Points won by each set: [ 32-21, 38-34, 35-24 ]
Points won directly behind the serve:
34 % Sampras – 32 of 93
21 % Muster – 20 of 91

Muster’s ambition at the beginning of 1997 was to become an all-round player elevating him to a status of a great champion on all surfaces (actually he’d initiated that dreamy process at Queens Club ’96). Indeed, it was his best year as far as the hardcourts are concerned (he increased the speed of his serve, and changed his baseline game dictating the pace more with powerful forehands), but in the consequence he partly lost his exceptional clay-court skills. Anyway, after sensationally easy win over Ivanisevic in the quarterfinals, his meeting vs Sampras seemed pretty open, especially that Muster had won their previous encounter (Essen ’95). Who knows, maybe their semifinal could have been a dogfight if the Austrian [5] had won the 2nd set, in which he led 5:2. Serving at 5:3 he wasted a set point with a forehand error, then he led 6:5 (30/0) when Sampras played a great point at the net. After entering the tie-break, the relaxed American [1] demonstrated his best tennis producing winners all over the court, even around the post with his backhand (it happened in the 3rd set, unreal shot, Muster bowed afterwards – this gesture is captured in the picstats photo).

It’s interesting that Muster despite being a real threat in tennis for almost 10 years, hadn’t a positive H2H record against any of the best serve-and-volley players of his time:
0-9 Stefan Edberg, 2-9 Pete Sampras, 1-4 Todd Martin, 0-3 Patrick Rafter, 2-3 Michael Stich, 1-2 Boris Becker, 3-3 Goran Ivanisevic, 2-2 Richard Krajicek
I think two factors contributed to that:
– Muster hadn’t great reflex so he struggled with returning faster serves
– he hit the ball with a lot of top-spin off both wings, so he needed more time for his groundstrokes to play correctly; the offensive players didn’t allow him to find the proper rhythm on the baseline, especially attacking his weaker backhand

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