Match Stats/Report - Chang vs Sampras, Canadian Open semi-final, 1990


Hall of Fame
Michael Chang beat Pete Sampras 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-5 in the Canadian Open semi-final, 1990 on hard court in Toronto

Chang would go onto win the title, beating Jay Berger in the final. He'd beaten top seed Andre Agassi, who'd served for the match, in the quarters from a set down. Sampras, who would shortly after win the US Open, had beaten John McEnroe in the previous round. Both players were 18 years old

Chang won 111 points, Sampras 114

Sampras serve-volleyed off all but 3 first serves

(Note: I'm missing minor, partial data for 2 points
- Set 2, Game 3, Point 1 - serve direction and corresponding return type
- Set 2, Game 7, Point 4 - type of return error)

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (59/116) 51%
- 1st serve points won (43/59) 73%
- 2nd serve points won (33/57) 58%
- Aces 9, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (21/116) 18%

- 1st serve percentage (53/109) 49%
- 1st serve points won (46/53) 87%
- 2nd serve points won (28/56) 50%
- Aces 20 (1 second serve), Service Winners 2
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (34/109) 31%

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

Sampras served...
- to FH 38%
- to BH 48%
- to Body 14%

Return Stats
Chang made...
- 73 (27 FH, 46 BH), including 2 runaround FHs & 1 return-approach
- 12 Errors, comprising...
- 1 Unforced (1 FH)
- 11 Forced (5 FH, 6 BH)
- Return Rate (73/107) 68%

Sampras made...
- 92 (43 FH, 48 BH, 1 ??), including 15 runaround FHs & 14 return-approaches
- 1 Winner (1 FH), a runaround FH
- 11 Errors, comprising...
- 8 Unforced (3 FH, 5 BH), including 2 runaround FHs
- 2 Forced (1 FH, 1 BH)
- 1 Unknown (1 FH), against a first serve
- Return Rate (92/113) 81%

Break Points
Chang 2/6 (4 games)
Sampras 2/9 (5 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Chang 31 (18 FH, 8 BH, 3 BHV, 2 OH)
Sampras 34 (9 FH, 5 BH, 5 FHV, 8 BHV, 7 OH)

Chang had 16 passes (10 FH, 6 BH)
- FHs - 6 cc (1 net chord pop over), 2 dtl and 2 inside-out
- BHs - 5 dtl and 1 inside-out at net

- regular FHs - 1 cc, 1 cc/inside-in, 2 dtl, 1 inside-out, 2 inside-in and 1 longline/inside-out
- regular BHs - 2 dtl

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

- 1 from a return-approach point, an OH

- FHs - 3 cc (2 passes), 2 dtl (1 pass) and 3 inside-in (1 runaround return)
- BHs - 3 cc (2 passes) and 2 dtl

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Chang 43
- 18 Unforced (7 FH, 9 BH, 2 BHV)
- 25 Forced (10 FH, 14 BH, 1 BHV)... with 1 BH running-down-drop-shot at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 50

Sampras 57
- 37 Unforced (15 FH, 18 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV, 2 BHOH)... with 1 FH at net & 1 BH at net
- 20 Forced (7 FH, 11 BH, 2 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 50.5

(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
Chang was...
- 22/31 (71%) at net, with...
- 0/1 return-approaching

Sampras was...
- 53/79 (67%) at net, including...
- 23/33 (70%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 22/29 (76%) off 1st serve and...
- 1/4 (25%) off 2nd serve
- 7/14 (50%) return-approaching

Match Report
A great match - both of action and story. Action is varied - there's big serving, creative returning, thumping groundstroke rallies, slicing, serve-volleying, touch volleying, scampering defence, approaching from rallies - what isn't there? And of story, Sampras tiring progressively as third set goes on, while initially up a break trying to hold onto it and later after Chang breaks back, striving to keep up and deliver a big, knock out blow with high end power, as the fitter Chang gains ascendancy for first time after scrapping like a dog to stay near even for all of match. High drama and tension - even without great action, it'd be a good watch

Ultimately, Chang just edges it - and he's not exactly daisy fresh either.

Story goes beyond the match too apparently. In previous round, Chang had beaten top seed Andre Agassi in a tough 3 setter where Agassi had failed to serve out the match and apparently had Chang running all over the place. And Sampras had bested John McEnroe in another 3 setter where he'd gone 2/17 on break points. Sounds like a good time

This match is a good time. Court is normal, maybe tilted toward quick side and weather is hot

1st set is fantastic, with Pete having better of it. He barely misses a return and Chang faces break points in all 4 service games. Couple of deuce games for Pete too though he doesn't face break point

Only break comes when Chang misses an easy BHV, having mishit a BH out the previous point. Remaining 6 break points are all saved with winners or FEs

Both players serve much bigger in second set, there are no break points and just 1 deuce game. Average lenght of game drops from 7.8 points in 1st set to 6 in second going into tiebreak. Some really out there experiments from Chang on the return as he starts standing in court to take Sampras' 1st serve (with very little success - other than confounding stats for what is and isn't a 'serve-volley').

In the 'breaker, Chang needs 2 good passes to thwart Pete's first return-approach and passes him second time Pete chip-charges too. The set-sky-alight point comes as Chang puts 1 smash back in play, Pete responds with an as-hard-as-can-be-hit 2nd smash on the bounce that Chang, far from falling away from, slightly charges to somehow fend back for a passing winner. An impossible shot

Chang gets decisive mini by out playing a 2nd serve-volleying Sampras. A long baseline rally develops on Chang's 1st set point on serve and it ends with Pete missing a had-enough-of-this FH inside-in winner attempt

The tennis remains high of quality in the decider, but emphasis shifts to the story of Pete tiring. That he's tired is clear enough - and it gets progressively more. Though Chang doesn't show any obvious signs of fatigue, more aggressive shot choices suggest he's feeling the heat too. All 2/6 (4 games) of Chang's break points come in the set and even when he's leading, the story is one of if Pete can hold it together to get over the finish line. Or after Chang restores parity, if Pete has it in him to make a final dash over the line

Pete holds to love to open and with Chang double faulting twice, breaks to move ahead 2-0. Then climbs out of 0-40 hole to hold

He's broken next service game, which he opens with a double fault and a missed regulation FH. On break point, Chang's lob is obviously going well out - but Pete makes contact with BHOH on the ball without putting it in play. Chang holds for 3-3 to follow. And Pete's in the grinder again right after - saving a break point with a beauiful, perfect FHV drop

Then pushes Chang to deuce. After touching another perfect BHV drop, Pete misses an easy putaway BHV and Chang holds

The final break comes in game 11. Pete makes a first 1/2volley, but on the second volley, misses attempted drop volley. On break point, he misses a routine slice after a substantial rally

There's time for one last chapter as Pete takes the serving for match Chang to deuce with another BHV winner. He hammers the next return and comes to net soon after, but Chang makes yet another FH cc passing winner - his 6th of the match. He's barely missed one. On final point, Pete takes a big swing on the return and knocks it out

Hell of a match. How are the numbers?


Hall of Fame
Play & Stats
Sampras serve-volleys virtually all the time off first serves. He's been marked as staying back 3 times because of complications in stats taking caused by Chang's returning. In second set, Chang occasionally takes to returning from 2 paces inside the court. With speed of Sampras serve, Chang's position and speed of Chang's swatted return, the return goes out while Sampras isn't even 2 steps in court

He seems to genuinely stay back once. Once he's 2 steps in court. And third time, He's 'serve-volleying' but has ends up hitting his BH cc winner from about half-way between service line and baseline. How can you call that a serve-volley or a net point? So, nominally, Sampras 'staying back' off 3 first serves. Realistically, maybe once and 2 where he's so far back when the return lands that it can't be called a 'serve-volley', but the intent is there

In first set, Pete serves heftily, strongly but nothing 'wow' inducing. Starting second set, he cranks it up to the 'wow' level. He's got 20 aces and 2 service winners - that's 1 every 2.5 first serves

Chang responds by among other things, stepping 2 paces inside court to take returns. Doesn't do him much good and he can barely make a 1st return. Chang's aced/service winner'd 22 times (1 is a 2nd serve) while making just 12 return errors. Andre Agassi with his close up return postion typically has numbers like this

Decent, tough to attack 2nd serve from Pete too, though other than at the end, its not likely to be confused with the 1sts at least. Chang is very consistent in returning it. He has just 1 UE and despite the smorgasboard of aces, 'just' 31% unreturned serves from Pete

Trade off to all the aces is whatever returns come back, come back hard. There's a wonderful contest between serve-volleying Pete on the first volley in the first set, with Pete getting a bunch of 1/2volleys and shoelace volleys first up. Copes superbly. Thereafter, not too much volley-pass battle during serve-volleys - Pete's serve either doesn't come back, or leaves an easy volley to putaway

Pete serve-volleys just 4 times behind second serves (and wins just 1, to give idea of what Chang is like against non-overwhelming serves). And return-approaches a large 14 times, winning 7. These are chip-charges, not firm shots - at least decent with a fair few good wide ones. Another indicator of Chang's prowess on pass

Chang initially serves gently, but somewhat surprisingly, he cranks up his serve and sends down some powerful ones in 2nd set too. He's got respectable 9 aces, 1 service winner too - and Pete returns with focus all match. Not much happening beyond the aces though, and Pete returns at very healthy 81%, leaving Pete with sizably 13% lead in unreturned serves

Sampras' 1st serve points are serve-volleys, he return-approaches to happy tune of winning 50% (putting that in perspective, Chang wins 58% second serve points) and small number of Pete 2nd serve points aside, everything else starts baseline to baseline

From there, anything and everything is on show - winners, UEs, FEs and approaches

Chang is typically solid and hard hitting. Dual winged game with no preferance of which side to take ball or direct ball too. Goes attackingly dtl occasionally off both sides. Pete starts playing patiently and is also consistent enough of the ground to hang with Chang. He tends to move over to take FHs occasionally, preferring to attack FH inside-in than inside-out, but is hard hitting off the BH too, with a well balanced sprinkling of slices thrown in

As match wears on, he slices higher portion of the time and goes for big attacking FHs with less set up or just because he's had it with trading groundies

UEs off the ground read
- Chang FH 7
- Chang BH 9
- Pete FH 14
- Pete BH 17

... which is not a bad outcome form Pete's of view. He however, does not have an attacking advanatage from the back. Chang leads baseline winners 10-7. Plenty of FEs coming out of baseline rallies too

Note very similar UEFIs - Chang 50, Pete 50.5. Breakdown of UEs -

- Neutral - Chang 6, Pete 15
- Attacking - Chang 6, Pete 5
- Winner attempts - Chang 6, Pete 17

... with Pete having 6 forcourt UEs to Chang's 2

The very low attacking UEs and high attacking efficiency - Chang forces 20 errors, Pete 25 - have different explanations. Chang can force the error from Pete when he attacks. Pete can do the same, but he's often forced to hit a winner because Chang keeps putting ball back in play. The pressure has a hand in Pete's high 17 winner attempt UEs. With just 7 baseline to baseline winners and 6 net shots among the UEs, Pete's well in the negatives when going for the winner from the back, usually off the FH. Much credit to Chang for being wall enough to push Pete to go for that much more

18 UEs to 25 FEs from Chang is very FE heavy yield, largely due to passing errors, but to lesser extent, being so solid from the back that he has to be forced into error for point to end

And then there's rallying to net. The two have near identical figures - Pete is 23/32 at 72%, Chang 22/30 at 73%

Chang likes to come in off short ball to finish at net. He's also able to manufacture the approach when he wants to too, and does so often when down break point. He's very solid in forecourt and comfortable on the volley, punching them through fairly well and away from Pete. Pete with some excellent power passes that have to be precise to get by

On flip side, Sampras is more apt to create the approach. In second set in particular, he plays beautifully in mixing approaches with hard hitting from the back. The Pete volley vs Chang is a very high quality one - lots of low volleys for Pete to make, some exquisite drop volleying (where a deep one was just as good an option - in later years, Pete mostly used drop volleys for putaways) and he's decisive in snapping away balls above net. Lots of great passing from Chang. Particularly on the FH cc which he never seems to miss. He likes going cc off the FH and dtl off the BH on the pass

High standard of cluth play is reflected in the very high proportion of break points that are saved aggressively. Off the 7 break points Chang saves 2 are winners and 5 are FEs, while all 4 Sampras saves are by winners

Ironically, all 4 break points that are converted end with UEs

Summing up, great match of high quality play in all areas, including guts and grit. Sampras volleys beautifully and works his way up to serving with overwhelming pace, barely misses a return and hangs tough from the baseline, while looking to work his way forward. Chang is rendered helpless returning at times, but good lot of what he can make gives the serve-volleying Sampras shoelace volleys first up. Chang remains hard hitting and consistent off both wings all match and is able to finish points from there or draw weak ball he can come in and attack at net or even actively create an approach to do the same

Physical fitness is probably the decisive factor. Well as Chang plays, when both players are fresh he can't overcome the large handicap on serve and does very well to stay in touch with the almost equally well playing and much bigger serving Sampras. As match wears on, Chang's superior fitness sees him remain considerably fresher than his tiring opponet and he's able to edge ahead in last stages to grab a very tough win