One year after his surprising defeat to Andres Gomez, Andre Agassi was back in Roland Garros final, trying to capture his first Grand Slam title. His opponent in final: Jim Courier, a guy he grew up with at the Bolletieri academy.

Jim Courier - Andre Agassi

Extract of Andre Agassi‘s autobiography Open:

“At the 1991 French Open I batter my way through six rounds and reach the final. My third slam final. I’m facing Courier and I’m favored. Everyone says I’ll beat him. I need to beat him. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to make three slam finals in a row and not win.
The good news is I know how to beat Courier. I beat him just last year at this same tournament. The bad news is, it’s personal, which makes me tight. We began in the same place, in the same barracks at the Bolletieri Academy, our bunk beds a feet apart. I was so much better than Courier, so much more favored by Nick, that losing to him in the final of a slam will feel like the hare losing to the tortoise. Bad enough that Chang has won a slam before me. And Pete. But Courier too? I can’t let that happen.

I come out playing to win. I’ve learned from my mistakes at the last two slams. I cruise through the first set, winning 6-3, and in the second set, leading 3-1, I have break point. If I win this point I’ll have a choke hold on the set and match. Suddenly the rain starts to fall. Fans cover themselves and run for shelter. Courier and I retreat to the locker room, where we both pace like caged lions. Nick comes in and I look to him for advice, encouragement, but he says nothing. Nothing. I’ve known for some time that I continue with Nick out of habit and loyalty, and not for real coaching. Still, in this moment, it’s not coaching I need but a show of humanity, which is one of the duties of any coach. I need some recognition of the adrenaline-charged moment in which I find myself. Is that too much to ask?

After the rain delay, Courier stations himself farther behind the baseline, hoping to take some of the steam off my shots. He’s had time to rest, and reflect, and recharge, and he storms back to keep me from breaking, then wins the second set. now I’m angry. Furious. I win the third set 6-2.
I establish in Courier’s mind, and in my own, that the second set was a fluke. Up two sets to one, I can feel the finish line pulling me. My first slam. Six little games away.

As the fourth set opens, I lose twelve of the first thirteen points. Am I unraveling or is Courier playing better? I don’t know. I’ll never know. But I do know that this feeling is familiar. Hauntingly familiar. This sense of inevitability. This weightlessness ad momentum slips away. Courier wins the set 6-1.

In the fifth set, tied 4-4, he breaks me. Now, all at once, I just want to lose.

I can’t explain it any other way. In the fourth set I lost the will, but now I’ve lost the desire. As certain as I felt about victory at the start of this match, that’s how certain I am now of defeat. And I want it. I long for it. I say under my breath: Let it be fast. Since losing is death, I’d rather it be fast than slow.

I no longer hear the crowd. I no longer hear my own thoughts, only a white noise between my ears. I can’t hear or feel anything except my desire to lose. I drop the tenth and decisive game of the fifth set, and congratulate Courier. Friends tell me it’s the most desolate look they’ve ever seen on my face.

Afterward, I don’t scold myself. I coolly explain it to myself this way: You don’t have what it takes to get over the line. You just quit on yourself – You need to quit the game”.

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[youtube width=”560″ height=”349″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBSPmYCzaV0[/youtube]

Top Spin 4 features 5 of the top 10 on the ATP rankings (Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, Murray and Roddick), as well as four of the top 10 on the WTA rankings (Wozniacki, Serena Williams, Zvonareva, Jankovic).
Every detail from their look, attitude, attributes, strengths & weaknesses and play style have been implemented in the game. Each player has signature animations for their own swings and attitude.

Nadal02

Roger Federer

Serena Williams

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Only 20 sentences dedicated by Andre Agassi to his 2001 Australian Open win in his autobiography Open? The Australian Open, a tournament he “loves some much”…… as much as he loves tennis, or not.

Sure, there’s not much to say about his 6-4 6-2 6-2 routine win over the surprising Arnaud Clément.

Agassi-Clément

Extract from Agassi’s biography:

“In January we fly to Australia. I feel good when we land. I do love this place. I must have been an aborigine in another life. I always feel at home here. I always enjoy walking into Rod Laver Arena, playing under Laver’s name.

I bet Brad that I’m going to win the whole thing. I can feel it. And when I do, he will have to jump the Yarra River.
I batter my way to the semis and face Rafter again. We play three hours of hammer-and-tong tennis, filled with endless I-grunt-you-grunt rallies.
He’s ahead, two sets to one. Then he withers. The Australian heat. We’re both drenched with sweat, but he’s cramping. I win the next two sets.

In the final I face Clément, a grudge match four months after he knocked me out of the US Open. I rarely leave the baseline. I make few mistakes, and those I do make, I put quickly behind me.
Clément is muttering to himself in French, I feel a serene calm. My mother’s son. I beat him in straight sets.

Agassi-Clément

Andre Agassi

It’s my seventh Slam, putting me tenth on the all-time list. I’m tied with McEnroe, Wilander, and others – one ahead of Becker and Edberg.
Wilander and I are the only ones to win three Australian Opens in the Open era. At the moment, however, all I care is seeing Brad do the backstroke in the Yarra, then getting home to Stefanie.”

Steffi Graf and Brad Gilbert

If the collective emotions of the Australian people could be harnassed, Patrick Rafter would have won a sackful of Australian championships. He was one of our most popular players because of his gallantry, his dashing style of play, and lack of affectation. His good looks won him a few points too.

Pat Rafter

Ever since Mark Edmondson won the 1976 Open, Australians had been awaiting another home-grown champion to place his name on the men’s honour roll. One of the vanishing breed of serve and volley players, Rafter slowly imposed himself on the Australian consciousness in the 90s. But he rarely played as well at home as on foreign shores. He twice won the US Open and twice made the Wimbledon final.

His best effort at Melbourne Park was a fourth round finish in 1995 – the best, that is, until 2001, when he faced Andre Agassi in a semifinal, with a chance to play either Arnaud Clement or Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the final.

Pat Rafter

On a warm, steamy evening, Rafter led Agassi by two sets to one. As the match wore on, however, the heat and tension took toll of the Aussie’s muscles, causing him to sweat heavily, cramp, and struggle with fatigue. Agassi, keeping down unforced errors, won 7-5 2-6 6-7 6-2 6-3.

Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi and Pat Rafter

Source: 2010 official program

Site: Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy
Dates: Saturday, November 6 – Sunday, November 14
Surface: Hard
Prize Money: € 2,227,500
Visit official website

The BNP Paribas Masters is the ninth and final ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event. It’s one of the only Masters neither Roger Federer nor Rafael Nadal ever won. Rafa’s best result is a defeat in final in 2007 (beaten by Nalbandian), and Federer surprisingly never did better than the quarterfinals (in 2002, 2003 and 2008).
Although all the big names of tennis won the Paris Bercy Masters (Becker, Edberg, Sampras, Agassi…), Bercy’s tournament has been pretty disappointing in recent years with late withdrawals and top players early exits, like last year’s Federer stunning first round defeat to Julien Benneteau.
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