Agassi is intent on revenge

Tennis

Tennis

JOHN ROBERTS

reports from New York

Andre Agassi describes the pressure of defending the United States Open title as the world No 1 compared to winning it unseeded a year ago as "stepping on land mines". So far he has stumbled on a couple and survived to meet Boris Becker in the semi-finals tomorrow.

A repeat of Wimbledon in July? Agassi trusts not, having been blown up by Becker just when he seemed to have one foot in the final.

At the All England Club, it will be remembered, Becker scraped through a quarter-final against the Frenchman Cedric Pioline, 9-7 in the fifth set, and then defeated Agassi, 2-6, 7-6, 6-4, 7-6. Here, in common with Agassi, the German fourth seed had to haul himself into the last four.

Both players have time to recover from worrying experiences, Agassi against the talented but whimsical Czech, Petr Korda, Becker in fending off a fiery Patrick McEnroe.

Agassi, who had a bad night in the second round, when he was fortunate to overcome the cramping Alex Corretja in five sets, appeared to be cruising against Korda, two sets up. The American's main concern had been to make his way to the court: some 8,000 spectators who had remained for the finish of the Becker match in a protracted daytime session were faced with nearly 20,000 waiting to get in for the night show.

Security men sorted out that little problem for Agassi, but he was on his own when Korda suddenly began to crowd him. The light-hearted approach disappeared. There was no more joking with spectators or draping towels over television cameras. The confident glances towards Brad Gilbert, his coach, and Brooke Shields, his girlfriend, became frowns.

Shaken by Korda's revival, Agassi seemed to let the third set slip away, 1-6 in 28 minutes. If he imagined this would enable him to restore order as the fourth got under way, he was mistaken. Korda broke serve twice before Agassi could respond, and the American had to save two set points at 5-4, 40-15. The American avoided a fifth set, winning 6-4, 6-2, 1- 6, 7-5.

John McEnroe refers to his younger brother as "the white sheep of the family, the good guy". Patrick put the image on hold during the Becker match. He received a warning from the British umpire Mike Morrissey after tossing a ball at a lineswoman and was fortunate to escape further punishment for throwing his racket on several occasions and constantly arguing.

The frustration of failing to secure two set points in the second set was compounded when a duel of tie-breaks drifted away from him after more than four hours, but McEnroe did not blame the line calls for Becker's winning a memorable contest, 6-4, 7-6, 6-7, 7-6. The German, whose 30 aces helped salvage 70 errors, reckoned it to be among the top five matches ever played at the championships. "The fourth set was as tough a set as you can get," he said.

Tomorrow's semi-final has an extra edge, Agassi having taken exception to Becker's remarks after Wimbledon to the effect that the American received special treatment because of the power of his clothing sponsors.

"If he felt that I said something bad about him, then that was not the thing I wanted to bring out," Becker said. "It was never against him personally. I have never had a bad time with him personally. It was about his company. I still think I have a point.''

Asked why he thought Agassi had faltered in their semi-final after dictating play for a set and a half, Becker said: "You have to ask Andre that. I just tried my heart out out there. I am the type of player who never gives up, who always sees at least a small chance to win. That has given me many victories in my career. I know that I have to play my best tennis to have a chance against Andre on Saturday, especially on a hard court. I hope I am again part of a great match for tennis.''

Agassi defeated Becker in the 1990 semi-finals here, and is determined to offer the German as little encouragement as possible. "It doesn't matter who you are playing, you don't want to let anybody back in the match," he said. "The difference is that if you let a guy like Becker back in the match, he is experienced - he knows how to win. He is going to take the gift and say thank you.''

The other semi-final will be an all-American affair between Pete Sampras, the Wimbledon champion, and either Michael Chang or Jim Courier. Sampras, the second seed, recovered after being broken when serving for the first set at 5-3, hitting 22 aces in defeating the unseeded Byron Black, from Zimbabwe, 7-6, 6-4, 6-0.

Results, Sporting Digest, page 25

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Officer (HMP Brixton Mentoring Project)

£24,000 per annum pro rata (21 hours per week): Belong: Work as part of a cutt...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

DT teachers required for supply roles in Cambridge

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: DT teachers required ...

Secondary supply teachers required in Wisbech

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary teachers ne...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering