June 6, 1999: Andre Agassi performs a miracle comeback to join immortals

by   |  VIEW 10138

June 6, 1999: Andre Agassi performs a miracle comeback to join immortals

Andre Agassi, a charismatic youngster from Las Vegas, Nevada, has found an instant chemistry with Roland Garros, reaching the semi-final at the age of 18 in 1988 and two finals in 1990 and 1991. Andres Gomez and Jim Courier were too strong for him and Jim halted him in the semi-final in 1992 as well. Nothing seemed to be normal in a career of this super talented rebel, including the fact his first Major has come at Wimbledon in 1992, where no one expected him to win the title.

After some poor years in Paris, Andre started to struggle in every tournament and every surface, hitting the rock bottom in 1997 when he found himself outside the Top 140, climbing back in 1998 and 1999 to return where he belongs.

Nonetheless, an injury was his main concern in that spring of 1999 as he had to withdraw from the Dusseldorf event a week before Paris due to an inflamed tendon in his right shoulder, and he was pretty much in doubt for Roland Garros as well, arriving with Brad Gilbert on Saturday, just before the start of the tournament.

Two weeks later, after all kind of drama and excitement, Andre Agassi made a miracle return in the final against Andrei Medvedev to lift the elusive trophy that has been running away from him, becoming the fifth player after Don Budge, Fred Perry, Rod Laver and Roy Emerson who has managed to win all four Grand Slams! Andre was two points from defeat against Arnaud Clement in the second round and he had to work hard against the defending champion Carlos Moya and Dominik Hrbaty as well, passing all the obstacles to reach the final against the world number 100 Andrei Medvedev.

The Ukrainian had a solid career on clay, winning four Masters 1000 titles at the young age and this was his biggest chance of claiming a Major as well, doing everything right in the first part of the match but just falling short against the rival who refused to surrender.

After two hours and 52 minutes, Agassi prevailed 1-6 2-6 6-4 6-3 6-4 to become the first player since 1984 and Ivan Lendl who has overcome two sets to love deficit in Roland Garros final. Medvedev had 23 aces and he finished the match with seven points more than Andre thanks to those opening two sets, and he saved 11 out of 15 break points to keep the pressure on the American.

Andre had to work hard in his games, fending off 14 out of 19 break chances he had to play against to recover his game after the second set and steady build his comeback that brought him the tennis immortality. The Ukrainian had an enormous lead in the shortest points, dominating with his serve and the initial forehand, but Andre earned his win with a rock solid display in the mid-range points up to eight shots and also after winning some crucial points in the exchanges that reached the 10th shot, taking five points more than Andrei in those.

This gave Andre a huge boost and he would play in the final of Wimbledon and the US Open by the end of the season, becoming world number 1 again for the first time since 1996 and staying a force to be reckoned with until he retired in 2006.

ALSO READ: Borg, Lendl, Federer and Nadal: The Open era most one-sided rivalries