Match Stats/Report - Sampras vs Pioline, US Open final 1993


Hall of Fame
Pete Sampras beat Cedric Pioline 6-4 6-4 6-3 in the final of the US Open 1993 on hard court

It was Sampras second consecutive Slam, following up on Wimbledon a couple of months before, and cemented his status as the game's leading player

Sampras won 97 points, Pioline 75

Sampras serve-volleyed on all his first serves

(Note: I'm missing one point, which the broadcast stats indicate was an ace. I've included it as such and assumed it was a first serve)

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (34/70) 49%
- 1st serve points won (29/34) 85%
- 2nd serve points won (22/36) 61%
- Aces 12, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 4
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (34/70) 49%

Pioline. ...
- 1st serve percentage (50/102) 49%
- 1st serve points won (34/50) 68%
- 2nd serve points won (22/52) 42%
- Aces 6
- Double Faults 8
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (25/102) 25%

Serve Pattern
Sampras served...
- to FH 42%
- to BH 51%
- to Body 8%

Pioline served...
- to FH 37%
- to BH 57%
- to Body 6%

Return Stats
Sampras made...
- 69 (28 FH, 41 BH), including 5 runaround FHs
- 19 Errors, comprising...
- 9 Unforced (5 FH, 4 BH)
- 10 Forced (3 FH, 7 BH)
- Return Rate (69/94) 73%

Pioline made...
- 32 (10 FH, 22 BH)
- 2 Winners (1 FH, 1 BH)
- 21 Errors, comprising...
- 6 Unforced (5 FH, 1BH)
- 15 Forced (6 FH, 9 BH)
- Return Rate (32/66) 48%

Break Points
Sampras 6/11 (8 games)
Pioline 2/3 (2 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Sampras 8 (2 FH, 2 FHV, 2 BHV, 2 OH)
Pioline 14 (4 FH, 4 BH, 1 FHV, 5 BHV)

Sampras' sole pass was FH cc. His other FH was inside-out

- 2 S/V points - a 1st volley (FHV) and a 2nd volley (BHV)

- the other BHV was a stop volley

Pioline had 2 passes - both BH. One was cc, the other an inside-in return

- 2 other BHs were dtl

- of his FHs, 1 was a cc return, 2 were hit from just behind the service line (1 cc, 1 dtl) and was an inside-in from the BH corner off the court

- 1 BHV was 2nd volley off a serve-volley point

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Sampras 33
- Unforced 16 (10 FH, 4 BH, 2 FHV)
- Forced 17 (5 FH, 10 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)

Pioline 46
- Unforced 28 (12 FH, 15 BH, 1 BHV)
- Forced 18 (6 FH, 9 BH, 1 BH1/2V, 1 OH)

(Note: all half volleys refer to such strokes played at net.)

Net Points & Serve-Volley

Sampras was 32/39 (82%) at net, including 21/27 (78%) serve-volleying - 17/22 (77%) off 1st serves, 4/5 (80%) off second

He was forced back from net once but won the point

Pioline was 25/31 (81%) at net, including 12/15 (80%) serve-volleying - 11/13 (85%) off first serves, 1/2 off second

He was 1/1 when forced back from the net

Not a great match

The key is Sampras service - just about 50% unreturned serves. Looking at that, you'd think the court was very fast.

It was actually on the slow side. The backcourt rallies look like a clay court match with the two men hitting chest high backhands back and forth with no great power. Sampras is usually the one falling back from the baseline and hitting his shots from a couple feet behind in these exchanges

There's a tendency with Sampras to assume he was serving marvelously. In this match, anyway, I thought Pioline's returning was probably more bad than Sampras' serve was good

On the return, Sampras indulged in half-hearted play some of the time and seemed content to be passive. A fair strategy as Pioline bled unforced errors fairly consistently throughout the match and particularly so given Sampras' mindset of one break is enough

Pioline's second serve was harmless. Sampras stood well inside the court to take them, but still didn't really go after it. Contrast this with the 1996 final, when Sampras was all over Michael Chang's second serve like a rash

As far as shotmaking goes, Pioline hit a number of excellent winners from the back and his net play was smooth and polished. He didn't venture to the net much, but was highly effective when he did. Sampras was quite poor on the pass.... though it isn't clear how serious he was about those points

Stats can't capture Pete Sampras very well, because more than almost anyone, he doesn't play each point the same way. Agassi once commented that Sampras can play badly for half an hour than win the set in a five minute burst

That's true for this match anyway (if you don't count serving as "playing well"). He's holding serve on the strength of the serve alone. Making return errors and certainly not returning powerfully. Making errors from the backcourt. The breaks come through Pioline making errors or Sampras raising the level for a few points... and then he enters doze mode

Pioline's performance is disappointing. I remember him as a stylish player... here, he's not ugly, but I wouldn't call him stylish either. His serve is not threatening, his returning leaves something to be desired, from the baseline he's the aggressor but makes too many unforced errors. At the net, he's good

In a nutshell, Sampras blasting through on serve against a below-par returning performance, a healthy amount of who-blinks-first type rallying with neither player taking the initiative, Pioline the more aggressive but making too many errors


Return Stats
Sampras made...
- 69 (28 FH, 41 BH), including 5 runaround FHs
Pioline made...
- 32 (10 FH, 22 BH)
Sorry Wasp but there are these numbers that I can not understand.

... and Serve Stats
Sampras.... 70
Pioline. ...102
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Not many net-Winners ...
Sampras 2 FHV, 2 BHV, 2 OH
Pioline 1 FHV, 5 BHV

Not many net-Errors
Sampras 4 BH, 2 FHV + 1 FHV, 1 BHV
Pioline 1 BHV + 1 BH1/2V, 1 OH)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Sampras was 32/39 (82%) at net
Pioline was 25/31 (81%) at net
Very good at net.
Not many attempts, I expected much more from Sampras.
I do not know Pioline well.


Hall of Fame
Sorry Wasp but there are these numbers that I can not understand.

... and Serve Stats
Sampras.... 70
Pioline. ...102
Sampras made 70 serves

- 4 were double faults, leaving 66
- 34 were unreturned, leaving 32

Pioline returned those 32, as broken down in his return stats

Pioline made 102 serves

- 8 were doubles, leaving 94
- 25 were unreturned, leaving 69

Sampras returned those 69, as broken down in his return stats


Pioline ended up serving a lot more points than Sampras, indicating he struggled to hold while Sampras breezed through his service games

Service points by set -

Sampras 24, 26, 20
Pioline 30, 33, 39

Incidentally, the 3rd set was pretty poor quality, even the serving

Sampras made just 5/20 1st serves, Pioline 16/39

Off the 59 points, 19 unforced errors in play to 7 winners

Pioline serving consecutive doubles to get broken, Sampras returning the favour with 2 non-consecutive to get get broken back... match appropriately ending on another double


KG, I know you were curious about Sampras and this match is a pretty good indicator on him

Lots of cheap service points. Selective lazy returning.

On the BH, he's not strong but knows his limitations and just keeps the crosscourt rally going

On the FH, he comes alive and looks to be more aggressive - both in hammering the ball and/or coming in to net

With his fleet feet, running round the BH seems like a logical option - given the balance of strenght between his 2 wings, but he doesn't do much of it in this match and nor do I recall him doing much of it in general

We don't see much volleying because Pioline gets so few returns in play. As I recall, Sampras' volleying wasn't particularly good in '93... it improved tremendously in years to come

He was relatively poor on the pass in this match.... I have 11 attempted pass errors (excluding returns)

With Pioline's approach shots usually not being particularly damaging, I thought Sampras could have got a lot more of these in play at least