After hitting rock bottom in 1997, Andre Agassi was back at his best in the following years, winning five Grand Slam and eight Masters 1000 crowns since 1999 and becoming world no. 1 in September that year for the first time in three and a half years!
The American turned 30 in 2000 and was still one of the players to beat under the close guidance of Brad Gilbert, battling against the new generation and staying at the top until 2003 when he finally started to lose the ground a little bit.
The last season of the charismatic star came in 2006, starting it from the top-10 and playing eight ATP tournaments before that emotional retirement at the US Open, one of the most beautiful moments in the history of our sport.
A year earlier, Andre claimed his 60th and final ATP title in Los Angeles on July 31, defeating Gilles Muller 6-4, 7-5 in an hour and 28 minutes to become the seventh player in the Open era with 60 ATP crowns by his name, joining Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras and Guillermo Vilas on the special list.
Andre was the top seed and lost just one set en route to the final, his 88th in a career, competing for the first time since the Roland Garros due to a chronic sciatic nerve problem. In the first round, the veteran toppled Jean-Rene Lisnard 6-1, 6-0 in 47 minutes, advancing into the quarter-final with another quick triumph over Kevin Kim.
In the battle for the semi-final, Agassi prevailed against Paradorn Srichaphan 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in an hour and 52 minutes, doing more damage on the return and converting four out of 12 chances to book the spot in the last four where he delivered another flawless performance to oust Juan Ignacio Chela and reach the title match.
There, the 35-year-old performed in another rock-solid encounter against the youngster from Luxembourg who competed in the second ATP final, serving at 70% and saving both break points to keep the pressure on the other side of the net.
Gilles gave his best to stay in touch but lost serve once in each set, at the beginning of the match and at 5-5 in set number two to end on the losing side, missing a chance to win his maiden ATP crown. It was the fourth title in Los Angeles for Andre who made a debut there in 1987, joining Frank Parker, Roy Emerson and Jimmy Connors who also won the tournament that many times.
Also, Agassi became the oldest ATP champion since Jimmy Connors in Tel Aviv 1989, getting the opportunity to celebrate what turned out to be the last ATP title with the home fans. Carried by this momentum, Andre was the finalist of the following two big events as well, losing to Rafael Nadal in Montreal and Roger Federer at the US Open, becoming the oldest Grand Slam finalist since Ken Rosewall at the US Open 31 years earlier!
"It feels amazing. These moments don't happen very often anymore and I'm taking it in," Agassi said. "It's great to let my game fly and to be eager to scamper after shots you're not even sure you're going to get.
I'd never felt that before and it's a scary thing when you're looking for a doctor to tell you, 'You're not playing anymore.' It's a helpless feeling. It was very possible, and still is, that it gets to a point when I can't do it."