Andre Agassi

Great Champions

Andre Agassi was adored by Australian fans – and the Australian Open proved to be a happy hunting ground for the American.

Agassi made a debut befitting his flamboyant reputation in Melbourne in 1995. He was at the centre of the Rod Laver Arena flood drama, his semifinal against Aaron Krickstein interrupted as rainwater poured down from the stands in torrents. And his final against Pete Sampras was equally dramatic, the newbie defeating the defending champion 4-6 6-1 7-6(6) 6-4 for his second-consecutive Slam title.

It was another five years before Agassi reclaimed the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup, winning a classic 6-4 3-6 6-7(0) 7-6(5) 6-1 battle with old rival Sampras in the semifinal before beating Yevgeny Kafelnikov 3-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 in the final.

The proud owner of five Grand Slam trophies, Agassi made his first title defence of his career at Australian Open 2001. And, while his final against Arnaud Clement was a one-sided affair, his semifinal against Pat Rafter was an all-time tournament classic. In a night match played in stifling conditions, the Las Vegas showman trailed one set to two before coming back to defeat Rafter - who fell victim to cramp in the humid conditions - in five sets.

Agassi was absent in 2002 but returned triumphantly in 2003, dropping only 19 games in the last three rounds of the tournament, ultimately defeating German Rainer Schuettler 6-1 6-2 6-1 for the title.

"I'll never forget being here, I'll never forget playing for you and I'll never forget the support and the love I've always felt coming down here," said Agassi after claiming his Australian trophy. "I feel like I'm half Australian."

It turned out to be Agassi's eighth and last Slam title. He reached the semifinal in 2004 and played his last Australian Open match in 2005, fittingly a quarterfinal against Roger Federer, posting a remarkable 48-5 win-loss record at the tournament.

I'll never forget being here, I'll never forget playing for you and I'll never forget the support and the love I've always felt coming down here. I feel like I'm half Australian.
Andre Agassi, 2003