Duel Match Stats/Reports - Sampras vs Becker, Year End Championship round robin, 1992 & 1995

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Pete Sampras beat Boris Becker 7-6(5), 7-6(3) in a Year End Championship (World Tour Finals) round robin match, 1992 on carpet in Frankfurt, Germany

Sampras was the defending champion and would win 3/3 in the round robins but lose in the semis to Jim Courier, his final opponent the previous year. Becker would go onto win the title for the second time beating Courier in the final

Both players serve-volleyed off all their first serves. Becker serve-volleyed off second serves occasionally, Sampras once

Sampras won 78 points, Becker 67

Serve Stats
Sampras...
- 1st serve percentage (42/70) 60%
- 1st serve points won (36/42) 86%
- 2nd serve points won (23/28) 82%
- Aces 13, Service Winners 5 (1 second serve)
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (35/70) 50%

Becker...
- 1st serve percentage (39/75) 52%
- 1st serve points won (36/39) 92%
- 2nd serve points won (20/36) 56%
- Aces 14, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 6
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (40/75) 53%

Serve Patterns
Sampras served...
- to FH 45%
- to BH 54%
- to Body 1%

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

Return Stats
Sampras made...
- 29 (7 FH, 22 BH)
- 2 Winners (2 BH)
- 25 Errors, comprising...
- 2 Unforced (1 FH, 1 BH)
- 23 Forced (12 FH, 11 BH)
- Return Rate (29/69) 42%

Becker made...
- 34 (15 FH, 19 BH), including 1 runaround FH & 2 return-approaches
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 17 Errors, comprising...
- 4 Unforced (2 FH, 2 BH)
- 13 Forced (6 FH, 7 BH), including 1 return-approach attempt
- Return Rate (34/69) 49%

Break Points
Sampras 0/1
Becker 0/1

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Sampras 16 (6 FH, 4 BH, 3 FHV, 1 BHV, 2 OH)
Becker 9 (2 FH, 2 BH, 1 FHV, 2 BHV, 2 OH)

Sampras had 6 from serve-volley points
- 5 first volleys (2 FHV, 1 BHV, 2 OH)
- 1 second volley (1 FHV)

- FHs - 2 cc, 1 dtl pass and 3 inside-out (1 pass)
- BHs - 1 cc pass, 2 dtl return passes and 1 running-down-drop-volley net chord dribbler at net

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

- FHs - 1 cc and 1 dtl
- BHs - 1 dtl pass and 1 inside-out return pass

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Sampras 17
- 6 Unforced (3 FH, 1 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 11 Forced (4 FH, 6 BH, 1 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 50

Becker 21
- 10 Unforced (4 FH, 3 BH, 1 FHV, 2 BHV)
- 11 Forced (3 FH, 5 BH, 1 FHV, 2 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 52

(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...
- 20/26 (77%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 19/25 (76%) off 1st serve and...
- 1/1 off 2nd serve

Becker was...
- 32/44 (72%) at net, including...
- 30/36 (83%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 21/24 (88%) off 1st serve and...
- 9/12 (75%) off 2nd serve
--
- 0/2 return-approaching

Match Report
It's servebotting galore on a fast carpet court. No breaks of serve, just one break point for each player, 100% serve-volleying off first serves by both players.... Tweedledee meet Tweedledum

In a nutshell, neither player can return the others serve. Sampras' unreturned rate is 50%, Becker 53%. Returns that do come back do so weakly for putaway winners at net or commanding 3rd ball positions from the baseline... both players are good at capitilizing on the latter with aggressive groundstrokes. Of the 16 UEs in the match, just 1 is less than an attacking shot

I suppose you could say the key stat is the double faults. Statistically, Sampras' serve breakdown (86% first serves won, 82% second) looks more reliable than Becker's (92% first serves won, 56% second) - especially in light of Sampras serving at 60% to Becker's 52%.

Practically, the difference between 86% and 92% on first serves won isn't important (in words, both are winning almost all their first serve points). But the difference between 82% and 56% is (in words, Sampras is winning almost all his second serve points, but has chances against Becker's second serve)

This is helped by Becker serving 6 double faults to Sampras' 1, but even without doubles, Sampras has a healthy edge in second serve points won (85% to 67%)

Note Becker serve-volleying off second serve 12/29 points or 41% of the time. He wins 75% of these, so when staying back off second serves, he wins 11/18 (sans double faults) at 61%. Even excluding the doubles, Sampras is coming up ahead comfortably on second serve numbers

Sampras only serve-volleys once of second serve so he's always on the baseline for these points. I think its fair to say Sampras was significantly the better player baseline to baseline.... there's so little of it going on that it wouldn't necessarily have mattered and it certainly didn't decide the outcome. Just noting it

Sampras gains his only break point 5th game, 2nd set, on the back of less than good play from Becker. First he double faults, then fails to putaway a FH at net (allowing Sampras to hit a FH dtl pass winner) and lastly, makes a FHV UE being cute and going for an inside-out winner. 30-40 down, Becker's next 3 serves are unreturned, including 2 aces

Becker's only break chance is also set point for the second set. He earns his more than Sampras had to. There's a double fault, but the other 2 points Becker wins are highlights reel stuff. The first is a stunning, running BH dtl passing winner. The second, he rushes forward to a good low drop volley by Sampras and scoops it wide of the still at net Pete to force a volleying error

Break point down, Sampras misses his first serve and the 2 get into a baseline rally. A good slightly running FH cc from Sampras forces an error from Becker, to a ball that was makeable. Becker doesn't quit though and manufactures a low percentage return-approach to pressure Sampras, who is up to making a strong BH cc pass. Becker can only dive to knock the ball of to the side

Becker was the more creative player. A few times, he tries edging forward from the baseline as Sampras is at net (1 of FHV FEs is not a net point and a product of such a play), return-approaches a couple of times (and tries to one other time), runs around a BH to hit a FH return. Occasionally comes in from rallying (8 non-S/V approaches to Sampras' 2). Small potatoes in the context of the match.... but Sampras does none of these things. His play is more mechanical

A quick word if obvious word on serving. Its powerful stuff from both guys. I'd say more than 1/2 both players second serves were strong enough as to have return errors they drew be marked forced, even when the server was staying back. There are no easy returns at all. Again, Becker is the more daring player on return... he makes a couple of errors going for big returns off second serves

In first set tiebreak, Sampras gets an early mini-break when Becker misses an attacking FH inside-out, consolidates it under pressure by BH cc passing Becker on a second serve points and gains another mini when Becker double faults. Becker pulls 1 back with a lucky, weak return that lands as to give Sampras an awkward FH at net... but the 1 mini-break is enough as Sampras wraps up with an ace

In second tiebreak, Becker opens with a double. The second point turns out to be the key one. Its a second serve from Sampras and Becker outplays him from the back, takes the net from a strong approach and with Sampras well out of court, hits an excellent low drop volley (against a very good Sampras pass attempt from an awkward position). Its the kind of ball many players wouldn't bother trying to chase down, and Sampras is a king for that type of thing.... but its 1992 and he hadn't yet gone full-on always-saving-energy mode. Fast as can, Sampras barely reaches the ball and gets a BH on it. The ball lands on the top of the net... rolls over and dies on the other side, leaving a still at net Becker at a loss. Lucky, but fortune shining on a worthy effort. Later, Becker doubles again

Noting a general pattern in Pete Sampras serving, relative to other big servers, like Goran Ivanisevic, Richard Krajicek and Becker. He's frequently out-aced, but invariably has more service winners. An indication that its not all power serves from Sampras.... disguise and placement probably have a bigger hand in his serving success than it does other big servers. You can see that in this match. Occasionally, Sampras sends down less than full power serves that land on the line. Becker by contrast, is virtually all power all the time

Summing up, a double dose of power serving and a ton of unreturned serves leaving the returner looking for scraps and lucky plays. Sampras a little less dependent on the serve and a little more mechanical (or less creative) in play coming out ahead in a flip-of-the-coin encounter

the final between Becker and Courier - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-becker-vs-courier-year-end-championship-finals-1992.653342/
the round robin from the previous year between Becker and Sampras (first class showing from Becker) - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/duel-match-stats-report-becker-vs-sampras-agassi-vs-becker-year-end-championship-round-robin-1991.646669/
 
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Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Pete Sampras beat Boris Becker 6-2, 7-6(3) in a Year End Championship (World Tour Finals) round robin match, 1995 on carpet in Frankfurt, Germany

Becker would go onto win the event, beating Michael Chang in the final. Sampras was the defending champion, having beaten Becker in the previous years final, while losing to him in the round robins

Both players serve-volleyed off all their first serves. Becker serve-volleyed off second serves occasionally, Sampras twice

Sampras won 70 points, Becker 55

Serve Stats
Sampras...
- 1st serve percentage (31/58) 53%
- 1st serve points won (27/31) 87%
- 2nd serve points won (18/27) 67%
- Aces 12
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (23/58) 40%

Becker...
- 1st serve percentage (31/67) 46%
- 1st serve points won (23/31) 74%
- 2nd serve points won (19/36) 53%
- Aces 6
- Double Faults 4
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (21/67) 31%

Serve Patterns
Sampras served...
- to FH 33%
- to BH 63%
- to Body 4%

Becker served...
- to FH 30%
- to BH 57%
- to Body 13%

Return Stats
Sampras made...
- 42 (12 FH, 30 BH), including 2 return-approaches
- 5 Winners (3 FH, 2 BH)
- 15 Errors, comprising...
- 2 Unforced (1 FH, 1 BH)
- 13 Forced (5 FH, 8 BH)
- Return Rate (42/63) 67%

Becker made...
- 34 (12 FH, 22 BH), including 1 return-approach
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 11 Errors, comprising...
- 1 Unforced (1 BH), a return-approach attempt
- 10 Forced (3 FH, 7 BH)
- Return Rate (34/57) 60%

Break Points
Sampras 2/4 (3 games)
Becker 0

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Sampras 15 (6 FH, 5 BH, 1 FHV, 3 OH)
Becker 7 (1 FH, 2 BH, 2 FHV, 2 BHV)

Sampras had 4 from serve-volley points
- 3 first volleys (1 FHV, 2 OH)
- 1 second volley (1 OH)

- FHs - 2 cc returns (1 pass), 2 regular cc (1 pass), 1 dtl pass and 1 inside-in return pass
- BHs - 1 cc pass, 2 return dtl passes, 1 regular dtl and 1 dtl pass at net

Becker had 3 from serve-volley points - 1 first volley FHV and 2 second volley BHVs
- FH - 1 cc
- BHs - 1 dtl return and 1 dtl pass

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Sampras 26
- 7 Unforced (3 FH, 2 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 19 Forced (8 FH, 7 BH, 1 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 51.4

Becker 28
- 14 Unforced (4 FH, 4 BH, 5 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 14 Forced (6 FH, 6 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 53.6

(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...
- 19/27 (70%) at net, including...
- 16/21 (76%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 15/19 (79%) off 1st serve and...
- 1/2 off 2nd serve
--
- 0/2 return-approaching

Becker was...
- 28/43 (65%) at net, including...
- 25/36 (69%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 18/25 (72%) off 1st serve and...
- 7/11 (64%) off 2nd serve
--
- 0/1 return-approaching

Match Report
A poor match by the sky high standards of the two, mostly due to Becker having an off day. Even on an "off day", he's won 53% second serves points, to give some idea of what those sky high standards are

Conditions look a bit slower than other years ('91, '92 and '94) to me. We see a number of groundstrokes hit from chest height. Unreturned serves are down, though that's largely due to low first serve percentages (Sampras 53%, Becker 46%)

Sampras breaks in the third game with a number of strong returns. There's a BH dtl pass, FH cc non-pass and another strong return to take that forces a volleying error, but the best return is a FH cc passing winner off a body serve. Pete is jammed for room, but manages to squeeze out a decent angle with the return... though it going for a clean winner has something to do with Becker's slowness in getting forward

He breaks again in game 7 and again, there are a couple good returns. A strong return off another body serve - this time the return is a BH forces a weak volley that Sampras can slap away BH dtl at net. Couple of points later, he erases game point with a FH inside-in return pass, where he either anticipated the direction of the serve or guessed right. The last two points however, are bad shots from Becker - guiding a regular BHV long and missing a very easy FHV

Rest of the match is mostly easy holds. Not once all match is Sampras behind on a service game. Best Becker can do is reach 15-15 twice and 30-30 all and deuce once each (same game). Sampras has 2 break points in Set 2, Game 3. On first break point, they get into a backcourt rally and Becker boldly hits a FH cc winner from corner to the other

In the tiebreak, Becker opens with a volleying error, but gains the mini-break back at once with his sole return winner next point. Thereon, Sampras takes charge of his service points - 3 unreturned serves and a first volley winner (strangely, his only volleying winner for the match not counting smashes) - while finding the time to block guiding a BH return dtl for a winner and reaping the benefits of a typically loose BH UE by Boris to seal the match

Sampras is largely grooved in his play. First serve dominates, second serve is also big enough to cause problems. Doesn't have too much to do on the volley, but does whatever he has to efficiently. There's room for improvement in his returning, but overall, its a good showing. When he gets stuck into a return - especially against a second serve, he really he gets stuck into. Otherwise, he's willing to guide and steer difficult returns back.

Becker has one of his off days at net. Its not uncommon for him to do so. Lots of easy volleys missed, especially high FHVs. Note the 6 volleying errors (5 of them FHVs)… Sampras has 2 by contrast. He can't do much with the return either

As in other matches, Becker goes out of his way to volley to Sampras' BH (away from Sampras' FH might also be what he was thinking). Naturally, volleying to BH is generally default strategy... but Becker tends to do so even when the easier option is volleying to FH. Given Sampras abilities on the running FH, one can imagine what he was thinking, but I think he overdoes. Strangely, it reminds me of the baseline dynamics of the Sampras-Agassi match up

Difference between the players from the baseline centers around movement. Becker is downright slow of foot. Sampras is taking it a bit easy also, but next to Boris, looks a hare. With baseline rallies being open court and attacking of nature, the movement problem Becker has would sink him even if shot making was equal. But Sampras probably has the edge even there

Apparently, Becker had struggled to win his first round robin encounter against Wayne Ferreira the day before as well. This showing against Sampras coming right after wouldn't have boded well for his chances at the event... but go onto win it he did

Summing up, efficient from Sampras, below par from Becker. Doesn't serve well (low percentage), volleys poorly and moves slowly

We now have full stats for all Becker-Sampras matches at the YEC and in Germany

Stats for '91 match (Becker's best showing) - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/duel-match-stats-report-becker-vs-sampras-agassi-vs-becker-year-end-championship-round-robin-1991.646669/

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

Stats for '96 matches - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/stats-for-1996-atp-champs-sampras-and-becker.171388/
 
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THUNDERVOLLEY

G.O.A.T.
Fantastic summary. Of all of the face-offs of that period, Becker vs Sampras was a consistent joy to watch as they were so evenly matched, despite their very different approaches to the serve and volley game. Thrilling from start to finish, and tennis has rarely seen a match up like that since.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Of all of the face-offs of that period, Becker vs Sampras was a consistent joy to watch as they were so evenly matched, despite their very different approaches to the serve and volley game. Thrilling from start to finish, and tennis has rarely seen a match up like that since.
Agreed on all counts

I remember their carpet matches as tennis at its best. Rewatching them at it hasn't changed that impression

What can anyone do against serving that's bound to draw minimum 35% unreturned serves, backed up by a game that swats away most of the rest of 65% maximum that comes back?

In its own way, these Becker-Sampras carpet matches are a form of who-blinks-first tennis (a phrase I usually use to describe passive rallying from the baseline, with points bound to end when someone makes an unforced error) - the blinking being who has a bad service game

Its noticeable that neither players has out and out bad service games... on the rare breaks, usually at least 1/2 the points are down to the returner pulling off some great passes or baseline winners or something like that. But they need help... break games usually have a double fault or a bad volley miss

And man, are they both clutch
 

THUNDERVOLLEY

G.O.A.T.
I remember their carpet matches as tennis at its best. Rewatching them at it hasn't changed that impression
They were stunning matches, to be sure.

What can anyone do against serving that's bound to draw minimum 35% unreturned serves, backed up by a game that swats away most of the rest of 65% maximum that comes back?
Yes...only a near match of a player could handle that, which is one of the reasons the Becker/Sampras match-up--especially on carpet--seemed like an explosive contest, where each had to bring their best. No one was going to be overwhelmed, yet their game was overwhelming/exhilarating to watch.

In its own way, these Becker-Sampras carpet matches are a form of who-blinks-first tennis (a phrase I usually use to describe passive rallying from the baseline, with points bound to end when someone makes an unforced error) - the blinking being who has a bad service game
Interesting way of putting it, but I understand how it applies here.

And man, are they both clutch
...and that was rare to see throughout an entire match or match-up then, or today in men's tennis.
 
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