Duel Match Stats/Reports - Agassi vs Sampras, San Jose Indoors finals, 1996 & 1998


Hall of Fame
Pete Sampras beat Andre Agassi 6-2, 6-3 in the San Jose final, 1996 on indoor hard court

The winner of the match was to become world number 1, replacing Thomas Muster. Agassi was the defending champion

Sampras won 64 points, Agassi 47

Sampras serve-volleyed off all first serves and rarely off seconds

(Note: I've guessed serve type for a couple of Agassi service points)

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (24/54) 44%
- 1st serve points won (21/24) 88%
- 2nd serve points won (17/30) 57%
- Aces 5, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (24/54) 44%

- 1st serve percentage (32/56) 57%
- 1st serve points won (19/32) 59%
- 2nd serve points won (12/24) 50%
- Aces 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (14/56) 25%

Serve Patterns
Sampras served...
- to FH 42%
- to BH 57%
- to Body 2%

Agassi served...
- to FH 27%
- to BH 70%
- to Body 4%

Return Stats
Sampras made...
- 42 (10 FH, 32 BH), including 3 runaround FHs
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 11 Errors, comprising...
- 5 Unforced (1 FH, 4 BH)
- 6 Forced (4 FH, 2 BH)
- Return Rate (42/56) 75%

Agassi made...
- 29 (12 FH, 17 BH), including 1 return-approach
- 3 Winners (3 FH)
- 18 Errors, comprising...
- 8 Unforced (4 FH, 4 BH)
- 10 Forced (4 FH, 6 BH)
- Return Rate (29/53) 55%

Break Points
Sampras 3/8 (4 games)
Agassi 0/3 (3 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Sampras 16 (8 FH, 4 BH, 1 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 OH)
Agassi 11 (6 FH, 4 BH, 1 FHV)

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

- FHs - 3 cc, 2 dtl (1 at net) and 1 inside-in
- BHs - 2 cc, 1 dtl and 1 inside-in return

Agassi's FHs - 1 cc, 1 dtl return pass, 1 inside-out, 3 inside-in (2 returns - 1 a pass)
- BHs - 1 cc, 2 dtl and 1 inside-out

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Sampras 21
- 12 Unforced (5 FH, 5 BH, 2 BHV)
- 9 Forced (3 FH, 4 BH, 1 FH1/2V, 1 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 44.2

Agassi 24
- 18 Unforced (10 FH, 6 BH, 1 FHV, 1 Point Penalty)
- 6 Forced (2 FH, 4 BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.6

(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
Sampras was...
- 22/28 (79%) at net, including...
- 16/22 (73%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 15/18 (83%) off 1st serve and..
- 1/4 (25%) off 2nd serve

Agassi was...
- 4/5 (80%) at net, with...
- 1/1 return-approaching

Match Report
Poor returning from Agassi and very good baseline play from Sampras are key features of this match on a slowish indoor hard court

Sampras serves... not well. What exactly is Sampras' "serving not well" look like?

To start with, he serves at just 44% first serves in. In first set, he makes just 9/24 @ 38%. Doesn't serve an ace til his 7th service game

But... he has 44% unreturned serves. On a slow court. Because Agassi returns poorly. Note 8 return UEs for Agassi... all second serves (couple of second serves Sampras stayed back on have been marked forced error, too). Sampras' second serve is of course, not weak, but in this match, they're also not effectively a second 'first' serve. Not easy to attack (the extent of most players 'strong' second serves) but not too difficult to at least put in play either. Agassi makes a hash of doing so. He regularly misses by smallest of margins - just missing a line or hitting the very top of the net - but miss them he does regularly (and with Sampras serving at such a low percentage, there's lots of second serves to see). Typically, Agassi takes second serve returns early, usually from inside the baseline. Decent second serving from Sampras (his bare minimum), poor returning from Agassi

Sampras' low serve percentage allows for a lot of baseline play - and he gets the better of these. Good hitting from both players - Agassi slightly better off BH, Sampras off FH - but Sampras is much faster in covering the court. Agassi's movements are downright sluggish, particularly to FH side

From the baseline, Agassi initially looks to beat down/outlast Sampras BH-BH, but Pete's BH not only holds up, but is near equal in the cc rallies. Note near identical figures on BH - both with 4 winners, Sampras 5 UEs to Agassi's 6 and both with 4 FEs... Agassi's FEs would be passing shots, so he probably retains a sliver of an advantage BH-BH from the baseline, but its not significant. Which is a win for Sampras in the context of the match up

With that not working well, there's more wide-open court rallies later in the match... each player running the other side-to-side. Sampras' far faster speed is key to his getting better of these

All this on top of Sampras dominating with aces and serve-volleys off his first serves. 88% first serve points won for Pete and he has 5 aces and 1 service winner in last 3 service games of match

Agassi's serve isn't much. Even first serves are almost all highly returnable - slightly stronger than Pete's typical second serve. And Sampras is particularly solid and clean of stroke in returning. Then they get into baseline rallies... which play out as described above

Note second serve points won - 57% for Pete, 50% for Agassi... Agassi's return errors have a big chunk to play in the first figure, so they look to be roughly equal in play from the baseline. Agassi's relatively low 59% first serve points won (a combination of weak serve and solid returning setting up baseline play) also suggests roughly equal from the baseline

Sampras moves into 3-0 lead with a break to start match. He's missing first serves galore, but Agassi's missing second serve returns. On the other side of things, Sampras is returning almost every serve neutralizingly. Agassi has a break point in game in game 7 but misses a second serve return... and Pete breaks again to seal set

A frustrated Agassi knocks a ball into the stands and earns a warning. Apparently, he also swore at the time (he certainly looks like angry enough to have done so) and a linesperson oils over to the umpire to tell him about it (umpire takes no action - wisely, I think... if he didn't hear anything, the swearing couldn't have been too loud). Apparently, Agassi said some not very pleasant things to the linesperson in question when she got back to position... and she oils over again to the chair to report. Second code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct and point penalty result. One more is match forfeit

Agassi is obviously frustrated and angry at this point. Understandably. He'd appreciate better than anyone what a rare chance it is to play Pete Sampras without a fusillade of unreturnable serves coming down... and he's done the opposite of taking advantage of it. Rest of Sampras' game being tip top hasn't helped

Sampras again moves ahead 3-0 with a break. Agassi had a break point to put things back on serve but just missed the line with a first serve return. Next service game, Sampras finds his first serve and bombs away for remaining 3 service games, while Agassi's service games feature open court baseline exchanges. He manages to hold game 8, saving 3 break points in 14 point game... but Sampras serves out to 30 to seal match

Summing up, entertaining baseline match with plenty of open court play, which is about equal - Sampras much better of movement, Agassi perhaps edging the actual hitting. Returning is the key - Agassi's is off, Sampras' is on


Hall of Fame
In 1998, Agassi beat Sampras 6-2, 6-4 in the final

It was the first match between the pair in over a year, there last having come at the Year End Championship in 1996. Agassi was ranked 71 (he'd fallen into the 140s the previous year, during which he entered a number of Challenger level tournaments), Sampras was ranked number 1 and was going for his 3rd consecutive title at the event

Agassi won 66 points, Sampras 53

Sampras serve-volleyed off all first serves and rarely off seconds

(Note: I've guessed serve type for a couple of Agassi serve points. 1 point has been tracked by audio - an Agassi third ball winner and its been assumed that the shot was a groundstroke)

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (32/53) 60%
- 1st serve points won (25/32) 78%
- 2nd serve points won (14/21) 67%
- Aces 2
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (13/53) 25%

- 1st serve percentage (39/66) 59%
- 1st serve points won (29/39) 74%
- 2nd serve points won (10/27) 37%
- Aces 17, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 6
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (25/66) 38%

Serve Patterns
Agassi served...
- to FH 45%
- to BH 55%

Sampras served...
- to FH 45%
- to BH 50%
- to Body 5%

Return Stats
Agassi made...
- 35 (12 FH, 23 BH), including 1 return-approach
- 4 Winners (1 FH, 3 BH)
- 7 Errors, comprising...
- 1 Unforced (1 FH)
- 6 Forced (4 FH, 2 BH)
- Return Rate (34/60) 57%

Sampras made...
- 39 (15 FH, 23 BH, 1 ??)
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 11 Errors, comprising...
- 5 Unforced (3 FH, 2 BH), including 1 return-approach attempt
- 6 Forced (4 FH, 2 BH)
- Return Rate (39/52) 75%

Break Points
Agassi 3/8 (5 games)
Sampras 0/2 (1 game)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Agassi 19 (9 FH, 9 BH, 1 unknown 3rd ball groundstroke)
Sampras 17 (5 FH, 3 BH, 5 FHV, 2 BHV, 2 OH)

Agassi's FHs - 4 cc (3 passes), 1 dtl, 2 inside-out, 1 longline/inside-out and 1 net chord dribbler return (a serve-volley point)
- BHs - 4 cc (3 passes - 1 return, 1 return), 3 dtl, 1 inside-in return and 1 longline pass

Sampras had 10 from serve-volley points -
- 8 first 'volleys' (2 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 OH, 3 FH at net)
- 2 second 'volleys' (1 OH, 1 BH at net)… the BH at net can reasonably be called a lob

- FHs - 2 cc
- BHs - 2 dtl (1 return, 1 slice) and 2 inside-out

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Agassi 10
- 9 Unforced (4 FH, 5 BH)
- 1 Forced (1 BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 45.6

Sampras 28
- 13 Unforced (5 FH, 5 BH, 1 FHV, 2 BHV)…. 1 FH was at net
- 15 Forced (3 FH, 7 BH, 1 FH1/2V, 3 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 49.2

(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
Agassi was...
- 5/6 (83%) at net, with...
- 1/1 return-approaching
- 0/1 forced back

Sampras was...
- 16/33 (48%) at net, including...
- 14/28 (50%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 11/21 (52%) off 1st serve and..
- 3/7 (43%) off 2nd serve

Match Report
Damaging but low percentage returning and strong baseline from Agassi are the key features of this match. Sampras plays decently - in fact, serves well even by his standards - but is brushed aside. Court plays about the same as '96, on the slow side. I'll use action from the earlier match as a frame of reference

Couple of odd stats. Note Sampras with very high 17 aces (and 1 service winner)… but he can only draw 7 other return errors. And Agassi with just 1 forced error - which would be strange at anytime, but particularly so against Pete Sampras

Agassi looks to return with authority. He moves inside the court to take even first serves and is always inside against second serves. This partially accounts for Sampras' very large ace count. The flip side is that whatever Agassi can reach, he wallops.

5 volleying FEs for Sampras and 3 return winners for Agassi. Plus a host of initiative grabbingly strong returns and a small number of 3rd ball groundstroke FEs are on the plus side for Agassi's returning. He's about the only player who, when facing a serve-volleying opponent can look like he as the returner is the one attacking, and the serve-volleyer is defending

Most Sampras first volleys have to be made from behind service line and the ones that reach him at comfortable height are usually coming so fast as to be error forcing (still puts most of them in play). And a fair few reach him at his feet too - again, while he's behind the service line. It would take an exceptionally fine volleying performance to excel against such an onslaught. Sampras doesn't volley badly by any means - but not well enough to deal with this kind of a barrage

All that is interspersed with Sampras' aces. His high 6 double faults are clumped together - 2 in game 5 of second set lead to a break but he holds a 16 point game next up where he has 3

Agassi's serving is about as ordinary as in '96. Second serve a bit better (which doesn't matter much), but first serve is still highly returnable. Sampras' returning however, is a good step down from the previous match - despite identical return rate. I'd describe his returning in '96 as 'firm' if not strong. Here, its less so - quite a few soft chip returns too

Most notable difference from previous match is Agassi's much better movement. Sampras probably still shades him in this area, but just barely. This helps with making Agassi's groundstrokes better, but I think he hits better even without that. Sampras hitting is down from before

Agassi controls baseline rallies. BH-BH, his shots are heavier and push Sampras back or/and wide and he finishes with BH dtl winners or error forcing shots regularly. And is able to avoid overly open court play, which would be more to Sampras' strengths than regular, cc based dynamic, since Agassi has the stronger, more consistent shots

Baseline UEs are a dead wash - 9 apiece (4 FH, 5 BH) - but most of Sampras' 10 groundstroke FEs are baseline to baseline points (Agassi of course, has just 1 FE... a BH pass). Agassi hits more winners from these positions too. Near the end of the match, Sampras' baseline consistency drops a bit... one got the sense it was bound to sooner or later

Some great passing from Agassi too, including on the run. From stationary positions, his position inside the court and sheer power is such that he doesn't have to place particularly well... just a bit wide is enough to get ball by Pete. Note Sampras with just 48% net points. Even on first serve-volleys, its a low 52%

Quality of Agassi's passing is main reason he has just 1 FE. He either hits a winner or forces Sampras too... no misses easy or hard on the pass. And his movement is good enough to go along with dominance from baseline that Pete can't force any errors from him from the baseline

Some great shots. Pick for Agassi would be running FH cc pass that gets him his first break. Sampras hits a fabulous 1st volley BHV winner to a powerful struck, low, wide ball, a stunning BH inside-out winner (though that was basically a wild swing that came off) and a running FH cc winner (he mostly missed running FHs - which is normal). Penultimate game, Sampras drop volleys draws Agassi in and Pete hits a BH - almost a lob, it had to be to get the ball over the net at such close range - for the winner

Sampras goes through 5-6 racquets in the match. Plays a 2-3 gentle baseline shots on a point where he'd broke a string before making a volleying error, much to crowd and both players amusement. In such situations, usually he immediately hits a drop shot or approaches. He's quite leisurely in changing racquets mid-game... even casually sitting down while selecting a new one

Match starts promising, with both players saving 2 break points in first two games - Sampras' serve game lasting 14 points, Agassi's 10. Agassi breaks next game though with some great returning and passing, and a bit of luck with a net chord dribbling return winner. Adds a second break with more of them same

Only break of second set is a terrible game from Pete. 2 double faults, a routine first volley miss and a horror first FH at net miss see him broken to 30. He struggles to hold next game too, which lasts 16 points - the first 10 points of which comprise 3 aces, 3 doubles, an unreturned serve and a return winner. Agassi holds comfortably throughout - after his first service game of the match, he's taken to deuce just once and doesn't face any break points

Summing up, early and aggressive returning from Agassi is the main play shaper - it helps Sampras serve boatloads of aces, but also gives him a major headache when the ball comes back. Otherwise, commandingly dominant baseline stuff from Agassi, ably supported by improved and good movement

Stats for the pairs next match in Monte Carlo - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-sampras-vs-agassi-monte-carlo-second-round-r32-1998.653263/