On this day: Roger Federer tops Andre Agassi to defend New York crown


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On this day: Roger Federer tops Andre Agassi to defend New York crown

Back in 2005, the organizers of the US Open made the decision to change the color of the court from green to blue, although it brought nothing new in terms of the results. Roger Federer defended the title he won 12 months ago to lift his sixth Grand Slam crown at the age of 24, still winning every Major final he had entered up to that point.

Just like a year ago, the Swiss played on a higher level to everyone else on the Tour, claiming 11 titles and scoring 81 wins from 85 encounters, leaving Rafael Nadal and all the others miles behind. Marat Safin, Richard Gasquet and Rafael Nadal were the only players who had beaten Roger earlier that season and he was the main favorite in New York, winning 29 of the last 30 matches before another successful run at the Flushing Meadows.

Federer needed just 63 minutes to demolish Ivo Minar in the opening round but had to work much harder against the magician Fabrice Santoro whom he ousted in three tight sets. Nicolas Kiefer took one set from Roger and the Swiss had to dig deep in the semis as well, prevailing against the last year's finalist Lleyton Hewitt in just under three hours.

In the title match, Federer met Andre Agassi, the oldest US Open finalist since Ken Rosewall in 1974, making one last push in order to win the home Major for the first time since 1999. In their 11th and last meeting, Roger defeated the American 6-3, 2-6, 7-6, 6-1 in two hours and 19 minutes on September 11 for the eighth straight win over Andre and the fourth in 2005, all on hard courts.

Serving at 76%, Federer blasted 44 service winners and dominated with his forehand to control the pace in the rallies and keep the pressure on his rival, especially in sets one and four. Andre scored three breaks from six opportunities and that wasn't enough for a more positive result as he lost 44% of the points in his games, facing no less than 18 break chances and losing in four sets despite fending off 14 of those.

The American stayed in front only in the most extended exchanges, a slim lead in comparison to what Roger did in the shortest and mid-range rallies. Federer had a clear upper hand in those and his triumph was never in doubt despite some struggle in sets two and three.

Both players made a comfortable start and we had to wait until the sixth game to see the first break of serve, with Roger moving 4-2 ahead when Agassi netted a backhand. Three service winners pushed the Swiss 5-2 in front, wasting three set points on the return in the next game and allowing Andre to win five points in a row and reduce the deficit to 5-3.

Federer had troubles to finish the ninth game as well, squandering another set of four set points before finally converting the eighth with an ace for a 6-3 after 34 minutes. The American raised his level in the second set and earned a break in game two with a forehand return winner, fending off three break chances a few minutes later to confirm the break and move 3-0 ahead.

A rare volley winner sent Agassi 4-1 ahead and a service winner kept him in front after the seventh game as well, forcing Roger to serve for staying in the set. It was the worst set that Swiss played during the entire week, dropping serve once again to hand the set to his rival after some 30 minutes, with a lot of work to be done if he wanted to gain the momentum and establish the supremacy on the court again.

Agassi found the zone on his serve and converted the third break chance in the sixth game of the third set to forge a 4-2 lead, returning well and taking time away from Roger's shots. In a manner of a true champion, Federer broke back in the very next game with a backhand winner and the momentum was now on his side, creating a break opportunity in game 11 that could have grabbed the set earlier for him.

Andre saved it with an amazing forehand down the line winner and had to do the same three more times, bringing the game home with two winners for a 6-5 lead. Federer was the better player in the tie break, forging a 4-1 gap after two errors from Agassi and creating five set points with a service winner.

A backhand return winner completed a perfect breaker for Roger who was now a huge favorite to cross the finish line first in the fourth set. Agassi had been losing ground rapidly and his shots were not there to challenge Roger anymore, getting broken in the second game after a forehand down the line winner from the Swiss.

Another winner pushed Roger 4-0 up and the trophy was firmly in his hands after firing four winners in game five, moving a game away from the triumph. The American saved two match points in the sixth game to avoid a complete disaster and that was all he could do, as Federer sealed the deal with four winners in game seven to celebrate the second US Open crown and the best possible title defense.

After getting broken in the third set, Roger sailed through the last seven service games and Andre was unable to follow that pace and prolong the match, competing in his last Grand Slam final in a career.