Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Andre Agassi great matches - Part 1 (1990-1995)

He confessed his long blond hairs were a wig, to have used crystal meth and to have assumed, as a junior, performance-enhancing drugs given to him by his father. His revelations launched new shadows on the ATP directors: have they hided the dark secret under the carpet to avoid the toy broke itself?

Anyway, Andre invented a new way of playing, gifted tennis fans the greatest rivalry ever and one of the best matches in the history of this sport. This tribute is to the player and to his most unbelievable and remarkable matches.

Roland Garros 1990, final
(l.toAndrés Gomez 6-3 2-6 6-4 6-4).
His first Grand Slam final. His first great complaint, wig or not wig. Gomez, after 27 majors played, secured the goal he has worked a lifetime to achieve. The Ecuadorean planned not to go to Paris, but he changed his mind when Lendl announced his intention to withdraw from the Roland Garros (and Gomez was thrice eliminated by Lendl in Paris). Agassi wore the same black and hot lava ensemble that prodded the authorities into announcing the possibility of a Wimbkledon-like dress code.
Although Agassi was a decade fitter and younger than his opponent, Gomez gained a critical break to 5-3 in the first set thanks to a combination of a backhand volley followed by an overhead spike. Then he slammed two aces, one on a second serve at set point. Gomez waffled in the second, was broken to love to 4 all in the third, but then he re-took control of the match with big serves and a patchwork game.

US Open 1990, final
(l.to Pete Sampras 6-4 6-3 6-2).
The first Sampras, with a perfect flat backhand and lethal volleys, overwhelmed Andre making him realize he coulod hit even harder. Agassi, who was the favourite, never accepted this defeat.

Wimbledon 1992, final
(w.to Goran Ivanisevic 6-7(8) 6-4 6-4 1-6 6-4).
The first, and last, success against Mister Ace at the Championships. Agassi, who in the past refused to play in London for the dress-code, reversed his misfortune refusing, after losing the first set, to be intimidated by Ivanisevic's 37 aces.

The final marked the first time dince 1985 two dark horses fought in the title match at Wimbledon, and the eight seeded Croat, the the tour's most high-powered server seemed to have the momentum when, after 2 hours and 50 minutes, the battle against the best power returner entered the final set. A second serve ace had guaranteed him the first set tiebreaker and, in the fifth, Ivanisevic served the 200th ace of his tournament in the fourth game adding two more to keep the set on serve to 3 all.

But Agassi remained focused and patient, waiting for one two loose points that could have opened him some chance to clinch the title in the tournament he once shunned.
And the patience paid. In the final game of the match, Ivanisevic double faulted to 0-30, recovered thanks to a pair of winners and then could only watched the whistling forehand passing shot from Agassi producing a match point. The second serve came on the next point, and Ivanisevic ruined all with excessive downsizing on an easy backhand volley.

So Agassi became the first American since John McEnroe in 1984 to win Wimbledon and the first 12th seeded player to appear in the Hall of Fame of the Championships.

Masters 1994, semifinal
(l.to Sampras 4-6 7-6(5) 6-3).
In a match of incredibly high technical level, everybody realized that their rivalry would have become the greatest of all time. Pete served at his best, Agassi returned with astonishing attention. A rally was replied for months by televisions all around the world as a spot for tennis.

Australian Open 1995, final
(w.to Sampras 4-6 6-1 7-6(6) 6-4).
Agassi's only success over Pistol Pete in a Grand Slam final (a coincidence who, years after, led Sampras say: “He lose against me even when he plays better because he knows I'm the best”).

Agassi completed his first Australian Open run with his second, back-to-back, major title and dethroning the top-ranked Sampras, arrived to the final with 14 gruelling sets played in the last three rounds, while Agassi had to drop a set yet.
Sampras earned further respect for the unashamed despair he displayed after his coach, Tim Gullikson, was hospitalized and then sent home to Chicago after the third round. And more, Sampras, the introvert, made personal history by coming back twice from two-sets-to-none deficits, and displayed his unique ability to show his vulnerability, cry and play perfect tennis in the fifth set of his quarterfinal against Jim Courier.

The opening set went to Sampras after Agassi, who had never gifted easy points in the key moments in the tournaments, fired off two unusual and bleeding doubles, the second of which came at set point, at 4-5 15-40. But Sampras let down the guard, and immediately went 0-4 down in the second.

In the third set, they traded breaks in the third and fourth games, and then arrived to the most umpredictable tiebreaks. Agassi dashed 3-0, but Sampras immediately captured 4 points in a row and gained a set point at 6-4 with a brilliant reflex volley. Agassi fought and found a winning forehand return down the line and benefitted from an overhit forehand from Sampras. Then was the round of Andre to have a set point, and he converted it by ending a long rally with a deft backhand volley. Sampras restarted to serve aces in the fourth set (three both in the third and seventh game), but the 28 final aces weren't enough. Agassi, who served his 10th ace on match point, registered a return twice as reliable as that of his opponent's and committed half the number of unforced errors.

Agassi, who with this title completed three quarters of career Slam, said after the match: “"He wasn't the best player in the world today," said Agassi, "but the reality is he's clearly ahead of everybody”.

No comments:

Post a Comment