Road to title short, sweet for Agassi Tops Korda in 1:05 for 2nd Sovran crown

July 22, 1991|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Sun Staff Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- After winning his second straight Sovran Bank Classic, Andre Agassi wouldn't apologize for the relative ease with which he stormed through the field.

Yesterday's victim was Petr Korda, whom Agassi defeated, 6-3, 6-2, to earn the $77,000 top prize.

In staying on the court for just 5 hours, 20 minutes during the tournament -- yesterday's match took 1:05 -- Agassi won every set he played for the second straight year.

"I got through everybody rather easily, but I wouldn't expect to do that next week or next year here," Agassi said. "If I'm playing my best, you've got to figure that if you're a top-five player in the world [Agassi is No. 6], you're going to beat 95 percent of the players."

Of Agassi's five opponents, the only one ranked in the top 50 was Jaime Yzaga, whom Agassi beat in the semifinals. But having such an easy road to the title wasn't Agassi's fault -- two top-20 players, John McEnroe and Brad Gilbert, were upset, and the No. 3 player in the world, Ivan Lendl, pulled out with an injury.

That left Agassi and Korda in the final, and at first it seemed as if the Czechoslovakian -- playing in only his third final -- would make the defending champion extend himself.

Korda kept Agassi off balance and was on the verge of breaking his serve as he went up, 40-15, in the first game. But Agassi hit some powerful serves (his average first-serve speed was 99 mph) and held by winning the next four points. He gained momentum when he broke Korda in the sixth game to go up, 4-2.

"If I had been broken in the first game, he might have gotten confidence in his serve and gone up a set," Agassi said. "The match turned my way when I won the first break in the first set. I felt [that] mentally, he wasn't sure he could keep it up."

The only other problem Agassi had was when he was on the verge of being broken in the eighth game of the second set. But, down by 40-15, he again won the next four points.

"My plan was to turn it into a physical match because he is not as physically fit," Agassi said of Korda, who is 6 feet 3, but weighs just 165 pounds. "He relies on quick points and quick shots. I had a hunch he'd slow down."

Korda said he began feeling the effects of playing each of his six matches during the day [yesterday was Agassi's first]. Korda beat Markus Zoecke in a semifinal Saturday afternoon, when the courtside thermometer hit 108.

"It was very difficult playing four days in a row in the terrible heat," Korda said of yesterday's 106-degree temperature. "I was a half-step slower, especially on returns.

"He was just better than me. You have to be in really good shape to beat him."

Agassi was nearly flawless on his serve, hitting 73 percent of his first serves and winning 80 percent of his first-serve points.

"If I'm serving well, I feel that most of the battle is over with," Agassi said. "Also, my return is better than any other part of my game. If I'm not breaking you, I feel it's just a matter of time before I do."

Agassi said he was "fried mentally" coming into the tournament after preparing for the French Open and Wimbledon. He had avoided Wimbledon for three years because he was a weak grass player, but yesterday he said that "grass may be my best surface" in a few years.

"The one concern was whether I would be able to hold serve consistently enough to actually put pressure on people," Agassi said. "When I played this year, I felt I could have been a competitor for the championship [he lost in the quarterfinals]. I was confident, and that opened my eyes for more capability on the grass-court surface.

In winning the Sovran, Agassi became the first player to win the tournament in consecutive years. After his victory last year, he struggled.

"I'd love to have a great summer. After this tournament last year, I didn't win in three tournaments, and I went into the U.S. Open not feeling as confident," Agassi said. "This year I'm hoping to really do well. If I do, that will help me out confidence-wise going into the U.S. Open, and it will solidify my ranking."

With his ranking and his reputation as the game's most colorful figure, the only thing lacking from Agassi's resume is a Grand Slam title. But he said he's not putting any pressure on himself for the U.S. Open, Aug. 26 to Sept. 8, just because players like Michael Stich (Wimbledon) and Jim Courier (French Open) notched their first Grand Slam titles this year.

"I don't base my goals around other people's achievements," Agassi said. "And I don't feel pressure about what other people expect from me.

"As long as I see my game improving and I'm enjoying myself on the tennis court, it's hard for me to feel like I'm missing out on anything. If I win one, it would add a heck of a lot to my life, a heck of a lot to my career. But I can't pressure myself with that thought. You see Lendl do that with Wimbledon, and I don't think that's healthy."

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