Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Shouldn't the great Andre Agassi be slowing down by now?
A second marriage...his first child...and a 2002 season-opening wrist injury would suggest this, yet the Las Vegas native is fitter and more determined than ever, fresh off a huge title at the "Fifth Slam" -- the Nasdaq-100 Open in Key Biscayne.
His victory just outside Miami gave the all-time great an ATP-record 13th Tennis Masters Series crown and one other unprecedented figure, a fifth championship at Key Biscayne, which ranks behind only the Grand Slam events in terms of size and importance. Only Agassi's recent bride, the legendary Stefanie Graf, had piled up as many as five titles next to Biscayne Bay. The closest competitor to him in that category in the men's game is long-time rival Pete Sampras, a three-time winner at the former Ericsson Open and Lipton Championships.
"I have a shot at passing her [Graf], because she's not going to win another one," Agassi said with a grin Sunday after foiling Roger Federer, who boasts an ATP-best 23 match wins this year. "I'm moving up in the household."
Andre Agassi's victory at Key Biscayne gave the all-time great an ATP-record 13th Tennis Masters Series crown.
Graf, of course, retired from the sport nearly three years ago.
The former world No. 1 Agassi closed the deal at the Nasdaq event by beating the potential world No. 1 Swiss Federer (11 years his junior) in four sets, 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, storming back from 1-3 down in the fourth stanza under the hot Florida sun. Agassi overcame fellow former world No. 1 Marcelo Rios in the semis when the flashy Chilean retired with a leg injury after splitting the first two sets with the gritty American.
Agassi, seeded ninth last week, attributes his success in Key Biscayne to the medium-slow pace of the hard courts and the breezy hot weather, which fails to faze the slave to fitness .
The amazing 31-year-old, who entered this season with new coach Darren Cahill after parting ways with "close friend" Brad Gilbert, is a brilliant 15-2 this year, and has reached three finals (2-1) in his four official ATP events.
It was in a final against Sampras at an unofficial event back in January (Kooyong Classic) when Agassi suffered what many thought was a career- threatening wrist injury. He lost to Pete, and then pulled out of the Aussie Open, where he was slated to be the third seed and two-time defending champion.
In his first official ATP tournament of 2002, Agassi gave way to current world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt in a mesmerizing Siebel Open championship match in San Jose, where the Aussie outlasted his American counterpart last month, 4-6, 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-4), in a clinic of baseline tennis.
But Agassi went on to title in Scottsdale the following week; was upset by Swiss Michel Kratochvil in his opener at Indian Wells the next week; and then rebounded to run the table (6-0) at the lucrative Key Biscayne tourney, which paid its latest champion $456,000. For Agassi, it was a repeat performance in South Florida, where he crushed compatriot Jan-Michael Gambill, 7-6 (7-4), 6-1, 6-0, in the 2001 final at Crandon Park.
Agassi, who will turn 32 later this month, is currently seventh in the Champions Race and 10th in the official world rankings -- the Singles Entry System. Had Agassi failed to produce in Key Biscayne, the top 10 would have been without an American for the first time since the rankings' inception in 1973.
The seven-time Grand Slam event winner, Olympic gold medalist and three-time Davis Cup champ not only secured his 51st career title this past week, he also became just the ninth ATP performer to join "The 700 Club," those who have piled up 700 match victories, that is. Agassi's milestone 50th career title came in Scottsdale four weeks ago.
In case you're curious, he's 700-221 in his first 921 outings.
The hits just keep on comin' for the 17-year pro, who is also one of only five men to secure the career Grand Slam (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open) and the only player to grasp the Golden Slam (the career Slam and Olympic gold).
Only seven men have won more tournaments than Agassi, who is one of only six to reach the $20-million plateau in career prize money. The aforementioned Sampras has actually eclipsed $42 million, while Agassi currently rests at just over $24 million. At just over $25 million, Boris Becker is the only other player to have pocketed more career prize money than Agassi.
Agassi's next Masters Series event will come on the clay courts of Monte Carlo in two weeks. And he'll shoot for a second French Open title in Paris in late-May/early-June.
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