ThrowbackTimes Miami: Roger Federer loses first Masters 1000 final to Andre Agassi

Twelve months after he defeated Jan-Michael Gambill in the Miami final, Andre Agassi was back in Florida’s title match on March 31, 2002. The American toppled 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 and give the crowd something to cheer about. Seeded 9th and 12th, 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 after the second set, 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!

Three and a half years earlier, Agassi ousted Roger in Basel when the Swiss made the debut in front of the home fans, scoring another win at the US Open 2001 despite Roger’s solid effort in the third set. Constantly improving his game, 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 to finish runner-up. As was expected, an explosive teenager had almost twice as many winners than Andre and more errors, both unforced and forced. Roger gave his best to control the rallies’ pace and match the rival’s numbers in the longer baseline rallies, still falling short in the end. Interestingly, Agassi had the upper hand in the fastest exchanges, 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 2002, Andre Agassi defeated Roger Federer in four sets in Miami final.

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 match’s opening game, which was extremely important for him, breaking Andre in the second game with a forehand down the line winner for the best start and early advantage. Agassi bounced back in game three, winning four straight points to steal the rival’s serve and avoid chasing the result. Federer netted a forehand right after serve in the seventh game to push Agassi 4-3 up. 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 gained the lead with a break at 30 following Roger’s loose backhand, increasing the advantage with a service winner in the seventh game and clinching the set thanks to a good hold at 5-3. Rod Laver was there to watch the title match and could witness two break chances for the youngster in the third set’s second game, denied by Agassi, who finally got broken in the fourth game after a forced error that sent Roger 3-1 in front. A 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 earning a break in the fourth set’s third game thanks to Agassi’s forehand error, closing the next game with a service winner and making another good hold for 4-2. Federer squandered a game point at 4-3 to suffer a break in what could have been the encounter’s pivotal game, drawing Andre back to 4-4 and losing the momentum 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. 

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