Andre Agassi is seen as one of tennis’ best ever players, winning eight Grand Slams and managing to win every Slam during his career.
The American became the first player to complete a Career Golden Slam when he won the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open along with an Olympic Gold medal during his career.
Last Word on Tennis decided to revisit this outstanding career when Agassi made history.
Andre Agassi’s Background
Agassi was born in Las Vegas in 1970 and he showed an early gift for the sport, so age 13 he was sent to prestigious Bollettieri academy in Florida.
Just three years later he turned professional, ending the year inside the top 100. The following year he had surged to No. 25, winning his first tour-level title.
At this stage Agassi was still not competing at the Australian Open (where he wouldn’t play until 1995) and Wimbledon, which he missed from 1988 to 1990 due to the event’s traditionalism–particularly the all-white dress code.
During 1990 and 1991, Agassi was twice a finalist at the French Open and once at his home Slam.
This record, coupled with his absence from Wimbledon, made it all the more surprising when his maiden Slam title came at the All England Club.
The twelfth seed coming into the tournament, Agassi lost the first set in his opening two matches but came through both in four sets.
A couple of straight sets victories took him through to the quarterfinals to meet Boris Becker.
The German had lost the previous year’s final but was a three-time champion and took the first set.
In his contrasting style of his baseline game, Agassi surged into a two set to one lead but was forced into a deciding set.
Here, he completed the most impressive win of his short Wimbledon career to date, triumphing 6-3.
Another three-time champion, John McEnroe, waited in the last four, but Agassi dispatched him in straight sets.
His opponent in the final would be Goran Ivansevic, another player in his first Wimbledon final and looking to win his maiden Slam.
In a theme of his tournament, Agassi lost the first set 10-8 in the tiebreak but claimed the next two sets to stand on the brink.
His Croatian counterpart came out firing and won 6-1 to force a fifth set but Agassi triumphed 6-4.
US Open 1994
Agassi had missed much of the previous year due to having wrist surgery and he started 1994 slowly with first round defeats at the French Open and Wimbledon.
Due to his form and recent injuries, he was unseeded at Flushing Meadows, where he had lost in the first round the year before.
Despite this, he reached the fourth round without too much trouble, beating twelfth seed Wayne Ferreria in three sets in the third round, then meeting sixth seed Michael Chang.
Agassi won the first set against his fellow American convincingly, 6-1 but this topsy-turvy encounter went to a deciding set where Agassi matched his first set score to claim an impressive victory.
He eased past Thomas Muster to meet another countryman Todd Martin in the last four.
Agassi reached his maiden Flushing Meadows final with a four-set victory, where he would play fourth seed Michael Stich.
Like his American counterpart, Stitch had also lost in the opening round the previous year and had also had a disappointing year at the Slams.
He was the fifth seeded player Agassi had faced but the American had the confidence of his earlier wins and claimed a comfortable straight sets victory and became the first unseeded player in the Open era to win the championship.
Australian Open 1995
Agassi did not have to wait long to claim the third different Slam of his career as he went to Australia a few months after his US Open triumph.
It was his first appearance in Melbourne and he came in as the world No. 2 due to his exploits in the latter part of 1994.
He sauntered through to the quarterfinals without dropping a set as he met Yevgeny Kafelnikov, one of two non-Americans at that stage.
He was no match for the American as Agassi claimed a straight sets victory to meet Aaron Krickstein as part of an all-American semifinal line-up.
Agassi was in top form and leading 6-4 6-4 3-0 when Krickstein was forced to retire with injury.
It was not the way he would have wanted to earn a place in the final but it was expected he would have won anyway in a tournament where he had not even been taken to a tie-break.
In the final many wanted and expected, he met the World No. 1 Pete Sampras.
His opponent had an eventful route to the final, beating Jim Courier in the quarterfinals on the day his coach Tom Gullikson had been rushed to hospital with a suspected brain tumor.
In the fifth set, Sampras broke down in tears on court and Courier famously asked him if he wanted to finish the match the next day, but Sampras declined and eventually won the match.
He was the defending champion and had beaten Agassi in the 1990 final, and here he claimed the opening set.
Agassi hit back, winning his first set in a Slam final against Sampras and winning the following two 7-6 6-4 to cap a memorable first visit to Melbourne.
The American would later reach the US Open final that year, losing to Sampras, but not before he had become World No. 1 for the first time.
Agassi had endured a disappointing 1996 at Slam level, losing in the semifinals at the Australian Open and US Open and in the first-round at the French Open and Wimbledon.
The Olympics Games at the end of that year in Atlanta was a way for the American to salvage his year though and as the first seed, he battled through to the quarteffinals.
There he met the South African Wayne Ferreira and triumphed in three sets giving him a last four meeting with Leander Paes of India, who brushed aside in straight sets.
In a best-of-five-sets final, Agassi would meet the Spaniard Sergi Bruguera and sealed the Gold Medal comfortably 6-2 6-3 6-1, leaving just the French Open left on his to-do list.
French Open 1999
By the time the last French Open of the decade had come around, Agassi had yet to reach another Grand Slam final and was looking to rebuild his career after another wrist injury and failed a drug test for the use of crystal methamphetamine.
He had written a letter claiming a friend had spiked his drink and the ATP dropped the test as a warning, but Aggasi also had to deal with his failing marriage to actress Brooke Shields, and his ranking plummeted to No. 141 as he lost the love for the game.
All of that happened in one tumultuous 1997 year, resulting in Agassi only competing at his home Slam that year.
He had rebounded, however, and came into this French Open as the thirteenth seed. After a second-round comeback win over Arnaud Clement, he was victorious against clay court specialist Carlos Moya.
Wins over Marcelo Filippini and Dominik Hrbaty sent him through to a final against unseeded Andriy Medvedev.
Agassi was expected to win and the Paris crowd was stunned as he fell 6-1 6-2 behind, but he recovered to cap a remarkable turnaround, both on and off the court and he triumphed in five sets.
This victory ensured Agassi was the first player to win Slams on three surfaces (hard court, grass, and clay) and the first to complete a Career Grand Slam on three surfaces as well as the Career Golden Slam.
What Happened Next
Agassi went on to win that year’s US Open but his final Slam triumphs all came in Australia, where he won consecutive titles in 2001 and 2002.
Two years later, he won his last Grand Slam in Melbourne, where he became the first male player to win four Australian Open titles.
After battling with injuries, including from sciatica and spondylolisthesis (vertebral displacement), the Las Vegas native retired in September 2006 after losing in the third round of the US Open to Benjamin Becker.
Due to achieving the Career Golden Slam, with only Rafael Nadal has matching him, as well as his other slam titles, Agassi is fondly remembered in tennis as one of the great champions and arguably one of the best players of all-time.
Embed from Getty Images