US Open Flashback: Pete Sampras edges Andre Agassi after epic encounter



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US Open Flashback: Pete Sampras edges Andre Agassi after epic encounter

Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi met for the 32nd time in the 2001 US Open quarter-final at Arthur Ashe Stadium on September 6, with Sampras defeating the greatest rival 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6 in three hours and 32 minutes! During an epic encounter, Pete and Andre barely said a word, failing to break each other in 48 games (22 games in a row without even a break chance), with Agassi saving six break points and Sampras repelling three to stay neck and neck from start to finish.

The crowd of 23,033 witnessed two outstanding players at their best, with 20 Grand Slam titles among them, the most in a match since the 1969 US Open quarter-final between Rod Laver and Roy Emerson! In the end, Pete won 14 points more than Andre thanks to those tie breaks in what had been a great clash of two tennis giants who would meet in the final a year later.

Sampras had almost 80 winners and forced nearly the same number of errors from Andre, who had the advantage in the unforced errors segment, spraying under 20 mistakes while Pete counted to over 40. The better server had a clear advantage in the shortest points up to four strokes and stayed in touch with the more effective baseliner in the more extended exchanges to forge the victory and remain on the title course.

In the third game, Agassi forced Pete's error to earn a break chance, denied by a service winner from Sampras, who won four of the following five points with winners. Pete created three break chances before hitting four straight errors in the next game, allowing Andre to bring it home and level the score at 2-2.

Agassi held after deuce in game eight with two unreturned serves, and Pete did the same in the game that followed to move closer to a tie break.

In the 2001 US Open quarter-final, Sampras defeated Agassi in a thriller.

They traded mini-breaks in the opening two points before Sampras grabbed another one at 3-4 after an unforced error from Andre, who trailed 6-3 before performing a comeback.

He won the following four points to turn the scoreboard around, and the opener was in his hands after Pete's unforced volley error in the 16th point, performing a great steal and hoping for more of the same in the remaining sets.

Like the opener, nothing could separate them in the second set, and Sampras had no room for errors in the 12th game while serving to stay in the set. Pete hit three double faults but brought the game home with good serves before clinching the tie break 7-2 after a spectacular backhand volley winner at the net that changed the course of the scoreboard.

Sampras defended a break chance in the third set's third game with a backhand volley and closed it with a service winner to keep his serve intact. Agassi held in the next one after two deuces to lock the score at 2-2 and stay competitive until the tie break.

It turned out to be similar to the previous one, and Sampras clinched it 7-2 after three mini-breaks, moving ahead thanks to Andre's unforced errors and sealing the deal with two booming serves to forge two sets to one advantage.

With momentum on his side, Sampras created two break chances at the beginning of the fourth set, and Agassi repelled them with four straight winners to stay unbroken. Andre had an opportunity to score the first break of the match at 4-3, unable to take another step as Sampras fired three service winners and created a break chance a few minutes later, only to spray three unforced errors to keep Agassi in.

We saw three good holds after that, and the fourth set went into a tie break, a must-win one for Andre. He led 3-1 before dropping the following five points, giving three match points to his nemesis and fending off the first two.

Sampras converted the third when Agassi made an unforced backhand error in the 12th point to wrap up this extraordinary clash and move into the semis.