Match Stats/Report - Sampras vs Ivanisevic, Wimbledon semi-final, 1995


Hall of Fame
Pete Sampras beat Goran Ivanisevic 7-6(7), 4-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in the Wimbledon semi-final, 1995 on grass

Sampras would go onto win the title for the third time in a row by beating Boris Becker in the final. The two had contested the final the previous year and would do so again in the 1998 with Sampras winning both. Ivanisevic had won the pair’s semi-final in 1992

Sampras won 146 points, Ivanisevic 145

Both players serve-volleyed off all serves

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (97/154) 63%
- 1st serve points won (80/97) 82%
- 2nd serve points won (30/57) 53%
- Aces 21
- Double Faults 4
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (69/154) 45%

- 1st serve percentage (83/137) 61%
- 1st serve points won (69/83) 83%
- 2nd serve points won (32/54) 59%
- Aces 39 (2 second serves, 1 not clean)
- Double Faults 8
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (72/137) 53%

Serve Pattern
Sampras served...
- to FH 42%
- to BH 57%
- to Body 1%

Ivanisevic served...
- to FH 36%
- to BH 58%
- to Body 5%

Return Stats
Sampras made...
- 57 (23 FH, 34 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 3 Winners (1 FH, 2 BH)
- 33 Errors, all forced...
- 33 Forced (9 FH, 24 BH)
- Return Rate (57/129) 44%

Ivanisevic made...
- 81 (29 FH, 52 BH)
- 10 Winners (6 FH, 4 BH)
- 48 Errors, all forced...
- 48 Forced (19 FH, 29 BH)
- Return Rate (81/150) 54%

Break Points
Sampras 3/5 (5 games)
Ivanisevic 2/8 (5 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Sampras 38 (6 FH, 6 BH, 8 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 8 BHV, 9 OH)
Ivanisevic 31 (10 FH, 6 BH, 5 FHV, 6 BHV, 4 OH)

Sampras had 26 from serve-volley points
- 16 first 'volleys' (4 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 5 BHV, 4 OH, 2 FH at net)... 1 BHV was a net chord dribbler
- 9 second volleys (3 FHV, 2 BHV, 4 OH)
- 1 third volley (1 OH)

- 10 passes - 3 returns (1 FH, 2 BH) & 7 regular (3 FH, 4 BH)
- FH returns - 1 cc
- BH returns - 2 inside-in
- regular FHs - 1 cc and 2 lobs
- regular BHs - 2 cc and 2 dtl

Ivanisevic had 16 from serve-volley points
- 8 first 'volleys' (3 FHV, 4 BHV, 1 BH at net)
- 8 second volleys (2 FHV, 2 BHV, 4 OH)... 1 OH was on the bounce from behind the service line. Its been marked a retreated net point (serve-volley)

- 15 passes - 10 returns (6 FH, 4 BH) & 5 regular (4 FH, 1 BH)
- FH returns - 3 cc, 2 dtl and 1 inside-in (net chord dribbler)... the inside-in is technically not a 'pass' but has been included as opponent was at net
- BH returns - 1 cc and 3 dtl
- regular FHs - 3 cc and 1 inside-in
- regular BH - 1 lob

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Sampras 38
- 8 Unforced (1 FH, 4 FHV, 3 BHV)... the FH was a pass attempt
- 30 Forced (8 FH, 5 BH, 7 FHV, 2 FH1/2V, 7 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)... with 1 FH at net (a pass attempt) & 1 BH running-down-drop-shot at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 55

Ivanisevic 31
- 15 Unforced (2 FH, 2 BH, 5 FHV, 6 BHV)... with 2 FH at net, 2 BH at net & 1 FHV can reasonably be called an OH
- 16 Forced (6 FH, 8 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)... with 2 BH running-down-drop-shots at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 54

(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 are keyed on 4 categories - 20 defensive, 40 neutral, 50 attacking and 60 winner attempt)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Sampras was...
- 91/134 (68%) at net, including...
- 89/129 (69%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 59/76 (78%) off 1st serve and...
- 30/53 (57%) off 2nd serve
- 0/1 forced back

Ivanisevic was...
- 64/96 (67%) at net, including...
- 62/90 (69%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 32/46 (70%) off 1st serve and...
- 30/44 (68%) off 2nd serve
- 1/1 retreated

Match Report
One of the pair’s more interesting grass court matches, with the usual differences between them enhanced. It effectively comes down to if Goran can break Sampras more often than Goran can break Goran

The usual match between the two features dual serve-botting, with Sampras being the considerably better volleyer to make up for however much he might trail on the primarily important serve shot

Here, Goran’s advantage on the serve extends to a considerable advantage on the return too, with said advantage going beyond it existing simply because he’s facing less strong opposition in Sampras’ serve

In short, Goran has stronger serve and Goran has stronger return. Pete’s serve no buffet either, but his return is almost a non-factor. He gives Goran easy or at most, routine volleys to deal with on the minority times he can make the return at all

Goran meanwhile returns heftily in general, and often more that. Pete’s faced with a tough job on the volley - firm shots around net high are normal, with a good lot wide and/or low thrown in. That’s within context of Pete also getting a heavy load of freebies with the serve too, of course

Which brings us to the volley. Sampras’ is up to it - and volleys well. He doesn’t do a great job against the tough stuff (low and/or wide, hit firmly or powerfully) - there’s room for improvement, but well enough to hold most of the time. Though smaller than Goran’s, Pete’s freebie cushion isn’t small, and his volleying good enough to back it up

Goran doesn’t volley well. Misses easy ones. Misses almost everything that “isn’t easy” (as opposed to “hard”). But he has a bigger freebie cushion than Pete

Putting it all together, the end result in terms of holding rate and prospects of holding (or conversely, breaking) are about the same. Its come out beautifully in numbers

Points won - Pete 146, Goran 145 with Pete serving 52.9% of the points
Break points - Pete 3/5, Goran 2/8 (with both having them in 5 games)

Pete’s extra break doesn’t practically matter. He wins a set with a 2 break cushion, while Goran wins both of his with 1

Even as can be. The dynamics that lead to it are captured even better -

Unreturned rates - Pete 45%, Goran 53%
Return Winners - Pete 3, Goran 10
‘Volleying’ UEs - Pete 7, Goran 15
‘Volleying FEs - Pete 17, Goran 2

Goran with significant advantage in freebies, but Pete’s is high too
Goran doing damage with the return, Pete not so much
Pete safer on the routine and easy volleys, Goran a lot less so
Goran having to return and pass powerfully to win points, Pete no because he can barely get powerful ones off, but what he does below that standard is enough, with Goran mucking up in forecourt

And that’ action. With things so close, its chance, a point here, a point there that determines result beyond it. Relatively speaking, its not too uncomfortable for Pete. He’s always ahead in the first set tiebreak and has all the set points in it. And he breaks right at the start of the 5th set, so all the way ahead there too, tasked with just holding on to his serve (which isn’t a general problem for either player)
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Hall of Fame
Finally, there’s Goran’s streakiness and its timing, which is almost comical. He follows up particularly hot runs with terrible service games

He doesn’t lose a point on serve in second set. Wins 20/20 points. 17 of them unreturned serves and 8 of those aces (1 not clean). Breaks Pete to end it, with 2 return winners and forcing 2 volley errors (the last one admittedly, helped by Pete hitting a poor OH against a putaway ball to begin with)

Starts the third set with an ace for 15-0… and then double faults twice and misses 2 third ball groundstrokes at net to be broken - and all that perfection in set 2 is neutralized (this is taking Pete’s ability to hold 5 times after for granted, for which he deserves credit too)

A less extreme version of the same story in Sets 4 and 5. Loses 2 points in 5 service holds. Breaks Pete with a couple passing winners and Pete makes 2 volleying UEs (1 of them not too easy) in the middle.

Then starts the 5th set by being broken, opening with a double fault, ending by missing the easiest of volleys and helping Pete win another point in between with a bad volley

What else? Pete’s second serve isn’t particularly impressive. There are many Sampras’ matches where you’d be hard pressed to tell if a given serve is a first or a second. Here, it can be done with reasonable confidence

No small number of a ‘sit-up’ serves that are smackable - and Goran does much of the time. If he weren’t serve-volleying, most of Pete’s second serves would qualify as unforceful (as in, if it drew an error, the error would be marked a UE). Not so with Goran

There’s good and bad to that

Double faults - Pete 4, Goran 8. Pete 7% of the time, Goran 15%. And those doubles contribute to Goran getting broken

(Goran also has 2 second serve aces to Pete’s 0, but even cancelling out a couple of double faults leaves Goran double faulting 12% of the time)

Note second serve points won - Pete 53%, Goran 59% and more than that, 2nd serve-volleying of Pete 57%, Goran 68%

The merry-go-round that is Goran’s streakiness goes beyond ending stellar runs with a whimper. He’s almost as likely to hit great shots against tough balls as weak ones

He might strike a perfect volley winner against a low-ish, firm return/pass. And a point or 2 later, miss a routine volley. He might make a difficult pass and then miss a relatively easy one. He might clobber a return against a strong serve and net one against an ordinary one

It starts in the very first game of the match where…

Match Progression
Tough game to start things off as Pete holds a 14 pointer, saving a break point. Despite making 10 first serves, all but the 3 aces come back, and they come back strongly. No UEs from Pete in the game, but he’s got 5 FEs - good, strong passes and returns from Goran, mostly wide but 1 of the FEs he draws is a half-volley

The irony is that the best look Goran has at a pass is on break point. He draws a half-volley with the return and has time to step in and line up the pass. Hits it into bottom of net

Goran faces break point in his first service game too, though he makes just 4/10 first serves. The danger point is aced away

Both players survive a further break point en route to tiebreaker. Pete’s a bit lucky to save his when his BHV rolls over the net chord for a winner. By contrast, he has a good look at a comfortable running pass with the court open on other side of things but misses the FH

Pete strikes first in the ‘breaker by working Goran over with a couple of strong passes before finishing with a BH cc winner to go up 2-1. Goran strikes back in Goran style - 2 great return points (1 forcing a half-volley error, the other drawing a half-volley that he unexpectedly putsaway FH inside-in). And then double faults next point

The crucial point is Goran missing a FH at net to go down 4-6. He’s a bit slow to move to the wide ball, but an excellent point from him at 5-6 against the Pete serves where he forces Pete back and saves the second set point

Pete strikes with a FH return cc winner to move up 8-7 and serves it out with a typical, wide volley that draws a running pass error

Second set was covered earlier and not much to add to that. Goran a perfect 20/20 on serve. 15 of those are first serves, which in itself is impressive. Pete holds comfortably too until the end. It’s a strong game by Goran to end the set, but Pete hits a bad first ‘volley’ (its more an OH than a volley) right back at Goran at not great pace that allows Goran to eventually win the points (Pete BHV FE)

The ironic terrible first game in third set puts Pete ahead. No easy feat to stay ahead though. He’s down 0-15 3/4 service games, survives 2 deuce games (12 pointer with 3 break points and 8 pointer with none)

Great return game by Goran in game 4 gets him those 3 break points. His best look is at a regulation second serve that he hammers but misses. Pete makes a difficult half-volley on another break point, leaving Goran with a decent look at the pass on another point. No UEs in the game from Pete other than a double fault and he goes on to hold

Bad serivce game from Goran wraps up the set - missing the easiest of putaway FHVs to start, throwing in a double fault in the middle and missing a routine BHV right after puts him down 30-40. He guides his first ‘volley’ (a FH, where his options of where to go are limited) right at Pete who has an open court to put his BH dtl into to end the set

Set 4 was covered earlier also. Goran breaks in game 7, where Pete makes 1/6 first serves. Couple of passing winners from Goran (FH dtl return and FH cc set up by low-ish return), and couple of volleying UEs from Pete - the second of them on break point and not too easy, but he doesn’t move to it well

Goran’s broken at start of 5th set. Double fault, a poor volley (and shot choice) allows Pete to come in and win a net-to-net contest an an easy FHV UE on break point involved in it

Not much trouble for Pete on serve thereafter. He only falls behind on serve once (0-15 in the last game of the match). A tricky moment at 40-15 when Goran’s winner trickles over the net chord for a winner, but Pete draws a return error the point after to wrap things up

Summing up, good match with Ivanisevic being the maker and the breaker of it. His serve is considerably stronger and his return is stronger, but his volleying is a lot poorer, to the point of being poor in an absolute sense, not just relative to Sampras

Sampras for his part serves strongly, least it be lost in the wash of his opponent’s extraordinary showing. Can’t muster much on the return, though it’s an uphill task to do so. Volleys well enough when faced with some combination of powerful/low/wide returns/passes

Ivanisevic is streaky in his play, Sampras much more even. The ebbs or ‘chokes’ of the former help push the result the way it goes

Stats for Sampras’ final with Boris Becker -