Agassi–Sampras rivalry

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Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras

Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi are retired professional men's tennis players who were ranked World No. 1 during the 1990s, Sampras holding the world's top-rank spot for a then-record 286 weeks while Agassi held it for 101 weeks.[1] With contrasting styles and temperaments,[2] they played each other 34 times from 1989 through 2002, with Sampras winning 20 of their matches. It has been named as one of the greatest tennis rivalries of all time.[3]

In Grand Slam tournaments, they played in five finals, with Sampras winning four. They met for the first time in a Grand Slam final at the 1990 US Open, with Agassi the favorite because of his top-three ranking even though Sampras had defeated former World No. 1 players Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe on the way to the final. Sampras defeated Agassi in straight sets.

The next time the pair met at a Grand Slam final was at the 1995 Australian Open. Agassi beat Sampras in four sets.

In one of their matches, played in the 2001 US Open quarter-final, Sampras won with the score of 6–7(7), 7–6(2), 7–6(2), 7–6(5); throughout the match, no player managed to break the other's serve. The last match in their rivalry came at the 2002 US Open final. It was their first meeting in the final since Sampras won in 1995. Sampras went on to win the match in four sets and shortly after announced his retirement from the game. Agassi retired in 2006 after 20 years on the tour.

From their first ATP match to their 1995 US Open final match, their head-to-head was tied at 8–8. From their 1995 US Open final match to 1999, their head-to-head was 9–3 in favor of Sampras. Agassi has often said that the 1995 US Open loss was a powerful blow to him that took him years to recover from; amid this and other psychological issues he subsequently plummeted to World No. 141, and it marked a significant shift in their rivalry. From 2000 to their last match in 2002, their head-to-head was tied at 3–3.

At the time of their retirements, Sampras held the all-time record for most men's Grand Slam titles, with 14. This broke Björn Borg's record of 11 titles won in the Open Era, as well as the 12 held then by Roy Emerson, predating the Open Era. Roger Federer has since overtaken Sampras with 17 titles. On the other hand, Agassi, who claimed 8 Grand Slam titles (joint fifth for most titles in the Open Era, and joint sixth all-time), is one of only four men to win the singles Career Grand Slam in the Open Era and one of seven overall. Having won the gold medal in men's singles at the 1996 Olympics, he is the first of only two male players to achieve a Career Golden Slam in singles tennis, the second being Rafael Nadal. The Career Grand Slam proved elusive for Sampras, as he was unable to find significant success on the serve-neutralizing clay courts, reaching only one French Open semi-final in his career. Agassi also held the record for most ATP Masters Series (AMS) shields with 17 (Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have both since overtaken him with 26 and 21 titles respectively), and has been called the best service returner in the history of the game.[4][5][6][7] In retirement, Agassi and Sampras have found bonds to continue their friendship on a deeper level.[8]

Head-to-head[edit]

Agassi–Sampras (14–20)[edit]

Legend
Grand Slam
Tennis Masters Cup
ATP Masters Series
ATP International Series
No. Year Tournament Surface Round Winner Score
1 1989 Rome Clay R32 Agassi 6–2, 6–1
2 1990 Philadelphia Carpet R16 Sampras 5–7, 7–5, retired
3 1990 US Open Hard F Sampras 6–4, 6–3, 6–2
4 1990 ATP World Tour Finals Carpet RR Agassi 6–4, 6–2
5 1991 ATP World Tour Finals Carpet RR Sampras 6–3, 1–6, 6–3
6 1992 Atlanta Clay F Agassi 7–5, 6–4
7 1992 French Open Clay QF Agassi 7–6(6), 6–2, 6–1
8 1993 Wimbledon Grass QF Sampras 6–2, 6–2, 3–6, 3–6, 6–4
9 1994 Key Biscane Hard F Sampras 5–7, 6–3, 6–3
10 1994 Osaka Hard SF Sampras 6–3, 6–1
11 1994 Paris Carpet QF Agassi 7–6(6), 7–5
12 1994 ATP World Tour Finals Carpet SF Sampras 4–6, 7–6(5), 6–3
13 1995 Australian Open Hard F Agassi 4–6, 6–1, 7–6(6), 6–4
14 1995 Indian Wells Hard F Sampras 7–5, 6–3, 7–5
15 1995 Key Biscane Hard F Agassi 3–6, 6–2, 7–6(3)
16 1995 Canada (Montreal) Hard F Agassi 3–6, 6–2, 6–3
17 1995 US Open Hard F Sampras 6–4, 6–3, 4–6, 7–5
18 1996 San Jose Hard F Sampras 6–2, 6–3
19 1996 Stuttgart Carpet QF Sampras 6–4, 6–1
20 1996 ATP World Tour Finals Carpet RR Sampras 6–2, 6–1
21 1998 San Jose Hard F Agassi 6–2,6–4
22 1998 Monte Carlo Clay R32 Sampras 6–4, 7–5
23 1998 Canada (Montreal) Hard QF Agassi 6–7(5), 6–1, 6–2
24 1999 Wimbledon Grass F Sampras 6–3, 6–4, 7–5
25 1999 Los Angeles Hard F Sampras 7–6(3), 7–6(1)
26 1999 Cincinnati Hard SF Sampras 7–6(7), 6–4
27 1999 ATP World Tour Finals Hard RR Agassi 6–2, 6–2
28 1999 ATP World Tour Finals Hard F Sampras 6–1, 7–5, 6–4
29 2000 Australian Open Hard SF Agassi 6–4, 3–6, 6–7(0), 7–6(5), 6–1
30 2001 Indian Wells Hard F Agassi 7–6(5), 7–5, 6–1
31 2001 Los Angeles Hard F Agassi 6–4, 6–2
32 2001 US Open Hard QF Sampras 6–7(7), 7–6(2), 7–6(2), 7–6(5)
33 2002 Houston Clay SF Sampras 6–1, 7–5
34 2002 US Open Hard F Sampras 6–3, 6–4, 5–7, 6–4

Breakdown of their rivalry[edit]

  • All Matches: Sampras 20–14
  • Hard courts: Sampras, 11–9
  • Grass courts: Sampras, 2–0
  • Clay courts: Agassi, 3–2
  • Carpet courts: Sampras, 5–2
  • Masters Series matches: Agassi, 5–4
  • Masters Series finals: Agassi, 3–2
  • Grand Slam matches: Sampras, 6–3
  • Grand Slam finals: Sampras, 4–1
  • Year-End Championships matches: Sampras, 4–2
  • Year-End Championships finals: Sampras, 1–0
  • All finals: Sampras, 9–7

Performance timeline comparison (Grand Slam tournaments)[edit]

Key
W  F  SF QF #R RR LQ (Q#) A P Z# PO SF-B F S G NMS NH

Won tournament; or reached Final; Semifinal; Quarter-final; Round 4, 3, 2, 1; competed at a Round Robin stage; lost in Qualification Round; absent from tournament event; played in a Davis Cup Zonal Group (with its number indication) or Play-off; won a bronze, silver (F or S) or gold medal at the Olympics; a downgraded Masters Series/1000 tournament (Not a Masters Series); or a tournament that was Not Held in a given year.

To avoid confusion and double counting, these charts are updated either at the conclusion of a tournament, or when the player's participation in the tournament has ended.

  • Bold = players met during this tournament

1986–1991[edit]

Player 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991
AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA
United States Andre Agassi NH A A 1R A 2R 1R 1R A SF A SF A 3R A SF A F A F A F QF 1R
United States Pete Sampras NH A A A A A A A A A A 1R 1R 2R 1R 4R 4R A 1R W A 2R 2R QF

1992–1997[edit]

Player 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997
AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA
United States Andre Agassi A SF W QF A A QF 1R A 2R 4R W W QF SF F SF 2R 1R SF A A A 4R
United States Pete Sampras A QF SF F SF QF W W W QF W 4R F 1R W W 3R SF QF W W 3R W 4R

1998–2002[edit]

Player 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA AUS FRA WIM USA
United States Andre Agassi 4R 1R 2R 4R 4R W F W W 2R SF 2R W QF SF QF A QF 2R F
United States Pete Sampras QF 2R W SF A 2R W A SF 1R W F 4R 2R 4R F 4R 1R 2R W

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Steeg, Jill Lieber (2006-08-28). "Agassi frets over tennis curtain call". USA Today. Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  2. ^ Fendrich, Howard (2002-06-27). "Agassi, Sampras ousted Former champions fall; Safin also upset victim". Chicago Sun-Times. HighBeam Research. Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  3. ^ "Ten great tennis rivalries". The Independent. July 8, 2008. Retrieved 2010-12-08. "Pete Sampras v Andre Agassi. Time span: '89-02 (34 matches) Head to head: Sampras 20 Agassi 14. Grand Slam finals: Five; Sampras won four. Wimbledon: One final, 1999; Sampras won. This pair of American greats produced some of the most incredible matches. It was after the US Open final between them in 1995 and a defeat that really hurt Agassi that Andre's father wanted him to change his serve. It got bigger and speedier but it was always that big heavy kicker that was Andre's trademark, and I can still see in my mind's eye him running round the ball to crash inside-out forehand winners past Pistol Pete on big occasions. What a champ Sampras was too; all those Slams, and all achieved while mooching around the court with his shoulders drooped and his tongue hanging out like a dog's." 
  4. ^ "Tennis's love affair with Agassi comes to an end". CBC Sports. Retrieved April 8, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Reed's shotmakers: Men's return of serve". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved April 8, 2012.
  6. ^ "Adjectives Tangled in the Net". The New York Times. Retrieved April 8, 2012.
  7. ^ "Sampras, Agassi Have Just Begun to Fight" Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 8, 2012.
  8. ^ "Buddy system working well for old rivals Agassi, Sampras". Retrieved March 1, 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

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