Match Stats/Report - Courier vs Agassi, French Open semi-final, 1992

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
jim Courier beat Andre Agassi 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in the French Open semi-final, 1992 on clay

It was a repeat of the previous years final, which Courier had also won. Courier would go onto beat Petr Korda in the final to defend his title. Earlier in the year, he had won the Australian Open. Agassi would win his first Slam at Wimbledon shortly after. The two would meet again in the US Open quarter-final later in the year with Courier again winning

Courier won 99 points, Agassi 73

Serve Stats
Courier...
- 1st serve percentage (46/80) 58%
- 1st serve points won (37/46) 80%
- 2nd serve points won (19/34) 56%
- Aces 3
- Double Faults 5
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (18/80) 23%

Agassi...
- 1st serve percentage (63/92) 68%
- 1st serve points won (40/63) 63%
- 2nd serve points won (9/29) 31%
- Aces 1
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (13/92) 14%

Serve Patterns
Courier served...
- to FH 31%
- to BH 68%
- to Body 1%

Agassi served...
- to FH 18%
- to BH 80%
- to Body 2%

Return Stats
Courier made...
- 76 (31 FH, 45 BH), including 17 runaround FHs
- 2 Winners (2 FH), including 1 runaround FH
- 12 Errors, comprising...
- 10 Unforced (3 FH, 7 BH)
- 2 Forced (2 BH)
- Return Rate (76/89) 85%

Agassi made...
- 57 (21 FH, 36 BH), including 4 runaround FHs & 3 return-approaches
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 15 Errors, comprising...
- 5 Unforced (5 BH)
- 10 Forced (5 FH, 5 BH)
- Return Rate (57/75) 76%

Break Points
Courier 5/10 (7 games)
Agassi 0/3 (2 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Courier 31 (18 FH, 9 BH, 3 FHV, 1 OH)
Agassi 22 (7 FH, 4 BH, 3 FHV, 2 BHV, 5 OH, 1 BHOH)

Courier's FHs - 7 cc (2 passes, 1 return, 1 at net - an extremely angled shot, effectively a drop shot), 1 cc/inside-in, 3 dtl (1 pass), 1 dtl/inside-out runaround return, 4 inside-out, 1 inside-in and 1 drop shot
- BHs - 3 cc (1 pass), 1 cc/longline pass (that Agassi left), 1 dtl, 1 drop shot, 2 lobs and 1 running-down-drop-shot cc pass at net

- 1 FHV was a non-net, swinging shot and a pass

Agassi's FHs - 1 cc, 4 inside-out and 2 inside-in
- BHs - 4 dtl (1 return)

- 2 from serve-volley points - a first volley FHV (a swinging shot) and a second volley BHOH

- 1 from a return approach point (1 FHV)

- 1 OH was on the bounce

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Courier 33
- 18 Unforced (9 FH, 9 BH)
- 15 Forced (8 FH, 7 BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 43.9

Agassi 47
- 35 Unforced (24 FH, 10 BH, 1 OH)
- 12 Forced (6 FH, 4 BH, 2 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 45.1

(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 9/9 (100%) at net

Agassi was...
- 22/37 (59%) at net, including...
- 2/3 (67%) serve-volleying, all 1st serves
---
- 1/3 (33%) return-approaching
- 1/2 forced back

Match Report
Controlled and clinical from the baseline from Courier while Agassi... takes to net rushing(?!?!) while being completely outmatched from the back on a not great court

The sky is overcast throughout match - it starts raining finally as Courier serves out the match. The bounce is abnormally low, with several balls rushing through knee height. There are a small number of bad bounces and both players struggle with their movement at times. Courier, the slider among the pair, avoids sliding to get into position after coming up short a few times early unless he absolutely needs to. Courier's low slices are highly effective and stay closer to ankle than knee height

Match is competitive for set and 2 games, with Courier still coming out ahead on back of having better serve. Even in that period, Agassi's regularly at net, though there's no obvious need for him to come in with baseline play near even. Courier's superior serve though, does give him overall advantage so Agassi needs something to equalize
Thereafter, Courier shoots ahead and is far better player, holds easily and breaks regularly. Agassi's groundgame falls apart, he continues coming to net successfully in the second set. In the third, he's trounced at net too

Its one of the strangest Agassi matches I've seen. To watch him, you'd think he was a net-player who was toothless off the ground. Someone like John McEnroe having a bad baseline day might play this way against Ivan Lendl having a good baseline day. The net charging play might not have been as surprising at the time of the match as it seems in isolation. He'd come forward a healthy amount in thrashing Pete Sampras in the quarter-final also. On other hand, John McEnroe (who was Agassi's doubles partner at the event) on commentary talks about Agassi having planned to play percentage tennis and be patient from the back the night before... the opposite of what he does

Agassi's at net 37 times in total - including a total 6 combined serve-volleys and return-approaches - and wins a healthy 59% up there. Which, given he's slaughtered to the tune of winning 73/172 or just 42% of points all match, indicates it was a good move. Sans Agassi's net points, Courier wins 84 points, Agassi 51 - or Courier winning 62% of all such points

He doesn't start off coming in and it isn't until the 25th point of the match that he makes his first foray forward, serve-volleying to dispatch a swinging FHV winner. After that, he's up at net regularly. His success at net falls drastically in third set, by which time he seems to have mentally checked out. Agassi's net numbers by set -

- 1st - 8/9 @ 89%
- 2nd - 10/15 @ 67%
- 3rd - 4/13 @ 31%
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
2 questions beg to be answered. How and why is Courier so dominant over Agassi baseline to baseline? And what is going on with all the net approaches by Agassi?

Poor movement from Agassi is very big contributor to why baseline play goes the way it does. Anything even a bit wide to his FH in particularly strains him. More than that is his footwork. Even regulation balls - shots he has take a step or two to be in position to handle comfortably - are played off balance or not quite right. Courier hits firmly and cleanly, but nothing to warrant this kind of discomfort. To watch Agassi on the baseline, you'd think he was up against del Potro zoning calibre hitting. Fitness might also be an issue. Agassi is left huffing after fairly routine, hard hitting rallies where there isn't much running involved as early as second set

Its the FH that gives out, with by far match high 24 UEs. Putting that in perspective, Courier has 18 total UEs, Agassi has 11 non-FH UEs

A rather obvious alternative for Agassi, in light of how FH play runs, is to switch to BH cc'ng. Which is generally, his go to control ploy. He never does. BH UEs are near even - Agassi has 10 UEs to Courier's 9 - and even there, Courier has advantage with Agassi's movement making him look more uncomfortable and Courier slicing very nicely when pushed back, but its not by much. He's also not in control of play enough to easily dictate which side action develops

Courier is cool and clinical, hitting firmly and consistently. With ball staying low-ish for clay and not conducive to regular big cut hitting of the type both players engaged in previous years final, its good play and an opponent would have to play very well to match it or top it. Still, it takes particular poor play from Agassi to be so thoroughly overwhelmed by it. Most rallies are neutral - UEFIs are low (Courier 43.9, Agassi 45.1) - and FH based (which suits Courier more)

Courier also has 12 baseline-to-baseline FH winners to Agassi's 7. In all ways, he comes up ahead - consistency, hitting, shot making. Agassi though is poor and movement is a major reason why. Courier by contrast, moves with efficiency, seemingly never out of position and when necessary, energetic in chasing balls. Agassi's not in perfect position for even regulation shots and found wanting when forced to run balls down

Back drop of play is serve-return complex and Courier has a big advantage on it, which keeps him on top even in first set when the two players are roughly even from the back. Courier serves heftily as is his wont, but also throws out forcefully wide serves. Agassi's movement problems extend to on the return, and he's slow to move to these and seems to have no read on it. 10/15 Agassi return errors have been marked FEs while only 2/12 Courier ones have. Agassi's serve is just a point starter with no demons in it and he's very persistent in going to Courier's BH, sending down 80% serves there. Smart enough to stay away from the potential, booming Courier FH return... and also incongruent with baseline rallying

Courier with significant 9% lead on unreturned serves and drawing good lot of weak returns that he can launch into. Agassi winning 63% of first serve points is mostly about his coming in early on those points to net. His serve draws returns that don't leave him in particularly strong position. He come in off strong groundstrokes, mostly BHs, that do much of the work for him, but good volleying up front from Andre too. Courier's very strong on the pass too. Agassi volleys away from him on top of approaching behind powerful shots. Its the slow surface that gives him chance to make passes... there's nothing wrong with Agassi's placement of volleys

Though the surprise element of Agassi rushing net takes the eye, Courier plays superbly. 31 winners, 18 UEs is outstanding, even without forcing 12 errors out of Agassi. In fact, Courier makes just 2 more total errors than the winners he strikes... extremely rare for clay. And despite the weak groundgame, Agassi's +2 winners + errors forced/UE differential, which is on low side for being at net so much, but certainly not bad. Great credit Courier for a clinical showing

Match Progression
Good, wide serving by Courier at start of match, which is different from the in swing zone stuff he dished out in previous years final and ordinary, point starting serving from Agassi gives Courier a little edge in rallies. Agassi is also a bit slow, particularly to his FH side and Courier is able to draw errors from that wing without going to wide with his FH cc's.

Match is on serve at 3-2 with Agassi to serve. 36 points have gone by and there's been just 1 approach - a surprise Agassi serve-volley, ending with a swinging FHV winner. Starting game 6, Agassi's coming in regularly. He's at net 8 times in the remaining 29 points. Even more specifically, he starts actively coming in in second half of the 12 point game (he comes to net once to dispatch a putaway OH on bounce early in the game that anyone would come in for)

Agassi saves 4 break points to hold, with 4 successful trips to net in the last 5 points, including a 2nd volley BHOH winner from a serve-volley. Net play has nothing to do with his losing the set. He's broken next service game through strong play from Courier. And Courier serves it out

So far, looks a normal enough match - good FH based baseline rallies, with Courier having a little edge and Courier having a significant advantage on the serve. Agassi's taken to coming to net a bit, with success, that's outside his norm

That continues right at start of 2nd set, Agassi holding then having 2 break points as Courier holds. There's a surprise return-approach in the latter game and 3 other trips to net

Rest of match though, features Agassi coming to net regularly and Courier thoroughly dominating him from the baseline. Prior, it looks like a good, adventurous ploy to end points. After, it looks more like a desperate ploy to escape baseline rallies, in which Agassi's standard falls sharply and with Courier maintaining his level, Courier shoots ahead

Courier grabs 2 breaks to take the set - the first featuring a BH cc winner, a FH cc return winner and a double fault on break point - the second a couple of approaches from Courier himself and a FH cc pass winner on break point

Third set is a thrashing, with Agassi looking listless and weary, Courier calmly in command. The gap from the back increases and now, Courier starts passing Agassi regularly too. He eases back on serving wide because he doesn't need to to win points

Summing up, match plays out like a strong baseliner against net player with weak groundstrokes. Courier is impressive - serving wide effectively, returning surely and at times damagingly, moving efficiently and clean, contained FH hitting. His scope to shine is limited somewhat by Agassi playing peculiarly badly from the back, supported by poor movement. Agassi takes to net rushing with success, but Courier remains unphased and in control until eventually dominating on the pass by the end too

Stats for pair's '91 final - (1) Match Stats/Report - Courier vs Agassi, French Open final, 1991 | Talk Tennis (tennis-warehouse.com)
Stats for Agassi's quarter-final with Pete Sampras - (4) Match Stats/Report - Agassi vs Sampras, French Open quarter-final, 1992 | Talk Tennis (tennis-warehouse.com)
 
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