ao96agassi_etlis

ao96agassi_etlis

Points won by each set: [ 25-32, 46-47, 25-32, 42-43, 32-26 ]
Points won directly on serve:
28 % Agassi – 53 of 188
31 % Etlis – 51 of 162

If the qualifier Etlis [133] had not chocked at least in one of two tie-break sets (Agassi’s 7/2, 7/5… Etlis had points to lead 5:1 in them both – lost the longest games of the match though), it could have been the biggest upset of the 90s. Agassi [2] entered the court as a defending champion, after amazingly successful ’95 season which was only a bit spoiled in Autumn while the chubby 22-year-old Argentinian, virtually unknown, with a modest 6-13 main-level record, was debuting at majors after pretty comfortable, three qualifying wins. Admittedly Agassi appeared on the court with a heavy bandaged right knee (fell down from spiral stairs a day before!), his movement was slightly limited, but until 3-all in the opener, his expected routine three-setter still seemed possible. Then Etlis held after four deuces withstanding all three break points with aces, and bizarre things began to happen – Agassi was very lethargic, he lost seven straight games and after ~40 minutes he trailed 3-6, *0:4! What happened in the sixth game rewrote the script of the contest. Agassi finally began to run & hit the ball more precisely, Etlis showed the first signs of tension overusing dropshots & nervously shrugging his shoulders. The Argentinian had a game point but lost the pivotal game after 7 deuces. He later led 5:3, but wasn’t closer than three points to take the set. When it seemed that Agassi controlled the situation (game point at 3:2 in the 3rd set), Etlis delivered his best tennis – everything worked his way for another ~30 minutes, until 4:1* (40/30) in the 4th set – mini match-point evaporated with netted forehand & the game after 5 deuces. Later on he led 5:2*, at 5:3 having easily held six times in a row, demons of potential glory haunted him – he couldn’t strike a normal ball onto the other side of the net, and was broken with two poor dropshots, double fault and shaky backhand. Another game, 5:4* (30/0), Etlis paralysed, loses four points quickly. Trailing 5:6, in the blink of an eye, Agassi escaped for the fourth time being a game away from defeat. In the ensuing tie-break Etlis somehow improved from 0:3 to 5:3… for the second time two points away from victory with a two-point cushion and the situation of the 10th game of that set was repeated – he was paralysed again, and couldn’t play the ball above the net in four successive points. Despite wasting so many chances, Etlis was much better than Agassi in the first five games of the decider – he held at ‘love’ twice while pushing Agassi to ‘deuces’ thrice; in one of those games, Etlis had two break points, one of them Agassi fought off with serve-and-volley. It was too much for the Argentinian – Agassi broke at 3:2 thanks to a bunch errors and finished the 3-hour 17-minute extraordinary encounter with two aces in a row! Two days later he recovered and ultimately advanced to the semifinals. That defeat meant Etlis’ 5th straight main level defeat, extended to 11 a few months later. He never came back to the centre court of Grand Slam events, never even played another five-setter…

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