becker's speed and volleying leave much to be desired

Becker is downright slow. A number of his FEs - particularly FH ones - are a product of his moving to the ball so slowly that the shot is rushed enough to be called 'forced error'. Average movement would have seen him get to the ball comfortably enough that if he'd missed, it'd have been marked 'unforced'

Poor volleying Becker. The winners he hits are mostly out-and-out putaways set up by the serve. And he misses some easy ones among his high 7 volleying UEs. On the upside, his BH is surprisingly steady with just the 2 UEs

Sampras' volleying seems a tad off to me to. Strange assessment for one winning 73% net points - but he misses several makeable volleys and doesn't. 4 volleying UEs and 4 FEs, but the FEs are relatively soft (Becker neither returns nor passes strongly). BH is also prone to making routine UEs

Summing up, normal of style but a little low on quality of play, with Becker a step slow, imprecise at net and living and dying by big serving. Still its almost a 50-50 match - both players breaking just once - as is usually the case between the two on carpet. Unlike other matches though, I got the sense both players felt that Sampras was a strong favourite - if so, they were both right
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