New Agassi film Reveals the Reasons Why He Lost to Pete Sampras in the 1990 US Open Finals

CHillTennis

Semi-Pro
The 1990 US Open finals will probably best be remembered for two things.

It was the first slam that Pete Sampras won in his illustrious career of 14 years.

And it was also a possible missed opportunity for Andre Agassi, who was more or less obliterated by Sampras in the finals.

I use to just dismiss this final as being nothing more than a Pete Sampras beatdown.

But having recently done a lot of research into how Sampras was able to easily brush-aside Agassi in the finals.

I came to the surprising realization that there was more going on in this match than I had originally noticed.


At the start of the 1990 season, Pete Sampras would start working with a trainer / coach by the name of Joe Brandi.

Brandi was actually the one responsible for helping Sampras to improve his fitness on the court.

I believe this is part of the reason why you can see such a stark difference between Pete Sampras of 1989 and 1990.

It's because he was a MUCH fitter player by the time the 1990 US Open rolled around and his improved conditioning allowed him to outlast Thomas Muster in the fourth round and Ivan Lendl in the quarter-finals.

By the time he reached the semi-finals Sampras was playing at a completely different level from the remaining players in the event and was able to sweep through the remaining matches (with the loss of only one set).

There's a tendency in sports to chalk losses up to a lack of determination or being not mentally tough enough.

But in the case with Agassi, he was completely overwhelmed by a player that was playing at his absolute best level and was fitter and stronger than before.
 
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Jason Swerve

Professional
Agassi early on was the type to eat a full Big Mac meal right before playing. He had a different mentality to Sampras. In a way, he was a lot like '98 Hingis before he cleaned up his act (Summer of Revenge aside) in the late '90s, kind of similar to Hingis' deciding to work on her fitness in the months heading in '99. It only makes sense he took '99 by storm once the fitness and motivation to dominate found itself for more than a 'summer'.
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
Dre lost because nobody in history would've beaten Pistol that day. Not necessarily because the 19-year-old Pete played the best tennis ever - though it's up there - but because his opponent would be so floored and intimidated by the level of all-court genius from this lanky teen the poor bloke would struggle to respond accordingly. Easily one of the all-time greatest performances, regardless of age.
 

Gizo

Hall of Fame
At the time I rated Sampras's performance as the best display of power and athleticism that I'd ever seen.

Plus it was a showcase of his all-court game. He hit more baseline winners than Agassi did, and had a pretty even distribution of forehand, backhand, forehand volley and backhand volley winners. Sampras probably had a more evenly balanced ratio of winners at the net / winners at the baseline than any other player that I've seen, and this one of the many matches that highlighted that. Some of the half volley winners that he hit were insane. And I do think that the fact that he was so steady and dangerous from the baseline caught Agassi off guard.

Despite Sampras's huge wins over Lendl and McEnroe, many people thought that Agassi winning the final was a formality, and that it was 'his time'. That included Agassi's own team and coach Bollettieri. Sampras liked the fact that he had only 24 hours between the semi-final and final, as it gave him less time to think about the magnitude of the final. In the quarter-finals he beat Lendl who played aggressively and came to the net a moderate amount (around 30 times I think), in the semis he beat McEnroe who serve-volleyed on every serve (allowing him to hit excellent passing shots), and in the final he beat Agassi who of course almost exclusively stayed back, so his last 3 high-profile opponents played noticeably differently to each other but he more than adapted.

At the start of the 90s opinion was fairly split over who was the more talented player out of Sampras and Agassi, but while Agassi of course was supremely talented I thought it was definitely Sampras.
 
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arvind13

Professional
At the time I rated Sampras's performance as the best display of power and athleticism that I'd ever seen.

Plus it was a showcase of his all-court game. He hit more baseline winners than Agassi did, and had a pretty even distribution of forehand, backhand, forehand volley and backhand volley winners. Sampras probably had a more evenly balanced ratio of winners at the net / winners at the baseline than any other player that I've seen, and this one of the many matches that highlighted that. Some of the half volley winners that he hit were insane. And I do think that the fact that he was so steady and dangerous from the baseline caught Agassi off guard.

Despite Sampras's huge wins over Lendl and McEnroe, many people thought that Agassi winning the final was a formality, and that it was 'his time'. That included Agassi's own team and coach Bollettieri. Sampras liked the fact that he had only 24 hours between the semi-final and final, as it gave him less time to think about the magnitude of the final. In the quarter-finals he beat Lendl who played aggressively and came to the net a moderate amount (around 30 times I think), in the semis he beat McEnroe who serve-volleyed on every serve (allowing him to hit excellent passing shots), and in the final he beat Agassi who of course almost exclusively stayed back, so his last 3 high-profile opponents played noticeably differently to each other but he more than adapted.

At the start of the 90s opinion was fairly split over who was the more talented player out of Sampras and Agassi, but while Agassi of course was supremely talented I thought it was definitely Sampras.
and ironically the same thing would happen to pete that happened to andre ten years later at the us open 2000 final. safin wasn't as good at net but he showed a different kind of brilliance using power tennis combined with variety of shots, great technique, and athleticism to beat sampras in straight sets.
 

CHillTennis

Semi-Pro
At the time I rated Sampras's performance as the best display of power and athleticism that I'd ever seen.

Plus it was a showcase of his all-court game. He hit more baseline winners than Agassi did, and had a pretty even distribution of forehand, backhand, forehand volley and backhand volley winners. Sampras probably had a more evenly balanced ratio of winners at the net / winners at the baseline than any other player that I've seen, and this one of the many matches that highlighted that. Some of the half volley winners that he hit were insane. And I do think that the fact that he was so steady and dangerous from the baseline caught Agassi off guard.

Despite Sampras's huge wins over Lendl and McEnroe, many people thought that Agassi winning the final was a formality, and that it was 'his time'. That included Agassi's own team and coach Bollettieri. Sampras liked the fact that he had only 24 hours between the semi-final and final, as it gave him less time to think about the magnitude of the final. In the quarter-finals he beat Lendl who played aggressively and came to the net a moderate amount (around 30 times I think), in the semis he beat McEnroe who serve-volleyed on every serve (allowing him to hit excellent passing shots), and in the final he beat Agassi who of course almost exclusively stayed back, so his last 3 high-profile opponents played noticeably differently to each other but he more than adapted.

At the start of the 90s opinion was fairly split over who was the more talented player out of Sampras and Agassi, but while Agassi of course was supremely talented I thought it was definitely Sampras.
Great post! I like how you brought up the differences in the playing styles between Pete's last three opponents (from the quarter-finals onward).

I think it would also be fair to throw in Thomas Muster when it comes to players with contrasting styles.

What made the difference for Sampras, in all of these matches, was that his opponents could not read his serve.

Even on the occasions when they could, there wasn't necessarily anything that they could do about it.

Of the players from the 90s generation, Pete Sampras was better than anyone else at hitting his marks.

Especially, when it mattered the most.

I did notice that Ivan Lendl was better at reading the Sampras serve than most of Pete's other opponents.

However, I do think that Pete played at a much higher level in the finals against Andre, and probably also in the semis against McEnroe, than he did in the earlier rounds of the tournament.

I fully agree with NonP's comments about Sampras being untouchable on that day.

Outside of a few botched approach shots, he played a nearly flawless match.
 
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Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Dre lost because nobody in history would've beaten Pistol that day. Not necessarily because the 19-year-old Pete played the best tennis ever - though it's up there - but because his opponent would be so floored and intimidated by the level of all-court genius from this lanky teen the poor bloke would struggle to respond accordingly. Easily one of the all-time greatest performances, regardless of age.
Is that a subjective judgment? There have been many "all-time great" performances in tennis history.
 

CHillTennis

Semi-Pro
Is that a subjective judgment? There have been many "all-time great" performances in tennis history.
That is true, although Pete's level in the finals of the 1990 US Open was really something special.

It's too bad that there's no such thing as a "Time Machine Match".

I would love to see a 2004 US Open Federer vs 1990 US Open Sampras match.

Edit: Maybe I've just uncovered the script to Back to the Future Part 4?

Doc Brown takes Pete Sampras from 1990 back in time to the year 2004 to play Roger Federer in the finals of the US Open.
 

Jason Swerve

Professional
That is true, although Pete's level in the finals of the 1990 US Open was really something special.

It's too bad that there's no such thing as a "Time Machine Match".

I would love to see a 2004 US Open Federer vs 1990 US Open Sampras match.

Edit: Maybe I've just uncovered the script to Back to the Future Part 4?

Doc Brown takes Pete Sampras from 1990 back in time to the year 2004 to play Roger Federer in the finals of the US Open.
All that plot for an anti-climactic beatdown on Fed?
 

Gizo

Hall of Fame
Great post! I like how you brought up the differences in the playing styles between Pete's last three opponents (from the quarter-finals onward).

I think it would also be fair to throw in Thomas Muster when it comes to players with contrasting styles.

What made the difference for Sampras, in all of these matches, was that his opponents could not read his serve.

Even on the occasions when they could, there wasn't necessarily anything that they could do about it.

Of the players from the 90s generation, Pete Sampras was better than anyone else at hitting his marks.

Especially, when it mattered the most.

I did notice that Ivan Lendl was better at reading the Sampras serve than most of Pete's other opponents.

However, I do think that Pete played at a much higher level in the finals against Andre, and probably also in the semis against McEnroe, than he did in the earlier rounds of the tournament.

I fully agree with NonP's comments about Sampras being untouchable on that day.

Outside of a few botched approach shots, he played a nearly flawless match.
Yes good point Muster was the world no. 6 at the time, and definitely another elite opponent that he beat, again with a noticeably different playing style compared to others (I miss the days when players had to adjust and adapt to facing opponents with such a wide range of playing styles). And I agree that his level of play in his semi-final against McEnroe was better than it was against Muster and Lendl in the previous rounds, so he was getting better as the tournament progressed and reached its business end. When I watched his performances that day, I did think at the time that his performance in the final was utterly ground-breaking.

I saw him play quite a few times Queen's when he looked no better than a run of the mill top 50 player, and than a couple of weeks later at Wimbledon when he was on another planet and well 'the Pistol'. Bookmakers knew not to adjust his Wimbledon title odds when he was upset at Queen's by Bjorkman and Woodforde, because it simply didn't matter. His ability to raise his game at majors compared to at regular tour events was astonishing and impressive, as was his ability to get over bad points.

And I think some posters (Moose Malloy and NonP) have posted stats in the past showing that Sampras's serving often improve during the latter rounds of tournaments - that's how it felt to me watching him play at the time. Of course the fact that he was only broken 4 times in 131 service games in 7 Wimbledon finals, 2 of which were in the 3rd set in the 1993 final against Courier was he nervous about the finishing line and his first Wimbledon title coming into sight, speaks for itself. And his ability to hit an effective 1st or 2nd serve on a important point such as in a tiebreaker or when facing a break point must have been demoralising for his opponents. Even in a big match that he lost, the 1995 Australian Open final against Agassi, he saved an impressively high number of break points on his 2nd serve.
 

CHillTennis

Semi-Pro
All that plot for an anti-climactic beatdown on Fed?
There would be no beatdown. At least not on Federer's end.

Sampras played a terrific match against Andre. Don't get me wrong.

But Pete would have everything he could do to make it past this peak version of Federer.

I'd give the overall edge to Federer. Although, I could see Pete edging him in 5.
 
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Raul_SJ

G.O.A.T.
Pete of course is known for attacking the net, but Pete could actually hang pretty well with Andre from the baseline. The best forehand (along with Agassi and Lendl) and one of the best backhand in the business at the time.
 
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jrepac

Hall of Fame
Pete of course is known for attacking the net, but Pete could actually hang pretty well with Andre from the baseline. The best forehand (along with Agassi and Lendl) and one of the best backhand in the business at the time.
Pete outdueled Andre from the back court more than once at the Open. Which pretty much stymied Andre as he really had no "Plan B". The 90 match was exceptional. Him beating Lendl I chalked up to knowing his game well, since they practiced together. His win over Mac made me take notice....Mac was playing well at the time and got overpowered. But, I was floored when he mopped up Agassi in the final. He did have a way of getting better as the GS events went on, for certain.
 

Raul_SJ

G.O.A.T.
Pete outdueled Andre from the back court more than once at the Open. Which pretty much stymied Andre as he really had no "Plan B".
This is what happens when you have a one dimensional game that entails avoiding the net like the plague. You may beat everybody else on the planet but you will run into problems with real men. Pete had an all around game with no fear either attacking the net or hanging back. Even against the GOAT returner and baseliner Agassi.
 

CHillTennis

Semi-Pro
This is what happens when you have a one dimensional game that entails avoiding the net like the plague. You may beat everybody else on the planet but you will run into problems with real men. Pete had an all around game with no fear either attacking the net or hanging back. Even against the GOAT returner and baseliner Agassi.
I definitely agree that Agassi's lack of variety hurt him in this match.

But his challenge was returning the Sampras serve.

I remember watching a game where Pete Sampras managed to hold to love with just his second serve.

And this was against one of the greatest returners of all time.

Andre did not have a good read on the Pete Sampras serve.

He did a better job towards the end of the match because there was a few games were Sampras stopped going for the big serves and he accidentally almost let Agassi back into the match.

But Andre wasn't able to convert on the break point opportunities and from there Pete never looked back.

I thought that Agassi's returning, in this match, was very poor. Especially, by his standards.

He got aced way too many times to have had any legitimate chance of winning the match.
 
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Raul_SJ

G.O.A.T.
Llendl, Becker, Wilander, Agassi, Edberg, Chang, Muster, Courier, Mac, Brad Gilbert, Tim Mayotte, Connors... even Jay Berger.

And we have not even mentioned PETE.

The quality and depth of players at the 89 U.S. Open was just too good!

No Weak Era here. 10 guys were capable of winning this. Compare and contrast to The Big Three dominating every Slam. Quite boring from a fans perspective.
GOAT Baseliners Agassi and Llendl mixed in with GOAT S&V'ers Pete, Mac, and Edberg.

Yes, tennis was more interesting then. Not even Jack from Twitter disputes this.
 
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HBK4life

Professional
I definitely agree that Agassi's lack of variety hurt him in this match.

But his challenge was returning the Sampras serve.

I remember watching a game where Pete Sampras managed to hold to love with just his second serve.

And this was against one of the greatest returners of all time.

Andre did not have a good read on the Pete Sampras serve.

He did a better job towards the end of the match because there was a few games were Sampras stopped going for the big serves and he accidentally almost let Agassi back into the match.

But Andre wasn't able to convert on the break point opportunities and from there Pete never looked back.

I thought that Agassi's returning, in this match, was very poor. Especially, by his standards.

He got aced way too many times to have had any legitimate chance of winning the match.
Very poor for his standards. I assume he took Pete lightly and maybe had a late night?
 
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Gizo

Hall of Fame
Agassi definitely underestimated Sampras ahead of that final. He thought that merely keeping the ball in play would be enough to win, and that Sampras would 'inevitably' miss after a few shots. He was badly wrong there, although he openly admitted that. On the morning of the final, Bollettieri was basically declaring that Agassi was going to win to several people.

Agassi shouldn't have even been allowed to reach that final in the first place. He should have been defaulted from his 2nd round match against Korda, as he spat on the chair umpire Wayne McKewen (amongst his other bad behaviour that day) and then lied about it to the supervisor Ken Farrar. He got away with it (he got away with an awful lot in general during those days), and then to make matters worse he didn't apologise for his behaviour afterwards and continued to blame the umpire. Both the 'veteran' superstar McEnroe and the young superstar Agassi being defaulted from majors in the same year would have been crazy !
 

CHillTennis

Semi-Pro
Very poor for his standards. I assume he took Pete lightly and maybe had a late night?
Not according to his autobiography.

To quote from Andre's book;

"I sleep like a pile of Gil's dumbbells. In the morning I feel ready to play a ten-setter. I have no hairpiece issues-because I'm not wearing my hairpiece. I'm using a new low-maintenance camouflaging system that involves a thicker headband and brightly colored highlights. There's simply no way I can lose to Pete, that hapless kid I watched with sympathy last year, that poor klutz who couldn't keep the ball in the court.

Then a different Pete shows up. A Pete who doesn't ever miss. We're playing long points, demanding points, and he's flawless. He's reaching everything, hitting everything, bounding back and forth like a gazelle. He's serving bombs, flying to the net, bringing his game right to me. He's laying wood to my serve. I'm helpless, I'm angry. I'm telling myself: This is not happening.
Yes, this is happening.
No, this cannot be happening.
Then, instead of thinking how I can win, I begin to think of how I can avoid losing. It's the same mistake that I made against Gomez, with the same result."


It seems as though, unlike in his match with Gomez, Andre went into the US Open final, feeling confident and well-prepared.

Pete's game was simply too much for him on this day.

I can't say that he's wrong either, as this is pretty much what I observed.

However, I have speculated that his loss to Gomez was not due to the hair-piece concerns, but instead a combination of several other factors:

1. Age: Andre had only just turned 20 years old and was far from being the mentally stronger player that he would later become once Brad Gilbert started working with him. (Just imagine how Agassi would have done if Gilbert had been coaching him here.)

2. Nerves Right from the beginning of the match, Andre looked noticeably anxious. Even after winning the second set against Gomez he was never really able to relax. This would be in stark contrast to how he performed against Ivanisevic in the finals of Wimbledon after losing the first set in a tie-break.

3. Bad Strategy Knowing that he was playing a left-hander, Andre for some reason got stuck in the backhand to forehand pattern against Gomez. He also made poor use of the drop-shot which cost him on a few very important points, late in the match.

4. Opponent was in Good Form Although he fell off a bit in the second set, Gomez still managed to play a terrific match. He made the most out of the weapons that he had and used his serve to get out of some potential danger in the last few games of the fourth set.

However, with that said, I don't think he would have beaten Andre, if he had brought his best level to the finals.

 
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Gizo

Hall of Fame
Regarding RG in 1990, I always thought that the 2 best players in the world on clay at the time, Gomez and Muster, squared off in the semis with their SF pretty much a de-facto final. I would have backed Muster to beat Agassi in the final as well; he convincingly beat him on clay in the Davis Cup a few months later. Agassi did go in the final as the favourite, but I rated Gomez's chances of winning very highly as he was the better player on clay at the time, and wasn't at all surprised that he did. A few people such as Mary Carrillo had talked up Gomez's chances at Paris earlier that year, with it known that his arch-nemesis Lendl would skip the tournament to instead concentrate on grass, and then his excellent form in the build-up to RG.

Gomez dictated play for much of the final, and mixed things up well to keep Agassi off-rhythm. His forehand was a big and well-known weapon and it was certainly firing that day, but he mixed up deep, powerful forehands with loopy ones, hit some excellent backhand slices, served well and also came to the net around 40 times and volleyed well. Agassi did over-use his dropshots and Gomez was able to retrieve and successfully counter a lot of them. In his SF against Muster, it had been a similar story with him completely controlling the match, hitting a large number of winners, pounding Muster's serve, hitting very effective and well timed drop shots and also coming to the net and volleying well fairly frequently.
 
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big ted

Hall of Fame
like others said pete really brought it that day but like andres previous GS final he seemed nervous, a little tentative which robbed him of power and he couldnt move his feet that well.. in the biggest matches sampras always seemed to raise his game and andre's would go down, and i dont mean just against each other...i think that was a big difference between those two... in big matches agassi had to go 5 with martin, medvedev, ivanesavic, rafter, etc... i dont think agassi dealt with nerves as well as the other greats
 
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thrust

Hall of Fame
This is what happens when you have a one dimensional game that entails avoiding the net like the plague. You may beat everybody else on the planet but you will run into problems with real men. Pete had an all around game with no fear either attacking the net or hanging back. Even against the GOAT returner and baseliner Agassi.
TRUE!
 

CHillTennis

Semi-Pro
like others said pete really brought it that day but like andres previous GS final he seemed nervous, a little tentative which robbed him of power and he couldnt move his feet that well.. in the biggest matches sampras always seemed to raise his game and andre's would go down, and i dont mean just against each other...i think that was a big difference between those two... in big matches agassi had to go 5 with martin, medvedev, ivanesavic, rafter, etc... i dont think agassi dealt with nerves as well as the other greats
100% agree. The only grand slam final where I thought that he looked truly relaxed was against Rainer Schuttler in the 2003 Australian Open.

Andre referenced this match in Open and said that it was like one of Steffi's matches.

I think his lack of power on the serve, also explains why he wasn't able to do this more often.

If you take Pete Sampras, for example, he would always have points in a match where his volleys or his backhand would start to let him down.

But Pete always had his serve to fall back on.

Andre had to rely on his groundstrokes to get himself out of danger.

He also had the tendency to speed through his service routine, when things weren't going well.

This also affected his consistency in the big matches.
 
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timnz

Legend
and ironically the same thing would happen to pete that happened to andre ten years later at the us open 2000 final. safin wasn't as good at net but he showed a different kind of brilliance using power tennis combined with variety of shots, great technique, and athleticism to beat sampras in straight sets.
Regarding Sampras’ straight sets win over Safin in the 2001 US open, do you think that Sampras played better than he did in 2000 or that Safin played worse?
 

arvind13

Professional
Regarding Sampras’ straight sets win over Safin in the 2001 US open, do you think that Sampras played better than he did in 2000 or that Safin played worse?
sampras played a little better, but its mostly safin playing worse
 

2ndServe

Hall of Fame
Is this not the expected score

1st serve - Sampras+++
2nd serve - Sampras+++
Volleys - Sampras+++
Mid court game - Sampras+++
Smash - Sampras+++
Forehand - Sampras++
Movement - Sampras+++
Mentally-Sampras++
Clutch-Sampras+++

Backhand - Agassi+

Return game- surprise, slight edge in the match to Sampras (because agassi may have a better return against the field but in this match Sampras is facing a weak serve so his return is looking good , while Agassi's good return is facing the greatest serve so his return game is actually poor against sampras

If you add it all up this is the expected drubbing
 

Quaichang

New User
At the time I rated Sampras's performance as the best display of power and athleticism that I'd ever seen.

Plus it was a showcase of his all-court game. He hit more baseline winners than Agassi did, and had a pretty even distribution of forehand, backhand, forehand volley and backhand volley winners. Sampras probably had a more evenly balanced ratio of winners at the net / winners at the baseline than any other player that I've seen, and this one of the many matches that highlighted that. Some of the half volley winners that he hit were insane. And I do think that the fact that he was so steady and dangerous from the baseline caught Agassi off guard.

Despite Sampras's huge wins over Lendl and McEnroe, many people thought that Agassi winning the final was a formality, and that it was 'his time'. That included Agassi's own team and coach Bollettieri. Sampras liked the fact that he had only 24 hours between the semi-final and final, as it gave him less time to think about the magnitude of the final. In the quarter-finals he beat Lendl who played aggressively and came to the net a moderate amount (around 30 times I think), in the semis he beat McEnroe who serve-volleyed on every serve (allowing him to hit excellent passing shots), and in the final he beat Agassi who of course almost exclusively stayed back, so his last 3 high-profile opponents played noticeably differently to each other but he more than adapted.

At the start of the 90s opinion was fairly split over who was the more talented player out of Sampras and Agassi, but while Agassi of course was supremely talented I thought it was definitely Sampras.
I think in terms of pure ball striking AA may have been slightly more gifted. But the big edge for Pete was the serve. Also Pete had superior athleticism in my opinion.
 
Pete was just on another level that day. I think that Andre wasn’t ready for that serve, nor Pete’s ability to go groundstroke-for-groundstroke with him from the baseline. In the post-match interview Andre said “when your opponent can serve the ball 120+ mph on the lines, there’s not much you can do against it.”

All this talk about Andre’s game “lacking variety” or “avoiding the net like the plague”
Is stupid, in my opinion. Rushing the net every service point doesn’t give your game “more variety”, it’s simply a different style of play than being a baseliner. I do think Andre learned to never take Pete’s game lightly again from that day onward
 
how about the other times he got pounded into submission by Pete at the USO? Agassi always has an excuse when it comes to Pete. Agassi loss more times than not because Pete couldn't stand the guy personally so he always seemed to up his game. I wish Pete would have had that more of an "edge" and personal commitment to demolish other guys like he did Agassi. LOL. Generally, when you pissed Pete off, you're going to lose. He'll be painting lines to the T with 130MPh aces down the middle or out wide. He couldn’t stand rafter either so he did the same thing to him
 
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big ted

Hall of Fame
im wondering if agassi could have done better if he didnt crowd on the return of serve so much against sampras..
agassi seemed pretty stubborn in that regard. would he have been aced so many times?
on the other hand, agassi was still getting his serve broken as well so mabye not have changed anything..
 

Jason Swerve

Professional
Pete was just on another level that day. I think that Andre wasn’t ready for that serve, nor Pete’s ability to go groundstroke-for-groundstroke with him from the baseline. In the post-match interview Andre said “when your opponent can serve the ball 120+ mph on the lines, there’s not much you can do against it.”
You can learn to hit a return winner.
 

mcs1970

Hall of Fame
The 1990 US Open finals will probably best be remembered for two things.

It was the first slam that Pete Sampras won in his illustrious career of 14 years.

And it was also a possible missed opportunity for Andre Agassi, who was more or less obliterated by Sampras in the finals.

I use to just dismiss this final as being nothing more than a Pete Sampras beatdown.

But having recently done a lot of research into how Sampras was able to easily brush-aside Agassi in the finals.

I came to the surprising realization that there was more going on in this match than I had originally noticed.


At the start of the 1990 season, Pete Sampras would start working with a trainer / coach by the name of Joe Brandi.

Brandi was actually the one responsible for helping Sampras to improve his fitness on the court.

I believe this is part of the reason why you can see such a stark difference between Pete Sampras of 1989 and 1990.

It's because he was a MUCH fitter player by the time the 1990 US Open rolled around and his improved conditioning allowed him to outlast Thomas Muster in the fourth round and Ivan Lendl in the quarter-finals.

By the time he reached the semi-finals Sampras was playing at a completely different level from the remaining players in the event and was able to sweep through the remaining matches (with the loss of only one set).

There's a tendency in sports to chalk losses up to a lack of determination or being not mentally tough enough.

But in the case with Agassi, he was completely overwhelmed by a player that was playing at his absolute best level and was fitter and stronger than before.
I read a long time ago about Pete’s change of attitude in fitness and it didn’t come in 89/90. I remember reading that a few year before that he had gone to some elite camp and saw the work a lot of his peers were putting in. That changed his mindset about how important fitness was if he were to realize his dreams.
 

mcs1970

Hall of Fame
This is what happens when you have a one dimensional game that entails avoiding the net like the plague. You may beat everybody else on the planet but you will run into problems with real men. Pete had an all around game with no fear either attacking the net or hanging back. Even against the GOAT returner and baseliner Agassi.
Agassi was not a one dimensional player. He looked a bit nervous and then later shell shocked by what happened early that he never found his bearings that day. That game was not a good one to judge his style. He was not a one dimensional player in any sense of the term.
 

big ted

Hall of Fame
agassi was kinda unlucky in the sense that he was the favorite in his first couple GS finals.. i think its more usual ur the underdog in ur first one or two...
 

Rattler

Hall of Fame
I read a long time ago about Pete’s change of attitude in fitness and it didn’t come in 89/90. I remember reading that a few year before that he had gone to some elite camp and saw the work a lot of his peers were putting in. That changed his mindset about how important fitness was if he were to realize his dreams.
It was that in addition to being invited to hit and train with Lendl in Connecticut. Seeing his peers and being up close and personal with Ironman of tennis at the time surely made an impression on him.
 

CHillTennis

Semi-Pro
im wondering if agassi could have done better if he didnt crowd on the return of serve so much against sampras..
agassi seemed pretty stubborn in that regard. would he have been aced so many times?
on the other hand, agassi was still getting his serve broken as well so mabye not have changed anything..
Great point! I actually think it would have made a big difference for Andre, if he had just managed to get more of Pete's serves into play.

Andre missed out on so many opportunities in the first two sets.

It wasn't really until the beginning of the third that he was able to find any rhythm on Pete's serve.

I think he went into this match, expecting Pete to miss a lot more shots than he did.

It also seems as though Pete Sampras made a conscious effort to avoid serving the ball into the body.

Andre had excellent hand eye co-ordination and was very skilled at redirecting body-serves.

Sampras seemed to be aware of this and chose not to serve into Andre's strength.
 
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Thetouch

Professional
Pete's serve wasn't even that big in 1990, I think his strongest serve during the Open was around 124mph and he only served 12 aces in the final but he obviously was very consistent and hit winners. So the Agassi excuse of Sampras being a serving machine in 1990 doesn't really add up to the stats. The 1993-95 version of Sampras was much stronger physically and mentally in comparison.
 
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