Match Stats/Report - Courier vs Agassi, French Open final, 1991

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Jim Courier beat Andre Agassi 3-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the French Open final, 1991 on clay

It was Courier's first Slam final and Agassi's third (lost previous 2). Courier would go onto defend his title the following year, while Agassi had been runner-up the previous year. The 2 had played earlier rounds the previous two years (Courier winning in '89, Agassi in '90) and would go onto meet the following year in the semis (Courier winning)

Courier won 145 points, Agassi 133

Serve Stats
Courier...
- 1st serve percentage (89/145) 61%
- 1st serve points won (58/89) 65%
- 2nd serve points won (32/56) 57%
- Aces 8 (1 not clean), Service Winners 2
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (33/145) 23%

Agassi...
- 1st serve percentage (73/133) 55%
- 1st serve points won (50/73) 73%
- 2nd serve points won (28/60) 47%
- Aces 2
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (18/133) 14%

Serve Patterns
Courier served...
- to FH 36%
- to BH 61%
- to Body 3%

Agassi served...
- to FH 24%
- to BH 76%

Return Stats
Courier made...
- 113 (50 FH, 63 BH), including 24 runaround FHs
- 1 Winner (1 FH), a runaround FH
- 16 Errors, comprising...
- 9 Unforced (4 FH, 5 BH), including 3 runaround FHs
- 7 Forced (3 FH, 4 BH)
- Return Rate (113/131) 86%

Agassi made...
- 110 (51 FH, 59 BH), including 12 runaround FHs
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 23 Errors, comprising...
- 13 Unforced (4 FH, 9 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 10 Forced (4 FH, 6 BH)
- Return Rate (110/143) 77%

Break Points
Courier 6/13 (10 games)
Agassi 5/19 (9 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Courier 31 (16 FH, 6 BH, 3 FHV, 3 BHV, 3 OH)
Agassi 42 (20 FH, 8 BH, 6 FHV, 3 BHV, 5 OH)

Courier's FHs - 5 cc, 1 cc/inside-in, 1 dtl, 7 inside-out (1 runaround return) and 2 inside-in
- BHs - 4 dtl (1 at net), 1 inside-out and 1 running-down-drop-shot dtl at net

- 1 from a serve-volley point, a first volley FHV

Agassi's FHs - 5 cc (3 at net), 2 dtl (1 at net), 7 inside-out (1 at net), 4 inside-in (1 at net), 1 lob and 1 net chord dribbler
- BHs - 2 cc passes (1 return), 2 dtl, 1 dtl/inside-out, 2 drop shots and 1 lob

- 1 FHV was a swinging shot, 1 BHV was a pass and 1 OH was on the bounce

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Courier 71
- 52 Unforced (21 FH, 28 BH, 1 FHV, 2 BHV)... with 1 BH running-down-drop-shot at net
- 19 Forced (8 FH, 10 BH, 1 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 45.4

Agassi 79
- 56 Unforced (27 FH, 27 BH, 2 OH)... with 1 BH at net & 1 OH on the bounce
- 23 Forced (9 FH, 13 BH, 1 BHV)... with 2 FH running-down-drop-shot at net & 1 BH running-down-drop-shot at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 49.3

(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
Courier was...
- 23/34 (68%) at net, including...
- 1/4 (25%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 1/3 (33%) off 1st serve and...
- 0/1 off 2nd serve

Agassi was...
- 27/37 (73%) at net, including...
- 0/1 serve-volleying, a 1st serve
---
- 1/2 forced back

Match Report
Stamina and Courier's greater ability to maintain an even standard of play proves the difference in a very hard hitting, FH centered baseline match. A couple of rain delays alters the court and Courier comes back from the first one having altered his return position - both of which have a hand in shaping play also. Courier plays quite steadily, Agassi's game goes down as match wears on. When both players are fresh, Agassi is the better player and leads the power hitting FH play. As his game (serve, grounstrokes and movement) take a dip, Courier steps up to take the lead and gives him a good dose of his own medicine

Both players look to hammer down the other with FHs, with Agassi leading. In the previous years final, Agassi had played a mildly attacking game of moving Andres Gomez around to encourage errors. No half measures like that here. No moving Courier side-to-side or continuous BH cc'ng to break down that wing. From start, Agassi serves strongly - including second serves - and blasts FHs every chance he gets, moving around to take the ball on that side as much as possible and as such, hitting inside-out or inside-in as often as cc or dtl. Even his 'neutral' shot is hard hit enough to be a handful to cope with

As he pounds Courier down, Agassi takes to advancing in court to no-man's land and finishing points from there, or with a groundstroke at net. Very unusually, he has at least 1 FH winner in all 4 basic directions from the forecourt. Or full on coming to net, behind very strong groundstrokes, leaving him little to do on the volley. Whatever needs doing though, he does very well. Good, clinical finishing from Agassi on the volley

For all that aggression, Agassi is fairly consistent. About as much as Courier - and he's hitting a lot harder

This goes on from start to match to first rain delay, which according to commentary, lasts 25 minutes, in the middle of a Courier game where he's again under the hammer. He's already down a set and a break

On resumption, Courier manages to hold, saving 2 break points. For rest of match, he returns from about 3 steps behind baseline. He'd started returning from on it, and struggled to get returns in play.

Upto first rain delay, Agassi's unreturned rate is 11/43 or 26%. Rest of match, its 7/90 or 8%. That is not entirely down to Courier shifting his return position. Agassi's serving strength drops to rolling-serve in level for last 2 sets of match and even before that, he's not serving as hard as he had from start of match to the first rain delay. Even his second serve was a tough ball initially. By end, his firsts aren't more often than not

Courier shifting to returning from behind baseline changes dynamic of play slightly. From his baseline position, not only had he given up more unreturned serves but was parked on baseline as Agassi launched into his first groudstroke, from where he struggled to gain equality in rallies. Thereafter, he's able to defend and retrieve a bit better. Not much - defence and retrieval don't play a big role in the match and is a very distant second to hammering down baseline play of both players.

Specifically, Courier gets the break back to love to put second set back on serve in a terrible game from Agassi, who misses 3 third ball attacking FHs. He's under the gun again next game and hold a 14 point game that's interrupted by a second, 15 minute rain delay. And he's able to break again to end the set, running around all 5 serves to return with FH

The change in return position doesn't bother Agassi much. He reasserts dominance in third set after getting used to it to swing through it 6-2, winning the last 4 games

And then... Agassi goes flat. His groundstrokes lack authority in 4th set and he starts near rolling in serves. Courier takes up the attacking position and takes to hammer him down with FHs, not dissimilarly to how Agassi had done to him in early part of match. He's not as ferocious in his hitting and is sidetracked to play more BH rallies, but wins his lot of those too, with Agassi's hitting having dropped on both sides

Agassi pulls it together to the tune of playing with more care in the decider, though not moving as well, hitting or serving as hard, but at least, not listlessly flat like the previous set. Winds pick up in the set and rain has made court a bit slower and baseline play for the set is close to normal, solid hitting contest (as opposed to particularly hard hitting as it had been most of match). Courier is slightly better player and is on the positive side of 3 breaks in a row from 3-3 to take the match

Serve & Return
Good, hefty serving from Courier. Even his second serves aren't easy to attack, and he gets a few errors from Agassi trying to. Conditions are quick for clay early on and both players use the first serve enterprisingly to start rallies from strong position on third ball

Agassi too starts serving heftily, though that gradually declines as match goes on, as outlined earlier

The eye-catching part of the serve-return complex is Courier altering his return position. Initially, both players return form on the baseline. Agassi remains there all match. Courier moves back 2-3 paces and remains there

This isn't necessarily a good or match-winning move. It does change dynamic of play, but not necessarily to Courier's advantage. Returning form baseline, Courier (and for that matter, Agassi too) miss fair few returns for clay, are able to hit odd powerful return to neutralize or snatch advantage (exclusively Agassi... Courier doesn't have much success doing this). Usually, the return leaves server at least with oppurtunity to take charge of rally with a big third ball shot (and both players always try, both are keen to hammer the other down)

Missing fair number of returns and with Agassi blasting anything that isn't particularly strongly returned, Courier has little success. Hence for him to fall back makes sense. That's against strong serving. Later though, Agassi turns to average or even gentle serving. Against that kind of serving, Courier likely could have reaped the advantages of taking return early
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
As is, falling back lets him get more returns in play, and he's very consistent in putting balls in play (including when Agassi is still serving strongly) at cost of court position. Now he's behind the baseline for start of rallies... and neither player plays in a way that's suited to that position. Courier is made to run and retrieve more. He does so decently, but isn't up to winning many points when Agassi dictates. That only changes when Agassi stops dictating and falls back to regulation rallying shots

Where the fall-back return position helps is in allowing Courier time to runaround to hit FH returns. His FH return is firmer than the BH, he's able to get into position in center of court in deuce court. When Agassi's serving force drops, he even goes for attacking runaround FHs in ad court. A small number of times, he's even able to runaround against gentle first serves. Huge 24 runaround FHs from Courier in match (Agassi has half that many - almost all of it in last set)

All in all, a good switch from Courier, but not a match winning one. Its effectiveness is largely down to Agassi's serve and groundgame dropping considerably and Courier would as likely as not have been able to do just as well taking return from baseline against the kind of serve and groundshots Agassi hits in 4th and 5th set

Agassi takes returns early all match. He's unable to do much damage. Unlike Courier, his BH return is about as good as his FH, so no obvious benefit for him to runaround much.

Courier with 9% lead in unreturned serve is important. Given on whole he serves a lot stronger (due to Agassi's ordinary showing for last 2 sets), returning quality on whole is roughly the same. Courier more focused on putting balls in play and giving up initiative, Agassi missing more returns but threatening to threaten with the second shot too. He ends up not threatening much because Courier proactively hits big third ball groundstrokes

Play - Baseline (& Net)
Both players look to beat-down or hammer the other into submission and both move around to take as many FHs as possible. There's not much who-blinks-first outlasting stuff and the hitting is hard enough that defensive retrieving isn't able to keep up. Neither are particularly good at defensive retrieving. Though not slow, both move with heavy feet. At times, Agassi is a bit lazy in moving. Courier makes a more consistent effort and is a bit faster. He also has more chance to showcase defensive skill and he's the one behind the baseline with Agassi stepping in more often than the other way around

For Courier - 31 winners, forcing 23 errors and making 52 UEs to finish +2 on winners & errors forced/UEs differential
For Agassi - 42 winners, forcing 19 errors and making 56 UEs to finish +5

Good, but not outstanding figures. Play is better than the numbers suggest. With such hard hitting play, the UEs tend to be relative difficult and many of the FEs are completely hopeless shots, virtually good as a winner

Both highest and lowest standard of play is from Agassi. At his best for most of 3 sets, he's devastating in his FH based attacking play, often coming to net to finish up. He's rarely tested on the volley, but his finishing is flawless when called upon. He's more able to take charge from neutral situation and is always willing to go for a big groundstroke to start bossing play instead of a neutral one when he has the choice. While hitting with attacking intent, he's controlled

At his worst, he's a bit slow, prone to careless errors and borderline wild shots

Courier by contrast is quite steady. When Agassi leads play, he counter-punches with shots as hard hit as he can muster to counter. He throws in the odd slice (Agassi virtually never does). He's willing to run and scamper to keep ball in play - though usually losing the point. Agassi in same situation tends to hit out a bit rashly sooner or later. And when he has the initiative, he's not far short of Agassi in blasting away with big shots. Like Agassi, he's always looking to do so off FH. When Agassi's hitting weakens, he's able to take charge more often from the back

Initially, Courier doesn't come to net much (he doesn't have much oppurtunity to). Another change he makes after the rain break is to make the odd, dash to net approach. Later when commanding play more, he comes in to finish points. Unlike Agassi, who gradually moves forward into no-man's land as he beats Courier back, Courier comes in off genuine approach shots. Powerful ones which don't leave him to much to do on the volley

Similar number at net. Approaching from rallies, Courier wins 22/30 at 73% (he's also 1/4 serve-volleying), Agassi's 27/36 at 75%. A large number of points Agassi loses are FEs springing from Courier's drop shots, which he's a bit slow to react to

For such a FH dominated match, there's a very large number of BH errors. 27/48 Courier's and 26/53 of Agassi's UEs are BHs. The BH-BH rallies are also hard hitting and neither player can muster an advantage. Agassi is actually more consistent in the neutral rally - a good lot of his errors are attempted aggressive change-ups, while Courier tends to give up the BH cc error

The biggest difference in play is captured by UEFI. Courier's is a moderate 45.4, Agassi's a particularly high 49.3. Breakdown of UEs -
- Defensive - Courier 1, Agassi 0
- Neutral - Courier 23, Agassi 25
- Attacking - Courier 6, Agassi 10
- Winner Attempts - Courier 12, Agassi 21

The biggest difference is in Agassi missing winner attempts. It goes with territory of how he plays (he hits 42 winners), but probably a few too many. 'Just' attacking, he's able to eventually win the point most of the time, but he seems to want points as short as possible. Some wild misses included in that, particularly in 4th set when he seems mentally not there and Courier out gunning him brings out further frustration

Neutral errors are near wash. An alternative for Agassi when coming off second best is to go for BH-BH lets-see-who-misses-first rallies. He doesn't particularly do so. And he doesn't have a particular hitting advantage. And as numbers indicate, he doesn't even necessarily have a consistency one. Both look to hit BHs hard, likely to keep the other from moving around to hit a FH. Both also engage in FH inside-out batterings to the others BH. Agassi does so more and Courier's quite good at holding the fort. All in all, he probably edges things on the BH side of the match up
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Match Progression
Hard serving from both players early in the match. Its surprising to see Agassi in particular do so and that includes strong, wide second serves too. Play is very hard hitting and FH centered, with Agassi in particular moving around to hit FHs whenever possible, including pounding down inside-outs to Courier's BH. Agassi advances in court to no-man's land to finish points

Courier tries to play in similar way but is beaten back more often than not. He's broken once and survives another tough hold to lose the first set 6-3. And is broken down again to start the second set

With Courier in the middle of another long service game, rain stops play for 25 minutes. Courier comes back to hold the game in 14 points. Thereafter, he returns from 3-4 paces behind baseline. It pays at once. Agassi's broken to love in his first service game, where he misses 3 third ball FHs (2 winner attempts, 1 attacking shot)

Courier's next service game is again interrupted by rain for another 15 minutes and again, he comes back to hold in 14 points. He starts coming to net more in sneak-in fashion and also from commanding position. He breaks to end the set, with Agassi missing all 5 first serves and Courier running around to hit FH returns to all of them

Courier misses a BH dtl winner attempt on break point early in third set and Agassi goes on to hold. Agassi starts serving slower, kicking the ball more, which gets up high and Courier often falls back to return wide BHs. From 2-2, Agassi takes command as he'd done earlier - dominating with FH. There's little net play in the set and Agassi reels off 4 games to take the lead again

And then... Agassi just switches off. He doesn't show any overt signs of tiredness but his play is in line with so being. His movements aren't as good, he genuinely rolls in serves, grunts more regularly and louder and makes a good number of careless errors. For first time in match, he goes in for loopy shots off the BH. Courier steps up and pounds balls, including on the return. He takes set easily 6-1

Wind picks up in the decider. Both players handle it well, hitting through the wind, without undue trouble. Still, more care is needed to keep ball in court and odd balls do get held up in the wind. With effort, Agassi plays with more care. Baseline rallies are neutral, not particularly hard hitting and more dual winged than earlier in match. Courier seems fresher and continues playing much as he had in last set, hitting a bit less hard. Agassi starts running around to hit FH returns when he can regularly

Courier breaks to move ahead 4-3. A wide return and a good FH dtl approach wins him points, before Agassi serve-volleys hesitantly for the only time in the match, and misses an easy BH at net to fall behind 15-40. He saves the first break point with a dashing, third ball FH inside-in winner. Courier converts on the second by smacking a runaround FH return inside-out winner from well outside the doubles alley

Agassi breaks right back, finishing with a deep shot to baseline that forces an error. Courier makes it 3 breaks in a row. On break point, Agassi makes a horrendous OH on the bounce error to a putaway ball. And Courier serves out to 15, ending with an ace

Summing up, very good, power-hitting baseline match based around FH play. When fresh, Agassi is the bossier, more dominant player. Courier is willing to fall back and defend or play neutrally a bit more, within context of also essentially looking to dictate with FH. Agassi's play drops off by large amount while leading 2 sets to 1 and from thereon, he serves gently, is prone to erratic shot choices and errors, while Courier steps in to command play also. Courier's greater focus and fitness shifts action and the match his way

Stats for '90 final between Agassi and Andres Gomez - (3) Match Stats/Report - Gomez vs Agassi, French Open final, 1990 | Talk Tennis (tennis-warehouse.com)
Stats for '99 final between Agassi and Andrei Medvedev - (3) Match Stats/Report - Agassi vs Medvedev, French Open final, 1999 | Talk Tennis (tennis-warehouse.com)
 

Jason Swerve

Hall of Fame
This match was like I remembered. Decided by errors. Andre at this stage in life went for too much, gave too little margin. A bad idea on clay. He learned to drill that habit out of him, but you feel like you can go for your shots to that extent if you've been hitting hard and clean enough in the past. Say, as a youngster. The lack of winners only highlights how useless that mindset was. The early Agassi would struggle today, besides- look at how slow everything is. How much more spin everyone imparts. String technology hasn't progressed enough to counteract this.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
I recall watching this final on NBC....very frustrating...was rooting for Andre and he let it slip away. Was error prone and it did hurt him against the steady Courier. I really believed the rain delay made all the difference, allowing Jim to regroup and rebound back.
 

HBK4life

Professional
Too bad Andre didn’t have a coach offering better advice than “hey kid hit the ball harder”.
 
Top