Match Stats/Report - Edberg vs Sampras, Cincinnati semi-final, 1993


Hall of Fame
Stefan Edberg beat Pete Sampras 6-7(3), 7-5, 7-6(5) in the Cincinnati semi-final, 1993 on hard court

Edberg would go onto lose the final to Michael Chang. Sampras, the defending champion, had recently won Wimbledon and would go onto win the US Open shortly after. The two had met at the same stage the 2 previous years, with Sampras having won both

Edberg won 129 points, Sampras 130

Edberg serve-volleyed off all but 1 first serve and all but 2 seconds. Sampras serve-volleyed off all first serves and about half the time off seconds

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (87/133) 65%
- 1st serve points won (59/87) 68%
- 2nd serve points won (30/46) 65%
- Aces 5
- Double Faults 5
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (51/133) 38%

- 1st serve percentage (57/126) 45%
- 1st serve points won (51/57) 89%
- 2nd serve points won (35/69) 51%
- Aces 25 (2 second serves), Service Winners 3
- Double Faults 16
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (57/126) 45%

Serve Patterns
Edberg served...
- to FH 22%
- to BH 52%
- to Body 27%

Sampras served...
- to FH 55%
- to BH 37%
- to Body 8%

Return Stats
Edberg made...
- 53 (27 FH, 26 BH), including 1 runaround BH & 7 return-approaches
- 4 Winners (4 FH)
- 29 Errors, comprising...
- 5 Unforced (4 FH, 1 BH), including 1 return-approach
- 24 Forced (14 FH, 10 BH)
- Return Rate (53/110) 48%

Sampras made...
- 77 (22 FH, 55 BH), including 2 runaround FHs
- 8 Winners (1 FH, 7 BH)
- 46 Errors, all forced...
- 46 Forced (12 FH, 34 BH)
- Return Rate (77/128) 60%

Break Points
Edberg 2/12 (6 games)
Sampras 1/10 (4 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Edberg 32 (5 FH, 4 BH, 7 FHV, 10 BHV, 6 OH)
Sampras 31 (6 FH, 14 BH, 3 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 2 BHV, 5 OH)

Edberg had 21 from serve-volley points
- 14 first 'volleys' (6 FHV, 5 BHV, 2 OH, 1 FH at net)
- 6 second volleys (1 FHV, 2 BHV, 3 OH)
- 1 third volley (1 BHV)

- 1 from a return-approach point, a BHV

- FH passes (all returns) - 1 dtl, 1 inside-out and 1 inside-in
- regular FH - 1 dtl return
- BHs (all passes) - 1 cc, 1 dtl at net, 1 inside-out/dtl at net and 1 lob

Sampras had 11 from serve-volley points
- 9 first 'volleys' (2 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 1 BHV, 3 OH, 2 FH at net)... 1 FH at net was also a pass against return-approaching Edberg
- 2 second volleys (1 BHV, 1 OH)

- 8 returns (1 FH, 7 BH), all passes
- FH - 1 dtl
- BHs - 2 cc, 2 inside-out, 1 inside-out/longline (which Edberg left) and 2 inside-in

- regular FHs - 2 cc passes and 1 cc/inside-in
- regular BHs (all passes) - 3 cc and 4 dtl

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Edberg 37
- 14 Unforced (2 FH, 2 BH, 5 FHV, 3 BHV, 2 OH)
- 23 Forced (5 FH, 7 BH, 6 FHV, 4 BHV, 1 Tweener)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 49.3

Sampras 30
- 4 Unforced (1 FH, 1 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 26 Forced (8 FH, 12 BH, 2 FH1/2V, 2 BHV, 2 BH1/2V)... with 1 BH running-down-net-chord-dribbler at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 55

(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
Edberg was 92/134 (69%) at net, including...
- 83/120 (69%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 53/81 (65%) off 1st serve and...
- 30/39 (77%) off 2nd serve
- 2/7 (29%) return-approaching
- 0/2 forced back

Sampras was 45/62 (73%) at net, including...
- 41/55 (75%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 25/31 (81%) off 1st serve and...
- 16/24 (67%) off 2nd serve

Match Report
Near all out serve-volley match on a fast court between a great serve-VOLLEYER and a great SERVE-volleyer has plenty of scope for fireworks. There's a fair few, but the final shot is disappointing. Double faults, of all things

This could be a trivia question. Under what circumstances does a player leading unreturned serve count 45% to 38% and points in play 68-62 lose a match? When he has 16 double faults in 3 sets

Serve, Return & Serve-Volley
Edberg serve-volleys all but always (stays back 3 times - and on one of those, he's at net off third ball), Sampras off all first serves and 45% off seconds - the latter figure going up and up as match goes on (as does his double faults).

Court is quick enough that even Edberg's serves are tough to handle while Sampras' are almost untouchable. On top of 25 aces and 3 service winners, there's a healthy number of routine of placement serves that Edberg can't even hit to the net, such are their pace. Not all are first serves either

Sampras wins 89% off his first serve points. At one stretch, he wins 32 such in a row. If its not an ace, its an returned serve and if its not an unreturned serve, its a high putaway volley - QED
Edberg wins near identical 68% off first serve points and 65% second serve. In fact, he does a lot better serve-volleying off second serves (winning 77%, as opposed to 65% off firsts)
Sans double faults, Sampras does almost as well as Edberg - winning 66% second serve points. Unfortunately for him there's the small matter of 16 double faults

First set, Sampras serves at 65%. For rest of match, its 36%... even then, last two sets are neck and neck

Not much to describe about Edberg's returning. He returns what he can, somehow. 48% return rate might be the lowest I've seen for a player who wins the match. Slips 4 FH winners in - couple are full stretched pokes, 1s a would-be return approach and not a pass. The best of the lot though is on match point, where he hammers a first serve FH inside-in... he may have been rendered helpless by humongous first serving all match, but you literally couldn't pick a better moment to hit your best return

Note the 7 return-approaches, and winning just 2 such points. Most are desperate, low percentage plays, occasionally against first serves. Doesn't come off but a good move. What does he have to lose?

Sampras struggles to return as well. Good serving from Edberg at 65% in, but as just 5 aces on such a fast court suggests, not overwhelming

Tough job returning it against the constant serve-volleying of Edberg but I think Sampras errs in how he goes about it. Almost entirely, he looks to return at most firmly... the returns he makes leave Edberg at best (from Sampras' point of view) regulation first volleys from just under net level

Seeing how few return he made (he returns at 60%), probably better to go for more on the second shot, and challenge Edberg on the first volley more at possible cost of lower return rate

Can't fault Pete too much for it. Basically, the way he returns would need Edberg to make volley UEs to lose points, or Sampras to hit very good passes off the first volley. While that's not likely to happen, it doesn't have to. Its a 1-break-will-do court... and low as Pete's chances to grab break, Edberg, who can barely make a return, are lower still

Pete blows a 4-1 lead in second set to lose 5-7. Both times he's broken are to 30 and he has 3 double faults in each of those games. That seems to tick him off enough to engage in power-returning, a good step up from what he does rest of match... and it near enough works. Edberg's stretched to 12 points and 16 points in the serve games after breaking... saving 6 break points in all

5 of Edberg's total 10 volley FEs come in those games, and he makes volleys that would have been marked forced had he missed too. Returning like that I imagine would bear fruit eventually. Instead, Pete goes back into his firm returning for rest of match

Final set tiebreak also turns on Pete's doubles. He serves back to back ones to go down 1-4 and can't recover

No real explanation for what happens to Pete and all these double faults. He serves a meaty second serve, but not first serve substitutes. Note Edberg's still been able to make 5 return UEs, though a good chunk of Pete's second serves were genuinely forceful (he also has 2 aces). Doesn't miss overly big second serves and at least a few times, misses fairly gentle ones. Clearly, its the difference between the two players
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Hall of Fame
Play - Volley & Passing
What you'd expect, coming out of serve-return complex. Everything flows out of Sampras big advantage of power on the serve

Sampras with 13 forecourt winners, Edberg 24... that's unreturned serve count at work. Edberg has more scope to hit volley winners

Edberg with just 2 baseline-to-net pass winners, Sampras 9... that's coming out of the kind of volleys that come from the kind of returns that each players serve draws... Sampras' first volley's are easy enough that he doesn't leave Edberg much on the pass, Edberg faces tougher volleys and thus leaves Sampras with more shots to make the pass

Edberg 11 passing errors, Sampras 20... Sampras has more shots at the pass, which means he misses more

Volleying FEs - Edberg 10, Sampras 6... same explanation as above

The standout stat here would be Sampras' very low 4 UEs - 31 winners, 4 UEs... a stunning showing. Edberg has 14

baseline play is negligible, so volleying is what's important. 10 UEs in forecourt is danger territory for Edberg... in effect, it means he's in danger of getting broken via missing volleys. Missing regulation volleys is bound to happen some percentage of the time, but 10s too high for comfort for Edberg here. Sampras has just 2... he's not going to break himself (well he does, but with double faults, not volleying problems)

Match Progression
Almost all easy holds in first set. Edberg has a break point in second game, erased with an unreturned first serve. Sampras has 2 late in the set on back of consecutive return winners (1 which Edberg misjudged and left). He gets a strong return off on the first, but Edberg handles the volley and goes on to hit a winner with his second volley

In tiebreak, the only Sampras serve that comes back is whacked away first 'volley' FH at net for a winner. Meanwhile on return, he forces Edberg back with a running defensive lob and goes on to win the baseline point to go up a mini-break and adds a second with BH cc pass winner

Poor game from Edberg to lose his serve at start of the second with a double fault and 4 volleying UEs to regulation balls at net

Match turns dramatically with Sampras serving at 4-2. Gets broken to 30 with 3 double faults. seems to get mad and starts hammering returns and has 4 break points in game after. Can't make the return on 3 of them, but blasts the other... only Edberg's good enough to FHV that away for a winner

Take 2 for Pete, as he's broken again to 30 with 3 more doubles, leaving Edberg serving for set. If anything, Pete hits returns even harder in this game, and forces 4 volleying errors in the 16 point game. Edberg also makes some lovely volley winner though - a rare stop FHV, a BHV from under the net and down break point, a FHV off a hard hit return

Edberg has all the chances in deciding set. Sampras has to serve 52 points in it(Edberg just 38) and save 8 break points across 3 games, while conjuring none of his own. He also makes just 21/52 first serves - which is acutally a step up from the 10/34 he managed the set before - and serve-volleys most of the time off second serve. On return, he's ineffective and not going for much

In this light, one would tend to favour Edberg as another tiebreak rolls around, though Sampras' ability to turn it on for tiebreaks is well known. Instead, he turns it down, if not off with another pair of double faults

Edberg's first match point is on his serve and against a net chord pop up return, he hits a conservative BH at net. Sampras hits an excellent FH cc winner to put game back on serve
Most fitting end would probably be another double fault, but fortunately, match ends on brighter note, Edberg walloping a FH inside-in return pass winner

Summing up, good quality, if standard serve-VOLLEYING vs SERVE-volleying match. With Sampras steady enough in forecourt on top of the huge serving coupled with Edberg just a touch more prone to missing volleys then he can afford, Sampras would look the more likely to come out ahead... but he goes on a staggering double faulting bender. Good showing from Edberg, against formidable opposition, and its his opponents double faulting that sees him over

Stats for previous years semi -
Stats for Australian Open semi earlier in the year -
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