Match Stats/Report - Agassi vs Connors, US Open quarter-final, 1988

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Andre Agassi beat Ivan Jimmy Connors 6-2, 7-6(6), 6-1 in the US Open quarter-final, 1988 on hard court

Agassi, who was 18, would go onto lose in the semis to Ivan Lendl and finish the year ranked 3

Agassi won 112 points, Connors 83

Serve Stats
Agassi...
- 1st serve percentage (53/83) 64%
- 1st serve points won (41/53) 77%
- 2nd serve points won (15/30) 50%
- Aces 4, Service Winners 4
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (24/83) 29%

Connors...
- 1st serve percentage (77/112) 69%
- 1st serve points won (37/77) 48%
- 2nd serve points won (19/35) 54%
- Aces 1 (1 second serve), Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (15/112) 13%


Serve Patterns
Agassi served...
- to FH 49%
- to BH 51%


Connors
served....
- to FH 17%
- to BH 83%


Return Stats
Agassi made...
- 96 (22 FH, 74 BH), including 6 runaround FHs
- 3 Winners (2 FH, 1 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 13 Errors, comprising...
- 2 Unforced (2 FH), including 1 runaround FH attempt
- 11 Forced (1 FH, 10 BH)
- Return Rate (96/111) 86%

Connors made...
- 58 (30 FH, 28 BH), including 3 return-aproaches
- 2 Winners (1 FH, 1 BH)
- 16 Errors, comprising...
- 4 Unforced (1 FH, 3 BH), including 1 return-approach attempt
- 12 Forced (7 FH, 5 BH)
- Return Rate (58/82) 71%

Break Points
Agassi 6/16 (9 games)
Connors 2/6 (4 games)

Winners
(including returns, excluding serves)
Agassi 28 (7 FH, 17 BH, 1 FHV, 3 OH)
Connors 23 (4 FH, 6 BH, 3 FHV, 6 BHV, 4 OH)

Agassi's FHs - 4 dtl (2 returns), 1 dtl/inside-out, 1 inside-out and lob
- BHs - 4 cc (1 return, 1 pass), 10 dtl (3 passes), 2 drop shots and 1 running-down-drop-shot at net
- 1 OH was not a net point

Connors' FHs - 2 cc (1 pass), 1 dtl and 1 net chord dribbler return
- BHs - 1 cc return, 2 dtl and 3 inside-out

Errors
(excluding serves and returns)
Agassi 44
- 27 Unforced (8 FH, 18 BH, 1 FHV)
- 17 Forced (7 FH, 10 BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 44.1

Connors 59
- 39 Unforced (18 FH, 21 BH)
- 20 Forced (7 FH, 11 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46.2

(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...
- 8/10 (80%) at net

Connors was...
- 21/30 (70%) at net, with...
- 3/3 return-approaching
- 1/2 forced back

Match Report
A lively and entertaining baseline encounter though its clear Agassi is in the drivers seat throughout.

In the first and third set, it's obviously clear but even in the second (which Agassi wins 8-6 in the tiebreak), its clear (Agassi serves 34 points in the set, Connors 59)

Serve & Return
Connors' numbers look normal for him. Serving at 69%, 48% first serves won, 54% second, 13% unreturned serves

But this is the best I've seen Connors serve. Normally, he just serves safely into the box. Here, he's at or near lines. Agassi usually has to return from well out in the doubles alley or has to move to cover the ball down the T. Of power, Connors serves about as hard as he can (which isn't much) but he placement is excellent. I think he overdid the targeting the BH return though (serves 83% there)

Primarily credit to Agassi's returning then. Moves well to cover the ball, with excellent footwork. Footwork isn't an area where Agassi was notably strong, but here (both in return and on play), its a feature of his game

Agassi has a couple of different serves. 1 is the one he used almost all his career. The other is reminiscent of McEnroe... back slightly turned to opponent and a swivelling action (less extreme than Mac). He plays around with his serving positions as well and serves out wide to the ad court from a position near the sideline. This enhances the angle - and forces Connors to return from well out the court

And Agassi serves well, more powerful than Connors though generally not as well placed. Powerful enough that Connors isn't able to utilize the wide serving angles of Agassi to return with point ending force (Agassi's movement in play has something to do with this also)

By the third set, Connors looks tired and perhaps disappointed in losing the tiebreak. He tries to serve extra big and can get just 16/30 first serves in (which is low for him). He misses 8 first serves in a row... possibly a personal worst for him. Agassi also serves hardest in the third, with 10/21 serves unreturned (including 2 aces and all 4 of his service winners)… Connors' weariness probably plays a role in this too

Baseline, Net Play & Movement
Baseline play makes up the bulk of the action

Its lively stuff, both player mixing up directions and running the other from side to side. Connors is still quick and is mostly up to it... his defence and retrieving is commendable. Agassi is faster still (and has to do less of it, for more often than not he's dictating). A feature of the young Agassi's play, though he slowed down relatively early in his career

In the minority stationary rallies, Agassi uncharacteristically seems to prefer going FH cc against the Connors BH cc.... Agassi tends to get the better of these plays. And the stats are mildly suggesting it was a good move (Agassi has 16 BH UEs to 8 on the FH)

Connors is about equally reliable across wings (18 FH UEs, 21 BH). There are plenty of forced errors from baseline rallies, which I imagine was still fairly unusual in 1988?

The UEFI is contradicting my perception of play (Connors 46.2, Agassi 44.1). Agassi's 'normal' groundstoke is more aggressive than Connors, who throws in a fair few neutral type shots, or those scoop defensive ones he does. Or it could be showing that Agassi just missed fewer attacking shots than Connors.... but I would have expected Agassi to have a higher score than Connors on this

Agassi barely comes to net. He does hit an excellent, low, wide FHV winner at 5-5 in the tiebreak, but that's about all worth mentioning. Connors is very good up front, the volleying good, the approaches better. He even return-approaches 3 times (plus an error trying to), winning all 3 points. Perhaps he could have serve-volleyed some (he didn't at all), seeing he was good at net, serving well and getting beaten from the back of the court. I suspect he feared the Agassi return, which as ever, was powerful, but with Connors moving him to the edges with the serve, at least the direction of the returns would have been reasonably predictable if Connors had come in occasionally

Return-approaching tends to put the volleyer in off balance positions and if Connors could pull it off, why not serve-volley, given he's not doing well from the baseline on first serve points? Mind you, the returns Connors came in behind were heavy shots, so he was less off balance at the net than most players who use the move

Summing up, fun, lively baseline stuff - with Agassi more consistent and damaging of shot as well as better of movement
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Good assessment. From what I remember (having watched it back in '88), I felt JC should have been up at net more, less trying to battle it from the baseline. Interestingly, your stats point to him being at net pretty frequently. And, yes, he should have served and volleyed a bit more. Agassi was getting the better of the baseline rallies, so I felt he should have mixed it up more. And, if he had won the tiebreak, I think the match would have had a VERY different complexion. The '89 rematch was far more intriguing and JC used a slightly different strategy (more attacking) that was more effective against Andre, IMHO, which he carried over to their exos.
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
Surprised to see you say that you think this was as good as you'd seen Connors serve, especially with the disparity in unreturned serves. I don't think it would have been a good idea for Connors to do more than mix in the occasional s/v. Not on that surface, considering the quality of Connors serve and the qualty of Agassi's return.

When these 2 guys faced each other it was unusual in the sense that they were used to being the player who did less running. They ran you corner to corner. Obviously, they both couldn't do that at the same time.

I do think Connors was disheartened by the tiebreaker loss. Then agan, he got killed in the first set as well.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Surprised to see you say that you think this was as good as you'd seen Connors serve, especially with the disparity in unreturned serves. I don't think it would have been a good idea for Connors to do more than mix in the occasional s/v. Not on that surface, considering the quality of Connors serve and the qualty of Agassi's return.

When these 2 guys faced each other it was unusual in the sense that they were used to being the player who did less running. They ran you corner to corner. Obviously, they both couldn't do that at the same time.

I do think Connors was disheartened by the tiebreaker loss. Then agan, he got killed in the first set as well.
I think if he S&V'd every point, Agassi would have gotten the groove on it....but probably a bit more of it would not have hurt. These guys have similar strengths, with but a few key differences in their games and styles. My feeling was that if JC could keep him a bit off balance with unexpected attacks, he'd have a better shot. Again, less chance for Agassi to get his rhythm. In one of the subsequent exos between them (in '89 maybe?) I noticed Connors played closer to the baseline and took the ball earlier than ever. That actually seemed to work well...combined with the intermittent approaches to net. He one upped Andre in terms of taking it on the rise and closed to net when he could. Of the two, he was better at net and better with forward movement. As Connors got older, his visits to the net became more frequent, it seemed to me. And, they were usually pretty effective forays as his approaches were still quite sharp...that was one of the best parts of his game.
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
I didn't say he couldn't do it at all, but not very much. If he tried to do it all the time, he would have been massacred, IMO. On that surface, with Agassi's serve. As far as how much he came in later in his career, I can assure you that t wasn't more often, hell as often as he came in during the great majority of mid 70s matches I've seen. Even the Krickstein match, % of points played, I've seen a bunch of matches higher. There were 375 points played in that match.

The exhibtions I saw were the skin games. It was a round robin and they played twice. I don't recall thinking that Connors was taking the ball extraordinarily early. It's hard to do that with Agassi with how hard and deep he hit. Not hardfast denying that he did. I just don't recall it. I only watched it once. They only showed a bit of the round robin match then the final. Now that I think of it, I think the round robin matches may have just been one set.

In any case, I think Connors came in at a bit higher rate as in the 89 US Open. Wasn't coming in a ton, though. And whether he was taking the ball really early or not he was making Agassi do a bunch of running as well.

I never meant to imply they were identical players. They played alike in the sense of taking the ball early and tending to be the one who did less running. They were more likely to dictate the point. Now, they would be more prone to miss because they went for more. I think Connors played with less margin as far as spin is concerned. I think, generally speaking, that Connors came to the net a lot more.
 
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jrepac

Hall of Fame
I didn't say he couldn't do it at all, but not very much. If he tried to do it all the time, he would have been massacred, IMO. On that surface, with Agassi's serve. As far as how much he came in later in his career, I can assure you that t wasn't more often, hell as often as he came in during the great majority of mid 70s matches I've seen.
Oh, I agree...not 100% of the time on S&V. Not on the deco-turf. Would have been a nightmare. In terms of coming to net more, I'm thinking more the latter stages....'85 on. Yes, he was always an attacking player....just seemed as he got older he was more likely to take the chance to end the points. Particularly against another equally (or more) steady base liner, who he could not push around.
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
Oh, I agree...not 100% of the time on S&V. Not on the deco-turf. Would have been a nightmare. In terms of coming to net more, I'm thinking more the latter stages....'85 on. Yes, he was always an attacking player....just seemed as he got older he was more likely to take the chance to end the points. Particularly against another equally (or more) steady base liner, who he could not push around.
I just edited my reply to add more stuff. I don't agree that he was more likely to take chances from the baselne as he got older. If anything, he took less chances. Find me a 1980s match where he goes for broke like he did in the 1976 US Open final. Now, he might come to the net more against a player like Wilander who he knew was steadier. But go for broke, as in a lot of winner from the backcourt, I don't think so.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
I just edited my reply to add more stuff. I don't agree that he was more likely to take chances from the baselne as he got older. If anything, he took less chances. Find me a 1980s match where he goes for broke like he did in the 1976 US Open final. Now, he might come to the net more against a player like Wilander who he knew was steadier. But go for broke, as in a lot of winner from the backcourt, I don't think so.
No, not from the baseline. I'm thinking net approaches, exclusively. From '85 onwards. And yes, against a Wilander, a Krickstein, an Agassi, etc. '88 Lipton final against Wilander, he was all over the net. It was insane.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
I didn't say he couldn't do it at all, but not very much. If he tried to do it all the time, he would have been massacred, IMO. On that surface, with Agassi's serve. As far as how much he came in later in his career, I can assure you that t wasn't more often, hell as often as he came in during the great majority of mid 70s matches I've seen. Even the Krickstein match, % of points played, I've seen a bunch of matches higher. There were 375 points played in that match.

The exhibtions I saw were the skin games. It was a round robin and they played twice. I don't recall thinking that Connors was taking the ball extraordinarily early. It's hard to do that with Agassi with how hard and deep he hit. Not hardfast denying that he did. I just don't recall it. I only watched it once. They only showed a bit of the round robin match then the final. Now that I think of it, I think the round robin matches may have just been one set.

In any case, I think Connors came in at a bit higher rate as in the 89 US Open. Wasn't coming in a ton, though. And whether he was taking the ball really early or not he was making Agassi do a bunch of running as well.

I never meant to imply they were identical players. They played alike in the sense of taking the ball early and tending to be the one who did less running. They were more likely to dictate the point. Now, they would be more prone to miss because they went for more. I think Connors played with less margin as far as spin is concerned. I think, generally speaking, that Connors came to the net a lot more.
yes, it was the Skins....there were 2 matches....I think he had to drop out of the final due to a bad knee. Just seemed like he was more aggressive this time, probably in line with the '89 QF. The '88 QF he seemed less so....(but stats may not align?). In the exo, he just seemed to be really on top of the ball, giving Agassi even less time to react....looked like he had Andre doing most of the running. Hey, maybe he was just having a good day, but it looked like a different strategy to me...and yes, he had far less margin for error. They are not identical, but similar in certain ways, that much is true.
 

THUNDERVOLLEY

G.O.A.T.
Great summary, Waspsting. At the time, some tennis pundits were claiming Agassi was the "next Connors" due to the baseline game/return of serve, but I'm sure Agassi saw himself in a far different light. He has since said he was "playing " with Connors in this match, which is just flat out arrogant on his part.

It was still great to see the obviously aging older generation still up to the challenge (as we would see with Ivan Lendl & John McEnroe at the 1990 US Open until both were stopped by eventual champion Sampras). For those fans not around at the time, this gives a good look at how strong the men's field was at that exciting period in tennis history.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Thanks, Thundervolley

He has since said he was "playing " with Connors in this match, which is just flat out arrogant on his part.
:) Arrogant, yes. Unnecessary, yes... probably also true too though

Agassi conducted himself professionally for most of the match. Early in the third, he loosened up a bit. McEnroe was in the crowd (don't know why... he was out of the tournament and doesn't seem the type to go to matches for the fun of it. Donald Trump was sitting just in front of him). Agassi made to imitate his serve once and imitated his angry reaction to missing a first serve

I think it was harmless enough, but can see it being taken for arrogance or showboating

Connors was worse I thought. Last game of the match, when its all but over, he wastes minutes of time humouring and encouraging supportive shout-outers from the crowd. Agassi, who I think was keen to be liked, seems a bit put out by it

Its here that someone calls out "You're a legend, he's a punk", and a grinning Connors hits 2 balls up to the guy as a reward

The '89 match is an exercise in gamesmanship from Connors and desire to please by Agassi. Connors feels ill early in the second set and wastes plenty of time for the rest of the match, regularly keeping Agassi waiting on serve (let alone return)

Thought Agassi would have been well within decency to have complained.... but he's probably wary of turning the crowd against him. He does regularly applaud Connors' winners though

Near the end, Agassi hits a return of first serve winner and starts walking to the other side. When he notices Connors staring at the line (Connors seemed to be suggesting his serve had been a fault), Agassi double takes back and insists it had been a fault to the umpire and tries to play a second serve point. Connors refuses

Doubt Agassi being so nice helps.... by the end, the crowd are cheering wildly when he misses a first serve, let alone makes an error

That match is here https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-agassi-vs-connors-us-open-quarter-final-1989.651016/

It was still great to see the obviously aging older generation still up to the challenge (as we would see with Ivan Lendl & John McEnroe at the 1990 US Open until both were stopped by eventual champion Sampras). For those fans not around at the time, this gives a good look at how strong the men's field was at that exciting period in tennis history.
Lendl probably had it harder than anyone in the Open Era... starting off against Borg, McEnroe, Connors.... jostling with a peak McEnroe, having Wilander join the party.... lording it over Wilander, Becker and Edberg... and then guys like Sampras, Agassi, Courier appearing as he was getting old

The Sampras match is here https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-sampras-vs-lendl-us-open-quarter-final-1990.624080/ …. good nerves as well as play from Pete there
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
No, not from the baseline. I'm thinking net approaches, exclusively. From '85 onwards. And yes, against a Wilander, a Krickstein, an Agassi, etc. '88 Lipton final against Wilander, he was all over the net. It was insane.
The 2 matches where he had a very high total were the 1988 Wilander match and the 1991 Krickstein match. But I wouldn't use insane. There were other matches, 70s matches, where he didn't come in as much, but his % of total points at net was higher.
 

big ted

Hall of Fame
McEnroe was in the crowd (don't know why... he was out of the tournament and doesn't seem the type to go to matches for the fun of it. Donald Trump was sitting just in front of him). Agassi made to imitate his serve once and imitated his angry reaction to missing a first serve
i remember tv and the usopen really hyping this match up, at least in the states... agassi was the hottest & most exciting player on tour at the time and connors at the usopen was CONNORS..
and after the match connors got mad because they asked agassi on tv if he thought it would be that easy a match as it was, and he pretty much said yea...lol
they seemed to really not like eachother ever since..
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Thanks, Thundervolley



:) Arrogant, yes. Unnecessary, yes... probably also true too though

Agassi conducted himself professionally for most of the match. Early in the third, he loosened up a bit. McEnroe was in the crowd (don't know why... he was out of the tournament and doesn't seem the type to go to matches for the fun of it. Donald Trump was sitting just in front of him). Agassi made to imitate his serve once and imitated his angry reaction to missing a first serve

I think it was harmless enough, but can see it being taken for arrogance or showboating

Connors was worse I thought. Last game of the match, when its all but over, he wastes minutes of time humouring and encouraging supportive shout-outers from the crowd. Agassi, who I think was keen to be liked, seems a bit put out by it

Its here that someone calls out "You're a legend, he's a punk", and a grinning Connors hits 2 balls up to the guy as a reward

The '89 match is an exercise in gamesmanship from Connors and desire to please by Agassi. Connors feels ill early in the second set and wastes plenty of time for the rest of the match, regularly keeping Agassi waiting on serve (let alone return)

Thought Agassi would have been well within decency to have complained.... but he's probably wary of turning the crowd against him. He does regularly applaud Connors' winners though

Near the end, Agassi hits a return of first serve winner and starts walking to the other side. When he notices Connors staring at the line (Connors seemed to be suggesting his serve had been a fault), Agassi double takes back and insists it had been a fault to the umpire and tries to play a second serve point. Connors refuses

Doubt Agassi being so nice helps.... by the end, the crowd are cheering wildly when he misses a first serve, let alone makes an error

That match is here https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-agassi-vs-connors-us-open-quarter-final-1989.651016/



Lendl probably had it harder than anyone in the Open Era... starting off against Borg, McEnroe, Connors.... jostling with a peak McEnroe, having Wilander join the party.... lording it over Wilander, Becker and Edberg... and then guys like Sampras, Agassi, Courier appearing as he was getting old

The Sampras match is here https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-sampras-vs-lendl-us-open-quarter-final-1990.624080/ …. good nerves as well as play from Pete there
Agassi had a much harder time with Lendl than Connors...from the back court. I think Lendl handled Andre's pace relatively well and this stage of his career (late 80's) he was very fit and extremely steady/consistent. Lendl seemed to have a harder time with Pete, IMHO. Lendl really did span several eras of greats, Connors too, because they played for so long.
 

WCT

Semi-Pro
I remember McEnroe being in the crowd for this match. Then in the third set, when Connors was getting killed, someone yelled down some encouragement to him. He just stopped his serve, looked up at the guy, and smiled. Connors pretty much owned the crowd every time he played there the last dozen or so years. Probably every year post 1978/
 
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