US OPEN 2002
DAY 14 MENíS NOTES
8 September 2002
NO. 6 ANDRE AGASSI (USA) v NO. 17 PETE SAMPRAS (USA)
With No. 6-seed Andre Agassi playing No. 17-seed Pete Sampras in the menís singles final of the 2002 US Open Tennis Championships one day after the Williams sisters Ė Venus and Serena Ė played in the womenís singles final, the tournament has its first all-American menís and womenís singles finals since 1979. On Sept. 9, 1979, No. 3-seed Tracy Austin, at the age of 16 years, 8 months and 28 days, became the youngest US Open womenís singles champion, ending No. 1-seed Chris Evertís 31-match win streak at the tournament. The same day, No. 3-seed John McEnroe defeated No. 4-seed Vitas Gerulaitis in an all-New Yorker menís singles final.
U.S. men have now advanced to the US Open final 11 of the past 13 years. This will be the seventh title in that period for U.S. men, with now five of the finals being all-American affairs. Since 1990, no other single nation has had more than 10 Grand Slam tournament finalists, period. This includes those instances of all-countrymen finals. Nor has any other single nation collected more than four Grand Slam tournament titles in the past 12 years. As impressive as U.S. players have been at the US Open since 1990, stepping back to examine U.S. results in all of the majors shows that the United States will have produced 44 Grand Slam tournament finalists and snared 25 titles after today.
With Sampras having reached the US Open final the past two years, Agassi and Sampras have combined to win all six US Open titles for U.S. men since the lefty reign of Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe ended in 1984. Since 1990, no more than two years have passed without either Agassi or Sampras winning the US Open, a pattern that obviously remains in tact.
Champions Race UpdateÖ the Countdown to Shanghai
ince the ATP Champions Race concept began in 2000, the top six players in the Race at the conclusion of the US Open have gone on to compete in the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup, which is co-owned by the ATP, the ITF and the Grand Slam tournaments. This bodes well for Agassi, who will leave the US Open firmly in second place on the ATP Champions Race. Sampras, however, will have quite a bit of work ahead of him, since winning the US Open will only move him up to 12th place in the Race.
The top seven players in the Champions Race automatically qualify for the eight-player Tennis Masters Cup, to be held this year in Shanghai, China. The eighth spot goes to either a current Grand Slam tournament winner who isnít in the top eight but is within the top 20, or to the eighth player in the ATP Champions Race.
Updated ATP Champions Race
September 7, 2002
* - Points for reaching the final.
NO. 6 ANDRE AGASSI (USA) v NO. 17 PETE SAMPRAS (USA)
Head-to-head: Sampras leads 19-14
Agassi-Sampras is the 34th edition of one of the greatest U.S. menís tennis rivalries of the Open Era. Sampras holds the overall lead in the head-to-head series, at 19-14, having won their past two meetings, which includes their classic confrontation in the quarterfinals of the 2001 US Open. Sampras won that quarterfinal in four tie-break sets in which neither player lost his serve. It was Samprasís fifth Grand Slam tournament victory against Agassi in eight such matchups.
Agassi vs. Sampras in Grand Slam tournaments
Perhaps the only Open Era U.S. menís tennis rivalry comparable to that between Agassi and Sampras is the Jimmy Connors-John McEnroe rivalry that featured 34 matches during a span of 15 years. (For the record, McEnroe holds a 20-14 advantage in that series, including 6-3 in Grand Slam tournaments.)
This is the 16th time Agassi and Sampras have met in a tournament final. Sampras holds the edge in those encounters as well, having won eight finals to Agassiís seven. It has been three years since they played in a Grand Slam tournament final, that coming at 1999 Wimbledon, where Sampras won 63 64 75 to take a 3-1 advantage in their Grand Slam tournament final head-to-head encounters.
Interestingly, the last Agassi-Sampras match before this was also in a USTA event. They met in the semifinals of the 2002 U.S. Menís Clay Court Championships in Houston, Texas. Sampras won 61 75, ending Agassiís month-long nine-match winning streak. Agassi was unable to break Samprasís serve in Houston as well, meaning Agassi has not broken Sampras in their past two matches.
Considering that last yearís quarterfinal match between Agassi and Sampras was decided by four tie-break sets, it must be said that Sampras is the all-time Open Era leader in tie-breaks won and Agassi ranks 10th.
Open Era Tiebreak Leaders (Active)
With Agassi age 32 years, 4 months and 10 days on the day of the men's final, and Sampras age 31 years, 27 days, this is the first US Open final between two 30-something men in the Open Era. It is the first final between 30-plus men at any Grand Slam tournament since the 1972 Australian Open, when 37-year-old Ken Rosewall defeated 36-year-old Mal Anderson for the title. There have been two other such finals in the Open Era: at the 1969 Australian Open, when Rod Laver, age 30, defeated Andres Gimeno, age 31, and at 1969 Roland Garros, when Laver, still 30, defeated Rosewall, age 34.
Additionally, the 2002 US Open men's final will be the oldest final played at the event in the Open Era, and the joint third-oldest at any Grand Slam tournament. The 1972 Australian Open final between Rosewall and Anderson heads the Open Era list for the oldest.
Both Agassi and Sampras are battling to become the oldest US Open champion since 1970, when Ken Rosewall lifted the trophy at the age of 35. If Agassi wins, he will become the oldest champion at any Grand Slam tournament since Andres Gimeno won the 1972 Roland Garros title at the age of 34. Sampras would be the oldest Grand Slam tournament champion since Arthur Ashe won 1975 Wimbledon aged 31 years, 11 months.
30 and Older Grand Slam Tournament Singles Champions (Open Era)
In addition to the nine men above who have combined for 16 Grand Slam tournament singles titles after their 30th birthdays, eight men 30 and older have combined for 11 runner-up finishes in Grand Slam tournaments, Sampras being the most recent in the 2001 US Open.
30 and Older Grand Slam Tournament Singles Runners-up (Open Era)
Grand Slam Tournament Leaders
Agassi and Sampras are among the all-time leaders in Grand Slam tournament singles titles, with Sampras having won 13 titles for the all-time lead. Agassi could move up to a tie for sixth place on the list if he wins the 2002 US Open.
Perhaps not to surprisingly since they are among the all-time leaders in Grand Slam tournament singles titles, Agassi and Sampras are also among the leaders in Grand Slam tournament matches won.
** - Also played pre-Open Era matches.
Sampras won his 70th US Open match in his semifinal, and moved ahead of R. Norris Williams into fifth place on the all-time US Open/U.S. Championships singles match wins list. If Sampras wins today he will move into a tie for fourth place with Bill Tilden. Agassi, having moved ahead of Ken Rosewall and Bill Johnston during the tournament, is in eighth place with 62 match wins after the semis. (See page 36 of the US Open Media Guide for the complete list.)
Most US Open/U.S. Championships Singles Matches Won
Interestingly, about the only category in which Agassi leads Sampras is in total hard court titles. In fact, Agassi leads all players in the Open Era, having won 40 titles on this surface.
Hard Court Title Leaders
* - played on indoor hard court
Road to the Semifinals
∑ With his 64 76 67 62 defeat of Lleyton Hewitt, Agassi advanced to the US Open final for the fifth time in 17 appearances. Agassi last defeated the tournament's defending champion 12 years ago, also in the semifinals, in 1990 eliminating 1989 champion Boris Becker 67 63 62 63. (He lost in the final that year to Sampras, 64 63 62.)
∑ Agassi's defeat of Hewitt marked the sixth time overall that he has defeated the defending champion of a Grand Slam event. Three times he has gone on to win the title of the tournament (two of these encounters with defending champions coming in finals).
Agassi Eliminating the Defending Champion
∑ This is Agassi's first appearance in a Grand Slam tournament final since the 2001 Australian Open, which he won to claim his seventh Grand Slam title (defeating Arnaud Clement 64 62 62).
∑ Sampras is the fourth American that Agassi has faced at the 2002 US Open, but this is not rare for him. Three times previously in his Grand Slam career, Agassi has played four or more Americans: most recently at the 1996 Australian Open he played four, and he played five at the 1988 US Open and four at the 1989 US Open. At the 1988 US Open, Agassi played fellow-Americans in five consecutive matches to reach the semifinals, but was eliminated by then-Czech Ivan Lendl, who became an American citizen in 1992. In fact, Agassi has never previously made the final of a Grand Slam event after playing so many countrymen.
∑ With his three wins against Americans here, Agassi has boosted his win-loss record against U.S. players to 202-76. He has won six of his last seven matches against countrymen, with the exception being his loss to James Blake, 63 64, in the semifinals at Washington a few weeks ago. In Grand Slam tournament play, Agassi has a 43-17 record, 23-6 at the US Open.
∑ Agassi has a 7-5 win-loss record in Grand Slam tournament finals, 2-2 at the US Open.
Agassi in Grand Slam Tournament Finals
∑ Up to the quarterfinals, Agassi lost fewer games than he has ever lost through the first four rounds of a Grand Slam tournament. The best display of the ease with which Agassi has been winning his matches came in the second round when he conceded the fewest games of any best-of-five-set match he has played in his career, overpowering wild card Justin Gimelstob 60 61 61 in one hour five minutes. The previous fewest games Agassi had lost was three.
∑ Agassi has lost only two sets en route to the 2002 US Open final, but figuring that his match against Sampras could be a classic, it is interesting to note that Agassiís last five-set match at the US Open was in the 1999 final, where he defeated Todd Martin 64 67 67 63 62. Agassi has a 5-2 win-loss record in US Open five-set matches, and while he has come back from two-sets-to-love down four times in his career, he has never done so at the US Open. However, his two five-set losses here were in matches in which he lost the first two sets.
Agassi in US Open Five-Set Matches
∑ Agassi advancing all the way to the 2002 US Open quarterfinals without losing a set marked the sixth time in his career that he has reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament without dropping a set. The last occurrence was at 2001 Wimbledon, where Agassi defeated Peter Wessels, Jaime Delgado, Nicolas Massu and Nicolas Kiefer in straight sets, before facing Nicolas Escude in the quarterfinals. (Agassi defeated Escude 67 63 64 62, but then lost in the semifinals to Aussie Patrick Rafter 26 63 36 62 86.)
∑ In Agassiís five previous straight-sets trips to the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament, he did not win as convincingly as he has won here. The 24 games Agassi lost in reaching the quarterfinals here were the fewest he had ever allowed when reaching the quarterfinals in straight sets.
∑ The only time previously that Agassi had a straight-sets journey to the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament and actually won the event was at the 1995 Australian Open. He won in straight sets all the way to the final, defeating Yevgeny Kafelnikov 62 75 60 in the quarterfinals and Aaron Krickstein 64 64 30 ret. in the semifinals. In the final, Agassi lost the first set, but went on to defeat Pete Sampras 46 61 76 64.
∑ For Agassi, the 2002 US Open has been very similar to 2002 Los Angeles, which he won to kick start the North American summer hard court season. Max Mirnyi is the third player Agassi has played in the US Open after playing him almost six weeks ago at Los Angeles. As stated above, Agassi defeated Robby Ginepri in the first round here, having beaten him 63 61 in the second round at Los Angeles. Agassi defeated Jan-Michael in the round of 16 here, having beaten him 62 64 in the final at Los Angeles. The only players Agassi defeated in Los Angeles but did not face here were Kenneth Carlsen and Gustavo Kuerten.
∑ Agassi has made more US Open appearances than any other man in the 2002 draw. This is his 17th US Open. Including the 2002 US Open, Agassi has played a total of 49 Grand Slam tournaments in his career, placing him joint-10th on the all-time Open Era list of Grand Slams played (more details are on page 10 of the Preview).
∑ At the 2001 US Open, Agassi, as the No. 2 seed, lost in the quarterfinals, as stated above, to Sampras 67 76 76 76.
∑ While he has played a rather limited schedule this year, Agassi has been spectacular none the less. He has won four titles, tying him for the tour lead alongside Lleyton Hewitt and Carlos Moya. Three of Agassiís four titles came on hard court: Scottsdale, where he defeated Juan Balcells 62 76 in the final, TMS Miami, where he defeated Roger Federer 63 63 36 64 in the final, and Los Angeles, where he defeated Jan-Michael Gambill 62 64 in the final. Agassi also won on clay at TMS Rome, defeating Tommy Haas 63 63 60.
∑ Agassi has had only two early losses in the 11 tournaments he has completed thus far in 2002. At TMS Indian Wells, his third event of the year, Agassi lost in the first round to Michel Kratochvil 76 76 just days after winning the title at Scottsdale. At Wimbledon, Agassi lost in the second round to Paradorn Srichaphan 64 76 62.
∑ Four-time US Open champion Sampras is playing in his third consecutive US Open final. He is the first man to reach three straight US Open menís finals since Ivan Lendl completed his stretch of eight consecutive menís singles finals, 1982-89. For the whole of the Open Era, only three men have played in three consecutive US Open finals. Extending back into the pre-Open Era, a total of 10 men Ė including the three stated above Ė have reached at least three consecutive menís singles finals in the U.S. Championships/ US Open.
Pre-Open Era players in italics
∑ At the 2001 US Open, Sampras was runner-up for the second consecutive year, losing in the final to Lleyton Hewitt 76 61 61 and handing the Australian his first Grand Slam tournament title. In 2000, Sampras also lost the final in straight sets, falling 64 63 63 to give Marat Safin his first Grand Slam tournament crown.
∑ Returning to the US Open menís singles final for a third year in a row puts Sampras in a tie with Ivan Lendl for the Open Era record for total singles finals played, the record being eight. Including pre-Open Era records, Sampras is two off the all-time tournament record for final appearances.
Pre-Open Era players in italics
∑ Sampras has the chance to end his 33-tournament title draught while winning his record-extending 14th Grand Slam tournament title. That being said, it is interesting to note that 2002 Roland Garros champion Albert Costa won his first Grand Slam tournament title by ending a 65-tournament title draught.
The Sampras Bakerís Dozen
Of Grand Slam Tournament Titles
∑ Sampras winning the 2002 US Open would mark six years since his last title here in 1996. That is the longest span between US Open titles in the Open Era, one year longer than the period between Agassi winning the US Open in 1994 and again in 1999. The longest span between U.S. titles Ė Open Era or not Ė is 14 years, the period between Ken Rosewall winning the U.S. Championships as an amateur in 1956 and winning the US Open as a pro in 1970.
∑ Since Sampras won his record-breaking 13th Grand Slam title at 2000 Wimbledon, the US Open has been his most successful major by far. He has not advanced beyond the round of 16 at any of the other three Grand Slam events since then.
∑ Sampras, who won his previous US Open titles in 1990, í93, í95 and í96, has the chance to tie Jimmy Connors in fourth place on the all-time most U.S. singles titles list. The current standings are as follows:
∑ Sampras reached his seventh US Open final last year in style. He defeated former US Open champions in three consecutive matches, becoming the first man to do so in a single US Open. He overcame 1997-98 champion Patrick Rafter 63 62 67 64 in the round of 16, then defeated 1994 and 1999 champion Andre Agassi 67 76 76 76 in a quarterfinal match dubbed the match of the tournament; neither player lost his serve and both receiving a standing ovation from the crowd just before the fourth-set tie-break. In the semifinals, Sampras defeated 2000 champion Safin 63 76 63, avenging his loss to Safin in the 2000 final.
∑ En route to the 2002 US Open semifinals, Sampras played his first five-set match in this event in four years when he defeated No. 33 seed Greg Rusedski 76 46 76 36 64 in the third round. Before that Sampras had not played a five-set match at the US Open since his semifinal loss to Patrick Rafter, 67 64 26 64 63, in 1998. Sampras had not won a five-set match before defeating Rusedski since he defeated Alex Corretja 76 57 57 64 76 in the quarterfinals of the 1996 US Open.
∑ Samprasís victory against Tommy Haas in the round of 16 was his 200th match win in a Grand Slam tournament. Sampras is third on the all-time Open Era list of Grand Slam tournament matches won.
∑ Samprasís victory against Andy Roddick extended his winning streak against Americans in the US Open to 12 matches. Having faced at least one U.S. foe in 11 of the 14 years he has played the event, Sampras has not lost to a compatriot in this tournament since losing to Jim Courier 62 76 76 in the quarterfinals of the 1991 US Open.
∑ Sampras is competing in his 14th US Open, having won the title here in 1990, 1993 and 1995-96. With runner-up finishes the past two years here, Sampras has lost before the US Open final only three times in the past 10 years, although he did not play in 1999 because of a back injury (herniated disc). In that 10-year period, Samprasís non-final years were 1994, when he lost in the fourth round to Jaime Yzaga 36 63 46 76 75, 1997, when he lost in the fourth round to Petr Korda 67 75 76 36 76, and 1998, when he lost in the semifinals to Patrick Rafter 67 64 26 64 63.
∑ At No. 17, this is Sampras's lowest Grand Slam tournament seeding. But for the extension of Grand Slam seedings to include 32 men (which started at 2001 Wimbledon), Sampras would not be seeded at this year's US Open. The last time Sampras played the US Open unseeded was in 1989 (he reached the round of 16).
∑ Sampras's only final of the year was, somewhat surprisingly, on clay at Houston. He lost there to defending champion Roddick 76 63. Sampras's best hard court result in 2002 before the US Open was a semifinal finish at TMS Indian Wells, where he lost to Lleyton Hewitt 62 64. Sampras had a disappointing pre-US Open summer hard court season, with his best performance being a third round finish at TMS Toronto, where he lost to Tommy Haas.