Veteran pro Agassi wins fourth title of the year

  • Other Sport
  • Tuesday, 29 Apr 2003

HOUSTON: After taking back the world's number one ranking, Andre Agassi took the Houston Open with the help of a backhand drop shot. 

A day after reclaiming the top spot in the rankings, the top-seeded Agassi defeated fellow American Andy Roddick on Sunday, winning his fourth ATP Tour title of the year with a remarkable comeback. 

Agassi prevented Roddick from “three-peating” with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 triumph – his fourth title in five events this season and 58th of his brilliant career. It was the first final of the year between a No. 1 and No. 2 seed. 

ON THE DOUBLE: Serena Williams of the United States stretches in her match against Klara Koukalova from the Czech Republic during the first round of the Fed Cup Sunday. Williams won the match 6-2, 6-2.-APpic

“It's already been a great year and it's getting better,” said Agassi, who also won the Australian Open and events in San Jose, California and Miami. 

On Sunday, Agassi was down a set and had an 0-2, love-40 deficit in the second before he hit the shot of the match, a backhand drop winner from the baseline that turned the momentum. 

“To get down 0-3 would have been nearly impossible, and then I got the break back a few games later,” he said. “I felt pretty desperate the whole time, and I know why it's hard to beat Andy here.” 

Roddick was aiming for his third straight title in Houston. He also was trying to become just the fourth player in history to defeat Agassi and Pete Sampras in a final, having knocked off Sampras here last year. 

“I played well in the first and third sets and I was a little sloppy in the second set, but overall it was a good week for me,” Roddick said. “I won some close matches to get to the final. My goal is to be back here in November for the Tennis Masters Cup.” 

Like Agassi, Roddick knew the turning point was the third game of the second set. 

“If I am able to win that game in the second set, it would have given me two breaks and I feel good about my chances,” said Roddick, who fell to 16-1 lifetime in Houston. 

After breaking the hard-serving Roddick, Agassi held serve and broke again in the sixth game. He did it again in the eighth to take the second set. 

Agassi broke in the fifth game of the decisive set, during which he never faced a break point. He lost only five points in as many service games en route to his second Houston Open title and first since 1988 in Charleston, South Carolina. 

“When I converted the break in the third set, I was ready to bring it home,” Agassi said. “Today was one of those days where you try to hang in there.” 

The title was Agassi's 13th since turning 30. With his semi-final win over Olivier Mutis on Saturday, Agassi became the oldest man to hold the world's top ranking. He turns 33 on Tuesday. 

“He is one for the ages,” Roddick said. – AFP 

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