Andre Agassi retired from tennis in 2006, after a nearly twenty-year career at the top of the ATP rankings. But in the last two years, he has been talked about at almost the same levels as in the past. The reason was the publication of his autobiography, Open. My story, often prized for beautiful writing and equally often cited for its controversial content (in particular, Agassi’s admission that he used methamphetamines and always hated tennis caused a sensation).
If the interest in Andre Agassi is still so high, then why not retrace his career or, better still, his highest points through five historic, beautiful and emblematic victories of the Las Vegas tennis player? We have selected, as you will see, these five games following a single criterion. Not to present the same opponent twice (otherwise the five would have turned into an Agassi-Sampras duel).
1. Agassi vs McEnroe ( September 3, 1992 – Wimbledon semi-finals )
In 1992 Andre Agassi is one of the rising stars of world tennis. He reached the final twice at Roland Garros (defeated by Andrés Gomez and Jim Courier). And once at the US Open (beaten by Pete Sampras, starting a rivalry that will last more than a decade) and won at Key Biscayne and Frankfurt. Missing a Grand Slam victory. At Wimbledon, he arrives as seeded number 12. Preceded by people of the caliber of Jim Courier, Stefan Edberg, Boris Becker, Pete Sampras himself.
In the quarter-finals, after a relatively quiet journey, he meets Becker, who at that time had already won the tournament three times and had not yet missed a final since 1988. Agassi defeats him in five hard-fought sets and reaches the semifinal. Where he finds in front of a sacred monster like John McEnroe, at the last point of a career that had seen him triumph three times in those fields. Agassi’s victory is clear (and will lead him to win, in the final against Ivanisevic, his first title in a Grand Slam). But no less beautiful for the handover between two champions with a controversial personality to say the least. The video we propose here is a rather long excerpt from the race, with the original (and at times a bit annoying, given the bad audio quality) commentary from 1992.
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2. Agassi vs Chang ( September 5, 1994 – fourth round of the US Open )
We are in September 1994. The season, for Agassi, was not unforgettable in the first part of the year. In 1993 he underwent an operation on his wrist and achieved poor results in all the major tournaments from that moment on. He then presents himself at the US Open in New York eager for redemption, but with few changes according to observers. He is not even seeded (and will be the first player of the Open era to dispel this taboo) and is preceded by apparently much more people. fit as usual Pete Sampras, German Michael Stich, and others.
In the third round, Agassi eliminates the South African Wayne Ferreira. Then quite popular, and prepares, in the second round, to face his compatriot Michael Chang. A prodigy boy a few years earlier (the youngest ever winner at Roland Garros) and now seeded number 6 of the tournament, one that always manages to somehow place itself. Surprisingly, Agassi wins the match in five sets, opening up the climb towards the conquest of the tournament, since he will no longer need to reach the fifth set, and overcoming the crisis due to the injury. The video presents an excerpt of the match, even if a little dated in the shots that do not always allow you to fully follow the game.
3. Agassi vs Sampras ( January 27, 2000 – Australian Open semi-finals )
There would be many clashes that could be cited to tell the rivalry between Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras. In the span of thirteen years the two met 34 times. it’s a final balance in favor of Sampras of 20 wins to 14. In previous years he has had ups and downs, both on and off the pitch, and some stormy romantic relationships including the one with the actress Brooke Shields, married to him between 1997 and 1999. And just 1999 it was a golden year. He regained the top of the ATP rankings, won both Roland Garros and the US Open, and was a finalist at Wimbledon, losing to Sampras in July.
In January it’s time for a rematch and the two meet in Australia, in the semifinals. Agassi got there without any difficulty, while Sampras had to struggle a lot with modest Wayne Black in the third round. The decisive set is the fourth. After a good start, in fact, Agassi has been reassembled by Sampras, who could now close the match. we go to the tie-break, which is very hard-fought and remains one of the highest points in the long history of clashes between the two American champions. You can see it in full in the video below.
Then Agassi will win the tournament by beating Kafelnikov in the final.
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4. Agassi vs Federer ( March 30, 2002 – final in Key Biscayne )
Although still played at very high levels, the 2001/02 two-year period is not full of satisfaction for Agassi. It opens, it is true, by winning in Australia in January 2001, but then the other Slam tournaments do not go particularly well and, as regards the Masters Series, gets little compared to the level of his tennis. In March 2002, however, he landed once again in the final at Key Biscayne. he Miami Open, where he has already won four times, and there he finds a twenty-year-old Swiss young man who goes by the name of Roger Federer. Federer has not yet won anything important, The following year he will begin his series of successes at Wimbledon, but at that moment he had never made it beyond the quarter-finals in a major tournament.
Here too, as we had already said for the meeting with McEnroe ten years earlier, we can speak of an ideal handover. Agassi, even if he will still take some important satisfaction, is in a downward spiral, while Federer is rapidly burning the stages. The match and the tournament are easily won by the Americans, but the game is more balanced than what the result suggests. You can see the match in full below.
5. Agassi vs Baghdatis ( August 31, 2006 – second round of the US Open )
We couldn’t not dedicate the last video to Andre Agassi’s latest victory. The clash with the Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis which took place at the US Open in 2006, the last tournament played by the former world number one, a match admirably described also in the opening of Open , the autobiography we mentioned at the beginning.
The match was won by Agassi, who was then defeated in the next round by the modest Benjamin Becker. but Agassi wins it in an epic way, because Baghdatis is the eighth seed and because the match becomes very long, tense, interspersed with the cramps of the Cypriot who can hardly stand up anymore. In the video below the final stages of the hard-fought fifth set.