Match Stats/Report - Sampras vs Agassi, Osaka semi-final, 1994


Hall of Fame
Pete Sampras beat Andre Agassi 6-3, 6-1 in the Osaka semi-final, 1994 on hard court

Sampras would go onto beat Lionel Roux in the final to win the event, the 2nd and last time it was held. Sampras was on a two tournament winning run (Indian Wells and Miami - having won the latter with a win over Agassi in the final) and would go onto win the next 2 (Tokyo Outdoors and Rome) after this. He was also the reigning Australian Open, US Open and Wimbledon champion. Agassi was ranked 19th at the time, having missed much of the last season with injury and having undergone wrist surgery at the end of the previous year

Sampras won 64 points, Agassi 43

Sampras serve-volleyed minority of the the time off first serves

(Note: An Agassi service game cuts off at deuce, which he went onto lose. 2 points have been added to Sampras' total points - the game may have gone longer - this is Set 2, Game 5, cutting off after 8 points

On 2 other points, I've half-guessed the ending, through hazy video print)

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (33/49) 67%
- 1st serve points won (25/33) 76%
- 2nd serve points won (11/16) 69%
- Aces 9
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (21/49) 43%

- 1st serve percentage (38/56) 68%
- 1st serve points won (22/38) 58%
- 2nd serve points won (8/18) 44%
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (4/56) 7%

Serve Patterns
Sampras served...
- to FH 43%
- to BH 52%
- to Body 4%

Agassi served...
- to FH 19%
- to BH 76%
- to Body 6%

Return Stats
Sampras made...
- 50 (14 FH, 36 BH), including 2 runaround FHs
- 4 Errors, comprising...
- 2 Unforced (2 BH)
- 2 Forced (2 BH)
- Return Rate (50/54) 93%

Agassi made...
- 25 (12 FH, 13 BH), including 1 runaround FH & 1 lob-return
- 1 Winner (1 FH)
- 12 Errors, comprising...
- 3 Unforced (2 FH, 1 BH)
- 9 Forced (5 FH, 4 BH)
- Return Rate (25/46) 54%

Break Points
Sampras 4/6 (4 games) {including a deduced 1/1 (1 game)… the points won and game are accurate but he may have had extra break points}
Agassi 0

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Sampras 14 (9 FH, 3 BH, 1 FH1/2V, 1 BHV)
Agassi 13 (8 FH, 2 BH, 2 FHV, 1 BHV)

Sampras' FHs - 2 cc, 2 dtl, 3 inside-out and 2 inside-in
- BHs - 3 dtl (1 pass and 1 slice)

Agassi's FHs - 2 cc (1 pass), 5 inside-out and 1 inside-in return pass
- BHs - 2 dtl (1 running-down-drop-volley from behind service line, which has been counted a net point)

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Sampras 23
- 13 Unforced (7 FH, 3 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH)… the OH was a baseline shot
- 10 Forced (2 FH, 7 BH, 1 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.7

Agassi 25
- 21 Unforced (14 FH, 6 BH, 1 BHV)
- 4 Forced (2 FH, 2 BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 45.2

(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...
- 10/18 (56%) at net, including...
- 6/10 (60%) serve-volleying, all 1st serves
- 0/1 forced back

Agassi was...
- 10/12 (83%) at net, including...
- 1/2 (50%) serve-volleying, both 1st serves

Match Report
Physical problems put an end to an interesting, essentially baseline match on a slow hard court. Something goes wrong with Agassi in last 3 games - he's rolling in serves at about 70mph, hitting feeble 1 handed BH slices and barely moving in them - but Sampras is in control, if not dominantly so before than

As ever, the big difference between the two players is the serve - though its more pronounced than ever. Unreturned serves - Sampras 43%, Agassi 7%... some of that is due to the end part of the match, but Agassi is weak on the serve all match, and to a lesser degree the return. More so than Sampras being particularly strong in either area

Its a slow court. All match, Agassi's serve is beyond harmless to downright easy to return. Just rolled in stuff to start the point. No trouble at all for Sampras on the return and Pete looks to maximize return rate by putting balls in play consistently rather than attack. Can't get much more consistent than 93% return rate - job well done. His returning strategy indicates he's game to take Agassi on from back of the court - and his confidence is justified (more on that later)

Sampras serves strongly but doesn't serve-volley much - 10/24 or 41% of the time off first serves and not at all off seconds. His serve is still a handful... but Agassi's returning is off. 54% return rate on this court - even against Pete Sampras - is way too low. Courts so slow that a Sampras first serve has drawn an error that's been marked unforced. Just not a good returning day for Agassi

Agassi hits a FH lob return. Sampras hesitates as he's coming in, runs back to baseline and looks to defensively OH the ball back from there, but misses. The shot from Agassi appears to be deliberate. How many players play lob returns? That Agassi would think to even try indicates how comfortable of pace the court is

Most of the action is baseline stuff and there isn't much between the two. Sampras' FH looks to be star of the show with 9 winners to 7 UEs, but that's a bit deceptive in that 4 of those winners come in 1 (fantastic) service game. Over the course of the match, its Agassi's FH - which has 8 winners - that's more damaging, though also more error prone (14 UEs)

5/8 of these winners are inside-out. BH-BH rallies, with Agassi the heavier of shot and Sampras hitting neutrally... almost daring Agassi to try to finish with BH dtl where Pete can have a go with his favourite running FH are a standard feature in matches between the two. Agassi's success here with the FH inside-outs raises an alternative strategy for him... why not try breaking down Pete's BH with FH inside-outs instead, and dare Pete to finish with BH dtl if he can?

Don't think Agassi ever gave the strategy a go. It works pretty well here... and I don't think a typical standard Pete could do a lot of BH dtl winning plays against it. Strong as Agassi's BH cc is, the FH inside-out is stronger. Its not a strategy he used often - or would have needed to, as BH cc could get the better of most players

Sampras was a different kettle of fish though... often holding serve easily on strength of serve-volley meant these baseline rallies took place mostly on Agassi's service games, where Pete had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Winning majority of BH cc rallies wasn't enough for Agassi... he'd have had to win overwhelming bulk to hold even in matches, and he rarely could

Steady BH day from Pete too. Just the 3 UEs and most of the 7 FEs are passing attempts (Agassi is 10/12 at net). Agassi doesn't approach much, but when he does, its always to the BH, and usually, gets the error without having to make a volley. 1 very good FHV winner where he runs to reach a low, dipping ball and puts it away

Noticeable is Sampras clear and strong advantage in court coverage. I think it puts him over as being the slightly better player from the baseline in the match

Competitive first set. Opening game goes 12 points, though Sampras doesn't face a break point. Bad game from Agassi in middle with 4 errors giving Sampras the break. Fairly comfortable holds otherwise from both players - Sampras more, with a lot of unreturned serves

Agassi starts coming to net a lot more in 2nd set - in first, he'd approached just 3 times, in second, 9. Tough pair of games to start out - Agassi holding 12 point game, featuring a great BH dtl winner from Sampras from way out of court before Sampras holds an 8 point game with 4 FH winners. Neither players faced break point. Then Sampras breaks in a well played, forceful game, the key point of which is Agassi missing an easy BHV. Sampras consolidates the break with strong serving... and then the wheels come off for Agassi. He's playing faster than anyone I've ever seen in this period... literally takes about 2 seconds between points

His game suffers, probably injury related as outlined earlier. At changeover, he looks ill. Plays such that retiring seemed a good option, but he sticks it out to the whimpering end

Summing up, Sampras with a humongous advantage on serve-return complex is more than enough to see him home, but he holds at least even from the baseline too largely based on superior movement. On playing level, Agassi FH inside-out attacks against the Sampras BH is interesting, successful and uncommon for the match up