Thursday, April 17, 2008

1995 US Open Final: Sampras def. Agassi

Sampras def. Agassi: 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5
Classic: No (!)
Rating: 86

The Plot:
It was the match to not only determine the 1995 US Open champion, but the no. 1 ranking for the year. Agassi had won the Australian Open and Sampras had won Wimbledon that year. Once again, Sampras proved he was the better player on the big occasions.

The match: On a blistery, windy day in New York, the players are struggling to figure out the wind. There are some sporadic good rallies in the 1st set, but Sampras eventually breaks to take it, and is clearly relieved. Set point is one of the finest rallies of the match. In the 2nd set Sampras plays very well indeed, and Agassi offers little resistance. The 3rd set looks to go the same way as Sampras has a 2-0 lead before Agassi comes back. Sampras clearly is having a let-down and eventually loses the 3rd set. The 4th set is not high quality, but Sampras overcomes sloppy play early, firms up his game and eventually breaks to take a 5-4 lead and serves out the match.

The bottom line: This match inexplicably has ended up on Steve Flink's list of the greatest matches of the 20th century as no. 21, incredibly beating a true classic like Edberg v. Lendl at the 1985 Aussie open (no. 28.) I can't second that opinion. Agassi simply never manages to make the match competitive. It is Sampras all the way, and it would have been Sampras in straight sets if he hadn't had a mental let-down in the 3rd set. Granted, Sampras plays well in the first two sets, but he is allowed to do so by his opponents somewhat lackluster performance. Unless you're a die-hard Agassi v. Sampras fan I don't see any reason for revisiting this match.

Bonus info: It has been alleged that this match was the start of the tail-spin that sent Agassi's ranking to no. 141 in the world. True or not, it has been widely publicized that Agassi took this loss very badly.


Steve Jaros said...
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Steve Jaros said...

As an Agassi fan, i attribute his lackluster play to two things. First, he played too much tennis during the blistering summer hard court season, he entered four tournaments and won all of them, so he had a LOT of match mileage on him going in to the match.

Second, he played a brutal semi-final versus Becker, a grudge match given that Becker beat him at the Wimbledon semifinals that summer, and because there was bad blood between them at the time.

Also, since Agassi was the most popular player, CBS made sure his semifinal was the second one played. Agassi didn't finish off a very tough Becker until almost 10PM Saturday night, giving Sampras several more hours of critical rest for Sunday's final. So Agassi looked and played fatigued against Sampras.

tak cheung said...

Let's not forget Agassi was injured and hard torn cartilage!!