Match Stats/Report - Kuerten vs Arazi, Monte Carlo final, 2001

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Gustavo Kuerten beat Hicham Arazi 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in the Monte Carlo final, 2001 on clay

It was the 4th and last of Kuerten's clay Masters titles. He would go onto win the French Open soon after. Arazi was unseeded and beat future French Open finalist Mariona Puerta, 3rd seed Magnus Norman, 14th seed Cedric Pioline, 8th seed Tim Henman and 9th seed Sebastien Grosjean in reaching what would turn out to be his sole Masters final

Kuerten 101 won points, Arazi 82

Serve Stats
Kuerten...
- 1st serve percentage (49/90) 54%
- 1st serve points won (35/49) 71%
- 2nd serve points won (23/41) 56%
- Aces 9
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (23/90) 26%

Arazi...
- 1st serve percentage (43/93) 46%
- 1st serve points won (22/43) 51%
- 2nd serve points won (28/50) 56%
- Aces 2 (1 whiff)
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (15/93) 16%

Serve Patterns
Kuerten served...
- to FH 32%
- to BH 64%
- to Body 3%

Arazi served...
- to FH 29%
- to BH 66%
- to Body 5%

Return Stats
Kuerten made...
- 76 (34 FH, 42 BH), including 8 runaround FHs
- 13 Errors, all unforced...
- 13 Unforced (6 FH, 7 BH), including 3 runaround FHs
- Return Rate (76/91) 84%

Arazi made...
- 67 (20 FH, 47 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 1 Winner (1 FH)
- 14 Errors, comprising...
- 3 Unforced (1 FH, 2 BH)
- 11 Forced (5 FH, 6 BH)
- Return Rate (67/90) 74%

Break Points
Kuerten 6/13 (8 games)
Arazi 2/5 (4 games)

Winners (excluding serves, including returns)
Kuerten 31 (10 FH, 9 BH, 4 FHV, 5 BHV, 2 OH, 1 BHOH)
Arazi 15 (3 FH, 11 BH, 1 OH)

Kuerten's FHs - 2 cc (1 pass), 1 dtl, 1 inside-out, 1 inside-in and 5 drop shots
- BHs - 6 cc (1 at net), 1 dtl and 2 drop shots

- 1 FHV was a swinging, non-net shot

Arazi's FHs - 1 cc pass at net and 2 dtl (1 return)
- BHs - 3 cc (1 Kuerten whiff), 5 dtl (2 passes) and 3 drop shots

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Kuerten 52
- 40 Unforced (29 FH, 10 BH, 1 BHV)... with 2 FH at net & 1 BH running-down-drop-shot at net
- 12 Forced (2 FH, 4 BH, 2 FHV, 4 BHV)... 1 BHV was a lob (a net shot)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 51.3

Arazi 45
- 29 Unforced (10 FH, 19 BH)... with 1 BH at net
- 16 Forced (8 FH, 6 BH, 1 BHV, 1 BHOH)... with 1 FH running-down-drop-shot at net & 2 BH running-down-drop-shot at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46.9

(Note 1: all half-volleys refer to such shots played at net. Half -volleys played from other parts of the court are included within relevant groundstroke counts)

(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
Kuerten was...
- 25/39 (64%) at net, including...
- 2/5 (40%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 0/3 off 1st serve and...
- 2/2 off 2nd serve
---
- 0/1 retreated

Arazi was 8/18 (44%) at net

Match Report
An exhibition of Kuerten's game as he's thoroughly in control of all aspects of play and does whatever he wants all match. And what he wants is to play with dashing flair

Hicham Arazi is a lefty with a one handed BH. Average serve, average return. Looks like a player who's strenght is in not making errors. The BH looks better than the FH. The FH is undamaging - and Guga starts match with a series of point ending BH cc's to put it in its place, where it remains; keeping the ball in play is its role. There's variety to the BH. In first set, Arazi mixes up drives and slice-drives. The latter is a pretty shot and keeps ball relatively low, without particularly hampering (much less troubling) Guga. Arazi drops the slice-driving after first set and is better for it. He goes both ways with the BH effectively, but its also his loose side. Highlight of Arazi's offence are BH drop shots, which he plays with elegant and precise touch. His defence is severely tested and while not bad, isn't upto coping with Guga's varied and top notch offence

Guga outplays Arazi in everyway

On the serve -
- 1st serve in - Guga 54%, Arazi 46%
- Aces - Guga 9, Arazi 2 (1 a Guga whiff)
- Forced return errors - Guga forces 11, Arazi 0

Guga has a big serve, good lot of unreturnables and almost all his first serves are challenging to return. Arazi struggles with the sheer pace of it. On flip side, average serving from Arazi, at low in count, and no trouble for Guga to return

All 13 of the return errors Arazi draws have been marked UEs. About a third are in games that Guga semi tanks when he's up breaks

Both return from significantly behind baseline. Arazi isn't proficient at swinging the serve out wide in ad court, and Guga's able to reach the wider ones without trouble.

Low 46% in count from Arazi effectively isn't a particular problem (in context of his having nothing but problems to deal with) as he wins 56% 2nd serve points to 51% 1st serve ones

That's a bit unusual because Guga swings back 2nd serve returns particularly heftily and deep. Considerably more than the firsts, that he has little trouble neutralizing, but without threatening to snatch initiative. Its not particularly unusual in light of rallying dynamics

Rallying dynamics across both Arazi's serves and Guga's 2nds (behind which he wins 56% points) are roughly the same. Starting neutrally or with Arazi pushed back a little, the two trade groundies from 3 paces behind baseline. Guga thumps ball harder or loops it in more safely. If he chooses, he steps in to go for winners. If not, they continue thumping/looping - Guga with hitting and consistency advantage and ability to turn it up to attacking

Most of play is Guga attacking - either he hits his winners or misses them - and play is on his racquet
Rest are the both-comfily-behind-baseline trading thumped or looped groundies - with Guga hitting more reliably

Neutral UEs read Guga 16, Arazi 18. Close enough to even, but Arazi has little say in keeping rallies neutral. His ball isn't heavy enough, particulalarly from where he plays, to keep from Guga attacking from a neutral position. And Guga's capable of starting to do so by going close to lines even from well behind baseline

Groundstroke UEs are mirror image
- FHs - Guga 29, Arazi 10
- BHs - Guga 10, Arazi 19

As Guga's very high UEFI of 51.3 indicates, bulk of his errors are aggressive ones
- Attacking UEs - Guga 3, Arazi 2
- Winner attempt UEs - Guga 21, Arazi 9

Different reasons for the very low attacking UEs. Arazi doesn't attack much. Guga doesn't attack in moderation - when he does, he goes all in. Guga going all in is also behind the huge 21 winner attempt UEs (his FH misfires badly most of match). Arazi's 9 errors is quite poor, given he's only got 15 winners
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Winners - Guga 31, Arazi 15... speaks for itself. Arazi's is fairly high given how he plays. When he turns to attacking with the BH, he's quite good and 11/15 winners are off that wing

Guga's winners are a product of flashy brilliance. And very well balanced. 10 FHs, 9 BHs and 12 volleys/OHs

The BH is the star and has just 10 UEs to go with all those winners. The flashing cc is the star of the star with 6 of the winners. He doesn't miss many aggressive BHs either, and his shot choices are adventurous, though he's not in a rush to pull the trigger. Not much difference in the balls he chooses to attack off and the ones' he plays back firmly and neutrally

The power FH is actually poor and he far, far more often misses his dtl and inside-out point finishing attempts. Late in match, he turns to drop shotting and 5/10 FH winners are from those. Exquisite shots and set up by solid hitting and allowed by Arazi's backward court position. Arazi isn't unduly pushed back, he just likes to play from 3 paces behind baseline. For that matter, opposite is also true. Arazi has 3 drop shots winners. Guga's better at running down the drop shots, but unless he's attacking, he stays 3 paces behind baseline to take big swings too

39 trips to net from Guga, winning 64% of them completes picture of play. Some are behind his drop shots, others come after overpowering Arazi and 5 are serve-volleys. He likes to go with drop volleys when he's up at net

That's a very complete, attacking package from Guga. Flashing BHs. Cavilar FHs (which prove a bust). Excellent touch. Crafty and smart trips forward. Fat serve. Sweeping cut deep returns. All in context of being quite comfortable rallying from behind the baseline, getting better of play from there too and able without trouble to attack as and when he wants from there

And Arazi? Average serve that gets put back in play easily, unless Guga's half-hearted or careless or swept deep. Returns the normal serves decently. Holds up rallying decently. Doesn't or isn't able to transition to attack from there - and when he does, isn't particularly successful. And a defensive spectator to Guga's flashy shot-making

Match Progression

Guga starts by making a statement, flashing 2 BH cc winners in his opening hold and forcing a pair of errors with the same shot in his second. Arazi holds comfortably too to trail 3-2

Players than trade breaks. Lovely, very sharply angled FH cc winner by Guga highlights the first break, but its Arazi missing an easy FH inside-out from well up the court, followed by dumping a regulation third ball FH that decides the game

Guga hands the break back at once to 30, missing 4 amitious FH winner attempts

No matter as Guga breaks again. Previous game, he'd run down a drop shot with a counter drop shot that won him a point. Here, he he plays a lob instead that forces a hard BHOH error

Guga faces break point in serving out the set with is net play dealt with by precise passes, but serves his way through, finishing with a pair of drop shots plays

Action is livlier from 2nd set onward. Arazi cuts out the slice-drives and both players thump more, loopy less on their groundies. Guga moves to coming to net more to replace going for FH winners from the back. He still goes for his point ending shots from back, but not as much

Guga endures a 16 point hold (just 2 break points), while breaking twice and pushing Arazi in another game. Also virtually tanks a return game with careless return errors. 6-2 Guga

Guga breaks to open the third. Play changes slightly again, with a lot more drop shots from both players. Guga still comes to net and goes for his baseline finishers, the prospects of which keep Arazi back enough to augment effectiveness of the drop shots. Arazi hits his best droppers of the match too

Arazi is always under the gun and Guga breaks again, ending with consectuve FH drop shot winners to leave himself serving for match at 5-2. Throws in a poor game (3 FH UEs) to get broken to love, before serving it out second time of asking

Summing up, the Gustavo Kuerten show - big serving, sweeping deep returns, comfortable rallying from behind baseline but most of all, attacking. Power FHs falter, but drop shots are a hit. BH cc's are a treat. Net play is and instincts are excellent. Running-down-drop-shots has variety. Arazi has an elegant BH and some good drop shots, but essentially, is the canvas on which Kuerten paints a brilliant piece of all court attacking tennis
 

Drob

Professional
Winners - Guga 31, Arazi 15... speaks for itself. Arazi's is fairly high given how he plays. When he turns to attacking with the BH, he's quite good and 11/15 winners are off that wing

Guga's winners are a product of flashy brilliance. And very well balanced. 10 FHs, 9 BHs and 12 volleys/OHs

The BH is the star and has just 10 UEs to go with all those winners. The flashing cc is the star of the star with 6 of the winners. He doesn't miss many aggressive BHs either, and his shot choices are adventurous, though he's not in a rush to pull the trigger. Not much difference in the balls he chooses to attack off and the ones' he plays back firmly and neutrally

The power FH is actually poor and he far, far more often misses his dtl and inside-out point finishing attempts. Late in match, he turns to drop shotting and 5/10 FH winners are from those. Exquisite shots and set up by solid hitting and allowed by Arazi's backward court position. Arazi isn't unduly pushed back, he just likes to play from 3 paces behind baseline. For that matter, opposite is also true. Arazi has 3 drop shots winners. Guga's better at running down the drop shots, but unless he's attacking, he stays 3 paces behind baseline to take big swings too

39 trips to net from Guga, winning 64% of them completes picture of play. Some are behind his drop shots, others come after overpowering Arazi and 5 are serve-volleys. He likes to go with drop volleys when he's up at net

That's a very complete, attacking package from Guga. Flashing BHs. Cavilar FHs (which prove a bust). Excellent touch. Crafty and smart trips forward. Fat serve. Sweeping cut deep returns. All in context of being quite comfortable rallying from behind the baseline, getting better of play from there too and able without trouble to attack as and when he wants from there

And Arazi? Average serve that gets put back in play easily, unless Guga's half-hearted or careless or swept deep. Returns the normal serves decently. Holds up rallying decently. Doesn't or isn't able to transition to attack from there - and when he does, isn't particularly successful. And a defensive spectator to Guga's flashy shot-making

Match Progression

Guga starts by making a statement, flashing 2 BH cc winners in his opening hold and forcing a pair of errors with the same shot in his second. Arazi holds comfortably too to trail 3-2

Players than trade breaks. Lovely, very sharply angled FH cc winner by Guga highlights the first break, but its Arazi missing an easy FH inside-out from well up the court, followed by dumping a regulation third ball FH that decides the game

Guga hands the break back at once to 30, missing 4 amitious FH winner attempts

No matter as Guga breaks again. Previous game, he'd run down a drop shot with a counter drop shot that won him a point. Here, he he plays a lob instead that forces a hard BHOH error

Guga faces break point in serving out the set with is net play dealt with by precise passes, but serves his way through, finishing with a pair of drop shots plays

Action is livlier from 2nd set onward. Arazi cuts out the slice-drives and both players thump more, loopy less on their groundies. Guga moves to coming to net more to replace going for FH winners from the back. He still goes for his point ending shots from back, but not as much

Guga endures a 16 point hold (just 2 break points), while breaking twice and pushing Arazi in another game. Also virtually tanks a return game with careless return errors. 6-2 Guga

Guga breaks to open the third. Play changes slightly again, with a lot more drop shots from both players. Guga still comes to net and goes for his baseline finishers, the prospects of which keep Arazi back enough to augment effectiveness of the drop shots. Arazi hits his best droppers of the match too

Arazi is always under the gun and Guga breaks again, ending with consectuve FH drop shot winners to leave himself serving for match at 5-2. Throws in a poor game (3 FH UEs) to get broken to love, before serving it out second time of asking

Summing up, the Gustavo Kuerten show - big serving, sweeping deep returns, comfortable rallying from behind baseline but most of all, attacking. Power FHs falter, but drop shots are a hit. BH cc's are a treat. Net play is and instincts are excellent. Running-down-drop-shots has variety. Arazi has an elegant BH and some good drop shots, but essentially, is the canvas on which Kuerten paints a brilliant piece of all court attacking tennis
in other matches you have noted that the the world/famous Kuerten BH was not so effective and he hit more winners off the FH, is my memory correct?

I note also that 31 winners (excluding service) in 27 games is rather extraordinary on clay. I remember we discussed the Muster 1997 RG match, where, in a longer match his winners ratio was even higher. In your match tracks so far:

1. Other examples of Kuerten averaging >1 winner per game?

2. Anyone you’ve seen hitting as many winners on clay as Kuerten?
 

d-quik

Hall of Fame
Looking back at kuerten's, hewitt's, and murrays highly static, stiff, open stance forehands: it is no wonder these guys' hips got worked to the ground :(

The legs/torso are are so stiff but the shoulders still rotate like normal. Very bad combination.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
in other matches you have noted that the the world/famous Kuerten BH was not so effective and he hit more winners off the FH, is my memory correct?
Essentially, but I wouldn't frame it that way

Kuerten's BH is effective, but hitting more FH winners than BH is virtually a given... not hitting more BH winners than FH doesn't equal BH being 'not so effective'

Off the BH, everyone makes more errors than hits winners... in as short a span as a single match, exceptions are few and far between, even for the most celebrated BHs like Guga, Nalbandian, Agassi, Safin, Djokovic etc.

BH play is basically all about how few errors you make. Winners are gravy

Generally (i.e. beyond this match), if Guga makes a good lot of BH UEs that's normal. So does everyone else, so that doesn't set him behind unless he's up against someone who barely misses at all (which would be an exceptional performance from the opponent)

What Guga has going for him is that he happens to hit a good number of BH winners too. That isn't normal and everyone else doesn't do it

In short - making BH UEs is norm and keeping them down to little as possible usually qualifies as 'good' play
- hitting BH winners is exceptional. Not hitting winners isn't 'bad' play

Guga hitting BH winners is a plus for him. He's not unduly error prone of that side

Something I've been keying in on more recently is type of errors. I mark every UE as a defensive shot, a neutral shot, an attacking shot or a winner attempt

The usual way of assessing a shots effectiveness is to compare winners and UEs

A deeper look would involve looking at the type of errors

For example, to assess Guga's BH for a given match, I look at

his Winners against his winner attempt UEs and
his neutral UEs against his opponents neutral UEs

In the '97 Muster match, he's got considerably more UEs than winners off BH, but not many winner attempt UEs

In other words, he's losing more points because neutrally, Muster doesn't miss and so Guga ends up doing so... for which I'd credit Muster's consistency. Guga isn't loose to a faulty degree, Muster is secure to a commendable one

He's not losing more points because he keeps missing attempted point finishing shots. Of course he misses a few, but he's making more than he misses

Opposite situation in the '01 Rome match with Ferrero. There he's missing his BH winner attempts all the time, while not making enough to justify it. Doesn't make much effort to play neutrally


I note also that 31 winners (excluding service) in 27 games is rather extraordinary on clay. I remember we discussed the Muster 1997 RG match, where, in a longer match his winners ratio was even higher. In your match tracks so far:

1. Other examples of Kuerten averaging >1 winner per game?

2. Anyone you’ve seen hitting as many winners on clay as Kuerten?
My sample on him is small, but I'm getting a picture of his play

Nobody of comparative success level plays as aggressively as he does on clay. Maybe Rios (who I don't have many matches of), if you want to call Rios successful (he did win the trio of clay Masters events but never made it past quarters at French)

Successful clay courters from Borg down all have consistency (as opposed to shot making or attacking play) at core of their games - Wilander, Lendl, Bruguera, Muster, Ferrero, Nadal, Djokovic etc. Federer is a slight exception

Lendl stepping it up a bit to hit a few FH point ending shots stands out for aggressive. Federer is a bit different in that he essentially plays hard court tennis on clay

But Guga... is a couple of avenues removed from that. Its not that he's loose of consistency, but its just not the way he plays. He just goes for blazing winners off both sides and both directions out of the blue. He makes Federer look like a pusher

Wouldn't have expected that style to be sustainable enough to win as much as Guga has.

I think he's the best thing that could have happened for clay tennis in terms of livening it up. Pity Rios didn't get his head straight... a long term Guga-Rios rivalry on clay would've been good for the game

Compare excitement of prospects of a Guga-Rios match against Borg-Vilas or Lendl-Wilander

Looking back at kuerten's, hewitt's, and murrays highly static, stiff, open stance forehands: it is no wonder these guys' hips got worked to the ground :(

The legs/torso are are so stiff but the shoulders still rotate like normal. Very bad combination.
Must be tons of players these days who play like this but don't end up with shot hips, too?

Guga seems to me to swivel quite a lot, swinging himself in direction of his cc shots
 
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