Match Stats/Report - Sampras vs Becker, Rome final 1994


Hall of Fame
Pete Sampras beat Boris Becker 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 in the Rome final 1994 on clay

It was Sampras' second title on clay and the only one he won at the Masters level. He would go onto lose in the quarter-final at the French Open, where he was going for a non-calendar year Grand Slam

Sampras won 90 points, Becker 54

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (36/77) 47%
- 1st serve points won (30/36) 83%
- 2nd serve points won (24/41) 59%
- Aces 5, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (19/77) 25%

- 1st serve percentage (23/67) 34%
- 1st serve points won (14/23) 61%
- 2nd serve points won (17/44) 39%
- Aces 4 - including 1 second serve
- Double Faults 7
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (12/67) 18%

Serve Patterns
Sampras served...
- to FH 39%
- to BH 61%

Becker served...
- to FH 17%
- to BH 76%
- to Body 7%

Return Stats
Sampras made...
- 48 (13 FH, 34 BH, 1 ??), including 4 runaround FHs
- 4 Winners (1 FH, 3 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 8 Errors, comprising...
- 2 Unforced (2 BH)
- 6 Forced (3 FH, 3 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- Return Rate (48/60) 80%

Becker made...
- 56 (19 FH, 37 BH), including 1 runaround FH and 1 return-approach
- 1 Winners (1 FH)
- 13 Errors, comprising...
- 4 Unforced (1 FH, 3 BH)
- 9 Forced (8 FH, 1 BH)
- Return Rate (56/75) 75%

Break Points
Sampras 6/9 (7 games)
Becker 0/3 (3 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Sampras 30 (12 FH, 10 BH, 3 FHV, 1 BHV, 4 OH)
Becker 9 (4 FH, 2 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 BHOH)

Sampras' regular FHs - 2 cc (1 on the run), 3 inside-out, 1 inside-in and 1 hit from well outside the court
- FH passes - 3 cc and 2 dtl (1 return and 1 on the run)

- regular BHs - 3 inside-out (2 returns) and 1 slice at net
- BH passes - 6 dtl (including 1 sliced return, 1 on the run and 1 stretched on the run)

- 2 first volleys from serve-volley points (1 FHV, 1 OH)

Becker's non-s/v FHs - 2 cc (1 pass) and 1 dtl return (which probably took a bad bounce, it went right through Sampras at no great pace)

- 2 from serve-volley points
- 1 first 'volley' (1 FH @ net)
- 1 second volley (1 FHV), a very finely angled drop volley

- BHs - 1 dtl and 1 drop shot

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Sampras 31
- 15 Unforced (9 FH, 4 BH, 1 BHV, 1 OH)
- 16 Forced (6 FH, 7 BH, 1 FHV, 2 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 46

Becker 34
- 23 Unforced (7 FH, 14 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 11 Forced (7 FH, 2 BH, 2 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 43.9

(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 13/19 (68%) at net, including 5/8 (63%) serve-volleying - all first serves
He was 1/1 when forced back

Becker was 16/34 (47%) at net, including 10/19 (53%) serve-volleying - off first serves 7/12 (58%), off second 3/7 (43%) - and 0/1 return approaching

Match Report
When a player plays as badly as Boris Becker does in this match, it's not easy to assess just how well the winner played. At worst, its adequate but his potential for shining is limited by the losers poor play.

The main point of the match is Becker's horror show on serve. 34% first serves in. By set, its -
- first set 5/17 @ 29%
- second set 10/24 @ 42%
- third set 8/26 @ 31%

And he throws in 7 doubles for good measure. At his worst, he misses 11 straight first serves over three games

But Sampras doesn't distinguish himself in this regard either. 47% for the match and by set -
- first set 16/33 @48%
- second set 10/20 @ 50%
- third set 10/24 @ 42%

Neither player is a natural clay courter and thus, both are prone to use the serve as a weapon so its understandable that they wouldn't just roll the serve in as many do on the dirt. But there's nothing to account for such a poor showing... its not particularly windy

Becker is the more aggressive player as far as looking for the net goes. He approaches 34 times to Sampras' 19 - and is more ready to serve-volley (even of the second serve). Sampras for his part doesn't come in behind his second serve at all and only 8 times off the first

I'd say the only area where Sampras demonstrates high praise worthy play is in passing (including with the return). BH dtl is his favourite - he drives and once, slices winners with the shot, there are running FH passes both cc and dtl… impressive stuff. And he sets the tone early, striking 5 passes in the first two games of the match.

Sampras hits other impressive shots. There's a FH hit from well outside the court, not far off being around the net post and an uncharacteristic BH inside-out winner. Very few players hit this shot regularly, and Sampras is no exception. On another point, he makes a Chang-like impossible get and on the stretch while running, puts away a BH dtl pass

The highlight for Becker is a BH drop shot. He has great feel for this shot and its particularly well disguised. Watching it, it looks like a regulation slice - and it catches Sampras out

Baseline Play & Movement
Sampras' movements are fine and certainly not a problem, but it does lack the sleek-cat like quality that are characteristic of his movement on firmer surfaces. One understands the common perception that Sampras wasn't "comfortable" moving on clay, particularly when compared to clay court specialists. Becker's is relatively poor... he's slow to reach the ball and plays a number on the stretch that most players would have been able to play from a settled position. His sliding is also a bit imprecise

An important clay court ability missing from both players is getting balls back that would be marked 'forced error' if they missed. 'Forced errors' are often mild... like when a player is still moving when he makes the shot or is stretched or otherwise on the defensive. Good clay courters get these would-be-mild-forced-errors back in play a high percentage of the time. Neither Sampras or Becker do here. They're apt to make the error when playing mildly defensive shots

The weakest groundstoke on show is the Becker BH, which yields 14 UEs in play (Sampras' BH is the most secure - just 4 UEs). His slice is versatile - he drives it and plays it orthodoxly by turn and can go longline almost as readily as cc with it. On clay, it doesn't make a big difference though and the proneness to error of the shot overall is a bigger factor

The Sampras BH by contrast is at its best in this match. Many glorious passes with it, steady on the return (granted, mostly against second serves) and steady in play. Still, with Becker bleeding UEs from the back, it isn't tested enough to give a comprehensive verdict on how consistent it is

Pete has almost as many winners off the BH as the FH (12 FH, 10 BH). The FH remains his playmaking wing (most of the BH winners are passes - 'forced winners' so to speak), whereas on the FH, he's able to seize control of points. There are a few powerfully struck FH inside-out winners and at least one crosscourt. He doesn't always set up the shot well - and makes a number of unnecessary errors prematurely going for big FHs. In this match, it doesn't matter because Becker is playing so poorly.... but I could see how it might hurt Pete against more natural clay courters

Summing up, a poor show from Becker - especially the serving, but also from the baseline. Outstanding passing from Sampras and good enough from the baseline, though still more error prone than his well wishers would like to see
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Moose Malloy

It is interesting how much Becker's game changed over the years. The 91 Monte Carlo final vs Bruguera was one of the best clay court matches I'd ever seen(more than held his own on the baseline, and not a ton of S&V). And he pretty much man handled Chang from the baseline later that year at RG(think I have that on VHS). By 94 he was sort of serve botting on clay(did as much vs Muster in Monte Carlo the next year)

I guess it was as much about how the game was changing as well. I've talked about this here for many years, but the increase in ace counts for the entire tour increased dramatically from around 89 to 94. While Becker always had a great serve in the 80s, he upped it quite a bit(and his df's as well) in the early to mid 90s(probably to keep up with new gen of Goran/Sampras). You can see this in his YEC finals, he's practically spinning in his first serve vs Lendl in the 80s finals compared to what he's doing in the 92, 94, 95, 96 finals. While that change in strategy made him probably reach his best ever level indoors, it may have hurt him on other surfaces.