A few weeks after Stich had defeated Ivanisevic 4-6, 7-6, 7-6, 6-2 in the Stockholm final, the German won again two tie-break sets. The Croat  wasted chances in both of them: in the 1st set he had two mini-set points at 4-all (netted FH, Stich’s great BH volley), in the second tie-break he had a set point at 7:6* when Stich delivered a winner off his risky 2nd serve. The German  came back from *0:3 in the 2nd set… he converted his sixth match point with a high FH volley.
It’s not coincidental that I watched back-to-back ‘7-6 7-6’ indoor semifinals of pairs Forget-Sampras & Stich-Ivanisevic. I’d consider these four players – along with Richard Krajicek – as the best servers of the first half of the 90s (in the second half Forget & Stich were replaced by Rusedski & Philippoussis in this department). So the scorelines produced by these guys facing each other, must have been usually depended on 1-2 points in standard sets or in tie-breaks, especially on carpet or grass. In both analysed matches the losers had their good chances to win both lost sets, both matches actually lasted the same amount of time, even though Stich-Ivanisevic played as many as 21 points more (183 vs 162). Given that bigger number of total points & lower percentage of points won directly behind the serve in the German-Croatian encounter, it’s counter-intuitive that Forget-Sampras spent one minute longer on the Swedish court. The key to this ‘mystery’ lies in Forget’s second serve. The Frenchman as the only one among the Top 5 servers at the time, didn’t run to the net behind his second serves playing indoors. Therefore his serving games were open for baseline rallies when he missed his first serves, almost all the time because his 2nd serve was simply working as an invitation to trading baseline shots, in contrary to other great servers who used to risk their second serves a lot (Ivanisevic loved it).
Comparison of records in ‘7-6 7-6’ matches of these four big servers: 16-10 Ivanisevic, 9-4 Sampras, 6-5 Forget, 3-2 Stich
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