Match Stats/Report - Edberg vs Sampras, US Open final, 1992


Hall of Fame
Stefan Edberg beat Pete Sampras 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-2 in the US Open final, 1992 on hard court

Edberg was the defending champion and this would turn out to be his last Slam title. Sampras was playing his first Slam final since his maiden title 2 years ago. He would go onto win the title the following year. The two had recently played in Cincinnati semi-final, with Sampras having won the match and gone onto win the title

Edberg won 133 points, Sampras 123

Edberg serve-volleyed off all but 2 first serve and majority of seconds. Sampras serve-volleyed off majority of first serves

{Note: 1 point has been tracked via audio and confident guessing from post-point footage
Point in question - Set 3, Game 6, Point 6 - a first serve (confirmed), to FH, forcing FH return error and non-serve-volley}

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (76/121) 63%
- 1st serve points won (61/76) 80%
- 2nd serve points won (21/45) 47%
- Aces 8 (1 second serve)
- Double Faults 5
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (38/121) 31%

- 1st serve percentage (77/135) 57%
- 1st serve points won (55/77) 71%
- 2nd serve points won (29/58) 50%
- Aces 10
- Double Faults 11
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (41/135) 30%

Serve Patterns
Edberg served...
- to FH 37%
- to BH 42%
- to Body 21%

Sampras served...
- to FH 39%
- to BH 52%
- to Body 10%

Return Stats
Edberg made...
- 83 (32 FH, 51 BH), including 2 runaround FHs & 27 return-approaches
- 4 Winners (4 FH), including 1 runaround FH
- 31 Errors, comprising...
- 9 Unforced (4 FH, 5 BH), including 1 runaround FH & 5 return-approach attempts
- 22 Forced (12 FH, 10 BH)
- Return Rate (83/124) 67%

Sampras made...
- 78 (36 FH, 42 BH), including 6 runaround FHs
- 9 Winners (5 FH, 4 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 30 Errors, all forced...
- 30 Forced (12 FH, 18 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- Return Rate (78/116) 67%

Break Points
Edberg 4/12 (7 games)
Sampras 2/10 (5 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Edberg 33 (9 FH, 3 BH, 6 FHV, 12 BHV, 3 OH)
Sampras 35 (13 FH, 12 BH, 3 FHV, 4 BHV, 3 OH)

Edberg had 18 from serve-volley points
- 11 first 'volleys' (3 FHV, 6 BHV, 1 OH, 1 FH at net)
- 6 second volleys (1 FHV, 3 BHV, 2 OH)
- 1 fourth volley (1 FHV)... which can reasonably be called an OH

- 2 from return-approach points (1 FHV, 1 BHV)... the FHV being net-to-net or a pass

- FH passes - 4 cc and 2 dtl returns
- regular FHs - 2 cc returns (1 runaround)
- BH passes - 1 cc (a net chord pop over) and 1 dtl
- regular BH - 1 dtl

Sampras had 5 from serve-volley points
- 3 first 'volleys' (2 FHV, 1 BH at net)... 1 FHV can reasonably be called an OH and the BH at net was also a pass
- 2 second volleys (2 BHV)

- 1 other BHV was a non-net shot from no-man's land and also a pass

- 9 returns (5 FH, 4 BH), all passes
- FHs - 1 cc, 3 dtl (1 runaround) and 1 inside-in
- BHs - 2 inside-out and 2 inside-in

- regular FH passes - 3 dtl and 1 lob
- regular FHs - 1 dtl, 1 inside-out and 2 inside-in
- regular BH passes - 1 cc, 3 dtl (1 net chord flicker) and 1 lob
- regular BH - 1 dtl

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Edberg 42
- 18 Unforced (5 FH, 4 BH, 6 FHV, 3 BHV)
- 24 Forced (4 FH, 10 BH, 3 FHV, 7 BHV)... with 1 FH at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 49.4

Sampras 51
- 16 Unforced (3 FH, 6 BH, 1 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 5 BHV)... with 1 BH at net
- 35 Forced (12 FH, 19 BH, 3 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)... with 1 FH running-down-drop-shot at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 48.1

(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
Edberg was....
- 87/132 (66%) at net, including...
- 67/91 (74%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 54/67 (81%) off 1st serve and...
- 13/24 (54%) off 2nd serve
- 12/27 (44%) return-approaching
- 1/4 (25%) forced back/retreated

Sampras was...
- 46/68 (68%) at net, including...
- 37/56 (66%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 35/53 (66%) off 1st serve and...
- 2/3 (67%) off 2nd serve

Match Report
Good match of primarily serve-volley action. More than that, a good study in strategies and the relative merits of both players at executing and countering serve-volley play. Fitness - probably as much mental as physical, with Sampras going 'off' in the fourth set on a normal hard court

First 2 sets are split, both with 1 break. The third is decided in by a tiebreak 7-5 to Edberg. At that point -
- Points won - Sampras 105, Edberg 103
- Break points - Both 2/8 (Edberg having them in 5 games to Sampras' 4)

4th set is a different story, with Edberg sweeping into a 4-0 lead and Sampras playing flat before closing it out easily 6-2 shortly after

Edberg serve-volleys most of the time, faces aggressive, wide returning to the point of desisting some of the time. On return, he's in a mad rush to get to net

Sampras serve-volleys virtually always off first serve for 2.5 sets and is met with solid, consistent returning and he's not particularly convincing dealing with it on the volley. Thereafter, he stays back regularly. He's forced to hit a lot of passes even in service games with Edberg coming to net every chance (and often, not even off a chance). On return, he looks to hit winners or/and (more 'or') hit orthodox, firm returns taking ball very early

2 very different approaches to countering the serve-volleying. Neither are bad

Some slightly surprising final stats.
- Edberg has the better of first serve points 80% to 71%
- Sampras edges second serve points 50% to 47% (despite high 11 double faults to Edberg's 5)

Other points of interest include virtually equal unreturned rates (Edberg 31%, Sampras 30%) and Edberg's humongous number of 27 return-approaches (not counting 5 errors trying)

Edberg's service games
Initially, Edberg seems to be looking to serve-volley all of the time. In time, Sampras' returning dissuades him some. He ends up serve-volleying 97% of the time off 1st serves (all but twice - including a crucial break point, which he loses) and 62% off second serves

Off 2nd serves, he wins 54% serve-volleying and 47% staying back (excluding 5 double faults and an ace)

Generally, Edberg's apt to serve a lot to the body and close to the body to cramp returner while serve-volleying. Relative to that standard, he's aggressive with the serve here and serves out wide more to open the court and set up potential easy volleys. 8 aces is high for him. He still has large 21% served to body, but its comfortably below the 37% to FH (generally, he tends to serve at least as much and often more to body than the FH).

To be clear, he still serves plenty around the body, especially second serves, though that might be shaped by Sampras' returning

From get-go, Sampras looks to hit winners over high part of net, particularly dtl and against first serves, taking them from around baseline. Alternative is to hit hard down the middle and test Edberg with powerful returns he can reach. Does it work?

He has 9 return winners and returns at healthy 67%. And gives Edberg any number of difficult, wide volleys to make. He does it well enough for it to work... but Edberg ends up winning 80% first serve points. you'd have to say it doesn't work and all credit to Edberg's volleying for that

Pete also moves around a lot as Edberg's about to serve. Against second serves, he takes the returns from inside court and smacks them hard down the middle. Edberg also tends to serve more to the body on second serves. Good thinking all around

He returns firmly more than powerfully and gets ball around net high but taking it that early, its enough to rush Edberg on the first volley. Edberg isn't able to whisk volleys away as he typically does. It would be an exaggeration to say he fends them off back into play, but closer to that than whisking them away. Suffice to say, Edberg puts the volleys in play, without getting them in corners or punching them through overly. The quality of his volleying is mainly based on getting not-easy to hard-ish volleys back in play consistently, as opposed to deadly finishing. Against the kind of returns Sampras makes, that's a good job. It stand out against Pete struggling to deal with less powerful, net high volleys (more on that later)

The kind of not-punched through volleying Sampras forces allows him reasonable looks on the pass. Uniquely, he has time to step around and hit FH passes in ad court. He has 19 BH FEs to 12 FHs (virtually all passes), and reasonable number of the FHs are balls he moves around to take with FH. This probably wasn't worth the effort. Pete passes very strongly off the BH, near enough as well as the FH

9 UEs on the volley for Edberg is a decent number against what he's faced with and most are on the hard side for being UEs, firmly struck balls around net high or slightly under. The 10 FEs are usually from other approaches - particularly returns - and are result of very, very low percentage, almost suicidal approach shots (more on that later). Unable to volley into corners or even well away from Pete, Edberg sticks to volleying to BH as much as possible
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Hall of Fame
The soundness of Pete's returning strategy comes out in fourth set, when he puts returns in play over the net orthodoxly less than firmly or from early position. Edberg whisks volleys away, barely misses and Pete's too rushed to pass effectively of his BH

In between all this are the the 31% unreturned serves and whatever is comfortably over net getting whisked away. Edberg still has 11 first 'volley' winners (Pete has just 3)

In nutshell, good battle between Edberg serve-volleying and Pete return-passing with Pete looking for return winners or taking ball early to rush Edberg on the regulation height volley. He's pretty consistent on the return for that aggressive a strategy and Edberg's faced with at least not-easy and often difficult to control first volleys. Good thinking and decent execution from Pete, even better handling the volleys by Edberg

Sampras' service games
Pete starts match seemingly looking to serve-volley all the time off first serves also. His 3 second serve-volleys all come early in match as well and its possible he was flirting with serve-volleying as much as possible at start of match

He stays back off rare first serves 'til about half-way through third set. And then stays back as often as not. In all, he serve-volleys 79% of the time off first serves. He wins 66% serve-volleying and 75% staying back

For starters, Pete's serve is hefty, but not overwhelming. A lot stronger than Edberg's for starters. Edberg returns orthodoxly from just behind baseline after his pre-return shuffle and gets balls in about net high at average force (not firmly, like Pete returned). This is the first level of testing a players volley... the kind you can put in play readily, but needs good skill to particularly damagingly do so.

Sampras isn't particularly impressive. He's secure enough on the 'volley' - 8 UEs (1 is a BH, 1 is FH1/2V he had time to move back and play a FH to) - but doesn't put balls away or into corners and often as not, not particularly far from Edberg. To complicate matters a bit, Edberg's apt to be coming in behind his returns. They're suicidal approaches and if Sampras volleys properly, wouldn't make much difference. And they don't much (Edberg's 12/27 return-approaching)

Just 3 first 'volley' winners speaks to mostly net high balls speaks to Pete not being able to particularly assert himself serve-volleying. 1 is a BH at net (also a pass against 1 of Edberg's suicidal return-approaches) and 1 is almost an OH. Sampras isn't able to dispatch the kind of volleys that with good feel, could be dispatched

To be clear, Sampras doesn't volley badly, but not very well either. His serve not being overwhelming opens door for Edberg to return with some confidence, Edberg makes most of it to return at high rate of 67% leaving average paced, net high volleys. Sampras neither messes up nor whips aside the volleys.

Some very precise FH passing from Edberg - he has 4 passing winners in play (all cc) to same number of FEs, but BH is usually not upto making the makeable pass. His passes don't have Pete's power, and Pete isn't confronted by many difficult volleys. Just 4 FEs in forecourt (Edberg has 11 and faced many more with potential to be), not often having to make difficult volley. In nutshell, average volleying from Sampras on whole.

There's plenty of points that start baseline-to-baseline - or should, but for Edberg return-approaching like a mad man. Pete's excellent on the pass, particularly the BH against the pressure ploy

Hefty enough second serve from Pete to make Edberg think twice before blindly chip-charging. In baseline rallies that develop, Pete has clear hitting advantage, particularly of the FH and Edberg again, is eager to come forward. Edberg's 8/14 rallying to net, which is good behind the kind of junk he approaches behind. Sampras seems to be content to pass. At least, he prefers it to serve-volleying himself, which would largely obviate the need for it

Match Progression
In first set, almost 100% serve-volleying from Edberg, with most serves thrown out wide and more to the body with second serves. Sampras looks for return winners over high part of net and deftly gets out way of body serves to smack them hard down the middle when he can't get them wide

Sampras serve-volleys of all first serves and the odd second. Edberg returns surely and Sampras is faced with net-high volleys. Edberg return-approaches with abandon at times, including against first serves Pete's coming in behind

Sampras survives 8 point games to start and end the set, winning 3/4 points Edberg return-approaches of in the latter, without facing break point. In between, he gets the break in a strong game - forcing a pair of volleying errors and hitting a couple of passing winners (BH inside-out return and FH dtl)

In second set, Edberg becomes more selective in return-approaching and starts staying back off more second serves. He has better of play and Pete has to save 4 break points across 2 games (once, from 0-40 down). Pete finishes the second of these games with a superb, wide, low first FHV winner with Edberg coming to net. Edberg had missed an easy BHV on the break point before

Pete stays back off a first serve for the first time in the game too. The second time he does in the match proves costly as he misses a routine third ball BH at deuce to give Edberg break and set point. Edberg dashes to net and this time, putsaway the BHV to take the set

Third set is a weird one with net chord pop overs, reduced serve-volleying, double faulting, choking, strange shot choices and desperate return-approaches. Pete stops serve-volleying regularly for no particular reason. Its not necessarily a bad move, but nothing triggers the change. Edberg endures a couple of tough holds, Pete one going into business end of set

Sampras breaks to go up 5-4, with 2 net chord pop over passes winning him points. He also hits a beautiful BH lob winner with little top spin. He can't serve out the though. He starts and finishes game with double faults, loses first serve point Edberg return-approached to and misses an ill judged FH1/2V that he had time to hang back and play a regular FH to

In tie-break, Edberg double faults to give up mini-break advantage and Pete doubles right back before Edberg finishes the set with a standard, volley to BH point. The crucial point in tiebreak is Pete missing a makeable BH1/2V

Pete had looked in some discomfort in latter part of 3rd set. In the 4th, he's full on gloomy of look. He plays flat, returns orthodoxly above net and Edberg whips away volleys to hold easily. Couple of good return games against the flat Pete sees Edberg shoot ahead 4-0. Pete gets into one of return game afterwards, but 4 holds later, match is over

Summing up, good match from both players with the two taking up different returning strategies against serve-volleying

Sampras looks for return winners or hammering ball early down the middle and retains good consistency doing so. Edberg is taxed to handle wide volleys or rushed against one's in reach, but manages admirably
On flip side, Edberg returns with good consistency around net high and Sampras isn't upto decisively the volleys he's faced with. He starts staying on baseline in latter part of match, from where he has a large power advantage

Edberg return-approaches and to lesser extent, comes to net from rallies almost with abandon. About half his approaches can be dubbed 'suicidal' and the rest are on ambitious side. It usually doesn't pay, nor was it necessarily called for. Sampras is usually upto holding his nerve and making the pass

Nothing in it between the 2 for 3 sets, the tiebreak goes Edberg's way to give him a 2-1 sets lead and Sampras folds in the 4th. On whole, a good demonstration of Edberg handling power passes and Sampras' volleying without an overwhelming serve to fall back on

Stats for Edberg's quarter-final with Ivan Lendl - Tri Match Stats/Reports - Edberg vs Lendl, US Open semi-final, 1991, Australian Open & US Open quarter-finals, 1992 | Talk Tennis (
Stats for pair's Cincinnati semi - (30) Match Stats/Report - Sampras vs Edberg, Cincinnati semi-final, 1992 | Talk Tennis (
Stats for the pair's '93 Australian Open semi - Match Stats/Report - Edberg vs Sampras, Australian Open semi-final, 1993 | Talk Tennis (