Match Stats/Report - Sampras vs Agassi, Monte Carlo second round/R32, 1998


Hall of Fame
Pete Sampras beat Andre Agassi 6-4, 7-5 in the Monte Carlo second round (round of 32), 1998 on clay

It was the only match Sampras won in Monte Carlo. Sampras went on to end the year number 1 for the 6th straight year. Agassi had started the year ranked 110, was 21 at the time of this match (Sampras was 2) and finished 4

Sampras won 70 points, Agassi 57

Sampras serve-volleyed more often than not off first serves

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (32/63) 51%
- 1st serve points won (26/32) 81%
- 2nd serve points won (16/31) 52%
- Aces 6, Service Winners 2
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (27/63) 43%

- 1st serve percentage (43/64) 67%
- 1st serve points won (25/43) 58%
- 2nd serve points won (11/21) 52%
- Aces 1
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (9/64) 14%

Serve Patterns
Sampras served...
- to FH 34%
- to BH 66%

Agassi served...
- to FH 15%
- to BH 84%
- to Body 2%

Return Stats
Sampras made...
- 53 (11 FH, 42 BH), including 3 runaround FHs
- 1 Winners (1 BH)
- 8 Errors, comprising...
- 3 Unforced (1 FH, 2 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 5 Forced (1 FH, 4 BH)
- Return Rate (53/62) 85%

Agassi made...
- 34 (10 FH, 24 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 2 Winners (2 FH)
- 19 Errors, comprising...
- 3 Unforced (1 FH, 2 BH)
- 16 Forced (8 FH, 8 BH)
- Return Rate (34/61) 56%

Break Points
Sampras 4/4
Agassi 2/4 (3 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Sampras 14 (7 FH, 2 BH, 3 BHV, 2 OH)
Agassi 16 (9 FH, 3 BH, 1 FHV, 2 BHV, 1 OH)

Sampras' FHs - 2 cc, 2 dtl and 2 lobs (1 at net)
- BHs - 2 dtl (1 return)

- 3 first 'volleys' from serve-volley points (1 BHV, 1 OH, 1 FH at net)

Agassi's FHs - 3 cc (1 return pass), 3 inside-out (1 at net), 2 inside-in (1 return) and 1 longline
- BHs - 2 cc and 1 dtl

- the FHV was a swinging shot hit from well behind the service line and not a net point

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Sampras 30
- 16 Unforced (9 FH, 7 BH)
- 14 Forced (7 FH, 4 BH, 2 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46.9

Agassi 27
- 17 Unforced (11 FH, 6 BH)
- 10 Forced (6 FH, 4 BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 44.7

(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
Sampras was...
- 17/21 (81%) at net, including...
- 12/15 (80%) serve-volleying, all 1st serves

Agassi was...
- 6/8 (75%) at net

Match Report
Not a good tennis match and not a good tennis court. Fortunately, it does end with a bang, Sampras raising his game to win 5 straight games (with some help from Agassi)

Regarding the court - there are a number of bad bounces. 1 Agassi BH cc shoots through low for a winner through Sampras. Another ball kicks up and almost hits Sampras in the face. Some balls seem to 'die' on bouncing and reach the player behind the baseline as its about to bounce for the second time. I suspect irregularities also play a hand in the difficulty both players have returning

Agassi wins the first two games of both sets. In the first he starts playing badly immediately afterwards - and is broken back at once. In the second, he plays well til reaching 5-2, when he has a small lapse though credit for the turnaround primarily goes to Sampras

What does Agassi "playing well" and "playing badly" entail exactly?

When he plays well, he's consistent of shot and hitting normally (neither offensive, nor defensive). Primarily, he goes to Sampras' BH, but not unduly so. He usually wins baseline points in these situations.... Sampras either makes an unforced error, or Agassi hits more attacking shots after taking control of the point with neutral shots - and forces the error

(Should be noted that Sampras' defence isn't great. He yields many mild defensive 'forced errors' - very makeable balls but still, forced. Ditto Agassi)

When he plays badly, he starts hitting big groundstrokes early in the rally. Apparently trying to pound an error out of Sampras. Most such shots are hit without much angle (it would be an exaggeration to say they're hit down the middle of the court - but not much of one), extra power being the intent. He tends to lose these points by making unforced errors, and usually, early in the rally. Many third ball unforced errors from the impatient Andre

Sampras basically hangs on from the baseline, hitting harmless BHs but occasionally going big off the FH. He too makes many UEs of the ground. Its clear he's second best from the back of the court. Agassi has enough firepower to force errors from the back, Sampras generally doesn't. Both are error prone, but one senses Agassi is playing badly when he's making his while Sampras is uniformly error prone

Sampras serve-volleys off 15/24 non-ace/service winner first serve points and not at all of the second. He wins the bulk via return errors

Key to the match is Sampras' serve. 43% unreturned serves on clay.... not a sight you see every day. He serves exceptionally well - I've marked a number of forced errors off his second serves even. I think the choppy court plays a hand. Agassi also returns relatively badly, and misses makeable returns (though still forced errors). Then there's Agassi's return position - inside the court to take most second serves. I don't see the point... he's not going to hit winners from there on clay and there's shouldn't be any hurry to force errors out of Sampras. All he ends up doing is robbing himself of time to make the return

Would have been much smarter to return from an orthodox position. He could have swung hard from there, made more balls without handing Sampras the initiative and outrally Sampras from there. As with his baseline play, its impatience to end points that's at the heart of his folly

Serving in the ad court, Sampras several times takes an exaggeratedly wide serving position near the sideline to maximize the angle on the first serve out wide. Doesn't serve-volley on these points. Its about as effective as anything else. Agassi does runaround and dispatch one such serve for a return FH inside-in winner

Agassi leads 30-0 as he serves for the second set, but opens the door with 2 poor, routine third ball errors. Sampras jumps through the door - first out playing Agassi from the back before finishing with a very good BH dtl winner and on break point, hitting a stunning, running FH lob off a very good Agassi approach shot (he'd missed the same shot 2nd point of the game in a near identical point)

Sampras breaks again next chance in an exciting game. Agassi follows a FH inside-out winner with an immaculate BHV winner - as good as anything you'll see from Sampras, Rafter or Henman. Couple of points later, he's at the net and superbly drop BH1/2Vs a powerful, wide pass from Sampras. Pete though chases down the ball and perfectly lobs Agassi net to net... the shot of the match. Despite Pete's fine play, he can't get the job done without Agassi... a routine 3rd ball error and a silly attempted drop shot error on break point from an awkward position

Statistical Points of Interest
- Note the figures in play. Agassi +2 in winners, +4 in forcing errors and - 1 in unforced errors to have a net +5. And I thought he played particularly badly, Sampras played about normally
This would support Agassi comfortably the better baseliner in general, which is no surprise. Mostly discredit to Agassi for playing badly for the gap not being wider

- The difference that makes the difference, as ever, is Sampras' serve. +18 on unreturned serves.... he serves well, Agassi returns not well.... mostly credit to Sampras for this

Finally, one senses neither player was really "up" for this match. Agassi's impatient ball bashing looks careless, Sampras is defensively lax (in keeping with my memory of him phoning it in on clay round about this time). Both players had well earned reputations for half-assing their efforts on European clay when they bothered to show up too

Summing up, Sampras outserving Agassi on a patchy clay court, with Agassi much of the time playing a badly executed and unwisely chosen brand of impatient attacking baseline tennis, not suited to the surface. Not a good match

Sampras would lose 6-1, 6-1 to Fabrice Santoro in the following round