Duel Match Stats/Report - Sampras vs Becker, Year End Championship final & round robin, 1996

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Pete Sampras beat Boris Becker 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(4), 6-7(11), 6-4 the Year End Championship (World Tour Finals) final, 1996 on carpet in Hanover, Germany

This was Sampras' third of 5 titles at the event and he had last won in '94 beating Becker in the final. Becker was the defending champion and this was the last of his 8 finals at the event
Previously posted https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/stats-for-1996-atp-champs-sampras-and-becker.171388/

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

Sampras won 166 points, Becker 178

Serve Stats
Sampras...
- 1st serve percentage (115/179) 64%
- 1st serve points won (91/115) 79%
- 2nd serve points won (35/64) 55%
- Aces 15, Service Winners 6 (1 second serve)
- Double Faults 5
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (57/179) 32%

Becker...
- 1st serve percentage (97/165) 59%
- 1st serve points won (87/97) 90%
- 2nd serve points won (40/68) 59%
- Aces 32, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 8
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (71/165) 43%

Serve Patterns
Sampras served...
- to FH 32%
- to BH 64%
- to Body 5%

Becker served....
- to FH 45%
- to BH 43%
- to Body 12%

Return Stats
Sampras made...
- 86 (35 FH, 51 BH), including 2 return-approaches
- 4 Winners (3 FH, 1 BH)
- 38 Errors, comprising...
- 5 Unforced (2 FH, 3 BH)
- 33 Forced (20 FH, 13 BH)
- Return Rate (86/157) 55%

Becker made...
- 117 (40 FH, 77 BH), including 7 return-approaches
- 8 Winners (3 FH, 4 BH)
- 36 Errors, comprising...
- 7 Unforced (1 FH, 6 BH)
- 29 Forced (7 FH, 22 BH)
- Return Rate (117/174) 67%

Break Points
Sampras 1/5 (2 games)
Becker 1/5 (3 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Sampras 50 (16 FH, 8 BH, 13 FHV, 9 BHV, 4 OH)
Becker 39 (10 FH, 12 BH, 10 FHV, 6 BHV, 1 OH)

Sampras had 28 from serve-volley points
- 13 first 'volleys' (3 FHV, 5 BHV, 1 OH, 3 FH at net, 1 BH at net)… the OH was not a smash
- 15 second volleys (8 FHV, 4 BHV, 3 OH)

- 4 return (all passes) (3 FH, 1 BH)
- FHs - 2 dtl and 1 inside-in
- BH - 1 cc

- 9 regular passes (4 FH, 5 BH)
- FHs - 1 cc and 3 dtl
- BHs - 4 dtl and 1 inside-out

- non-pass FHs - 2 cc, 1 dtl, 1 inside-out and 2 inside-in
- non-pass BH - 1 dtl

Becker had 17 from serve-volley points
- 12 first 'volleys' (6 FHV, 3 BHV, 1 OH, 1 FH at net, 1 BH at net)
- 5 second volleys (3 FHV, 2 BHV)

- 1 FHV from a return-approach point

- 8 returns (all passes) (3 FH, 5 BH)
- FHs - 1 cc, 1 dtl and 1 inside-in
- BHs - 1 cc, 1 dtl, 1 inside-out and 2 inside-in (the inside-out went under Sampras' volley attempt)

- 7 regular passes (4 FH, 3 BH)
- FHs - 2 cc and 2 dtl
- BHs - 1 cc, 1 dtl and 1 1 dtl/inside-out

- non-pass FHs - 1 cc and 1 inside-out
- non-pass BHs - 1 cc, 2 dtl,

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Sampras 63
- 26 Unforced (10 FH, 10 BH, 2 FHV, 4 BHV)
- 37 Forced (10 FH, 19 BH, 3 FHV, 4 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)… with 1 FH running-down-drop-volley at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 50.8

Becker 51
- 16 Unforced (4 FH, 11 BH, 1 BHV)
- 35 Forced (14 FH, 16 BH, 1 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 3 BHV)… the FHV was a diving shot
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 51.3

(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...
- 81/111 (73%) at net, including...
- 76/104 (73%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 71/95 (75%) off 1st serve and...
- 5/9 (56%) off 2nd serve
---
- 1/2 return-approaching
- 1/1 retreated

Becker was...
- 73/94 (78%) at net, including...
- 61/75 (81%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 54/64 (84%) off 1st serve and...
- 7/11 (64%) off 2nd serve
---
- 3/7 (43%) return-approaching
- 1/3 (33%) forced back/retreated

Match Report
A great match, perhaps the best of the pair's many encounters on carpet, and about as close as you can get. As all of their matches indoors, play is heavily serve dominated and a point here and there decides matters. So few points that it would be folly to attribute the outcome on 'clutch' or 'choke' play... it could just be a toss of dice matter

Becker does almost everything better - and not necessarily 'just a bit better' either. He serves better, returns better, volleys better
The passing is a wash - Becker's superiority in other areas gives him more chances on it
On the whole, Becker is better baseline-to-baseline too, though that makes up only a small part of action for most of match. It become more important in 4th set tiebreak and throughout the 5th set, where Sampras has an edge - mostly due to Becker being not good

Becker's problem is... that he's not better enough to actually break serve

Becker wins more points (178 to 166), while serving less of them (165 to 179)
His unreturned rate is 43% to Sampras' 32%. In raw numbers, he has 11 more points won with the serve (taking into account double faults)
Becker leads first serve points won (90% to 79%) and second (59% to 55%)… too much to be offset by trailing first serve percentage (59% to 64%)
In play, Becker wins 102 points to Sampras' 101
Both players are 1/5 on break points, but Becker has them in 1 extra game

The court is perfect for fast carpet. Its fast all right, rewarding attacking play, but not ridiculously so as some earlier editions of the tournament. Good second serves are returnable, neutral groundstrokes aren't a waste of time (though both err on the side of being attacking from the back), routine groundstrokes don't go through fast enough to force errors. Wonderful court, favouring attacking play without making everything less than attacking pointless or even mild attacks irresistible

As incredibly well as both players serve, there was scope for the returners to be a bit more effective then they were, especially Sampras. Match is almost all easy holds, with returner straining for crumbs of a chance to break
 
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Waspsting

Hall of Fame
First Serve Points - Returns, Volleys & Passes
Both players serve-volley off all their first serve points

So doing, Becker wins 84% of points, Sampras 75%
Becker has 33 unreturnable serves (32 aces, 1 service winner), Sampras 20 (15 aces, 5 service winners)
Total, Becker wins 90% points, Sampras 79%

Pretty clear who who's better on their first serve

Some part of it though is due to difference in returning. Becker gives nothing away, Sampras... takes it a bit easy at times, especially against difficult serves. Not tanking or anything so drastic, but less than 100% committed to making the return

This becomes apparent on certain crucial points, such as tiebreaks. He moves and strains to do what he can against wide serves he'd just watch go by most match. And usually does get them back, or at least, a racquet on the ball. Another example is when he has break point in set 2. He runs and hops over to get a healthy racquet on the ball to a strong wide serve indistinguishable from the numerous aces that went by him

The reason Becker has just 1 service winner is because serves that strong go for aces. Identically strong serves from Sampras draw service winners, or even balls just marked 'forced return error' from Becker, who does his best on every return

Sampras also tends to save his best serves for when he's in trouble. Down break point or in a spot of minor trouble, the first serves he sends down are noticeably harder than at other times (they're never gentle). Unlike Becker, who serves about the same at all times

Note Becker serving more to the FH (45%) than BH (43%). That's not so much targeting the FH as going for the most aggressive serve possible out wide to the deuce court. Most of his aces would have been there. Its a ploy he occasionally tries against Sampras... often getting burnt by terrific blistering returns to a worrying extent. That doesn't happen here, he serves wide enough when going to FH that Sampras can rarely get a strong return off

Becker is the better volleyer as well as server and this is one of his very best performances on the shot. Off both wings, he volleys into corners, leaving Sampras little hope on the pass. Note also just the one UE. He doesn't face many very difficult ones (just 5 FEs), but deals with not-easy volleys (some combo of firmly hit, slightly under the net or a bit wide) well, punching them through and away from Pete

Sampras also volleys well, but tends to leave Becker more half-chances on the pass than the other way around. Also misses - he has 6 UEs, a couple of them misses on very finely angled winner attempts (Becker drop volleys very little by contrast).

In a nutshell, the volleying leaves Sampras hopeless passes and Becker, half-chances on the pass. What Becker doesn't miss, he can at best get wide (not much low)… but Sampras is very good at covering the front. Note Sampras with 12 second volley winner to just 8 firsts.... he wasn't volleying to finish in two shots. Rather, he couldn't finish in 1 shot and needed 2. His second volleys area combination of easy putaways (balls Becker somehow managed to get in play) but more running volleys

Not much lobbing from either player. Come whatever, the server is almost always dominant. What do you have to lose by throwing up a lob? It getting smashed away (as undoubtedly would most often happen) isn't much different from what was happening. At least the lob gives the server something else to be on the look out for and might long term, alter his position in forecourt. With so few even half-chances for the returner, they're probably not willing to throw one away by going for a lob

A style of returning that neither player excels at is soft blocking. With the serve so powerful, the server isn't always in position when the return comes back. Neither obviously has the ability to hit hard flat returns to the feet in this match. The soft block tends to leave server with low volleys when he's around the service line. Its the type of returning that ultimately gets Sampras his break. In that particular game, Becker has to volley up... probably not something Sampras did by design there. But firm returning against two great volleyers comes to next to nothing in this match

Second Serve Points - Serve-volley & Baseline Play
Both players stay back off overwhelming bulk or their second serve points

Becker serve-volleys off 18% of his second serves and wins 64% of those, Sampras 19% and 56%
Sampras double faults 5 times, Becker 8
Becker return-approaches 12% of the time, Sampras just 3%
Total, Becker wins 59% points, Sampras 55%

Less clear who's stronger on their second serve points, but I think its still Becker. For one thing, his second serve is stronger. A few forcing second serves that he stayed back on (Sampras has none). Sampras' second serve is strong in that its not easy to attack (most of the time). Becker's is a reasonable weapon

So we have baseline rallies on most second serve points. They don't last long. Both players go for attacking shots early in rallies - the third ball is often a winner attempt off a neutral ball.

Note the UEFI's, especially Becker's. 51.3 is very high, given he has just 1 volleying error. Sampras is a shade lower at 50.8 with 20/26 errors being baseline shots - still a high figure

This shot-making based groundstrokes is the norm for the pair on carpet and quality of it is above the norm. Its quite common for one, the other or both to play poorly from the back, missing attacking shots regularly. For most of the match, both are good at finishing points with groundstrokes, Becker more

Groundies become critical in the final set, where Sampras makes just 50% first serves. This obviously at least leaves Becker with a better shot than facing first serves and he does reasonably well

Sampras wins 7/16 @ 44% second serve points in the set, which is down from rest of the match 28/48 @ 58%. The points he wins tends to be from over eager attacking shots from Boris... but that is the way he'd been playing all match.

No discredit than to Boris for not making more of the opportunities presented. The set and match rather are decided by a good Sampras return game with dipping returns and excellent finishing passes. The fourth set tiebreak meanwhile had been decided largely by who-played-worse off the baseline... and it turned out to be Sampras
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Understanding 'Clutch Play'
Action in this match is in keeping with an impression I've come to have of Sampras' justly celebrated clutch play

One reason for it is that he goes less than all out on normal points... so when he fully focuses on key points, his level goes up more. In other words, his baseline level is relatively low, so scope for it to go up is relatively high

Contrast with someone like Ivan Lendl, who plays all points with equal intensity. There's less room for his play to go up since its standardized at a baseline level.

Though not true in this match, Becker also tends towards the Sampras way

As impressive as Sampras clutch play (generally speaking and also for this match) is, his ability to stay at least even when not putting his best foot forward is as big a key to his success. Such an approach would likely get even someone as great as a Lendl into a of trouble

Match Progression
Just the one break decides the first set, the rest being easy holds. Couple of return passes by Boris, couple of third ball groundstroke errors from Sampras, he one on break point against a decent return

Second set couldn't be closer. Sampras had a couple of break points - its the only game, other than the penultimate game of the match where he does - but Becker holds from 15-40 with 4 unreturned first serves. 2 Sampras games goes to deuce. Tiebreak is decided by one mini-break, a wide Sampras return giving Becker a tough volley and Sampras managing the pass FH dtl for a winner. This is the only first serve point out of 42 that Becker loses starting in first set and ending in the fourth - that's how razor fine the difference between winning and losing is

Becker has 2 break points middle of the third set, on back of Sampras missing a couple of routine volleys and a third ball BH winner attempt (Becker had hit such a shot in the game before). Those are aced away, and Sampras adds a pair of FH winners - 1 inside-in, 1 inside-out - to go on hold

Set inevitably heads to another tiebreak. Becker loses the opening point, on his serve missing an attempted third ball BH winner, an unnecessarily aggressive shot. Next point, a Sampras' approach shot that was out goes uncalled, and Sampras goes on to win the point. A marginal call, impossible to tell for sure without hotspot abetted replays - but enough to be tilt set and match Pete's way, given how even play is. Becker's able to get the mini-break back with a perfectly threaded BH dtl/inside-out pass winner, but double faults on the second of his next 2 serves. Set point down and facing a second serve, Becker return-approaches but Sampras is up to making the under pressure pass BH dtl to take a two sets lead

Fourth set starts with a bang with Becker reeling of 3 successive return winners (FH inside-in, BH inside-in and BH cc) to bring up 2 break points. On it, he again return-approaches, a bit better than on previous set point, but Sampras again, makes the BH dtl pass. And goes on to hold with commanding serve-volleys

11 easy holds later, its back to the cauldron of the tiebreak. Despite the tension of a 13-11 scoreline, its the worst run of play in the match. Both players miss first serves regularly and second serve points end with sloppy baseline errors for the most part. Becker is usually ahead - he has 5 set points to Sampras' 2. Sampras' 2 are of course, also match points. He misses the first with a meek BH error and the second is a FH miss. His worst miss though is at 9-9 when a serve-volleying Becker hits a gentle first 1/2volley and elects to retreat to the baseline after it. Boris is well out position and Sampras has a regulation BH dtl to open court that he nets. The set ends with Sampras missing a routinely easy first FHV

The deciding set is the lowest quality of the match. Sampras only makes 50% first serves and stays back on all but 1 second serve. His second serve is also damaging level strong. Plenty of chances for Boris then... but he's not up to it. Plenty of overeager to attack baseline play... usually ending in errors

Sampras scores his sole break of the match in game 9. He opens with a FH dtl pass winner and ends with a BH dtl pass winner, with another FH dtl pass sandwiched in between - all against first serves. Becker has to volley up on these points, leaving Sampras a shot on the pass that he takes with style. The critical point is a sloppy Becker third ball attacking BH cc mishit error... common for him in the set. To bring up the break point he'd go onto covert, Sampras' running FH dtl forces a Becker BH error

And Sampras serves out the match. The final point of the match turns out to be the longest (I'm fairly certain), a lively 24 stroke baseline rally, ending with a Becker BH error

Summing up, a top quality, serve dominated match on a fast court where returners are given very little chance. Becker is the slightly better player in almost all areas - serve, return, volleys, creating passing chances and baseline play - but Sampras is close and clutch enough in all areas that the advantage isn't decisive. Match couldn't be closer - one erroneous call in the third set tiebreak is the realistic difference
Not quite a 50-50 match, more like 52-48 loaded coin flip and it lands on Sampras' 48 side

Stats for the pair's recent match in Stuttgart - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/duel-match-stats-report-becker-vs-sampras-final-sampras-vs-agassi-quarter-final-stuttgart-indoor-1996.647171/
 

JasonZ

Semi-Pro
Pete Sampras beat Boris Becker 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(4), 6-7(11), 6-4 the Year End Championship (World Tour Finals) final, 1996 on carpet in Hanover, Germany

This was Sampras' third of 5 titles at the event and he had last won in '94 beating Becker in the final. Becker was the defending champion and this was the last of his 8 finals at the event
Previously posted https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/stats-for-1996-atp-champs-sampras-and-becker.171388/

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

Sampras won 166 points, Becker 178

Serve Stats
Sampras...
- 1st serve percentage (115/179) 64%
- 1st serve points won (91/115) 79%
- 2nd serve points won (35/64) 55%
- Aces 15, Service Winners 6 (1 second serve)
- Double Faults 5
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (57/179) 32%

Becker...
- 1st serve percentage (97/165) 59%
- 1st serve points won (87/97) 90%
- 2nd serve points won (40/68) 59%
- Aces 32, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 8
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (71/165) 43%

Serve Patterns
Sampras served...
- to FH 32%
- to BH 64%
- to Body 5%

Becker served....
- to FH 45%
- to BH 43%
- to Body 12%

Return Stats
Sampras made...
- 86 (35 FH, 51 BH), including 2 return-approaches
- 4 Winners (3 FH, 1 BH)
- 38 Errors, comprising...
- 5 Unforced (2 FH, 3 BH)
- 33 Forced (20 FH, 13 BH)
- Return Rate (86/157) 55%

Becker made...
- 117 (40 FH, 77 BH), including 7 return-approaches
- 8 Winners (3 FH, 4 BH)
- 36 Errors, comprising...
- 7 Unforced (1 FH, 6 BH)
- 29 Forced (7 FH, 22 BH)
- Return Rate (117/174) 67%

Break Points
Sampras 1/5 (2 games)
Becker 1/5 (3 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Sampras 50 (16 FH, 8 BH, 13 FHV, 9 BHV, 4 OH)
Becker 39 (10 FH, 12 BH, 10 FHV, 6 BHV, 1 OH)

Sampras had 28 from serve-volley points
- 13 first 'volleys' (3 FHV, 5 BHV, 1 OH, 3 FH at net, 1 BH at net)… the OH was not a smash
- 15 second volleys (8 FHV, 4 BHV, 3 OH)

- 4 return (all passes) (3 FH, 1 BH)
- FHs - 2 dtl and 1 inside-in
- BH - 1 cc

- 9 regular passes (4 FH, 5 BH)
- FHs - 1 cc and 3 dtl
- BHs - 4 dtl and 1 inside-out

- non-pass FHs - 2 cc, 1 dtl, 1 inside-out and 2 inside-in
- non-pass BH - 1 dtl

Becker had 17 from serve-volley points
- 12 first 'volleys' (6 FHV, 3 BHV, 1 OH, 1 FH at net, 1 BH at net)
- 5 second volleys (3 FHV, 2 BHV)

- 1 FHV from a return-approach point

- 8 returns (all passes) (3 FH, 5 BH)
- FHs - 1 cc, 1 dtl and 1 inside-in
- BHs - 1 cc, 1 dtl, 1 inside-out and 2 inside-in (the inside-out went under Sampras' volley attempt)

- 7 regular passes (4 FH, 3 BH)
- FHs - 2 cc and 2 dtl
- BHs - 1 cc, 1 dtl and 1 1 dtl/inside-out

- non-pass FHs - 1 cc and 1 inside-out
- non-pass BHs - 1 cc, 2 dtl,

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Sampras 63
- 26 Unforced (10 FH, 10 BH, 2 FHV, 4 BHV)
- 37 Forced (10 FH, 19 BH, 3 FHV, 4 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)… with 1 FH running-down-drop-volley at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 50.8

Becker 51
- 16 Unforced (4 FH, 11 BH, 1 BHV)
- 35 Forced (14 FH, 16 BH, 1 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 3 BHV, BH1/2V)… the FHV was a diving shot
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 51.3

(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...
- 81/111 (73%) at net, including...
- 76/104 (73%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 71/95 (75%) off 1st serve and...
- 5/9 (56%) off 2nd serve
---
- 1/2 return-approaching
- 1/1 retreated

Becker was...
- 73/94 (78%) at net, including...
- 61/75 (81%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 54/64 (84%) off 1st serve and...
- 7/11 (64%) off 2nd serve
---
- 3/7 (43%) return-approaching
- 1/3 (33%) forced back/retreated

Match Report
A great match, perhaps the best of the pair's many encounters on carpet, and about as close as you can get. As all of their matches indoors, play is heavily serve dominated and a point here and there decides matters. So few points that it would be folly to attribute the outcome on 'clutch' or 'choke' play... it could just be a toss of dice matter

Becker does almost everything better - and not necessarily 'just a bit better' either. He serves better, returns better, volleys better
The passing is a wash - Becker's superiority in other areas gives him more chances on it
On the whole, Becker is better baseline-to-baseline too, though that makes up only a small part of action for most of match. It become more important in 4th set tiebreak and throughout the 5th set, where Sampras has an edge - mostly due to Becker being not good

Becker's problem is... that he's not better enough to actually break serve

Becker wins more points (178 to 166), while serving less of them (165 to 179)
His unreturned rate is 43% to Sampras' 32%. In raw numbers, he has 11 more points won with the serve (taking into account double faults)
Becker leads first serve points won (90% to 79%) and second (59% to 55%)… too much to be offset by trailing first serve percentage (59% to 64%)
In play, Becker wins 102 points to Sampras' 101
Both players are 1/5 on break points, but Becker has them in 1 extra game

The court is perfect for fast carpet. Its fast all right, rewarding attacking play, but not ridiculously so as some earlier editions of the tournament. Good second serves are returnable, neutral groundstrokes aren't a waste of time (though both err on the side of being attacking from the back), routine groundstrokes don't go through fast enough to force errors. Wonderful court, favouring attacking play without making everything less than attacking pointless or even mild attacks irresistible

As incredibly well as both players serve, there was scope for the returners to be a bit more effective then they were, especially Sampras. Match is almost all easy holds, with returner straining for crumbs of a chance to break
Actually the carpet was ridiculously fast. All 8 players said it is too fast. Look at the scoreboards when Sampras, Backer, Ivanisevic and Krajicek played against each other. Around 70 % of sets ended in a tiebreak. This a higher percentage when these players faced each other at wimbledon or any other year end championship.
 
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NicoMK

Professional
Actually the carpet was ridiculously fast. All 8 players said it is too fast.
Well it was played in Germany and Boris was one of the best, if not the best player in the world, on fast carpet. They probably built this court to give him some advantage. Problem: players like Sampras or Ivanisevic shined on fast carpet too...

I remember that final for its fantastic level of tennis with two players that I liked very much but yeah, that was FAST (and IMO 100 times better than today's slower tennis played by robots...).
 
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Waspsting

Hall of Fame
In the round robin stage, Becker beat Sampras 7-6(10), 7-6(4)

Becker won 94 points, Sampras 94

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

(Note: I'm missing 1 Sampras serve point and 2 off Becker's - all won by the server

Missing points - Set 1, Game 1, Point 1
Set 1, Game 6, Points 1 & 2)

Serve Stats
Becker...
- 1st serve percentage (47/97) 48%
- 1st serve points won (38/47) 81%
- 2nd serve points won (28/50) 56%
- Unknown serve point (2/2)
- Aces 24 (1 second serve)
- Double Faults 9
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (43/97) 44%

Sampras...
- 1st serve percentage (45/88) 51%
- 1st serve points won (36/45) 80%
- 2nd serve points won (26/43) 60%
- Unknown serve point (1/1)
- Aces 14, Service Winners 2
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (33/88) 38%

Serve Pattern
Becker served...
- to FH 34%
- to BH 49%
- to Body 17%

Sampras served...
- to FH 41%
- to BH 55%
- to Body 4%

Return Stats
Becker made...
- 52 (21 FH, 31 BH), including 1 return-approach
- 3 Winners (3 FH)
- 17 Errors, comprising...
- 7 Unforced (2 FH, 5 BH)
- 10 Forced (4 FH, 10 BH)
- Return Rate (52/85) 61%

Sampras made...
- 45 (18 FH, 27 BH)
- 1 Winner (1 FH)
- 19 Errors, comprising...
- 3 Unforced (1 FH, 2 BH)
- 16 Forced (5 FH, 11 BH)
- Return Rate (45/88) 51%

Break Points
Becker 1/3 (2 games)
Sampras 1/10 (6 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Becker 19 (9 FH, 4 BH, 1 FHV, 4 BHV, 1 OH)
Sampras 27 (5 FH, 10 BH, 4 FHV, 6 BHV, 1 OH, 1 BHOH)

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

- FHs - 3 cc (2 passes - 1 a return), 1 cc/inside-in and 4 inside-out (2 return passes)
- BHs - 1 cc pass, 1 inside-out/dtl pass and 2 inside-out (1 pass)

Sampras had 13 from serve-volley points
- 9 first 'volleys' (2 FHV, 5 BHV, 1 FH at net, 1 BH at net)… 1 BHV can reasonably be called a BHOH. The BH at net was a drop shot
- 3 second volleys (1 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 BHOH)
- 1 fourth volley (1 FHV)

- FHs (all passes) - 1 cc and 3 dtl (1 return)
- BH passes - 1 cc, 5 dtl, 1 longline/inside-out
- regular BHs - 1 dtl and 1 longline

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Becker 24
- 13 Unforced (7 FH, 3 BH, 2 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 11 Forced (4 FH, 4 BH, 1 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 53.1

Sampras 27
- 9 Unforced (7 FH, 1 BH, 1 BHV)
- 18 Forced (9 FH, 4 BH, 2 FH1/2V, 3 BH1/2V)… with 1 BH at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 45.6

(Note 1: All 1/2 volleys refer to such shots played at net. 1/2 volleys played from other parts of the court are included within relevant groundstroke numbers)

(Note 2: the Unforced Error Forcefulness Index is an indicator of how aggressive the average UE was. The numbers presented for these two matches are keyed on 4 categories - 20 defensive, 40 neutral, 50 attacking and 60 winner attempt)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Becker was...
- 29/47 (62%) at net, including...
- 23/36 (64%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 15/24 (63%) off 1st serve and...
- 8/12 (67%) off 2nd serve
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- 1/1 return-approaching

Sampras was...
- 27/41 (66%) at net, including...
- 25/38 (66%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 20/29 (69%) off 1st serve and...
- 5/9 (56%) off 2nd serve

Match Report
Another tight, high quality contest. Big difference with the final is the serve percentages are much lower here - Becker down 11%, Sampras 13% - and with both players still serve-volleying off all first serves and rarely off seconds, it allows for more baseline play

Difference between the players remains razor thin. Becker is the more aggressive - with the serve, with the return and in play. But Sampras is the better player, more clearly than Becker was in the final

Note break point stats. Sampras 1/10 in 6 games, Becker 1/3 in 2. Becker also has to serve 10 extra points

Some tough games in first set. Becker has to save 3 break points across 2 games, lasting 8 and 14 points respectively. In between, he has a break point of his own. These are all power served away, other than one which Becker needs a second volley winner to save. Later, serving to stay in the set, Becker falls to 0-40, but power serves his way out

Some great shots too. A perfect BH dtl pass by Sampras, right out of and into the corner. A picture perfect and pretty Sampras drop FHV off a very powerful pass. And an agile BHOH from Pete tha goes off for winner at a fine angle. The pick of Becker's shots is guided BH inside-out/dtl pass

Tiebreak threatens to go on for awhile with 10 straight points going on serve. Becker steps up though and whacks an overpowering FH inside-out winner to give himself set point, which he converts by coming to net from rallying

Sampras has the edge in second set as he returns much better than the first. He breaks to leave himself serving for the set with strong returns and passes, but his first serve goes awol. He makes just 1 in 8 points, double faults twice and loses 2 points he serve-volleyed off to be broken

Becker's always in command of tiebreak after winning both Sampras' first two service points, and opening up a 4-0 lead. He finishes with style, swishing away a BH inside-out passing winner

Comparison by shots
With the first serve, Boris is looking for the service winner every time. Sampras isn't exactly rolling his serve in either... but not to the extent Boris is. 23 aces from 47 first serves speaks for itself

Boris hits bigger second serves too, Sampras' are merely good - just like the final. One difference - Boris usually hits second serves to the body. Its highly effectively her and he does it much more than in the final. Here, he's got 17% serves to body, in the final its 12. Also high 9 double faults - a big enough number to be a problem. Strong as his second serve was, it wasn't worth giving out 9 freebies

On the return, Boris is much as he is in the final, hitting with authority what he can and doing his best on everything. Note the 5 Sampras 1/2volley errors and 3 Becker winners
Sampras' returning in the first set makes his final showing look like a typical Michael Chang showing. Anything he bit wide he just lets go, occasionally, he's almost walking over for the next point as soon as he sees the serve is wide

Particularly Becker's aces down the middle are returnable, let alone touchable. In deuce court, some are almost half way between the T line and the center of the half-court. They're travelling like bullets of course, but Sampras loses interest in making the return if they're that far out. On one of his break and set points in game 10, Sampras moves over to wide BH, has it covered but doesn't stick his racquet out. Maybe he was beaten for pace - it was a very fast serve - but certainly some less than 100% commitment to making the return from Sampras

In second set, Sampras is far 'up' for the return. He moves to and makes wide returns that he'd watched go by earlier
Becker takes to guessing direction of Sampras' first serves. Also return approaches (a swing, not a chip-charge) once, and looks to take big cuts at Sampras' second serve regularly. No return-approaches in the final, and not much big cut returning either. Sampras' second serve is attackable in. Doesn't work well for Boris - he has 7 return UEs, to Sampras' 3. As in the final, Becker's second serve is considerably stronger than Sampras'

On the volley, both are very good, Sampras the better. Just the 1 UE for Pete, while Boris has 3. Most noticeable difference is a technical one. On the low volley, Becker volleys up while Sampras plays drop volleys. Becker's way leaves Sampras a shot on pass, Sampras' way doesn't. Both players tend to make these not easy volleys

In matches with good volleying, its often the odd not good one that brings home how good the standard is. Last point of the match, Sampras hits an ordinary volley in middle of court that Becker hits a great winner too... it showcases how well Sampras volleyed otherwise

There's some tremendous passing shots from Sampras in the second set, especially BH dtl on which he has 5 winners. Virtually perfect shots hit clean as a whistle. If he can draw a not-strong first volley from Becker, he makes the pass as often as not for the set

From the baseline, Becker is in all out attack mode, regularly going for third ball winners off both sides or early in rallies. Note his very high 53.1 UEFI (Sampras has 45.6). He's about 50-50, maybe a bit lower going this way. Sampras is more conventional but also error prone off the FH

Becker's best plays when staying back - and one he didn't repeat much in final - is approaching off third ball. Would have been handy in the final, though he wasn't as attacking with his first groundstroke as here. If you fancy hitting a low percentage winner from a regulation third ball from the back, you can also hit a strong but higher percentage approach shot to attack - and with Becker volleying well, its likely to win the point

Sampras doesn't go this route at all and only comes in from rallies 3 times. His play in this style in the '91 semis and final against Ivan Lendl and Jim Courier was exemplary. By '96, he's become more efficient and less creative in his play
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Summing up, another coin flip match. This time its Sampras who is the better in play and Becker who wins - the exact opposite of the final

Stats for the pair's matches in '94 - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/duel-match-stats-report-sampras-vs-becker-year-end-championship-finals-round-robin-1994.654019/
 

Drob

Professional
First Serve Points - Returns, Volleys & Passes
Both players serve-volley off all their first serve points

So doing, Becker wins 84% of points, Sampras 75%
Becker has 33 unreturnable serves (32 aces, 1 service winner), Sampras 20 (15 aces, 5 service winners)
Total, Becker wins 90% points, Sampras 79%

Pretty clear who who's better on their first serve

Some part of it though is due to difference in returning. Becker gives nothing away, Sampras... takes it a bit easy at times, especially against difficult serves. Not tanking or anything so drastic, but less than 100% committed to making the return

This becomes apparent on certain crucial points, such as tiebreaks. He moves and strains to do what he can against wide serves he'd just watch go by most match. And usually does get them back, or at least, a racquet on the ball. Another example is when he has break point in set 2. He runs and hops over to get a healthy racquet on the ball to a strong wide serve indistinguishable from the numerous aces that went by him

The reason Becker has just 1 service winner is because serves that strong go for aces. Identically strong serves from Sampras draw service winners, or even balls just marked 'forced return error' from Becker, who does his best on every return

Sampras also tends to save his best serves for when he's in trouble. Down break point or in a spot of minor trouble, the first serves he sends down are noticeably harder than at other times (they're never gentle). Unlike Becker, who serves about the same at all times

Note Becker serving more to the FH (45%) than BH (43%). That's not so much targeting the FH as going for the most aggressive serve possible out wide to the deuce court. Most of his aces would have been there. Its a ploy he occasionally tries against Sampras... often getting burnt by terrific blistering returns to a worrying extent. That doesn't happen here, he serves wide enough when going to FH that Sampras can rarely get a strong return off

Becker is the better volleyer as well as server and this is one of his very best performances on the shot. Off both wings, he volleys into corners, leaving Sampras little hope on the pass. Note also just the one UE. He doesn't face many very difficult ones (just 5 FEs), but deals with not-easy volleys (some combo of firmly hit, slightly under the net or a bit wide) well, punching them through and away from Pete

Sampras also volleys well, but tends to leave Becker more half-chances on the pass than the other way around. Also misses - he has 6 UEs, a couple of them misses on very finely angled winner attempts (Becker drop volleys very little by contrast).

In a nutshell, the volleying leaves Sampras hopeless passes and Becker, half-chances on the pass. What Becker doesn't miss, he can at best get wide (not much low)… but Sampras is very good at covering the front. Note Sampras with 12 second volley winner to just 8 firsts.... he wasn't volleying to finish in two shots. Rather, he couldn't finish in 1 shot and needed 2. His second volleys area combination of easy putaways (balls Becker somehow managed to get in play) but more running volleys

Not much lobbing from either player. Come whatever, the server is almost always dominant. What do you have to lose by throwing up a lob? It getting smashed away (as undoubtedly would most often happen) isn't much different from what was happening. At least the lob gives the server something else to be on the look out for and might long term, alter his position in forecourt. With so few even half-chances for the returner, they're probably not willing to throw one away by going for a lob

A style of returning that neither player excels at is soft blocking. With the serve so powerful, the server isn't always in position when the return comes back. Neither obviously has the ability to hit hard flat returns to the feet in this match. The soft block tends to leave server with low volleys when he's around the service line. Its the type of returning that ultimately gets Sampras his break. In that particular game, Becker has to volley up... probably not something Sampras did by design there. But firm returning against two great volleyers comes to next to nothing in this match

Second Serve Points - Serve-volley & Baseline Play
Both players stay back off overwhelming bulk or their second serve points

Becker serve-volleys off 18% of his second serves and wins 64% of those, Sampras 19% and 56%
Sampras double faults 5 times, Becker 8
Becker return-approaches 12% of the time, Sampras just 3%
Total, Becker wins 59% points, Sampras 55%

Less clear who's stronger on their second serve points, but I think its still Becker. For one thing, his second serve is stronger. A few forcing second serves that he stayed back on (Sampras has none). Sampras' second serve is strong in that its not easy to attack (most of the time). Becker's is a reasonable weapon

So we have baseline rallies on most second serve points. They don't last long. Both players go for attacking shots early in rallies - the third ball is often a winner attempt off a neutral ball.

Note the UEFI's, especially Becker's. 51.3 is very high, given he has just 1 volleying error. Sampras is a shade lower at 50.8 with 20/26 errors being baseline shots - still a high figure

This shot-making based groundstrokes is the norm for the pair on carpet and quality of it is above the norm. Its quite common for one, the other or both to play poorly from the back, missing attacking shots regularly. For most of the match, both are good at finishing points with groundstrokes, Becker more

Groundies become critical in the final set, where Sampras makes just 50% first serves. This obviously at least leaves Becker with a better shot than facing first serves and he does reasonably well

Sampras wins 7/16 @ 44% second serve points in the set, which is down from rest of the match 28/48 @ 58%. The points he wins tends to be from over eager attacking shots from Boris... but that is the way he'd been playing all match.

No discredit than to Boris for not making more of the opportunities presented. The set and match rather are decided by a good Sampras return game with dipping returns and excellent finishing passes. The fourth set tiebreak meanwhile had been decided largely by who-played-worse off the baseline... and it turned out to be Sampras
Here you go again. In both this and your analysis of the RR match in this particular tournament, you are telling us that Pete is just standing there letting returnable serves go by. I think you might take a re-look. I didn't see it that way.
 

Drob

Professional
Understanding 'Clutch Play'
Action in this match is in keeping with an impression I've come to have of Sampras' justly celebrated clutch play

One reason for it is that he goes less than all out on normal points... so when he fully focuses on key points, his level goes up more. In other words, his baseline level is relatively low, so scope for it to go up is relatively high

Contrast with someone like Ivan Lendl, who plays all points with equal intensity. There's less room for his play to go up since its standardized at a baseline level.

Though not true in this match, Becker also tends towards the Sampras way

As impressive as Sampras clutch play (generally speaking and also for this match) is, his ability to stay at least even when not putting his best foot forward is as big a key to his success. Such an approach would likely get even someone as great as a Lendl into a of trouble

Match Progression
Just the one break decides the first set, the rest being easy holds. Couple of return passes by Boris, couple of third ball groundstroke errors from Sampras, he one on break point against a decent return

Second set couldn't be closer. Sampras had a couple of break points - its the only game, other than the penultimate game of the match where he does - but Becker holds from 15-40 with 4 unreturned first serves. 2 Sampras games goes to deuce. Tiebreak is decided by one mini-break, a wide Sampras return giving Becker a tough volley and Sampras managing the pass FH dtl for a winner. This is the only first serve point out of 42 that Becker loses starting in first set and ending in the fourth - that's how razor fine the difference between winning and losing is

Becker has 2 break points middle of the third set, on back of Sampras missing a couple of routine volleys and a third ball BH winner attempt (Becker had hit such a shot in the game before). Those are aced away, and Sampras adds a pair of FH winners - 1 inside-in, 1 inside-out - to go on hold

Set inevitably heads to another tiebreak. Becker loses the opening point, on his serve missing an attempted third ball BH winner, an unnecessarily aggressive shot. Next point, a Sampras' approach shot that was out goes uncalled, and Sampras goes on to win the point. A marginal call, impossible to tell for sure without hotspot abetted replays - but enough to be tilt set and match Pete's way, given how even play is. Becker's able to get the mini-break back with a perfectly threaded BH dtl/inside-out pass winner, but double faults on the second of his next 2 serves. Set point down and facing a second serve, Becker return-approaches but Sampras is up to making the under pressure pass BH dtl to take a two sets lead

Fourth set starts with a bang with Becker reeling of 3 successive return winners (FH inside-in, BH inside-in and BH cc) to bring up 2 break points. On it, he again return-approaches, a bit better than on previous set point, but Sampras again, makes the BH dtl pass. And goes on to hold with commanding serve-volleys

11 easy holds later, its back to the cauldron of the tiebreak. Despite the tension of a 13-11 scoreline, its the worst run of play in the match. Both players miss first serves regularly and second serve points end with sloppy baseline errors for the most part. Becker is usually ahead - he has 5 set points to Sampras' 2. Sampras' 2 are of course, also match points. He misses the first with a meek BH error and the second is a FH miss. His worst miss though is at 9-9 when a serve-volleying Becker hits a gentle first 1/2volley and elects to retreat to the baseline after it. Boris is well out position and Sampras has a regulation BH dtl to open court that he nets. The set ends with Sampras missing a routinely easy first FHV

The deciding set is the lowest quality of the match. Sampras only makes 50% first serves and stays back on all but 1 second serve. His second serve is also damaging level strong. Plenty of chances for Boris then... but he's not up to it. Plenty of overeager to attack baseline play... usually ending in errors

Sampras scores his sole break of the match in game 9. He opens with a FH dtl pass winner and ends with a BH dtl pass winner, with another FH dtl pass sandwiched in between - all against first serves. Becker has to volley up on these points, leaving Sampras a shot on the pass that he takes with style. The critical point is a sloppy Becker third ball attacking BH cc mishit error... common for him in the set. To bring up the break point he'd go onto covert, Sampras' running FH dtl forces a Becker BH error

And Sampras serves out the match. The final point of the match turns out to be the longest (I'm fairly certain), a lively 24 stroke baseline rally, ending with a Becker BH error

Summing up, a top quality, serve dominated match on a fast court where returners are given very little chance. Becker is the slightly better player in almost all areas - serve, return, volleys, creating passing chances and baseline play - but Sampras is close and clutch enough in all areas that the advantage isn't decisive. Match couldn't be closer - one erroneous call in the third set tiebreak is the realistic difference
Not quite a 50-50 match, more like 52-48 loaded coin flip and it lands on Sampras' 48 side

Stats for the pair's recent match in Stuttgart - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/duel-match-stats-report-becker-vs-sampras-final-sampras-vs-agassi-quarter-final-stuttgart-indoor-1996.647171/
Provocative analysis. i do not agree. But you are a keen observer. So, I will have to look for this as I watch Sampras matches in the future.
 
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