Match Stats/Report - Agassi vs Safin, Year End Championship semi-final, 2000

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Andre Agassi beat Marat Safin 6-3, 6-3 in the Year End Championship semi-final, 2000 on indoor hard court in Lisbon, Portugal

Agassi, the Australian Open champion, would go onto lose the final to Gustavo Kuerten. Safin had recently won the US Open and a win in this match would have sealed the year end number one spot for him. He would end the year ranked 2, behind Kuerten

Agassi won 77 points, Safin 54

(Note: I'm missing service and return info for one Safin service point and serve direction/return type for one Safin first serve point)

Serve Stats
Agassi...
- 1st serve percentage (38/65) 58%
- 1st serve points won (31/38) 82%
- 2nd serve points won (15/27) 56%
- Aces 4, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (14/65) 22%

Safin...
- 1st serve percentage (34/65) 52%
- 1st serve points won (22/34) 65%
- 2nd serve points won (13/31) 42%
- Unknown serve point (0/1) 100%
- Aces 4
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (12/66) 18%

Serve Patterns
Agassi served...
- to FH 42%
- to BH 58%

Safin served...
- to FH 19%
- to BH 70%
- to Body 11%

Return Stats
Agassi made...
- 53 (21 FH, 30 BH 2 ??), including 10 runaround FHs & 1 return-approach
- 2 Winners (2 FH)
- 8 Errors, comprising...
- 3 Unforced (1 FH, 2 BH)
- 5 Forced (2 FH, 3 BH)
- Return Rate (53/65) 82%

Safin made...
- 48 (15 FH, 33 BH), including 1 return-approach
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 9 Errors, comprising...
- 1 Unforced (1 FH)
- 8 Forced (7 FH, 1 BH)
- Return Rate (48/62) 77%

Break Points
Agassi 3/10 (6 games)
Safin 0/4 (1 game)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Agassi 18 (8 FH, 6 BH, 1 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 OH)
Safin 18 (4 FH, 10 BH, 3 BHV, 1 OH)

Agassi's FHs - 4 cc (1 pass, 2 returns), 1 running-down-drop-shot pass at net dtl played net-to-net (not clean), 2 inside-out and 1 lob
- BHs - 2 cc (1 pass and the other Safin fell down to allow), 2 dtl passes, 1 inside-out/dtl and 1 drop shot

- the FHV was from a return-approach point and 1 BHV was a drop

Safin's FHs - 3 cc (1 at net) and 1 dtl
- BHs - 1 cc, 8 dtl (1 return) and 1 drop shot

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Agassi 21
- 15 Unforced (7 FH, 8 BH)
- 6 Forced (3 FH, 2 BH, 1 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 44.7

Safin 44
- 31 Unforced (15 FH, 14 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 13 Forced (4 FH, 8 BH, 1 FHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 49.7

(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 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...
- 10/12 (83%) at net, with..
- 1/1 return-approaching
- 0/1 forced back

Safin was...
- 6/15 (40%) at net, including...
- 0/1 serve-volleying, a 1st serve
--
- 0/1 return-approaching

Match Report
Straightforward power baseline battle on a slow court. Agassi is solid but Safin's erratic ups and downs is the standout feature

Safin has the better of it to start. He holds to love to open in a game featuring the first of what would be 8 BH dtl winners for him. Agassi's first service game by contrast lasts 22 points and he has to save 4 break points. On the first, Safin return-approaches for the only time in the match. Its not a well timed approach and he gets caught coming in and makes FHV UE. 2 others end with Safin BH UEs - 1 routine, 1 a dtl winner attempt (the flip side of all the dtl winners) and the last is service winner-ed away

With returns being put in play relatively comfortably but not damagingly, the match settles into muscly, baseline exchanges. Safin's play is more eyecatching and attacking and initially at least, slightly better. He's more powerful (particularly on the return, which he frequently sends back deep and hard) and the BH dtl gives him an attacking edge missing from Agassi's play. But its uphill work to finish points even with such an advantage on a sluggish court

And, apparently slippery, at least for Safin. He slips 2 or 3 times, once in a dangerous, ankle turning looking way

It isn't long before Safin's slight advantage dissipates and Agassi's greater consistency shifts the edge to him. The edge widens to significant advantage as Marat starts playing more and more carelessly. Before the carelessness kicks in though, Agassi gains the first break to 15 in a strong game featuring heavy returns (1 winner and a return on the baseline that forces an error) and moving Safin around play

Serving at 3-5, Safin slips during the first point, allowing a BH cc winner. He's turned over his ankle and play is halted as he receives treatment and his ankle is taped. For 3-5 games after that, Safin's movements - not great to begin with, go down two notches as he treads with care. Agassi wraps up the game and set with 2 more winners before Safin double faults on set point

Second set, Safin seems to be mentally miles away. He isn't moving well and playing unevenly... going for too much early in rallies, making routine errors or missing wild shots. All with that listless air he tended to get. The crowd get on his back a too. He still pulls of the odd stunning BH dtl winner and resists being broken though

Break comes in game 8. An excellent FH cc return winner from Agassi puts him up 15-30 and 2 ill judged drop shots from Safin does the rest. The first he misses and the second is dispatched at net... Safin was just behind the service line when he played the shot and had many better options than drop shot

Serve, Return & Play
I saw the action mostly through the lens of it illustrating just how well Kuerten played in identical conditions in the final

Its the kind of court where
- strong serving doesn't grant much advantage
- strong returning doesn't grant much advantage
- shot making is difficult and probably not worth the errors that come with it
- consistency of the ground and patience are probably the best strategy
- sub-optimal for net play.... lots of time for baseliner to line up passes

Agassi handles the needs of the court well. Serves strongly enough... and tends to come up with big ones when he needs them. Returns strongly and consistently (excellent 82% return rate). Plays a powerful but consistent and patient game from the back... holding steady and moving Safin around a bit. Doesn't come in much, but when he does, makes it count winning 10/12 net points (and 1 he lost was a forced back point)

Safin does not. He's too impatient, makes attacking errors (bad judgement and shot choices) and his movements are off. Net instincts are poor... gets caught coming in most of the time and wins just 40% at net

These assessment are made independent of things that tend to distract one from looking at play, like body language and mannerisms. Safin's is sloppy and unprofessional for much of the match, especially the second half. But as long as he keeps holding serve, what does it matter?

The movement problem is particularly interesting. I've never thought Safin moved particularly well. Commentators quote Pete Sampras as saying just that (it seems the comment was a private one that they're passing on, not something that was announced to the press). Commentators don't seem to agree. This match certainly movement isn't a strength. Even pre-ankle tape up, he's tested with relatively minor moving-guy-around play from Agassi and tends to make errors on the move which are at best, mildly forced and usually unforced

Baseline action centers around BH-BH exchanges, probably orchestrated by Agassi (action is even enough that it doesn't appear that either player is dictating terms). Safin has the spectacular dtl forcing shots, which Agassi almost completely eschews. Safin with 14 UEs to Agassi's 8 and with 10 winners to Agassi's 6... close enough to even, but throw in forced errors (Agassi draws a few moving Safin extra wide) and Agassi probably comes out on top, despite all those dtl winners being the most memorable part of the exchanges

Prime example of Safin's sloppy play probably springing from attitude issues is Agassi's first serve points. Agassi wins all 16 in second set and 21 of the last 22 in the match. There's nothing in Agassi's serve to warrant this... just Safin being half tuned out because he's facing a first serve

Summing up, power baseline match on a slow court. Agassi playing to the needs of the conditions - steady, powerful, moving Safin around a bit - Safin going haywire erratic frequently
Stats for the final between Agassi and Kuerten - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/match-stats-report-kuerten-vs-agassi-year-end-championship-final-2000.657366/
 
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