Dominates Stich to win his second Grand Slam title Agassi closes door on doubts with Open masterpiece U.S. OPEN

September 12, 1994|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Andre Agassi painted a masterpiece yesterday on Stadium Court at the U.S. Open.

Mixing his serves, like an artist mixing paints on a palette, Agassi drove Michael Stich to distraction and then put him away with broad, dynamic strokes from the baseline.

It was Stich who had come into the match talking about a desire for perfection, but it was Agassi who delivered a near-flawless performance, 6-1, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5.

And yet, though Stich exhibited a touch no more pliable than that of a blacksmith, his show of class at the finish was as graceful as a dove.

On match point, Agassi dropped to his knees, stretched his open arms to the crowd and screamed, "I can't believe it."

He was still there, his hands now over his eyes, tears falling, when Stich walked around the net, reached down, lifted the newest tennis hero to his feet and hugged him.

"I think he played terrific tennis for the whole two weeks, and I was very happy for him," said Stich, who, like Agassi, was in his first Grand Slam final since winning Wimbledon [1990]. "It was something that he probably dreamed of for a long, long time to get off the shadow of a couple of American players, and he just deserved it.

"You could see how happy he was. I was standing there beside him, and he was like a little kid. He didn't know what to say, didn't know what to think. He was just so happy, and I was happy for him."

The victory is only the second Grand Slam title of Agassi's career, coming two years after his upset victory at Wimbledon.

"Nothing can touch the dynamics of everything that was going on when I won Wimbledon," Agassi said. "The fact that I never won a Grand Slam; the fact that nobody believed I could play on grass; nobody believed I had the heart to get through a tough match in the championship rounds. And so, I think those dynamics make that the most special thing I have ever been through for its own reason.

"But winning this has its own place to me; that is really the greatest thing I could experience after Wimbledon."

The computer that makes out the rankings in the men's tennis standings also appreciated his performance -- and that of Stich.

Today Agassi is no longer No. 20 in the world, but now No. 9. Stich, who was ranked No. 4 and was the No. 4 seed yesterday, is now No. 2, second only to Pete Sampras.

Agassi put 67 percent of his first serves in. He made only 14 unforced errors. He allowed Stich two break-point opportunities, and they came on his first service game in the first set, and he held.

And that was Stich's biggest problem. He could not find a way to crack Agassi.

The 24-year-old, who lost his first three Grand Slam finals -- the second one here to Sampras in 1990 -- said he felt this was his tournament to win after he beat Michael Chang in the fourth round.

And yesterday, when he won a purely defensive volley in the seventh game of the first set to bring Stich to the brink of a third break of service, he turned to the crowd, spread his arms and grinned.

"I was just feeling like I couldn't do anything wrong," he said. "I got off to an incredible start, which was very important because I really felt like Michael was playing extremely well and he started off a little slow."

That slow start and Agassi's fast one provided Stich with momentary irritation. During the fifth game of the first set, when chair umpire David Littlefield of Palm Springs, Fla., would not change a call, Stich asked him, "Are you an American?" Later, during a changeover, with Agassi on serve at 5-4 in the second set, in part because the umpire would not overrule a call on an Agassi shot that the replay showed to be out, Stich was angrier.

"Keep your eyes open and be quiet," he said. "If you don't have the guts to call it, just shut up and watch the match!"

Stich said the anger did not linger. Agassi had been the master.

"The key factor was that I did not return well, I could not put the return in," he said. "He mixed his serves today, and they are very difficult to deal with."

For Agassi, it was not tough. It was masterful.

"It was fantasy turned into a dream come true," Agassi said. "There have been a few times, when I questioned whether I'd ever be back."

AGASSI-STICH STATS

The statistics of Andre Agassi's 6-1, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5 victory over No. 4 Michael Stich yesterday for the men's singles championship of the U.S. Open:

.. .. .. .. .. .. ... .. .. ..Agassi .. .. .. .. .. ..Stich

1st-serve pct. .. .. .. .. .. .67% .. .. .. .. .. .. ...47%

Aces .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .3 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .10

Double faults .. .. .. .. .. .. .2 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .10

1st-serve pts. .. .. .. .. .. .85% .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 73%

2nd-serve pts. .. .. .. .. .. .62% .. .. .. .. .. .. ...52%

Winners .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ...28 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .34

Unforced errors .. .. .. .. .. .14 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .48

Break-pt. conver. .. .. .. .. 4-11 .. .. .. .. .. .. ...0-2

Net approaches .. .. .. .. ..15-19 .. .. .. .. .. .. .53-86

Total points won .. .. .. .. ..111 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .87

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