Match Stats/Report - Sampras vs Agassi, US Open final, 1990


Hall of Fame
Pete Sampras beat Andre Agassi 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 in the US Open final, 1990 on hard court

It was Sampras' first Slam title. He was 19 years old and remains the youngest ever US Open champion. Agassi was 20 and playing his second Slam final of the year and of his career (previously lost French Open final). The two would go onto play 2 further finals at the event in 1995 and 2002 with Sampras winning both

Sampras won 99 points, Agassi 73

Sampras serve-volleyed off all first serves and occasionally off seconds

(Note: I've made educated guesses about serve type for a small number of points

I'm missing serve direction and corresponding return data for 1 point - Set 2, Game 3, Point 3)

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (38/72) 53%
- 1st serve points won (35/38) 92%
- 2nd serve points won (20/34) 59%
- Aces 13 (1 second serve), Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (30/72) 42%

- 1st serve percentage (77/100) 77%
- 1st serve points won (43/77) 56%
- 2nd serve points won (13/23) 57%
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (16/100) 16%

Serve Patterns
Sampras served...
- to FH 38%
- to BH 46%
- to Body 15%

Agassi served...
- to FH 11%
- to BH 86%
- to Body 3%

Return Stats
Sampras made...
- 83 (13 FH, 69 BH, 1 ??), including 4 runaround FHs & 8 return-approaches
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 16 Errors, comprising...
- 12 Unforced (3 FH, 9 BH) including 2 runaround FHs & 2 return-approach attempts
- 4 Forced (2 FH, 2 BH)
- Return Rate (83/99) 83%

Agassi made...
- 41 (18 FH, 23 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 16 Errors, comprising...
- 4 Unforced (4 FH) including 1 runaround FH
- 12 Forced (6 FH, 6 BH)
- Return Rate (41/71) 58%

Break Points
Sampras 5/11 (7 games)
Agassi 0/3 (2 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Sampras 22 (5 FH, 4 BH, 5 FHV, 6 BHV, 1 BH1/2V, 1 OH)
Agassi 9 (3 FH, 6 BH)

Sampras had 9 from serve-volley points
- 2 first 'volleys' (1 BH1/2V, 1 FH at net)
- 6 second volleys (3 FHV, 3 BHV)
- 1 third volley (1 BHV)

- 1 from a return-approach point, an OH

- FHs - 1 dtl, 1 inside-out, 1 inside-out/dtl and 1 inside-in
- BHs - 1 cc and 3 dtl (1 return)

Agassi's FHs (all passes) - 2 dtl and 1 longline/inside-out
- regular BHs - 1 cc, 1 inside-out and 1 drop shot
- BH passes - 2 dtl and 1 inside-in return

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Sampras 47
- 30 Unforced (7 FH, 15 BH, 4 FHV, 3 BHV, 1 OH)
- 17 Forced (10 FH, 2 BH, 4 FHV, 1 BHOH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 51.3

Agassi 46
- 25 Unforced (16 FH, 9 BH)... with 1 FH at net pass attempt
- 21 Forced (7 FH, 14 BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 48

(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...
- 45/64 (70%) at net, including...
- 28/35 (80%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 21/24 (88%) off 1st serve and...
- 7/11 (64%) off 2nd serve
- 3/8 (38%) return-approaching

Agassi was 4/5 (80%) at net

Match Report
A thrashing. Sampras rides off a huge serve and doing the little that leaves him to do on the volley after to cruise all match. On other side, Agassi rolls in serves, Sampras returns with ease and the two get into 50-50 baseline rallies - in which Sampras holds about even with the reputed heavyweight in that area. Court is on the slow side of normal

Serve, Return and Sampras' Serve-volleying
Difference in quality of two men's serves is astronomical. Sampras' is humongous, Agassi's is weak

13 aces and a service winner for Pete. Agassi just barely draws that many return errors with 16 - 12 of which have been marked unforced, and the 4 forced aren't particularly tough either. Pete leads unreturned rate by a humongous 26%, which in and of itself, would likely be decisive even if everything else were in Agassi's favour

Everything else is not in Agassi's favour

With Sampras serve-volleying off all first serves and about a third off the time off seconds, he's usually at net for third ball. Agassi is always on the baseline

The returns Agassi can put in play are at best, firm and low-ish. Not to the feet or overly powerful. More often, he leaves a regulation, net high volley. Sampras doesn't have much work to do with his first volley and does what he has to effectively, usually playing the volley well away from Agassi

The low 4 volleying FEs of Pete's are relatively not difficult - a bit wide or firmly coming at his body. About half the 8 UEs are from his chip-charge returns and approaches from rallying, not serve-volleying. And all that is in the context of huge 42% unreturned rate to begin with

Sampras volleys efficiently rather than brilliantly. Just 2 first 'volley' winners - an easy FH at net and a superb BH1/2V. Otherwise, he volleys simply to open court and Agassi's left with a hopeless running pass. And makes handles the few not-easy volleys he faces (usually, shots a bit firmer hit than average by Agassi)

Agassi for his part makes no adjustments all match. He remains on baseline to return, though it couldn't be clearer that he can't return effectively from there. He's as stone as aces go by - obviously with no read on the serve and no guessing direction. Where he's standing, Sampras' serve doesn't have to kiss lines to go for aces (though a good lot do). Not sure what Agassi trying to do... it looks like just hope Pete misses his first serve

Good, hefty second serve from Sampras too, and Agassi doesn't return that with much heat either

On flip side, Agassi's serve is just a point starter, effectively two second serves, as hinted at by his near equal success across the two serves (wins 56% first serve points, 57% second serve). And he serves very predictably to the BH, directing 86% of his serves there

Sampras returns easily and neutrally at high 83% return rate. and then they rally from the back....


Hall of Fame
Play - Baseline and Approaching
Agassi leads baseline action to a dual winged nature. He hits firmly (occasionally more than that), moves Sampras around modestly, is usually deep-ish of shot and occasionally throws out attackingly widely angled cc shots, especially off the FH. You could say he 'encourages' errors rather than looks to force them and rarely goes for a dtl winner, save the end when he seems to be frustrated. I'd classify Agassi's play as pressuring and an attempt to 'boss', short of attacking or dominate

Whatever you call it, he can't do it because Sampras, though the more reactive partner, proves just as good from the back. Especially early on, Sampras plays from well behind baseline (Agassi is on or near it) and runs around to hit back firmly

There are very few winners and most points end with UEs. Sampras has 22, Agassi 24 in baseline rallies. With Pete being moved around more and facing deeper, firmer shots, his UEs tend to be tougher shots than Agassi's. For similar reason, Pete's baseline FEs are relatively mild for being marked so (most of Agassi's are passing shots... Pete forces very few baseline-to-baseline errors)

Agassi's most effective weapon is wide FH cc, which draws most of Pete's high 10 FH FEs, but FH is also his loose side and has match high 16 UEs (including a pass at net miss)
BH is his better side and he wins the UE contest there 9-15. He rarely attacks dtl and doesn't hit wide angled shots as often. Pete hits his BHs firmly too

There are clear trends in both FH-FH and BH-BH rallies

On FH - Sampras 7 UEs, Agassi 15... with Agassi also forcing a large lot of errors. But Sampras has 4 winners, Agassi 0. Advantage Sampras and discredit Agassi who is prone to being loose on that side

On BH - Agassi 9 UEs, Sampras 15... negligible errors forced in these rallies. Both players with 3 winners each. Advantage Agassi and credit Pete for holding up pretty well as far as hitting goes. Sizable number of Pete's errors come late in match, when he's playing much more freely and going for attacking shots to which there's no down side. If he makes them (he usually doesn't), he wins the point. If he doesn't, he's up 2 sets and breaks... what does it matter?

Early on, Pete waits for short ball to come in behind. As his grip on match gets stronger, he's able to let his hair down more and manufactures approaches from regulation balls that he moderately attacks. Its a much better way of finishing point than anything else either player does from the back, and Pete wins 14/21 points rallying to net. Success has a bit more to do with good approach shots than good volleying, though both have a hand

Pete's more proactive in coming to net on his second serve points that he stays back on. He retains slight advantage after Agassi's return and nurses it to come in, without being in a hurray to do so

Agassi doesn't pass particularly well. He has just 4 winners - and 1 of those was easy from near service line and another one, straight forward enough. The 4 Sampras volley FEs are only mildly forced - slightly wide, slightly harder hit type passes. Still, much more credit to Pete's approaching than anything about Agassi's passing. Lots of hopeless passes for Agassi to look at, and Pete's efficient enough on the volley as needed

Near 0 interest shown by Agassi to come to net. He's there just 5 times - once forced. As heavier hitter from back, there's plenty of scope for him to come in, but it doesn't seem to be in his toolkit at all

But with Pete returning easily (which given Agassi's serve, isn't surprising) and holding up from the baseline, Agassi has a serious problem in how to proceed. He possibly under-estimated Sampras' groundgame and fancied breaking it down with solid, pressuring play short of attacking. In the event, Pete holds up just fine and as his confidence grows, even dictates baseline by coming to net to finish off

To be clear, Agassi doesn't play particularly well and is error prone by a normal standard but very good job by Pete to take his half of points starting on the baseline. By contrast, his quarter-final showing from the back against Lendl was erratic and poor

Match Progression
Error strewn opening game, which Agassi holds after saving two break points

Pete starts his Slam serving career to Agassi with a second serve ace. And follows with a BH1/2V winner serve-volleying off a second serve. And a love hold. After breaking in another strewn game where Agassi's FH lets him down, Pete adds a second love hold - ending with 3 aces.

The 1 break is good enough for the set. Pete serves 23 points in it to Agassi's 40

Same story in second set, where Pete serves 21 points to Agassi's 36. Pete breaks twice - he's at net 3 times in 8 point game to secure the first and breaks again to end the set, finishing with a BH dtl return winner

Agassi has his only break points in first two return games of the third set, where Sampras makes 5/18 first serves. All 3 are dealt wiped away with winners - a BH cc, a first 'volley' FH at net and a second volley BHV off a second serve point. From 2-2, Pete runs away with next 4 games. He's at his most free in attacking from the back in this part of the match

Summing up, devastating showing from Sampras. The serve is overwhelming (no surprise), the returning very sure (not difficult against given opposition), the volleying sweet if not difficult. Its his baseline play that takes the eye as he holds his own trading heavy groundstrokes off both sides with Agassi, while deftly approaching to put himself over. Some discredit to Agassi too who is loose on the FH and who seems to have counted on Sampras caving with errors and when that doesn't happen, makes no adjustments either on return or in his baseline play

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