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Rediff.com  » Sports » Agassi wins Nasdaq-100 Open

Agassi wins Nasdaq-100 Open

March 31, 2003 16:16 IST

The first point went by in a blur, Andre Agassi tossed a ball into the balmy breeze and whipped a 188 kmph ace.

His dominating serve made the rest of the match go quickly, too, and Agassi beat Carlos Moya of Spain 6-3, 6-3 in the final of the Nasdaq-100 Open on Sunday.

The victory gave Agassi a record six Key Biscayne titles, including the past three. One month shy of his 33rd birthday, Agassi may be playing as well as ever -- and said he has never served better.

"Today was certainly a great day for me servingwise," he said. "I'm really getting up on it well."

Agassi has won 57 tournament titles thanks mostly to dominating groundstrokes and a service return touted as perhaps the best ever. His serve will never be overpowering, but it's now faster and more shrewdly placed than when he was younger, which proved pivotal against Moya. 

Despite the tricky breeze, Agassi smacked eight aces, lost only seven of 38 points on his first serve and was never  broken. That allowed him to finish off the No. 5-seeded Moya in 1 hour, 11 minutes.

When asked how he would have felt as a fan paying $50 or more to watch such a short match, Agassi smiled and replied, "Glad that I won."

"The key was his serve and my serve," Moya said. "I am supposed to serve better than him, and today I didn't."

Agassi's serving was all the more impressive because he nearly withdrew before the tournament because of a sore right shoulder. But he showed no signs of the injury in winning his third match in as many days.

With his sixth Key Biscayne championship, Agassi surpassed his wife, Steffi Graf, who won the tournament five times. 

"I finally beat her at something," Agassi said with a grin during the trophy ceremony.

Graf watched the match holding their 17-month-old son, Jaden Gil.

"It's nerve-racking at times," she told CBS-TV. "You know exactly what's going on out there. You just hope for the best. It's hard because you can't do anything. You just have to sit here and watch."

Ranked No. 2, Agassi heads into the clay-court season as the player to beat. While No.1 Lleyton Hewitt of Australia lost his opening match at Nasdaq, Agassi won his third title of the year and improved to 18-1, best on the men's tour. The streak includes his eighth Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.

"It has been incredible," he said. "It's hard to believe it's all still possible out there. It's hard work, and it's a lot of luck and staying healthy. I've been blessed with a body that's holding up."

Always a strong front-runner, Agassi broke Moya for a 3-1 lead in the first set, and again for a 4-3 lead in the second. The match generated little drama until the next to last game, when Agassi was serving and fell behind 15-40.

As the subdued crowd stirred, he dug out of the hole with an ace and a service winner, starting a run of eight consecutive points to close the victory.

"Any time you can get a good percentage of first serves in, especially on key points, in windy conditions, it's a big advantage," Agassi said. "I did that well today."

Moya was the fresher player because he had Saturday off, but by winning two quick sets, Agassi made sure stamina wasn't a factor.

"He played great," Moya said. "He didn't give me any chance at all."

Agassi has won a record 18 consecutive matches at Key Biscayne, where the hot, breezy weather and medium-paced hard courts work in his favour. Three-time champion Pete Sampras held the old record of 17 consecutive victories in 1993-95.

Agassi, who won his first Key Biscayne title in 1990 when he was 19, earned $500,000 and completed a successful weekend for defending champions.

Serena Williams won her second consecutive Nasdaq title on Saturday by beating Jennifer Capriati 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.

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