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Pillars of Roger’s Career: mixing it up with Andre Agassi, Miami 2002 3

Posted on March 26, 2010 by Claudia Celestial Girl

This is part of a series of articles that outline the stand-out matches of Roger Federer’s career.  The impetus of this series was a discussion of the Greatest Matches of the Decade – in which Roger was not mentioned very often.  We thought that perhaps it was time to review some of the stand-outs.

Andre Agassi and Roger Federer met on the court several times as Federer rose to the top and Agassi headed toward retirement.

Andre Agassi and Roger Federer met on the court several times as Federer rose to the top and Agassi headed toward retirement.

So much has been made of Andre Agassi and his remarks during the recent ‘Hit for Haiti’ in the 2010 Indian Wells benefit.

I found the Hit for Haiti fascinating, bringing together living legends of the sport of differing generations. To offset our memory of the raucous Hit for Haiti, I thought it was time to study a match intended for our review of Roger’s career, the Miami final from 2002.

After losing to Roger in Miami in the semi-finals, Lleyton Hewitt predicted that 2002 might be a break-out year for Roger, just as 2001 was a break-out year for Lleyton. Roger Federer was 20 years old.

Coming into 2002, Andre Agassi was the defending champion of the Australian Open (he didn’t successfully defend in 2002, but got to the semis). He’d beaten rival Pete Sampras in the previous year’s IW final (one of their classic matches, in which Andre clearly put his retrieving skills to great advantage and over-matched Pete on serve). At 32, Andre was near the top of his game (He would win his final major in 2003 at the AO.) In 2002, Andre was well into his second career, ranked in the top 5 consistently for 3 straight years going into this match. He moved well, fast enough on the court to easily retrieve drop shots.

In terms of his (up to that point spare) head-to-head match-ups with Roger, Andre had won both of their previous meetings in straight sets.

Ironically in this match, it was Roger’s retrieving skills, and Andre’s serving skills that characterized the play in the first set. Roger was not able to break Andre, seemed to be in a ‘tuck’ position. So much so that Andre was able to break early, and with a lovely passing shot, Andre would win the first set. Read the rest of this entry →

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      Rusty Staub

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former major league baseball player who came into the game as a teenager and stayed until he was in his 40s. In between, Rusty Staub put up a solid career that was primarily spent on expansion or rebuilding teams.

      Originally signed by the Colt .45s at age 17, he made his major league debut as a 19-year old rookie and became only the second player in the modern era to play in more than 150 games as a teenager.

      Though he hit only .224 splitting time between first base and rightfield, Staub did start building a foundation that would turn him into an All-Star by 1967 when he finished fifth in the league with a .333 batting average.

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