Match Stats/Report - Sampras vs Lendl, Year End Championship semi-final, 1991


Hall of Fame
Pete Sampras beat Ivan Lendl 6-2, 6-3 in the Year End Championship semi-final, 1991 on carpet in Frankfurt, Germany

Sampras would go onto beat Jim Courier in the final to win the first of 5 titles at the event - matching Lendl's record. This was Lendl's last match at the event. He had come through the round robin stages without dropping a set, while Sampras had lost 1 match

Sampras won 59 points, Lendl 45

Sampras serve-volleyed off all first serves

(Note: I'm missing serve and return data for 1 Lendl service point and I've guessed serve type for one Lendl service point)

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (40/59) 68%
- 1st serve points won (30/40) 75%
- 2nd serve points won (8/19) 42%
- Aces 7 (1 second serve), Service Winners 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (23/59) 39%

- 1st serve percentage (22/48) 46%
- 1st serve points won (16/22) 73%
- 2nd serve points won (8/26) 31%
- Unknown serve point (0/1)
- Aces 7
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (11/49) 22%

Serve Patterns
Sampras served...
- to FH 34%
- to BH 61%
- to Body 5%

Lendl served...
- to FH 29%
- to BH 63%
- to Body 8%

Return Stats
Sampras made...
- 38 (9 FH, 28 BH, 1 ??), including 2 runaround FHs & 2 return-approaches
- 2 Winners (2 BH)
- 4 Errors, comprising...
- 1 Unforced (1 BH)
- 3 Forced (3 FH)
- Return Rate (38/49) 78%

Lendl made...
- 36 (9 FH, 27 BH)
- 1 Winner (1 FH)
- 14 Errors, comprising...
- 2 Unforced (1 FH, 1 BH)
- 12 Forced (7 FH, 5 BH)
- Return Rate (36/59) 61%

Break Points
Sampras 4/7 (4 games)
Lendl 1/2 (2 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Sampras 18 (5 FH, 2 BH, 5 FHV, 3 BHV, 2 OH)
Lendl 14 (8 FH, 4 BH, 2 FHV)

Sampras had 6 from serve-volley points -
- 5 first 'volleys' (1 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 FH at net)
- 1 second volley (1 OH)

- FHs -2 cc (1 pass), 1 inside-in and 1 running-down-drop-shot cc at net
- BHs (both returns) - 1 dtl and 1 inside-in

Lendl's FHs - 3 cc (1 return pass), 2 dtl passes, 1 inside-out, 1 lob and 1 longline/cc
- BHs - 3 cc (2 passes - 1 of which Sampras seems to leave) and 1 dtl pass

- 1 FHV was the first volley of a serve-volley point

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Sampras 20
- 12 Unforced (3 FH, 7 BH, 2 BHV)
- 8 Forced (4 BH, 1 BHV, 3 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 50

Lendl 22
- 8 Unforced (3 FH, 5 BH)
- 14 Forced (5 FH, 9 BH)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.5

(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...
- 36/51 (71%) at net, including...
- 23/35 (66%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 22/32 (69%) off 1st serve and..
- 1/3 (33%) off 2nd serve
- 2/2 return-approaching

Lendl was...
- 4/6 (67%) at net, including...
- 1/1 serve-volleying, a 1st serve

Match Report
Great showing from Sampras, especially in his net instincts, on a very fast court

Serve & Return
Sampras doesn't serves smart but not particularly strongly. The court is so fast that it isn't necessary to try to bang down aces all the time; decent first serves (let alone Sampras' 'decent' ones) are good enough. Sampras seems to hold back on first serves to get a higher percentage in - and with confidence that his serve-volleying can deal with Lendl's returns

It works. 67% first serves in and 73% first serve points won. But note the relatively low 35% unreturned serves. On this court, he was well capable of hitting 50% on that front, but he doesn't seem to be trying for that kind of result. Strong second serves too - a couple of which draw forced errors

Lendl returns reasonably. Missed returns are inevitable against serve-volleying and 65% return rate isn't bad - though it could have been better. All 3 Sampras BH1/2V errors come from Lendl's returns and he hits a winner pass. Given how Sampras served, Lendl was capable of better, but he does well enough. Return isn't the reason he lost

Lendl dishes out a low percentage of 46%. He doesn't hold back on the first serve - and falls into the trap Sampras avoided by doing so. Lower percentage - when decent first serves would likely have been good enough. Note Lendl serving 7 aces from 22 first serves, to Sampras' 6 in 37

Sampras returns superbly though - and its not clear that for Lendl, 'decent' first serves would have been good enough (though I don't think he would have known that going into match). Lendl operates as he was wont to do against players he seemed to feel couldn't attack his second serves... but Sampras does. Lendl wins just 31% second serve points

Sampras frequently takes the second return from inside the court - the serves were powerful enough that this was not easy. Rarely misses (just the 1 UE), often thumps the return to take charge of point of at least, neutralize Lendl's potential advantage. And throws in a couple of chip-charges for good measure. He's quite sure and steady in returning big first serves too

Hands down, Sampras wins serve-return complex match-up - both parts of it

Play - Baseline & Net
Sampras serve-volleys off all first serves. Mostly drawing return errors but when he needs to volley, does so effectively. Doesn't face many difficult low ones, but also not many (possibly 0) easy putaways either. Typically, he gets balls above the net - and he deals with them decisively. What isn't putaway for a winner is sent to Lendl's BH. Only when court is open does he volley to the FH... usually making Ivan run to get the ball. Clinical volleying from Sampras

Most of the action starts baseline to baseline - and its Sampras' net instincts and superior speed that prove the difference.

Both hit hard and heavy with the FH, both mostly hold back on BHs. Sampras goes for a bit more on BHs, Lendl occasionally gets stuck into 1, but mostly neutral shots off BH, strong ones off FH... its the kind of court where anything slightly hard hit or placed wide is likely to end the point

An illustration of the surfaces speed is Lendl whacking a FH winner from a neutral position with both players in central positions. His shot is barely angled - more like a longline than a cc - and finishes just 2-3 feet wide of Sampras, but goes through for a winner. Nor was Sampras half-assing his defensive efforts in the match

Lendl's never been one to take balls early and tends to rally from well behind the baseline. Sampras capitilizes by darting to net whenever he gains advantage from the back. Who gains the advantage from the back is about 50-50... but Sampras is quicker and can keep rallies going by slicing when on back foot. When Lendl falls behind though... Sampras takes net in a flash... and volleys much the same way as when serve-volleying. He wins 11/14 points where he rallied his way to net

Late in the match, Lendl takes to 'delayed' serve-volleying. Its already too late by then, and he looks awkward doing it. Still, wins 4/4 points at net at tail end of match. Coming in just wasn't part of his plan and Sampras forces him to make passes... which he isn't able to. Credit here to Sampras' approach shots and volleying, no discredit to Lendl's passing - which is about as good as its allowed to be

Match Progression
Lendl's broken to love in game 4. 3 winners from Sampras and 3 approaches - a return-approach. Sampras breaks again to seal the set - a particularly good FH inside-in winner standing out. Lendl took Sampras to deuce twice in set, but his only break point was service winner'd away

Lendl, the wise, when frustrated to the point of feeling the need to belt a ball, does so straight upward. Frustration released, and no chance of a code violation (or hitting a spectator or official)

Sampras opens up a 5-0 lead in the second set - winning return points by taking net in combo with heavy hitting from the back. With the match effectively over, Lendl pinches a break back in a strong game - he wins points via BH cc winner, a strong return sets up weak baseline shot that he can overpower to come to net and finish with FHV and a needle-threading FH dtl pass.

Sampras serves out match next game. Penultimate point is a Lendl BH dtl pass winner, but he misses a second serve return to end the match

Summing up, top performance from Sampras. Serving smartly and well, volleying decisively, returning very surely and most of all, strong of the ground (especially with FH) and combining with dashes to net. Lendl serves low percentage, is slower of foot, has little interest in taking net and can't cope with Sampras being there

This and the final versus Jim Courier, is some of the best, all court tennis I've seen from Pete Sampras

Stats for the final between Sampras and Courier -
Stats for the pair's 1990 US Open match -
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