Ce jour-là: Andre Agassi demande à Michael Chang de prolonger série de victoires

By | 08/14/2019

Plagued with injuries and the lack of form, Andre Agassi had to work hard to find his mojo again in the summer of 1994, winning Toronto and the US Open to get back where he belongs, preparing everything for an assault in the next season, his best one on the Tour.

Andre counted to seven titles in 1995, including the Australian Open crown on debut and three Masters 1000 tournaments in Miami, Canada and Cincinnati, becoming the first player who won both pre-US Open Masters 1000 events.

Opening the season with 15 straight wins and earning enough points in Miami, Andre became world no. 1 for the first time in April, delivering reliable and constant results on every surface to stay on the throne until the closing stages when Pete Sampras passed him to finish as the year-end no.

1. Agassi played only one tournament after the US Open and would have been the best player of the season had he competed at more events, especially if he could have maintained the form from that summer, scoring 26 straight triumphs in Washington, Montreal, Cincinnati, New Haven and the US Open before losing the final to Pete Sampras in New York, unable to defend the crown he won a year ago.

Despite that, it was the summer to remember for the Las Vegas native, wrapping up three titles in four weeks and showing consistent and well-balanced tennis in one match after another, not a regular feature of his game in the past.

Taking a week off after Washington and Montreal, Andre embraced the fifth Cincinnati campaign with the momentum on his side, hoping to go further than in 2013 when he lost in the semi-final to Michael Chang. Taking down Daniel Vacek, Alberto Berasategui, Renzo Furlan ad Thomas Enqvist (faced only one break point in total against the Italian and the Swede), Agassi advanced into the tenth Masters 1000 final, facing Michael Chang on August 13.

It was their 13th meeting on the Tour and Andre delivered the ninth triumph, beating the fellow American 7-5, 6-2 in an hour and 36 minutes for the first crown in Cincinnati and the seventh at the Masters 1000 level. Andre had the upper hand on both serve and return, facing only three break points and suffering one break to mount the pressure on Chang who couldn’t endure it, losing 45% of the points in his games and offering Agassi no less than 17 break chances, saving 13 but having to finish runner-up after four return games that the in-form player claimed.

Agassi made the difference with almost 40 winners, with a similar number of forced and unforced errors as Chang who lost the ground in the shortest exchanges, unable to get as many free points as his opponent who never looked troubled in his games.

The 4th seed took down three break points already in the first game of the match to avoid an early setback but had no such luck two games later, suffering a break when his forehand found the net to let Agassi go 2-1 up. Agassi saved a break chance in the next game with a drive-volley forehand winner before spraying an error from the same wing, allowing Chang to break back and level the score at 2-2.

In an endless game five, Michael had to play against five break chances (he served under 40% at that moment), repelling them all and bringing the game home with a service winner to stay in front. They both served well in the next five games to stay locked up at 5-5 until Andre broke with a forced error, converting only the second out of ten opportunities on the return to gain a 6-5 advantage, wrapping up the opener with a solid hold in the next game for a 7-5.

Agassi saved a break point in the second game of the second set, holding after four deuces, with Michael repelling a couple of chances in game three to stay on the positive side of the scoreboard. Andre closed the fourth game with three service winners and seized the fourth break point on the return in the next game after a beautiful half-volley winner that sent him a set and a break up.

The break was confirmed with another hold at love and there was no way back for Chang who netted an easy volley in game seven to give serve away and find himself 5-2 down. Serving for the title, Agassi hit five winners in game eight to move over the top and celebrate his first crown in Ohio, extending his incredible winning streak and setting eyes on the US Open title defense.