Becker d. Agassi 6-7 (4), 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-4 (58 games) Becker had 27 aces and 10 doubles. Agassi had 8 aces and 6 doubles. His ace count might be higher since at least one point is missing from his last service game on my DVD. Becker had 63 winners: 26 forehands, 9 backhands, 11 forehand volleys, 13 backhand volleys, and 4 smashes. Agassi had 62 winners: 26 forehands, 26 backhands, 1 forehand volley, 6 backhand volleys, and 3 smashes. Becker’s winners by set: 10, 16, 19, 9, 9 Agassi’s winners by set: 14, 13, 20, 6, 9 The third set was played at a torrid pace: 39 winners between them. I can’t think of another set I’ve seen with so many winners. Among matches in which I've counted the winners, two other tiebreak sets come to 38: the second set of the 1981 Wimbledon final (McEnroe and Borg) and the third set of the 1987 U.S. Open final (Lendl and Wilander). The fourth set was a letdown, and the fifth set (played the next day) was essentially the same. Agassi’s count of 52 ground stroke winners falls one short of Lendl’s in the 1988 U.S. Open final, which was 7 games shorter (though a much longer match). Agassi’s total count falls just short of the 64 he hit against Wilander the year before at Roland Garros – but that match was on red clay and 10 games shorter. And in that match Agassi just barely got more than half of his winners from smashes/volleys, whereas in this match he has did almost all of his damage from the baseline. In Paris, Agassi was the first to charge the net; here, Becker was first to charge. Yet Becker did not get most of his winners that way. I am mildly surprised to see Becker, even as far back as 1989, and on indoor carpet, getting more winners from ground strokes than from smashes/volleys: 35 to 28. I had expected Agassi’s forehand to be the most productive (read: destructive) stroke, but both players had 26 forehand winners. In fact Agassi also had 26 backhand winners, so the only thing keeping the two contestants from being equally matched in this stat is Becker’s backhand, which produced merely 9 winners. Becker had 9 service return winners (7 off the forehand). All but one was a return of a second serve. So altogether, Agassi’s second serve was pummeled 8 times, all but once by Becker’s forehand. Agassi had 11 service return winners (5 forehands and 6 backhands). All but 3 were returns of second serves. So altogether, Becker’s second serve was pummeled 8 times, equally by Agassi’s two wings. Becker had 2 passing shots. Agassi had 22 passing shots: 9 forehands and 13 backhands. This is an impressive number, but one fewer than Pernfors hit in his match with Cash, which was 12 games shorter. Becker had 1 lob winner. Agassi had three lob winners. I did not count them, but this match was full of baseline-to-baseline winners. Other observations: Sports Illustrated put this match right up there with Borg-McEnroe and Rosewall-Laver. Having watched it now for the first time since 1989, I think that Becker played better at the 1988 Masters against Lendl. Here, for example, he played a lazy game to let Agassi hold to 3-5 in the third, no doubt because he thought the third set was in the bag; he was promptly broken, and nearly lost in straight sets. There were a lot of breaks, especially for a great match: 4 in each set except the fifth, which had 5 breaks. Becker was broken 9 times, Agassi 12 times, so 21 breaks in all. This match was 58 games long. In their 45 games at Wimbledon in 1992, there were 9 breaks. In their 42 games at Wimbledon in 1995, there were 7 breaks. Twenty-one seems particularly high when compared to the Sampras-Becker classic of 1996, which had the same number of games but only two breaks (I will be tackling that match next). However, what Sampras and Becker did was extraordinary. And to be fair, Becker was not going to break the serve of Sampras nearly as easily as he broke the 1989 serve of Agassi; and Agassi had a much better return of serve and overall defense than Sampras. Becker and Lendl produced 10 breaks of serve over 55 games in their 1988 Masters final. That may be a better analogy. That match is only 7 months removed from the Davis Cup match; and Lendl’s game resembles Agassi’s more so than Sampras’ game does. Becker was 21, Agassi 19. The win put Becker up 2-0 in his rivalry with Agassi. I don't know the ultimate source for this story, but I read on this board that Agassi revealed recently that he could read the direction of Becker’s serve by watching Boris curl his tongue into the corners of his mouth. I did not attempt to see whether he was already doing that here. And anyway it was only their second match against each other. But maybe someone else knows more about this story? I did observe Becker’s service motion, to see if it had changed from what it had been in 1985; it already had. Let me explain. For those of you that have a copy of the NBC telecast of their 1995 Wimbledon semi, look at 6-2, 1-all. NBC has a split-screen showing Becker’s serve in 1985 and 1995, in slow motion. McEnroe said that he liked the 1985 motion better because it was quicker, and that Becker got “a little bit more pace into it.” He said that time had taken a toll on Becker’s body and that he was no longer as quick getting in behind his serve or “hitting it as hard consistently.” The big difference is that in 1985, Becker’s racquet was in constant motion before he hit the ball. In 1995 he was holding the racquet for a moment in the upright position before swinging it at the ball. And that's how he's hitting it in 1989: the racquet held for a slight pause in the upright position. I don't know when or why he changed it, anyone know?