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Old 12-13-2007, 05:00 PM   #11
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 5,530

There were certainly mental toughness intangibles here, but in the tangible, concrete sense, I think the better grasscourt game won. I don't simply mean Becker's 22 aces, against Agassi's 4. It's also Agassi's volleys, which produced few winners. I look over my notes and I see that Becker got the only break of the third set by throwing up lobs that drew an error -- an overhead error as I recall.

Agassi essentially was in the zone and was playing great defense, but his offense was nothing remarkable; at least not against Becker's defense. Becker, on the other hand, had all those serves and volley winners, and on top of that he played strong defense. He had 17 ground stroke winners, and would have had more passing shots if Agassi had presented more of a target.

His ground strokes, in a way, gave him the edge in the match. Though he was not baselining with Agassi, he got his first break with those two strong baseline rallies that we mentioned. And the break in the third, he got by throwing up lobs. It took only one error (on grass that's often all it took), but Agassi made it -- at the net. That's where Andre showed no particular strength, however amazing his defense was.

McEnroe said that Becker played a smart match, mixing it up well, and by that he didn't mean that Boris was slowing down the pace; that was not Becker's style. But he was adventurous with the way he played points, because he had both offense and defense: big flat serves, topspin, slice approaches. He came in a lot, but not always on a predictable ball, because he could rally too. So he kept Agassi off balance and applied constant pressure.

And he made all his first serves in the tiebreaks -- big serves generally giving a player an advantage in tiebreaks, especially on fast surfaces.

I haven't seen their 95 USO semi since then, but if Agassi took both tiebreaks there, that means he played the big points better there. That's why I don't think the W win comes down to Becker's mental toughness; Agassi could be mentally superior himself, in other matches. I just don't think he had enough to defeat Becker's best grasscourt game; and I think he would have lost to Sampras anyway, though in a close match.

Last edited by krosero; 12-13-2007 at 05:02 PM. Reason: correction about breaks
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