In Roger Federer's words: 'Agassi played great match, although I had my chances..'



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In Roger Federer's words: 'Agassi played great match, although I had my chances..'

The defending champion Andre Agassi returned to Miami as one of the favorites in 2002 as well, defeating 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, with Agassi losing a set against a former champion Marcelo Rios in the semis before the Chilean retired, pushing the American into the title match.

It was the eighth ATP final for the upcoming youngster, the second on outdoor courts, scoring his first win over the no. 1 player in the semis when he dismissed Lleyton Hewitt and trying to become the youngest Miami Masters 1000 champion and pass Agassi's record from 1990!

Constantly improving his game, the youngster found his best tennis in Miami after just four wins in Rotterdam, Dubai and Indian Wells overall, pushing Agassi to the limits and winning only one point less than the more experienced rival to finish runner-up.

As was expected, an explosive teenager had almost twice as many winners than Andre but also more errors, giving his best to control the pace of the rallies and matching the rival's numbers in the longer baseline rallies.

Interestingly, Agassi had the upper hand in the shortest rallies which gave him the triumph in the end, having to dig deep against the young opponent who used every shot in the arsenal to stay on the positive side of the scoreboard and chase the first big title in a career.

There were 20 break chances up for grabs and Agassi fended off four out of seven, 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 for the second straight year.

Federer held at love in the opening game and broke Andre in the second after a forehand down the line winner for the best possible start and early advantage. Agassi bounced back in game three, winning 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, with the American cementing 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 gained the lead with a break at 30 following a loose backhand from Roger, clinching the set thanks to a good hold at 5-3 to move closer to the finish line some 70 minutes after the beginning of the encounter.

Rod Laver was there to watch the title match, observing two break chances for the youngster in the second game of the third set, denied by Agassi who finally got 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 a 6-3, reducing the deficit and extending the clash for at least one more set, with the momentum on his side of the court ahead of the fourth set.

Things looked better and better for the 20-year-old after clinching a break in the third game thanks to a forehand error from Agassi, closing the next game with a service winner and making another good hold for a 4-2. In what could have been the pivotal game of the match, Federer squandered a game point at 4-3 to suffer a break, drawing Andre back to 4-4 and losing the drive he had throughout the set.

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 to feel well on the court after that third set. The points were getting shorter and I also felt like I was serving much better. I had a chance to force the fifth set but then he picked it up while I didn't 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 wouldn't miss them. The game at 4-2 could have gone either way and he was back in the match after that, playing good 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 wasn't 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."