Agassi Aces Paris Double


Andre Agassi added a Super 9 title to his two 1999 Grand Slam crowns, outwitting Russian teenager Marat Safin on Sunday to win the Paris Open.

The French and U.S. Open champion had a little too much savvy for the unseeded Safin, winning 7-6 (7-1), 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in 2 hours, 32 minutes.

Agassi raised his game when it mattered, winning five of seven break points, compared to only three of 13 for Safin.

"I thought we were both outstanding today," Agassi said. "He kept it together very well today and made me earn it from start to finish."

"Against Safin, every point is important because a couple of swings of his racket and he breaks your serve."

Safin agreed that Agassi had won the tactical battle.

"The problem was I started to play his game, running all the time," Safin said. "I prefer to play short points. I was also very nervous because it was also my first Super 9. I got very tired at running along the baseline."

He also joked that his face wound up the same color as the court red.

Agassi, having an outstanding year, again made the record books. He became the first player to win the French and Paris Opens in the same year, matched Pete Sampras' record of 10 Super 9 titles and, at 29, became the oldest winner of the Paris Open.

The world's top player collected $393,000, bringing his 1999 earnings to more than $3 million.

In a match contrasting youth and experience the American was contesting his 64th final, Safin his second the Russian initially showed few signs of nerves. An early 131-mph ace was a warning of what was to come.

But after the 34th-ranked player saved two break points at 3-4, he netted an easy smash in game 11 as the tension began to show.

Agassi commanded the tiebreak, keeping his cool while Safin made three unforced errors and served a double fault.

Agassi, already a champion here in 1994, showed a winner's instinct at the start of the second set.

With an early break under his belt, the American faced five break points himself saving all with big serves.

In the next game, Agassi needed just one break point to take a 3-0 lead before grabbing the set in just 34 minutes.

The 6-foot-4 Russian, bidding to become the youngest player to win a Super 9 tournament since 1990, showed great resilience, combining his big serve with some impressive baseline play to take the third set.

But watched by his new girlfriend, Steffi Graf, Agassi closed in on the title with two breaks of service in the fourth set.

A delicate drop shot secured a 5-3 lead, but Agassi still had to fight back from 0-30 in what proved to be the final game of the match with some top class serving.

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