Match Stats/Report - Sampras vs Kafelnikov, Year End Championship finals, 1997


Hall of Fame
Pete Sampras beat Yevgeny Kakelnikov 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 the Year End Championship (World Tour Finals) final, 1997 on indoor hard court in Hanover, Germany

Sampras was the defending champion and this was his 4th title at the event. He finished year end world number 1 for the then record equalling 5th year in a row

Sampras serve-volleyed off all first serves and one second

Sampras won 90 points, Kafelnikov 55

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (37/69) 54%
- 1st serve points won (30/37) 81%
- 2nd serve points won (19/32) 59%
- Aces 16, Service Winners 2
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (29/69) 42%

- 1st serve percentage (38/76) 50%
- 1st serve points won (20/38) 53%
- 2nd serve points won (15/38) 39%
- Aces 2
- Double Faults 4
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (16/76) 21%

Serve Patterns
Sampras served...
- to FH 40%
- to BH 58%
- to Body 1%

Kafelnikov served....
- to FH 28%
- to BH 68%
- to Body 4%

Return Stats
Sampras made...
- 56 (15 FH, 41 BH)
- 5 Winners (2 FH, 3 BH)
- 14 Errors, comprising...
- 5 Unforced (5 BH)
- 9 Forced (3 FH, 6 BH)
- Return Rate (56/72) 78%

Kafelnikov made...
- 38 (14 FH, 24 BH)
- 4 Winners (2 FH, 2 BH)
- 11 Errors, all forced...
- 11 Forced (6 FH, 5 BH)
- Return Rate (38/67) 57%

Break Points
Sampras 7/12 (9 games)
Kafelnikov 2/4 (3 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Sampras 28 (15 FH, 5 BH, 1 FHV, 3 BHV, 4 OH)
Kafelnikov 11 (4 FH, 6 BH, 1 BH1/2V)

Sampras' FHs - 6 cc (1 return, 1 pass), 2 dtl (1 pass), 2 inside-out, 4 inside-in (1 return, 1 pass) and 1 inside-out lob
- BHs - 2 dtl (1 return), 1 inside-in return and 2 net chord dribblers (1 return)

- 3 from serve-volley points
- 2 first 'volleys' (1 BHV, 1 FH at net), the BHV being a net chord dribbler
- 1 second volley (1 OH)

- other volleys include a drop FHV and an OH played net-to-net that could be called a pass

Kafelnikov's FHs - 2 cc (1 return pass) and 2 dtl (1 return pass)
- BHs - 3 dtl (1 return), 1 net chord dribbler return and 2 lobs

- the BH1/2V was an inside-out drop and the first 'volley' of a serve-volley point

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Sampras 26
- 11 Unforced (5 FH, 6 BH)
- 15 Forced (4 FH, 10 BH, 1 OH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 45.5

Kafelnikov 29
- 15 Unforced (5 FH, 10 BH)
- 14 Forced (6 FH, 8 BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index

(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...
- 23/32 (72%) at net, including...
- 13/20 (65%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 12/19 (63%) off 1st serve and...
- 1/1 off 2nd serve
- 0/2 forced back/retreated

Kafelnikov was...
- 9/14 (64%) at net, including...
- 1/1 serve-volleying, a first serve

Match Report
Its shaping up to be a competitive final - there are break points in the first 6 games - but turns into a one sided whipping from there to the end. In that bulk portion, Sampras plays brilliantly and Kafelnikov poorly. its essentially a baseline match. Sampras serve-volleys off all first serves - but most of them are aces and otherwise unreturned serves, leaving the actual playing action to be conducted baseline-to-baseline

Kafelnikov breaks in the opening game with Sampras double faulting twice from 15-30. The Russian does play one good point in the game though, a nice lob that a Sampras can just gently touch OH to leaving Kafelnikov an easy FH dtl from mid court to put away

Sampras breaks right back in a intense game, both players running each other from side to side to force errors. Last point is particularly well played, Sampras attacking the BH with a series of FH inside-outs and finishing with FH cc winner

Sampras survives 2 break points in the next game and then breaks again, only for Kafelnikov to break right back. Later, Sampras gains the decisive break in game 8 and manages to serve out the set

Rest of the match is all easy holds for Sampras. He loses 6 points in 8 remaining service games... while continuing to break regularly

Serve & Return
Both excellent from Sampras

16 aces, 2 service winners and 10 forced return errors from 37 first serves... suffice to say, he simply shuts Kafelnikov out with the first serve. Doesn't come as a shock, but still exceptional

The exceptional returning is more unexpected. Very sure returning from Pete, aided by his opponent serving at just 50%. Some good, attacking returns (he has 5 winners - 1 of which is a fluke, net chord dribbler) and otherwise, steady and consistent in getting the ball back. Fair few sliced returns, but they're well timed to 'skim' through the air rather than float and cling tight to the ground on bouncing

Some good returning from Kaf too... when he can get a racquet on the ball. Basically, he's not allowed to return well by the quality of Sampras' serve. Russian doesn't serve well though

No one seems to have told Kafelnikov that its legal to hit a ball under 100mph or to play the same shot twice in a row. He's the one to initiate the open court playing dynamics and the BH-BH diagonal exchanges

The open court stuff is intense. Both players run the other from side to side, FH cc is met by FH dtls is met by running BH cc is met by running BH dtls… and so on. Very fast paced stuff and both players are very fast in moving to the ball. My memory of Kafelnikov is that of clean striking, bossy baseliner like Andre Agassi, but this dynamic he's installed is a lot livelier than that

It ends up not favouring him. Sampras not only holds up well, but gets the better of these exchanges. Whatever the outcome, its very, very lively stuff... rare to see so many forced errors relative to unforced baseline-to-baseline

The other play Kafelnikov starts is more normal along the BH-BH diagonal, but even these aren't orthodox. For one thing, Kaf is hammering the ball BH cc... he seems to be trying to hit it as hard as he can. Near enough hard as to force errors even if Sampras doesn't have to move to the ball. He also goes FH inside-out to attack the Sampras BH

Sampras doesn't take a step back. He eschews slicing and drives BHs back near enough the same way (not as obsessed with hitting with extreme power, but powerfully). He even runs around the BH to counter-attack with powerful FH inside outs of his own. And the odd FH inside-in thrown in, along with rare BH dtl attacking shots. Again, very lively stuff

Kafelnikov plays badly in that he starts making quick UEs. a number of third ball misses and a few BH dtl winner attempts

In short, Sampras gets the better of baseline battle. He moves a bit better (Kaf's starts out great but falters as the match wears on and his frustration grows), hits at least as well (and with sounder judgment) and makes fewer routine errors.

Samp also rallies his way to net a fair amount. And proves to be highly effective there

Number of great shots and rallies. On his sole serve-volley, Kaf puts away a lovely, touch, first BH1/2V inside-out stop winner. Amidst an intense open court, running-from-side-to-side rally, Kaf unleashes a magnificent BH slice drop shot that forces an error. Makes great use of the lob as well - 2 winners, forcing Sampras back twice, forcing an OH error and giving Sampras difficult OHs

For Sampras, there's a terrific runaround FH inside-out winner off a strong Kafelnikov BH cc (running around to such a powerful shot seemed a bad idea, but he pulls it off). A FH cc return winner that seems to break the sound barrier. Some great touch shown at net. A running FH dtl winner of a very powerfully hit return (unusual in that Sampras almost always went cc with this shot, as he does most of the time in this match) and another pass of the same kind. Most interestingly, a FH inside-out lob winner... don't see many inside-out lobs. Can't recall any others off hand

Summing up, fast paced match from start to finish. Sampras is untouchable on serve for most of the match, returns surely, moves like lightning and hits crisply. Kafelnikov starts the power hitting but is beaten at that game and gives way to making loose errors. One sided match, but an enjoyable one


New User
Sampras was always just a nightmare match up for Kafelnikov. It must haunt Sampras he only had to beat Kafelnikov to win that elusive French Open and couldn't.