Focused Agassi fights off lapse, Gilbert

February 08, 1993|By Gary Voet | Gary Voet,McClatchy News Service

SAN FRANCISCO -- Might as well get used to it. Andre Agassi just plays tennis now. No more frills, though he is now truly a member of the jet set, to be explained later.

What you see is what you get, and in this case, it's an energized 22-year-old who has suddenly focused his life on tennis and is making it a blur for those who get in the way.

Agassi's latest blur was Brad Gilbert, who lost to Agassi, 6-2, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, yesterday in the final of the $300,000 Volvo San Francisco tournament at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.

Save for a momentary lapse on his new "mental discipline, focused, and take each point at a time" approach, Agassi, the No. 1 seed, had little trouble against the second-seeded Gilbert.

The lapse came when Agassi was up 5-3 in the second set and leading on his serve 40-15. With two match points, he hit his hardest serve, a 117-mph screamer that was just out, and followed with a double fault.

He then hit a forehand long, and Gilbert won the next two points to save the game and, eventually, the set.

"I was really working hard to get up to match point," Agassi said, "and when I got there, I felt so in control that I wanted to end it bigger [with an ace] than I should have. But, by the same token, if there is ever a time to really go for it, it is when you are up."

The break gave Gilbert a chance to get the set back to even on his serve, which he did at 5-5 on four straight aces. Then, in the tiebreaker, Gilbert was in control all the way, giving him what appeared to be momentum entering the final set.

But the lift didn't last long. Gilbert started the third set down 0-1, thanks to a game-ending double fault.

Entering yesterday's match, Gilbert had beaten Agassi three straight times, the last two rather handily by 6-2, 6-1 scores.

"My serve was incredible in those two matches," Gilbert said. "It was practically a no-brainer."

But though he did have 10 aces yesterday, Gilbert's serve was clueless at times. A short second serve, on which Agassi continually teed off, and six double faults were Gilbert's downfall.

"My bread and butter," Gilbert said, referring to his wide, sweeping serve to the forehand in the deuce court. "I couldn't get that in all night. But even when it wasn't working, I had to stick with it. It's like a shooter in basketball who loses his shot during a game. If he doesn't keep shooting, it won't come back."

Agassi stayed focused all week by going home to Las Vegas between matches. Agassi, who just purchased a 10-passenger jet, went home after his matches Monday and Wednesday nights as well as after his semifinal match Saturday afternoon.

"Going home allowed me the luxury to completely relax and stay completely focused on this tournament," Agassi said. "The one-hour ride home was well worth it because I don't think I could have won that third set if I wasn't focused. I know it wouldn't have happened last year."

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