Originally Posted by abmk
agree that agassi underachieved at the USO , but disagree with other points here ....
the AO in 2000 while faster than usual was not faster than the USO in 95,2001 and 2002 ...
while I do agree that the 4-0 and 0-2 h2hs at the respective slams do not accurately reflect their prowess and matchup at those surfaces, I do definitely think that the speed, bounce of the courts , even among HCs did matter quite a bit .....
The US Open hard courts wasn't even fast in the 90s until 1997 when they were sped up. In the mid 90s the hard courts there were medium paced. They were very fast from 1997-2000, before being slowed down again after 2000. So Sampras had his best and most dominant period at the US Open from 1993-1996 when the courts there weren't even that fast, and didn't win any titles there from 1997-2000 when they were at their fastest. Thus another myth regarding Sampras is that he won 12 out of his 14 slams on fast surfaces.
It made sense for the US Open organisers to slow down the courts. Agassi was the one big superstar that casual American fans cared about, and Courier and Chang were both also more comfortable on a more mid-paced surface. Still Agassi did complain that the hard courts used for the USA-Croatia Davis Cup tie in 2005 were too slow, so I doubt he was significantly less comfortable on fast hard courts than slower ones.
The courts at the Australian Open in 2000 were not just faster than usual. but very fast. In fact Sampras actually said during the tournament that he had never played on such a fast outdoor hard court (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/ten...17/sampras_ap/
I don't think it was a coincidence that Sampras served a career-high 37 aces in that semi against Agassi, and Agassi himself was winning a lot of quick, easy points on his own serve.
Still I do think that 2000 Australian Open courts were slower than the super-fast 1997-2000 US Open courts, but definitely faster than the 1993-1996 mid-paced and 2001-2002 fast but not crazy fast US Open courts.
I think that Agassi's Australian Open record was more testament to his supremely good training programme and conditioning during the off-season, when a lot of other guys weren't working anywhere near as hard, than the variation of the hard court used. Sampras's dominant US Open h2h against Agassi I think can be explained by Sampras simply being a better big match and clutch player than Agassi. The US Open was clearly the tournament that Agassi cared about the most, and for Sampras it was at worst a close second behind Wimbledon. That was the biggest neutral stage where they could play each other (as Wimbledon heavily favoured Sampras of course), and playing Agassi on such a big stage usually brought out the best in Sampras.
Those 2001-2002 US Open matches proved beyond any reasonable doubt that Sampras was the better player. Agassi was one of the top 2-3 players in the world during that period, and Sampras was declining and suffering a long title drought. Agassi had no business losing either of those two matches but Sampras had the last laugh.