Duel Match Stats/Reports - Agassi vs Sampras, Australian Open semi-final, 2000 & US Open quarter-final, 2001


Hall of Fame
Andre Agassi beat Pete Sampras 6-4, 3-6, 6-7(0), 7-6(5), 6-1 in the Australian Open semi-final, 2000 on hard court

Agassi would go onto win the title, beating Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the final. Agassi was the the reigning French Open and US Open champion and Wimbledon runner-up. Sampras was the reigning Wimbledon champion. The two had previously played the final in 1995, with Agassi winning

Agassi won 155 points, Sampras 149

Sampras serve-volleyed off all serves

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (101/148) 68%
- 1st serve points won (75/101) 74%
- 2nd serve points won (32/47) 68%
- Aces 13
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (58/148) 39%

- 1st serve percentage (99/156) 63%
- 1st serve points won (80/99) 81%
- 2nd serve points won (28/57) 49%
- Aces 37 (5 second serves), Service Winners 3 (1 second serve)
- Double Faults 5
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (74/156) 47%

Serve Patterns
Agassi served...
- to FH 26%
- to BH 69%
- to Body 6%

Sampras served...
- to FH 48%
- to BH 45%
- to Body 7%

Return Stats
Agassi made...
- 77 (38 FH, 39 BH)
- 7 Winners (4 FH, 3 BH)
- 34 Errors, all forced...
- 34 Forced (16 FH, 18 BH)
- Return Rate (77/131) 51%

Sampras made...
- 87 (15 FH, 72 BH), including 7 return-approaches
- 7 Winners (2 FH, 5 BH)
- 45 Errors, comprising...
- 27 Unforced (7 FH, 20 BH), including 1 return-approach
- 18 Forced (10 FH, 8 BH)
- Return Rate (87/145) 60%

Break Points
Agassi 3/13 (8 games)
Sampras 1/9 (6 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Agassi 34 (19 FH, 12 BH, 3 FHV)
Sampras 38 (11 FH, 5 BH, 9 FHV, 7 BHV, 6 OH)

Agassi had passes 21 (11 FH, 10 BH) - 7 (4 FH, 3 BH) returns & 14 regular passes (7 FH, 7 BH)
- FH returns - 1 cc and 3 dtl
- BH returns - 2 dtl and 1 inside-in
- regular FHs - 3 cc, 1 inside-out, 1 longline at net, 1 lob and 1 running-down-drop-shot dtl at net
- regular BHs - 4 cc and 3 dtl

- regular (non-pass) FHs - 1 cc, 1 dtl, 3 inside-out, 1 inside-in/cc, 1 longline and 1 longline/inside-out
- regular BHs - 1 dtl and 1 net chord dribbler

Sampras had 20 from serve-volley points
- 12 first 'volleys' (3 FHV, 4 BHV, 2 OH, 3 FH at net)
- 8 second 'volleys' (3 FHV, 2 BHV, 2 OH, 1 FH at net)

- 1 from a return-approach point (1 BHV)

- FHs - 4 cc (1 return, 1 pass), 2 inside-in (1 return) and 1 running-down-drop-shot lob at net
- BHs (all returns) - 1 dtl, 2 inside-out and 2 inside-in

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Agassi 34
- 12 Unforced (5 FH, 7 BH)
- 22 Forced (13 FH, 9 BH)… with 1 FH running-down-drop-shot at net & 1 BH running-down-drop-shot at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 44.2

Sampras 58
- 33 Unforced (7 FH, 14 BH, 2 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 8 BHV, 1 OH)… with 2 FH at net
- 25 Forced (6 FH, 6 BH, 4 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 6 BHV, 2 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 50.0

(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 this match is keyed on 4 categories - 20 defensive, 40 neutral, 50 attacking and 60 winner attempt)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Agassi was...
- 11/17 (65%) at net, including...
- 1/1 serve-volleying, a 1st serve
- 0/1 forced back

Sampras was...
- 77/126 (61%) at net, including...
- 68/111 (61%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 46/65 (71%) off 1st serve and...
- 22/46 (48%) off 2nd serve
- 2/7 (29%) return-approaching
- 0/1 forced back

Match Report
Complete contrast of styles, server dominant, point-here-point-there thriller on a fast court that stays neck and neck for 4 sets before Agassi surges ahead, with Sampras weakening in the decider

Sampras serve-volleys 100% of the time, making his service games all about serve-volley vs return-pass. These games are the high point of action - Sampras serves very powerfully, including off 2nd serves, and scores a boatload of free points. Agassi takes returns early and while giving up said boatload of freebies, smacks anything that he can reach. Lots of difficult first volleys for Pete to make - and a fantastic contest between the powerful Agassi return and Sampras volley (the first one, in particular)

That’s in context of 47% unreturned serves, aka Pete’s load of earned freebies/Agassi’s cost of making powerful returns. With that high a rate, Pete holds comfortably and readily most of match (he’s broken once in first 4 sets). But Agassi does get likely-to forcefully lead to breaking strong returns off once in awhile. Prospects for breaking sooner or later - not bad. And not bad on this court and with Sampras in full-on monster serving mode is good. Far less powerful showings by Pete on far, far slower courts have rendered Agassi (among others) a lot more helpless than this

37 aces I believe is a career high for Sampras. He’s got 3 further service winners. 5 aces and 1 service winner are second serves

On other side of matters, action is more mundane. Decent serving from Agassi at most, less than that returning from Pete and a mismatch in Agassi’s favour from back of the court. Action varies some, based on how aggressive Pete is on the return. He’s at his most threatening when he is aggressive. Majority of the time, he returns passively, poking and blocking regulation serves back in play - and Agassi handily outlasts or outhits him from the back

To be more accurate, “..trying to passively poke and block regulation returns”. Agassi’s unreturned rate is a very high 39% - a ridiculously high figure given quality of his serve.

Compare Agassi’s service numbers here with the final against Kafelnikov
- first serve-in - here 68%, final 66%
- ace frequency of 1st serve - here 13%, final 11%
- unreturned rate - here 39%, final 26%

The in-count and ace frequency speaks to his serving about the same in both matches. And the 26% unreturneds on a very fast court is fair reflection of the quality of his serve. No more than decent

Only here, its very large 39% because Sampras makes a hash of regulation returns. 27/45 or 60% of Pete’s return errors have been marked UEs

Its not all making a hash of regulation returns. Pete’s got high 7 return winners and chip-charges 7 times (only wins 2 of those), so fair few ‘good UEs’ - aggressive, high-risk, high reward stuff, but bulk are simple misses

In general, Pete tends to cut loose with aggressive returns after leading by a set at least. That holds here too, and its in the 4th set that he’s at his most aggressive

So in strange way, serve-return battles are similar -
- Sampras serving vs Agassi returning… top notch aggro vs aggro stuff
- Agassi serving vs Sampras returning… ordinary vs some erraticly aggro stuff (+ a lot of looseness)

In the event, both players can break just once in 4 sets. Both have break points in 5 additional games in that time. (final set is a different story)

Gist of serve-return complex - Pete’s serve extremely potent, Agassi can’t make many returns but whatever he makes he makes powerfully. Opening up chances for Agassi to break eventually and Pete needing to volley well to keep holding. Agassi’s serve ordinary, Pete’s stock returning worse than that + some Pete low-percentagely attacking returning (as often as not, failing)

Pete’s prospects for breaking is odd game where his aggressive returns score or when he can outlast Agassi from the baseline after pushing return back in play. He might be poor from the back and missing a lot of returns, but if he can hold, one break will do

Lovely stuff when Agassi does make the return. He returns powerfully. His stock return is hard hit, slightly below net, skirting line between forceful/unforceful (as in, if Pete misses the volley whether it’ll be marked UE or FE). Not too hard to put in play, but not easy to putaway - and with no extra time, a few misses are almost inevitable

It suits Pete’s guiding, steering, style of first volleying. Harder the return comes, harder he can redirect it, so Agassi isn’t left with passes he can line up afterwards. Pete’s volleys against the stock return go for winners or force tough moving passing errors. If the returns were less powerful, would probably give Agassi better chances on the follow up pass - at cost of Pete having more time of make the volley and hence, less likely to miss it in first place

Pete has 14 ‘volley’ UEs (including 2 FH at net and a FH1/2V) and they’re relatively difficult for being so marked. Good enough against not-easy but by definition, not hard stuff

When Agassi particularly gets stuck into the return, Pete’s left with half-volleys and shoelace volleys. This is highlight contest of match. He makes most of them, even places them reasonably well

Pete’s got 13 ‘volley’ FEs (including 3 half-volleys). He makes a lot more than that - good job by him at handling the particularly tough stuff

14 UEs to 13 FEs, with the UEs being on not-easy side and the FEs being very difficult, while making considerably more balls that had potential to be FEs and decisively attacking the not-easy, ‘regulation’ volleys sums up Pete in forecourt. A good showing

Throw in Agassi with 19 passing winners (7 returns) to Pete’s 21 serve-‘volleying’ (4 groundstrokes at net) , and most of Agassi’s 22 FEs being passes and that’s the contest in numbers. A superb one

All that of course is in context of Pete’s 47% unreturned rate, which means holding very comfortably on whole. Well as he serves, he’s left with work to do on the volley - and he does it
Last edited:


Hall of Fame
How well Agassi return-passes largely comes through in Pete with just 48% second serve-volleying points won. Pete serving 5 aces and a sevice winner with second serves speaks to how powerful his second serving is. Better than many, if not most player’s first serve, so good to confidently serve-volley behind

With that calibre a serve and volleying well, it takes a very strong showing for Agassi to win the bulk of Pete’s second serve-volley points

Pete serves 2nd serve ace/service winner 11% of the time. Compare to Agassi serving one 13% of the time off first serve. Roughly, Pete’s second serve as is strong as Agassi’s first - which brings home both well Agassi return-passes against it and also how not well Pete returns

And on other side of things? 39% unreturned rate is a luxary cushion for Agassi to be launching from. Once the rally gets under way, baseline rallies are a mismatch in Agassi’s favour. Not a question of one player being better than the other, its more like two different calibre players trading groundies

Baseline-to-Baseline (excluding returns in all cases)
- UEs - Agassi 12, Pete 19
- Winners - Agassi 10, Pete 3

About half of Pete’s 12 groundstroke FEs would also be from baseline-baseline situation, while almost all of Agassi’s 22 would be passes

Agassi hits firmly off both sides, taking ball early. He strikes a fine balance of how hard and how secure and when needed, Agassi's able to up the aggression by coming to net or hitting point-endingly wide from the back. Its perfectly tailored to breakdown Pete’s BH in particular, which has by far match high 14 UEs (more than Agassi’s match total) No BH winners in play from Pete either to compensate (all 5 of his winners are returns)

Something between ‘beat-down’, 'move-around' and ‘out-last’ hitting from Agassi - and its more than good enough to stump a reactive and outmatched Pete who can’t resist the hitting or hit back other than softly. Agassi in thorough control from the back - more so than Pete is when at net

Breakdown of UEs -
- Neutral - Agassi 8, Pete 11
- Attacking - Agassi 3, Pete 12
- Winner Attempts - Agassi 1, Pete 10

In forecourt, Pete has 14, Agassi 0. Taking all the forecourt errors to be attacking or winner attempts, Pete’s still got 8 of those type, to Agassi’s 4 from the baseline. Pete’s would be desperate attempts to get out of a rally he’s being pushed around in and not only does he have negligible points ended aggressively from the back (winners or Agassi FEs), most are counter-attacking shots (as in, he has nothing to lose going for them, seeing how action is going)

Very efficient showing from Agassi on the attacking and more stuff by contrast. Neutrally, things are pretty close. That’s a bit deceptive because ‘neutral’ rallies are highly tilted towards Agassi leading, Pete reacting - there isn’t much of a contest of either wing for hitting advantage

A pretty solid showing from Pete’s FH, matching Agassi’s small 5 UEs (Pete has 2 more at net). Couple of deadly running FHs, but he’s not particularly damaging of FH either and its bossed around from the back

BH though cops the brunt of the bullying and has by far match high 14 UEs (Agassi has 12 total), while being feeble. 0 BH winners from Pete from rallies (he has 5 total and all are returns)

Agassi’s very small 17 trips to net - about a quarter of them forced approaches to deal with drop volleys - speaks to his not needing to be aggressive to put Pete away. He doesn’t look for winners or otherwise point endingly strong shots from the back either, despite the numbers. Mostly, Pete’s rejoinders to the heavy neutral stuff is so feeble that it opens up comfortable winner hitting chances - and that’s minority of time that Pete doesn’t blink with the slightly pressured error first. Lots of scope for Agassi to come in given large hitting advantage he enjoys, but little need. When in a spot of trouble, he usually obliges

Very comfortable as Agassi is on serve - more so than Pete in fact - its not necessarily too important. Its not just a one break will do court, its a point-here-point-there one. Sampras being rendered helpless on return much of the time, only to pull out a particularly good, aggresssive return game against that trend is generally, quite common

Still, plenty of discredit to Pete, particularly on the return and to lesser extent, off the ground. So many routine return misses and he's completely outplayed by a measured, controlled showing from the back

The fifth set is a different kettle of fish. Having lost a thrilling tiebreak, Pete comes out flat and not moving well for the decider. Still, he serves much as he has all match and the two breaks he gives up are products of strong returns and Pete missing difficult volleys. It brings home how well he’d got down earlier for the volleys, because he doesn’t now and can’t make them. He’s similarly flat and looks like he’s given up when returning after going down a break, though his actual showing isn’t notably different from how its been most of match. Strikes 2 return winners and conjures a break point as Agassi serves out the match, finishing with 2 unreturned second serves


Hall of Fame
Match Progression
Quick fire first set - in line with the match. Early on, Pete gets returns in play regularly, looks for chip-charging chances or otherwise coming to net. Later on, he shifts to poking/pushing returns and misses a good few. From the back, Agassi moves Pete around a bit and ‘encourages’ errors that don’t take long in coming

Agassi’s down 0-40 early on on back of 2 Pete net points. He pulls off a great running FH cc winner to thwart the first, Pete misses a high but wide FHV on the next (a UE) and a regulation return the point after before Agassi goes on to hold for 2-2

Agassi breaks to follow-up - couple of passing winners from Agassi after drawing weak volleys and a couple of Pete BHV UEs (the first slightly under the net and not too easy, the second regulation)

Pete’s got a break point late in the set also, despite a couple of routine return errors. He misses a routine BH on it before a couple of strong serves closes otu the game. Agassi serves out the set with to love with 4 unreturned serves - the last 2, regulation second serves

Second set is like mirror image of the first. Pete snags his only break point - a slice that just clears the net draws an error before a FH inside-in return winner against a first serve seals the break. But he endures a tough time on serve - surviving 15-40 and 0-40 in consecutive service games

First one ends up lasting 12 points and in between Agassi power returns and passes is 5 Pete aces/service winners (2 of them second serves) and a double fault. Pete finishes with a putaway OH first volley winner.

Powerful serving gets him out of second game too, after againg getting into it with a double fault and 2 strong Agassi points. This time, he needs a third volley FHV to finish. The set serve out, like the first set, is to love - with 3 unreturned serves (1 ace, 1 service winner). 1 set all

Play - and Agassi - picks up in the third. He serves more powerfully (still has healthy dose or average stuff thrown in, but less than earlier) and comes to net more to put points to bed decisively (as opposed to continuing to push Pete around until getting error). No attempt by Pete to chip-charge or otherwise find net (they’d have to be low percentage approaches the way rallies go) and he meekly gets rolled over in return games

Pete meanwhile is called to deal with low volleys and half-volleys often. He handles it very well

Agassi loses 4 points in holding 6 times. Pete meanwhile endures 2 tough holds where he has to save break points. Agassi serves 31 points in set, Pete 43. The last game before the ‘breaker is a meat-grinder game that goes on for 12 points. Pete’s sloppy in missing a putaway FH at net to open the game and couple of points later, chooses to move forward and drag a FH1/2V that he could have played a FH to by stepping back readily - and misses. He adds a third UE for the game after missing a simple BHV after making 2 difficult ones. But manages to hang on for the hold with a neat, inside-out BHV winner

Having better of set counts for literally nothing for Agassi as Pete plays a flawless ‘breaker to win 7-0. There’s a running FH cc winner to start with a mini-break and 2 good returns (the second, a BH inside-in winner against a body serve particularly so) to go with 4/4 unreturned serves (1 of which Agassi just misses hitting for a winner)

And the 4th set, is somewhat a mirror image of the 3rd. Agassi somewhat gives up trying on return. Pete has 17 aces in the set, still serving very well but no more so than he had earlier

Pete steps up on return to a considerably greater extent than previous 2 sets and is readily looking for aggressive returns. He’s successful enough to conjure 3 break points across 2 games. Agassi adjusts by serving a bit bigger and saves 2 of the break points by coming to net. And its onto another tiebreak

This one’ a beauty too, though a competitive one. Starts with trade of mini’s - Agassi with an unlikely, short angled BH cc pass winner on the run, Pete replying with a wide FH inside-in return that gives him control and he’s up at net to finish

No pushing Pete around or back point after - Agassi goes for an makes the FH inside-out winner wide

On serve with Agassi serving at 2-3 come 2 crucial points. Pete misses a regulation return. Next point, he pulls of a full running FH cc pass to go up 4-3 with 2 serves to come

Agassi’s powerful return catches top of tape on its way over next point, and Pete’s forced to check his volley. Agassi blasts the pass but at comfortable height and Pete can’t keep the reaction volley in to put things back on serve at 4-4

Pete nails his second 2nd serve ace of the game to lead 5-4. 2 strong Agassi serves force errors to give him the first set point. On it, he blasts the return, draws a weak half-volley that he dispatches FH cc for winner - and match is headed into decider

A great breaker, similar to the one from their ‘95 final

Agassi breaks early and moves ahead 3-0 in the decider. There’s a FH at net UE by Pete and he’s a bit slow to get down for a tricky FHV that he misses, before Agassi drills return FH dtl to seal the break

Agassi adds a second break with Pete missing tricky to difficult volleys, made more so by his not moving to and getting down for them well. It brings home how well he’d done so all match. Meanwhile, Agassi holds comfortably with Pete looking half-checked out, missing routine returns and not moving too well

Slightly nervy serve-out by Agassi, who opens with double fault than misses routine groundstrokes to raise break point, but he comes through to finish, with Pete missing 2 second serve returns to end the match

Summing up, a thriller with polar opposite playing styles with a point-here, point-there to settle sets. On Agassi’s service games, his serve is average but Sampras’ returning is loose and poor - partially due to aggression, but more simply missing routine returns. Action is baseline play oriented - and Agassi does the needful, hitting firmly and consistently and Sampras is outmatched trading groundies. When in a spot of bother, Agassi ups the measured, controlled play to attacking to finish points

On Sampras’ service games, he serve-volleys 100% of the time and serves furiously even by his standard to draw huge lot of free points. Whatever returns Agassi can make though are at least firm and usually powerful and regularly under the net. Sampras’ is challenged on the low volley - and the quick contest between his volleying and the returns Agassi makes is the high point of the match

Both hold serve readily, with odd points here and there deciding sets until the decider, when Sampras weakens and Agassi rams through him

Stats for the final between Agassi and Yevgeny Kafelnikov - Match Stats/Report - Agassi vs Kafelnikov, Australian Open final, 2000 | Talk Tennis (tennis-warehouse.com)


Thank you so much for this! Your breakdown is an incredible read! FWIW, I was a huge Agassi fan as a kid and I remember this match. The Aussie was the only time I truly felt Andre had the upper hand. You really took me back!


Hall of Fame
Sampras beat Agassi 6-7(7), 7-6(2), 7-6(2), 7-6(5) in the US Open quarter-final, 2001 on hard court

Sampras would go onto lose the final to Lleyton Hewitt, thus finishing without a Slam for the year for the first time since 1992. Sampras was seeded 10th, Agassi 2nd. The two would meet in the following years final, with Sampras again winning

Sampras won 176 points, Agassi 162

Sampras serve-volleyed off all serves bar 1 second serve

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (105/168) 63%
- 1st serve points won (83/105) 79%
- 2nd serve points won (37/63) 59%
- Aces 26 (4 second serves)
- Double Faults 12
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (70/168) 42%

- 1st serve percentage (112/170) 66%
- 1st serve points won (84/112) 75%
- 2nd serve points won (30/58) 52%
- Aces 18
- Double Faults 4
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (46/170) 27%

Serve Patterns
Sampras served...
- to FH 50%
- to BH 49%
- to Body 1%

Agassi served...
- to FH 25%
- to BH 73%
- to Body 2%

Return Stats
Sampras made...
- 120 (22 FH, 98 BH), including 1 runaround FH & 9 return-approaches
- 6 Winners (6 BH)
- 28 Errors, comprising...
- 18 Unforced (10 FH, 8 BH), including 4 runaround FHs
- 10 Forced (8 FH, 2 BH)
- Return Rate (120/166) 72%

Agassi made...
- 86 (45 FH, 41 BH)
- 7 Winners (3 FH, 4 BH)
- 44 Errors, all forced...
- 44 Forced (20 FH, 24 BH)
- Return Rate (86/156) 55%

Break Points
Sampras 0/6 (3 games)
Agassi 0/3 (3 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Sampras 52 (10 FH, 12 BH, 10 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 5 BHV, 1 BH1/2V, 13 OH)
Agassi 36 (20 FH, 13 BH, 3 BHV)

Sampras had 31 from serve-volley points
- 20 first 'volleys' (5 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 4 BHV, 1 BH1/2V, 6 OH, 3 FH at net)
- 11 second volleys (5 FHV, 6 OH)

- 1 from a return-approach point (1 OH)

- FHs - 1 cc, 2 dtl, 1 inside-out at net, 2 inside-in and 1 running-down-drop-shot cc at net
- regular BHs - 1 cc pass (a slice) and 4 dtl
- BH returns - 2 cc, 1 dtl and 3 inside-in

Agassi had 16 passes (7 FH, 9 BH) - 7 returns (3 FH, 4 BH) & 9 regular (4 FH, 5 BH)
- FH returns - 1 cc and 2 inside-in
- BH returns - 2 cc and 2 inside-in
- regular FHs - 2 cc, 1 inside-out/dtl and 1 lob
- regular BH - 3 cc, 1 dtl and 1 inside-out

- regular (non-pass) FHs - 2 cc, 3 dtl, 5 inside-out and 2 inside-in
- regular BH - 1 cc, 2 dtl and 1 inside-out

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Sampras 68
- 40 Unforced (10 FH, 18 BH, 8 FHV, 4 BHV)
- 28 Forced (10 FH, 5 BH, 3 FHV, 4 FH1/2V, 4 BHV, 2 BH1/2V)... with 1 FHV being 'yorked' (ball, racquet and ground all meeting at same time)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 49.5

Agassi 50
- 18 Unforced (10 FH, 6 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)... with 1 BH at net
- 32 Forced (20 FH, 12 BH)... with 1 FH running-down-drop-shot at net & 1 BH running-down-drop-shot at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46.7

(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 are keyed on 4 categories - 20 defensive, 40 neutral, 50 attacking and 60 winner attempt)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Sampras was...
- 101/144 (70%) at net, including...
- 93/129 (72%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 61/83 (73%) off 1st serve and...
- 32/46 (70%) off 2nd serve
- 4/9 (44%) return-approaching
- 2/4 (50%) forced back/retreated

Agassi was 8/15 (53%) at net

Match Report
Top class match from both players and there’s nothing between them. Famous for having no breaks, it ends ironically with 5 points against the server. Court is fast, though not as fast as the Australian match

No breaks makes things very easy to compare statistically. Virtually no differences emerge

Break points - both players have them in 3 games. Sampras has 6, Agassi 3

Sans the 46 points of the tiebreaks (which Sampras leads 28-18)

Sampras wins 148 points, Agassi 144, with Sampras serving 145 of them, Agassi 147

As returner -
- both players reach 0-15 4 times
- both players 0-30 once
- for 15-30, Sampras has 1, Agassi 2

(excluding games with break points and in all cases, a better score from returner trumping the lower one, e.g. if a 0-15 goes to 0-30, the 0-15 is discounted and 0-30 recorded)

Close means close, and nothing between the two players means nothing between the two players

Same basic dynamics as the Aus match - all out serve-volley vs return-pass in Sampras’ service games, and baseline stuff on Agassi’s

Action is different though. Agassi, for once (the only time?) returns from a normal position, 3-4 paces behind baseline. His norm is a pace or 2 behind while stepping in against first serves and a couple steps further up against second. It does provide a study in advantages and disadvantages of positions

Baseline action is more competitive and fierce, with Sampras getting his licks in too. Also returning well - whether he aims to just put the ball in play or attacks

Sampras’ serve games
Sampras does his usual big serving, serve-volleying thing. Agassi returns it orthodoxly. Which is a unusual, possibly unique

Generally, Agassi blasts returns early at cost of missing lots of returns. Are all the returns he misses worth it? Doesn’t seem like it. Why not take a step back and get more returns in play and see what happens?

That’s what he does here. He even makes some effort to ‘just’ get the return in play firmly rather than going for blasting power everytime like in Aus

Result is above net volleys for Sampras to deal with. Whereas in Aus, Agassi aimed to win points by giving Pete very difficult first volleys, bullets to his feet, here he’s somewhat counting on Pete to mess up on the routine volley (whether missing them or plonking them to leave passing chances)

They’re not even ‘net-high’ volleys, they’re comfortably above net, usually firmly struck. Returns to the feet are rare. Pete’s comfortably and well past the service box when the returns reach him - completely different from pair’s norm

Pete’s got 8 UEs on the volley. Good enough. More importantly, he leaves Agassi no chance on the pass

20/31 Pete’s serve-volleying winners are first volleys. He has more OHs at 6 than any other shot on the first volley to give some indication of how comfy the volleys are. Not dunk smashes to forced lifted returns either, more like very high FHVs

For that matter, 6/11 of all his second volleys are OHs too. That’s not due to Agassi looking for lobs, its due to Agassi having no option but to throw up a desperate one after reaching ball on full run with it inches from ground

Gist - against Agassi’s stock, firmly above net returning from 3 paces behind baseline, Pete dispatches volley winners or leaves Agassi with next to no chance on the pass. He doesn’t mess up, as he’d have to for Agassi to make inroads

1st or 2nd serve doesn’t matter. He wins 73% first serve-volleying, 70% second serve-volleying. Agassi’s hopes of breaking lie in high double faults. Pete has 12 - not small - but he also has 4 aces

On the net FE front, Pete’s got 13. He doesn’t make anywhere near that number, though he does have 2 perfect 1/2volley winners. He doesn’t face many

And on the unreturned front? With more time to see the ball, Agassi doesn’t guess much as he tends to, but reacts to the ball. Pete’s spot serving is good enough to drag him wide and Agassi isn’t quick enough to cover the ball. Plenty of feet-planted lunging from Agassi to wid-ish serves that he can’t get back often

Were he returning from on baseline, he’d be able to reach these balls and take his swat at them

Great serving from Pete, but Agassi’s movement issues are also on show. There are players who could move over to hit these returns from more or less comfortable position - Agassi clearly isn’t one of them

So this is what happens if Andre Agassi takes a step back on the return. Against a Sampras calibre serve, still likely to miss due to not-good movement (as opposed to ball being on him too quickly), but lacking the ability to punish anything in reach. Pete still gets his substantial 42% unreturned - and easy volleys beyond that


Hall of Fame
Agassi’s serve games
Some cat and mouse stuff going on with the serve and return, some high end beat down play from Agassi, and Pete stealing his licks too.

Agassi starts serving within himself. Pete blocks and slice returns in play, ready to start the rally on back-foot. Agassi hammers groundstrokes to make sure Pete stays on back foot, especially, off the BH

Pete steals points with BH dtls (he’s got 4 winners - 2 more than Agassi does) and forces errors with it. He also misses good lot of BH dtls but it doesn’t matter much as its a return game. Pete’s on point with some big, running FHs that ends points or goes for winners too, though his stationary FH is pushed back by power and not much of a weapon

That’s how it starts. It changes some as match progresses. Agassi serves bigger and draws more return errors. Pete steps in to blast BH returns very early (Agassi serves 73% there), with inside-in being his most effective. He has just 1 fewer return winner than Agassi does - and none of his is a pass

Agassi serves big enough second serve to make runaround FH returning a full bust for Pete, who only makes 1 while missing 4 (trying to hit very big returns every time). Pete chip-charges some

At other points, Agassi takes something off the first serve to get more in and not have to worry about Pete attacking second serves

For Agassi 18 aces is extremely high, with Pete not tanking returns. Clearly, he can't summon at will though, or he'd do it in the tiebreaker

Off the ground -
- FH UEs are even at 10 (Pete’s isn’t offensively potent)
- BH UEs - Agassi 6, Pete 18

Baseline to baseline winners
- Agassi 17, Pete 9

Lots of errors forced from the back. Almost all of Pete’s 15 ground errors would be baseline-to-baseline. FH cops the bulk 10 of them, but he’s got his shot on the running FH that scores too

Most of Agassi’s 32 ground FEs are passes, but good 5-9 would be from baseline rallies. Also power returns to the baseline that forces errors couple times

Neutral UEs - Agassi 9, Pete 14

With not high 27% unreturneds and Pete getting his big returns and BH dtl’s and running FHs off now and then, Agassi’s done exceptionally well to not be broken. Some very hard hitting, box Pete back and down play from Agassi.

Pete can only rallying to net 6 times (once is off his sole non-serve-volley point). Agassi seemingly has no interest in coming in and is there just 15 (3-4 to deal with drop volleys)

Gist of regular games - Agassi returning conservatively, and essentially relying on Pete to mess up on the volley to have breaking chances. Which doesn’t happen much

Pete doing quite a bit - safely putting returns in play, or attacking them ferociously, counter-attacking with running FHs, taking on the BH dtl point finisher. All effective to different degrees, but like Agassi, no breaks result

Match Progression
Agassi serves 36 points, Pete 41 to hold 6 times going into ‘breaker

Two aggressive returns and a big FH sees Pete get to deuce in game 2. Agassi goes one better and has break point on back of powerful returns. Perfect Pete BH1/2V winner against a bullet return in the game

Pete has 0-40, which Agassi beats away to hold game after for 2-2. Both players have 1 more deuce game before the ‘breaker

A missed approach shot from Agassi gives Pete 4-3 and he wins his 2 service points to move to 6-3. Bold FH inside-out third ball winner from Agassi and Pete missing runaround FH return saves first 2 set points, before Pete has his shot on his own serve. First serve in, but good return and follow up pass win the point for Agassi. And a not good volley point after allows Agassi to lob Pete back to baseline and bring up his first set point

He double faults on it, before banging down an ace to raise his second. On it Pete misses an easy second volley FHV putaway to give up the set

No break points in second set. Pete serves 39 points, Agassi 32 in holding 6 times

Pete opens the breaker with a pinpoint perfect, running BH cc slice pass winner, which is probably a fluke (he might not even have knowns Agassi was coming in and just played a defensive shot to put ball in court)

OH winners and unreturned serves see Pete win his service points, and the last 2 points - both on Agassi’s serve - are all one Pete - scoring with a running FH cc and managing to muscle his way to net to finish with a reaction BHV winner against a powerful pass at his body. 7-2, and 1 set all

Pete serves 35 points, Agassi 37 for 6 holds in the third set

Agassi has the only break point in game 3. Its his best chance at one and he faces a kick serve that gets up around his shoulders and not far from his body. He puts return in play high where its dispatched

Tense ending to set. Agassi blasts a return at 30-30, Pete does well to put the volley in play and Agassi just misses his BH running pass wide. Pete holds for 5-4 and then return-approaches 4 times in the next game. Perfect BH inside-out pass winner from Agassi and he finishes with a BH dtl to hold

Tiebreak number 3. Not a good one from Agassi, who misses a regulation third ball BH to go down 2-0. Pete double faults it back to him, but Agassi makes regulation ground errors to lose his next pair of service points. Pete finishes with 2 aces

Pete serves 35 points, Agassi 37 for 6 holds in set 4

As is his habit, Pete goes for attacking shots in return games when he’s up a set. He’s got 0-30 in opening game (double fault and BH dtl winner), but both chip-charge returns sees Agassi whack BH cc passing winners and 2 excellent FH inside-out winners ends the game

Pete’s got 0-30 next game too, though Agassi slams that door shut emphatically. Pete’s down 0-30 himself game after before Pete holds

Both players have a break point in deuce games late in the. Two very strange points when Pete does. He hustles and scrambles to defend and keep himself in the point, before missing a comparitively simple BH he had to move too. You almost never see Sampras defend like that, usually he goes for the counter-attacking shot. Break point gone, Pete loses next point missing a BH drop shot - which is even rarer

Tiebreak number 4

Agassi bullets a return to go up mini-break. Pete muff an easy FH when having Agassi on the ropes, but Agassi hands back mini next point missing a third ball FH inside-out

After a pair of Pete aces, he leads 4-3. And the server doesn’t win another point

Pete smacks BH dtl winner against a pseudo, delayed serve-volley attempt that Agassi bails on before Agassi misses a putaway easy BHV. 6-3 Pete with 2 serves to come

He can’t handle a powerful pass on the first and double faults on the second. 5-6 Agassi with 2 serves to come

Third ball FH inside-out error. The shot that had served him so well all match

Summing up, a great match all around. Sampras’ service games are particularly interesting as study of Agassi returning from a normal, rather than his usual early returning position. He’s not quick enough to reach the slightly wide serves and he can’t return with great force - and Sampras dispatches volleys to hold comfortably

Agassi hammers groundstrokes off both sides to keep Sampras pinned behind the baseline and beat him down with authority. Sampras gets some counter-play with running FHs, BH dtl’s and choice aggressive returning, but does just a hair better than Agassi does returning

So it all comes down to the tiebreaks, where Agassi falters some with his groundstrokes and attempts at coming to net to put Sampras over

Stats for the final between Sampras and Lleyton Hewitt - Duel Match Stats/Reports - Hewitt vs Sampras, US Open final & Indian Wells semi-final, 2001 & 2002 | Talk Tennis (tennis-warehouse.com)