Roger Federer recalls: 'Andre Agassi played a great match, but I could have..'



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Roger Federer recalls: 'Andre Agassi played a great match, but I could have..'

The defending champion Andre Agassi was one of the favorites at the Miami Masters in 2002, playing well and beating the young Swiss Roger Federer 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in two hours and 21 minutes to lift the fifth Miami Open title.

Andre and Roger showed the most during those two weeks in sunny Florida. Agassi lost a set against a former champion Marcelo Rios in the semis before the Chilean retired and pushed the American into the title match. It was the eighth ATP final for the upcoming youngster, the second on outdoor courts, earning it after scoring his first win over the no.

1 player in the semis over Lleyton Hewitt. Federer was trying to become the youngest Miami Masters 1000 champion and steal the record from Agassi in 1990! Improving his game regularly, the youngster found his best tennis in Miami after just four wins in Rotterdam, Dubai and Indian Wells, pushing Agassi to the limits and winning only one point less than the more experienced rival.

As was expected, an explosive teenager had almost twice as many winners than Andre and more errors, giving his best to control the pace and match the rival's numbers in the longer baseline rallies. Interestingly, Agassi had the upper hand in the shortest exchanges, which gave him the triumph after digging deep against the young opponent who used every shot in the arsenal to stay on the positive side of the scoreboard.

There were 20 break chances up for grabs, and Agassi fended off four out of seven while stealing Roger's serve six times from 13 opportunities to cross the finish line first and lift the crown in front of the home fans.

Federer held at love in the opening game and broke Andre in the second after a forehand down the line winner for an early advantage. Agassi bounced back in game three and took four points in a row to steal the rival's serve and avoid chasing the result at that stage.

Federer netted a forehand right after serve in the seventh game to push Agassi 4-3 up.

Roger Federer lost to Andre Agassi in the 2002 Miami Open final.

The American cemented the lead after deuce before delivering the second break with a backhand down the line winner in game nine to claim the set 6-3 in 35 minutes.

After five good holds on both sides in the second set, Andre forged the advantage with a break at 30 following Roger's loose backhand, clinching the set thanks to a good hold at 5-3 to move closer to the finish line. Rod Laver was there to watch the title match, observing two break chances for the youngster in the third set's second game.

Agassi denied those before finally getting broken at 1-2 after a forced error that sent Roger in front. Hold at love cemented the break for the Swiss, who blasted four winners in the ninth game for 6-3, reducing the deficit and extending the clash for at least one more set.

Things looked better and better for the 20-year-old after clinching a break in the fourth set's third game thanks to Agassi's forehand error, closing the next one with a service winner and making another good hold for 4-2.

In what could have been the encounter's pivotal game, Federer squandered a game point at 4-3 to suffer a break, drawing Andre back to 4-4 and losing the drive. The American held at love with an ace in game nine and broke Roger for the second time in a row a few minutes later to cross the finish line, rattling off the last four games to seal the deal and lift the fifth Miami Open crown.

"I started feeling well on the court after that third set. The points were getting shorter, and I felt like I was serving much better. I had a chance to force the fifth set, but then he picked it up while I did not serve that well anymore.

Suddenly, the match was over quickly. I gave him a chance to bounce back in the closing stages of the fourth set, and Andre would not miss it. The game at 4-2 could have gone either way, and he was back in the match after that, playing well in the remaining games to bring the victory home.

The second set was tough, as he made me run a lot and hit the rushed shots. I was struggling, and my serve was not there to help me either. Andre played a great match, and that's why I'm happy for standing a chance in sets three and four, with much shorter points and momentum on my side of the court," Roger Federer said.