Tri Match Stats/Reports - Becker vs Sampras, Stockholm semi-finals, 1990, 1994 & quarter-final, 1991


Hall of Fame
Boris Becker beat Pete Sampras 6-4, 6-4 in the Stockholm Indoor semi-final, 1990 on carpet

Becker would go on to beat Stefan Edberg in the final. Sampras had recently won his first Slam at the US Open. It was the pairs first match

Becker won 62 points, Sampras 53

Becker serve-volleyed off all but 6 first serves, Sampras all. Both players serve-volleyed occasionally off seconds

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (34/55) 62%
- 1st serve points won (30/34) 88%
- 2nd serve points won (11/21) 52%
- Aces 8
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (26/55) 47%

- 1st serve percentage (34/60) 57%
- 1st serve points won (24/34) 71%
- 2nd serve points won (15/26) 58%
- Aces 5 (1 not clean)
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (17/60) 28%

Serve Pattern
Becker served...
- to FH 36%
- to BH 49%
- to Body 15%

Sampras served...
- to FH 40%
- to BH 36%
- to Body 22%

Return Stats
Becker made...
- 40 (22 FH, 18 BH), including 2 runaround FHs & 2 return-approaches
- 12 Errors, comprising...
- 2 Unforced (1 FH, 1 BH)
- 10 Forced (5 FH, 5 BH)
- Return Rate (40/57) 70%

Sampras made...
- 29 (14 FH, 15 BH), including 1 runaround FH & 4 return-approaches
- 1 Winner (1 FH)
- 18 Errors, comprising...
- 1 Unforced (1 FH)
- 17 Forced (5 FH, 12 BH)
- Return Rate (29/55) 53%

Break Points
Becker 2/3 (2 games)
Sampras 0/2 (1 game)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Becker 10 (4 FH, 3 BH, 2 BHV, 1 OH)
Sampras 16 (3 FH, 4 BH, 4 FHV, 3 BHV, 2 OH)

Becker had 3 from serve-volley points - 1 first volley (1 BHV) and 2 second volleys (1 BHV, 1 OH)

- FHs - 3 dtl passes and 1 dtl played as Sampras was retreating from net
- BHs (all passes) - 1 cc (a net chord pop over, without which Sampras had the ball covered), 1 dtl and 1 inside-out/dtl

Sampras had 7 from serve-volley points -
- 4 first 'volleys' (1 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH, 1 BH at net)… the FHV was a net chord dribbler
- 3 second volleys (1 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH)

- 2 from return-approach points (1 FHV, 1 BHV)

- FHs - 1 cc return, 1 inside-out (a net chord pop over, without which Becker had the ball covered) and 1 inside-in
- BHs - 2 dtl passes and 1 at net

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Becker 20
- 8 Unforced (2 FH, 5 BH, 1 FHV)
- 12 Forced (4 FH, 7 BH, 1 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 50

Sampras 23
- 13 Unforced (3 FH, 4 BH, 2 FHV, 3 BHV, 1 OH)
- 10 Forced (1 FH, 7 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 52.3

(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
Becker was...
- 22/28 (79%) at net, including...
- 21/26 (81%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 17/20 (85%) off 1st serve and...
- 4/6 (67%) off 2nd serve
- 1/2 return-approaching

Sampras was...
- 31/48 (65%) at net, including...
- 23/36 (64%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 19/29 (66%) off 1st serve and...
- 4/7 (57%) off 2nd serve
- 3/4 (75%) return-approaching
- 0/1 forced back/retreated

Match Report
Two big servers on a normal carpet court (meaning fast), mostly serve-volleying make for a match long level of percentage tennis. In other words, who wins how many points... doesn't matter unless its to the degree that breaks are threatened. It rarely gets that far

Becker converts 2/3 in 2 games - 1 per set. Sampras' two chances come in a game in the first set, and he can't convert. Game, set, match Becker

Boris stays back on odd first serve points (a total of 6 times), while Sampras serve-volleys behind all his first serves. Both players come in occasionally as a change up off their second serves

In the first set has easy holds til game 5. A strong BH inside-out return draws a weak reply from an at net Sampras and he's heading back to the baseline as Becker dispatches the winner FH dtl. Next point, Sampras misses an OH (later in the match, he'd fail to put away another and go on to lose that point also). Nonetheless, Sampras has game point but makes a BHV UE. Couple points later, he double faults on break point

As Becker serves for the set, Sampras has 2 break points and 15-40. Those are erased by serve-volley plays (and an ace). Set point is the volley of the match... Becker coming in behind a second serve, putting away a low, powerful return BHV inside-out for the winner

Few other good points. On 1, Becker deliberately softly chips a BH at an incoming Sampras, and Pete misses the BH1/2V. Becker wins 13/15 first serve points in the set, Sampras 11/14

Second set, Becker is the better player. He starts serving more aggressively (in first set, he'd served a lot to the body) and hitting more aces. Pete isn't bothered much on serve either, but he's largely playing the same as in first set. Sampras is taken to deuce in game 8, when he oddly misses 2 BHs at net off serve-volley points in 3 points. He survives that game, but its the same shot that costs him the set on his next service game

As would tend to happen in matches between the two indoors, breaks rarely come purely from servers bad play or returners good, but a combo of the two (with the normal pattern being server so good that returner has no chance). In the decisive break here, Becker hits a superb FH dtl pass winner and charges the net after making a strong FH dtl return to force a passing error. Sampras for his part, misses a FHV winner he tried to be too cute in angling acutely and on break point, misses a standard first BHV

The critical point is the one before that. Sampras again struggles with a third ball BH at net while serve-volleying and his shot hits the net chord, which slows it down to leave Becker time to line up the pass. And Boris is up to pulling the trigger

For good measure, Becker misses a BH at net too, when serving for the match. That and a lucky net chord pop over passing winner brings Pete to 30-30, but Becker powers through the next two points to seal the match

Serve & Return
Big serving from both, but I thought Becker served within himself. First set in particular, He's not going all out on power

Both players serve a lot of body serves - Becker particularly in the first set, Sampras throughout. This is not uncommon for Boris (he has days when he's going for aces and he has days when he's serving body-ishly), but I don't recall seeing Sampras go this heavy with the body serve. A full 22% of his serves are directed to the body - and decent chunk more that are close enough to it (likely, intended body serves that went a little to one side)

Becker even serves an ace with a body serve(!)… Sampras fully focused on getting out the way and not at all looking to return the ball. In second set, Becker lets loose with a bunch of aces (7/8 of his aces come there), but even then, continues throwing odd ones straight at Pete

Clearly, Becker has the better of the complex. 47% unreturned serves to Pete's 28%.... possibly the largest gap in any match between the two

Much of that is down to the return. Sampras just doesn't have a handle on Becker's delivery. Its a great serve of course, but a good returner wouldn't be quite as trussed up by it as Pete gets.

That and Pete's own odd choice of serving. 40% to FH and 36% BH is a strange distribution. Against Becker, obviously, but even if Sampras didn't know Becker's game (which seems unlikely), presumably he'd fall back on default serving pattern (and majority to FH is not it)

Some good aggressive return-approaching by Pete (he dropped the tactic completely against Becker within a couple of years)

Note 0 double faults from Boris

Becker returns Pete reasonably well. Not much authority in the balls he gets back, but he gets a lot back. 28% unreturned serves is low for Pete

One gets the sense from this (and play too), Pete was still in the process of finding his game

Net Play and Passing
Can't really give Becker a grade on this (thus, also Sampras' passing). Its mostly unreturned serves. He does hit an excellent low BHV winner but that's about it and misses a very easy high FHV (without which, he'd have won 90% first serve points)
0 approaches from rallies for Boris - its all serve-volley or return approach

With serve doing so much of the work, Boris has the luxury of taking things easy from the baseline also. 3 routine groundstroke errors and a couple of wild ones... it doesn't matter in the scheme of the match. Pete is less careless, but baseline play isn't a big factor in the match

Pete by contrast has 8 forecourt UEs (including 2 BHs at net), which is not a good figure for just 48 approaches (a large chunk of which ended in return errors). Just odd, random misses - the ones he makes, he makes well - either putting them away or leaving Becker with running passes

On the pass, Becker makes a couple good ones. He tests Sampras' net instincts with some soft ones too (possibly not deliberately)… and Sampras forecourt positioning is a bit off. Pete's serve being so strong makes getting his forecourt position down pat that much harder (some balls better to stay slightly back to, some to full charge at). Here, he still seems to be in learning phase

Summing up, quick fast match with Becker's serve proving too much for the new US Open champion. And Boris seemingly just knowing what he needs to do to win more

Stats for the final between Becker and Edberg - a performance for the ages from Becker -


Hall of Fame
In 1991, Becker beat Sampras 7-5, 7-5 in the quarter-final, on carpet

Becker would go on to beat Stefan Edberg in the final again

Becker won 78 points, Sampras 71

Becker serve-volleyed off all first serves, Sampras the majority. Becker serve-volleyed about half the time off second serves, Sampras never

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (47/77) 61%
- 1st serve points won (33/47) 70%
- 2nd serve points won (17/30) 57%
- Aces 15
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (32/77) 42%

- 1st serve percentage (44/72) 61%
- 1st serve points won (29/44) 66%
- 2nd serve points won (15/28) 54%
- Aces 8, Service Winners 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (26/72) 36%

Serve Pattern
Becker served...
- to FH 31%
- to BH 56%
- to Body 13%

Sampras served...
- to FH 33%
- to BH 56%
- to Body 11%

Return Stats
Becker made...
- 46 (18 FH, 28 BH), including 7 return-approaches
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 17 Errors, comprising...
- 5 Unforced (2 FH, 3 BH)
- 12 Forced (3 FH, 9 BH)
- Return Rate (46/72) 64%

Sampras made...
- 43 (14 FH, 29 BH), including 1 return-approach
- 7 Winners (4 FH, 3 BH)
- 17 Errors, comprising...
- 4 Unforced (2 FH, 2 BH)
- 13 Forced (3 FH, 10 BH)
- Return Rate (43/75) 57%

Break Points
Becker 4/9 (6 games)
Sampras 2/4 (3 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Becker 13 (2 FH, 5 BH, 4 FHV, 2 BHV)
Sampras 21 (6 FH, 7 BH, 4 FHV, 3 BHV, 1 OH)

Becker had 5 from serve-volley points -
- 2 first 'volleys' (1 BHV, 1 BH drop shot at net)
- 3 second volleys (2 FHV, 1 BHV)

- 1 other FHV was from a return-approach point

Sampras had 6 from serve-volley points -
- 3 first volleys (2 FHV, 1 OH)… the OH being a 'dunk'
- 3 second volleys (1 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH)… the OH was not smashed

- 2 other BHVs were drops

- FHs - 1 cc and 1 inside-out pass
- BHs - 1 dtl pass, 1 inside-out return pass and 1 net chord dribbler

- 7 returns (4 FH, 3 BH), all passes -
- FHs - 2 cc and 2 inside-in
- BHs - 1 dtl, 1 inside-out and 1 inside-in

- other FHs - 1 cc pass and 1 dtl pass
- other BHs - 1 dtl, 1 inside-out/dtl and 2 lobs

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Becker 22
- 12 Unforced (5 FH, 3 BH, 3 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 10 Forced (5 FH, 3 BH, 2 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 48.3

Sampras 33
- 9 Unforced (6 FH, 1 BH, 1 FHV, 1 OH)
- 24 Forced (5 FH, 16 BH, 1 FHV, 2 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 50

(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
Becker was...
- 35/55 (64%) at net, including...
- 26/44 (59%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 18/32 (56%) off 1st serve and...
- 8/12 (67%) off 2nd serve
- 5/7 (71%) return-approaching
- 0/2 forced back

Sampras was...
- 21/31 (67%) at net, including...
- 15/23 (65%) serve-volleying, all 1st serves
- 1/1 return-approaching

Match Report
Serve-volleying spirit is the deciding factor in this one, with Sampras showing little of it

To be a great serve-volleyer, one accepts that occasional passes and returns go for winners - it comes with the territory of the style - and serve-volleys anyway. Both players show the skills of serve-volleying (Sampras more, if anything), but Becker has the spirit down pat. Sampras the opposite

For starters, Becker serve-volleys 12 times of second serves out of 28 or 43% of the time. Sampras 0
Becker serve-volleys 100% of the time of first serves. Sampras, just 23/35 or 66%

Stranger is that Sampras leads on first serve serve-volley points won 65% to 56%
Stranger still is when staying back off first serves, Sampras win 5/12 at 42%

65% serve volleying, 42% not. Why isn't he serve-volleying more?

Because Becker's sole return winner seems to have scared him off (Sampras hit 7 - didn't deter Boris). First set, Sampras had stayed back twice in his opening service game but after that, serve-volleyed off all first serves (mostly drawing return errors - that is, when he wasn't serving aces (all 8 of his aces and the sole service winner came in the set). Becker hits 1 BH inside-out return winner to make the score 30-15... and Sampras stays back a few points later down break point. Becker hits a strong return that lands near the baseline and Sampras can only block it into the net... there's the break and the set

(Becker also boldly return-approaches to win two points, so its not all down to Sampras' decision making)

And second set, he stays back regularly

First set is serve-dominated, but less so than the pairs norm. Sampras saves 3 break points in the opening game. There are no more til the break comes, but Becker is pushed to deuce 3 times (including as he serves out the set)

In second set, after exchanging holds, their are 4 breaks in a row (probably unique in the match up. Certainly on carpet). Becker breaks first courtesy of Sampras staying back on first serves and playing reckless groundstrokes. He misses two attacking third ball groundies - the first ambitious, the second on break point, wild. The latter point features a very strong first serve that Becker just tips back over... would have been an easy volley if Sampras had been up at net

Sampras breaks back sensationally, reeling off 4 winners in a row, 3 of them return passes. Then Becker breaks again, mostly due to strong baseline play. And Sampras returns the favour, with Becker playing poorly off the ground and at net to leave the set even at 3-3. Both players have break points in their next return games too, but can't convert

The key point in the decisive break is Sampras missing an OH. Otherwise, Becker plays a strong game in that one (helped by Sampras staying back and missing a routine 3rd ball FH longline)


Hall of Fame
Serve & Return
There's a lot of body serves. In second set in particular, Sampras directs most of his second serves to the body. Its not a very good second serve... Becker comfortably moves aside to hit strong FH returns, without even having to move sufficiently for it to be labelled a runaround shot. In first set, Sampras serve is highly effective. In second, it falls off as he stays back and hits more body-ish serves rather than go for lines

I would primarily discredit Sampras' serving (and tactics) for Becker returning relatively comfortably. Becker returns decently, no more (given its no mean feat to return Sampras' first serve in the first place)

Credit Becker for the adventurous return-approaches. These aren't chip-charges. They're returns placed away from Pete that Becker sneaks in on. Pete's poor on the pass too to finish that job - more on that later

Becker serves strongly, normal for him. 15 aces, 42% unreturned serves... the usual stuff. Not much in it between first serves, but Becker clearly has the stronger second

Sampras returns fantastically, especially off the FH. Note the 7 winners. Of the FH, he hits 4 winners off just 14 successful returns. Credit Boris for not getting scared away from coming in against this barrage - unlike Sampras, I wouldn't have blamed him if he had

Nonetheless, other than his winners, Sampras isn't particularly strong. Becker rarely has to face a difficult first volley, mostly just routine ones - and of course, that's when the ball comes back at all. Sampras' winners are more about placement than power

Net Play & Passing
Becker obviously more committed to net play, but on the volley itself, I thought Sampras probably had the edge. Neither volley particularly well, nor badly... Sampras' ineffective passing makes up the slack

Just a few not easy volleys for Becker to make. The bulk are routine and he's able to find Sampras' BH on them. Note Sampras with 16 BH FEs to just 5 on the FH... the bulk of these would be passing shots. And note Sampras with just 2 passing winners in play (both lobs). Becker's volleys aren't particularly well punched through or placed in a corner. Mostly, they're just over enough to the BH, Sampras doesn't have to move much to get to them. But he keeps netting them and badly, half way up the net

The rare times Sampras can get a pass over the net, Becker's left with an easy putaway. There's no such thing as an easy pass, but just numbers wise, you'd expect Sampras to force more volleying errors (just 2) or hit a few winners on the pass. Some discredit to Sampras' passing, more than credit to Becker's volleying which is adquate

On the flip side, Sampras places his volleys better and doesn't target either side. Becker has harder passes to make... he doesn't make many, but better than Sampras. Lovely point from Sampras, lob FHV'ng a return-approaching Becker. His sole dunk smash seems to scare Becker a bit, as the German hits the ground to avoid any chance of being hit by the shot. Sampras tries not to smile too much afterwards, but his pleasure/amusement is apparent

The biggest difference in net play is the attitude of the two to coming in. Becker return-approaches 7 times, Sampras just once. In rallies, Becker comes in 4 times (winning all), Sampras just 3 more. Even not serve-volleying, Sampras could have looked for third ball approaches, seeing he was still drawing not strong returns with the first serve, but he doesn't. Does that mean he fancied himself taking Becker from the baseline?

From the back, the action is poor quality. Which is strangely normal for this match up. Short rallies, routine errors, bad errors (missing by long way), attacking shots gone awry... both players partake. At critical times, its probably Becker who steps up. One of his breaks feature a pair of Sampras FH FEs, the forcing shots in question being FH cc and BH dtl. A strong FH cc winner from a regulation position is the groundstroke of the match

Ultimately, little in it between the two. Focus of match as always remains on unreturned serves. You'd have to say Becker was the better hitter from the back given Sampras could only win 5/12 first serve points he stayed back on, where his serve gave a sizable positional advantage

Summing up, Sampras' timid, net shy tactics the keystone of the result, along with the usual strong power serving and insurance policy net play of Becker

Stats for the final between Becker and Edberg -


Hall of Fame
In 1994, Becker beat Sampras 6-4, 6-4 in the semi-final, on carpet

Becker would go on to beat Goran Ivanisevic in the final for his 4th and last title at the event. In winning, he beat the 3 top ranked players in the world (#3 Michael Stich in the quarters, #2 Ivanisevic and #1 Sampras)

Becker won 71 points, Sampras 57

Both players serve-volleyed off all first serves. Becker serve-volleyed off all but two first second serves, Sampras exactly half

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (38/67) 57%
- 1st serve points won (30/38) 79%
- 2nd serve points won (13/29) 45%
- Aces 14 (2 second serves), Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 8
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (33/67) 49%

- 1st serve percentage (35/61) 57%
- 1st serve points won (20/35) 57%
- 2nd serve points won (13/26) 50%
- Aces 5, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 4
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (16/61) 26%

Serve Pattern
Becker served...
- to FH 51%
- to BH 44%
- to Body 5%

Sampras served...
- to FH 39%
- to BH 60%
- to Body 2%

Return Stats
Becker made...
- 41 (18 FH, 23 BH), including 1 return-approach
- 2 Winners (2 BH)
- 10 Errors, all forced...
- 10 Forced (1 FH, 9 BH)
- Return Rate (41/57) 72%

Sampras made...
- 26 (13 FH, 13 BH)
- 8 Winners (5 FH, 3 BH)
- 18 Errors, comprising...
- 18 Forced (7 FH, 11 BH)
- Return Rate (26/59) 44%

Break Points
Becker 4/7 (5 games)
Sampras 2/5 (3 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Becker 21 (4 FH, 10 BH, 1 FHV, 3 BHV, 3 OH)
Sampras 22 (9 FH, 5 BH, 6 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 OH)

Becker had 7 from serve-volley points -
- 3 first volleys (2 BHV, 1 OH)
- 4 second volleys (1 FHV, 1 BHV, 2 OH)

- FHs - 2 cc passes, 1 dtl pass and 1 inside-out
- BHs (all passes) - 4 cc (1 Sampras left for no apparent reason), 2 inside-out, 2 inside-in returns and 2 dtl/inside-out

Sampras had 7 from serve-volley points -
- 3 first volleys (3 FHV)
- 4 second volleys (3 FHV, 1 BHV)… all but 1 FHV were drops

- 8 returns (5 FH, 3 BH), all passes -
- FHs - 3 cc and 2 inside-in
- BHs - 2 dtl and 1 inside-in

- FHs - 2 dtl (1 pass) and 2 inside-out (1 pass)
- BHs - 2 dtl passes

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Becker 11
- 5 Unforced (1 BH, 2 FHV, 2 BHV)
- 6 Forced (2 FH, 3 BH, 1 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 52

Sampras 13
- 7 Unforced (1 FH, 1 BH, 5 FHV, 1 BHV)
- 6 Forced (4 BH, 1 FH1/2V, 1 BHV)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 55.7

(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
Becker was...
- 27/44 (61%) at net, including...
- 26/42 (62%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 17/25 (68%) off 1st serve and...
- 9/17 (53%) off 2nd serve
- 0/1 return-approaching

Sampras was...
- 22/42 (52%) at net, including...
- 20/40 (50%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 14/29 (48%) off 1st serve and...
- 6/11 (55%) off 2nd serve

Match Report
Sampras puts on probably the worst display of dealing with easy volleys I've seen

4 years on, Pete is all grown up and serve-volleying off all first serves. He's even put together a sinister looking thin goatee. The years have not been wasted on Becker either though, who's sporting a more rugged full beard, giving him a philosopher look. Or a caveman

If he has been philosophising, he seems to have reached the conclusion that volleying is for suckers (and Sampras' showing doesn't exactly dispel the idea). All you need is serve (maybe it is a caveman he resembles more)

In a nutshell, Becker serves line licking bombs - first and second serves - and serve-volleys behind all but all of it. He only stays back on two strong second serves to the body. Both force return errors anyway. 14 aces, 8 doubles and 49% unreturned serves. Sampras serve-volleys of all first serves and half the seconds. He draws weak returns. In first set, he pushes easy volleys back to Becker as though the aim is to give Boris passing practice. In the second, he decides he's being too hard on the German and instead pushes those same easy volleys out the court.

Jokes aside, that's exactly what happens... it even occurred to me Sampras might be losing on purpose. That's how badly he hits high, easy, chest high and slow to normal paced balls. All match. Another day or another player... these balls would be whisked away for first volley winners like clockwork or at the very least, put in a corner

Strangely enough, Pete does all right with the not easy volleys. Gets them in play, placing them reasonably. There's one exception, when he weirdly lets a Becker pass go. As he gets ready to play the volley slightly above net height... he just pulls his racquet aside and jerks his body away. No question of his thinking the ball might go long

First Set
Is a war between the Becker serve and Sampras return. Becker serves 10 aces (1 second serve) and 3 double faults. Sampras strikes 8 return winners - out of only 17 returns made(!) - 5/7 FHs and 3/8 BHs. Death or glory stuff from both. Like 4 years ago, when not hitting winners, the Sampras return isn't particularly effective... but given the force of the opposition, Sampras returns fantastically on the whole. He pushes Becker to deuce in game 3 (2 aces, 2 double faults, 2 unreturned serve and a return winner) and breaks next chance (4 return winners, 2 aces, a double fault and Sampras passing error)

First sign of all not being well in Pete-land is next game when Becker breaks back. He hits a routine first FH at net near Becker and the rejoinder is an a floater that he can put anywhere. He hits it hard but again, near Boris who misses the pass. Just a bit odd. After double faulting, Pete puts a putaway volley with an open court down middle of court, and Becker hits an excellent BH inside-out pass. And breaks with a FH dtl pass winner

Becker survives 3 break points next game, with 6/14 unreturned serves and strong Sampras returns (3 winners) and passes (1 winner, 1 1/2 volley error forced). Boris wraps up with back to back OH winners - the first needing a capable first 1/2volley to set up

Sampras is broken to lose the set. 2 crap volleys to begging-to-be-putaways allows Becker chance to make passing winners. Break point though is all Becker... a stunning, running BH dtl/inside-out pass

Second Set
Not as good. Becker double faults 5 times (to 4 aces), including on consecutive points twice. No return winners from Sampras. Still enough big serving to see him through, though he's broken once in a game where he misses a couple of regulation first volleys as well as double faults

Sampras takes the easy volleying down another notch - and just misses them instead of plonking them middle of court. He's broken first on back of 2 FHV misses (1 putaway, 1 easy). Ironically, he this a low FHV winner though

He's broken to 30 to end the match. Becker brings up match point when Sampras pushes what was almost an OH straight back at him, and he slaps away a BH cc pass. That match point is aced away but the next is an appropriate way for the match to end. Pete pushes a routine first BH at net to Boris, who hooks it FH cc for the winner

Serve & Return
Big serving from Boris throughout and line lickers to boot. He's in full scale looking-to-bang-down-aces mode. 57% first serves is high considering this. Most - possibly all - his second serves were strong enough to force errors even if he hadn't been serve-volleying. The 2 he stays back on do

Note unusual 51% serving to FH (up from 36% the previous two matches). And he got burnt in first set for it, with Sampras whacking 5/9 he made for winners. He perseveres with it in second set, Sampras doesn't return as strongly and it all works out. But wonder what thinking behind it was

Sampras' serve is cautious compared to Becker's. It would be difficult not to be. He has just 1 ace in first set. Still, he serves well too, that isn't the problem

Good job with the return by Becker. No mean feat having a 72% return rate on this fast court against Pete and he returns some second serves quite powerfully

Net Play, Passing & Baseline
Decent from Becker up front. Serve does most of the work. Misses 4 comfortable volleys, 2 of each side and most volleys he finishes are easy. Strong, no nonsense smashing
Sampras' passing in play is up from previous encounter and returning great for a set

Sampras is ok on everything but easy volleys, on which he's mindboggling bad. I can't explain it... looking to avoid Becker's FH doesn't cover it since he goofs on volleys to open BH court
Still, passing shots are never easy.. some credit to Becker for dispatching the ones Sampras left him the chance to

Not much baseline play, with just about 1/2 of Sampras' second serve points making up the lot. And its a step up from the pairs norm. Still short rallies, but no loose errors and strong, point ending winners from both players. Sampras approaches a couple of time too

Summing up, all in with the serve from Boris and he keeps at it despite being met with heavy return fire. Credit for sticking to his guns - compare to Pete getting scared away by a single return winner in '91. Credit also for getting lots of balls back on return and hitting passes, which are never easy. Still, the main story is Sampras being horrible at dealing with easy balls in the forecourt... bafflingly so
Last edited: