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Andre Agassi
"The level of concentration on both our parts was extremely high"
 real 28k

Thursday, 27 January, 2000, 12:49 GMT
Agassi beats Sampras in epic

Agassi has now reached 4 Grand Slam finals in a row

Andre Agassi is through to to final of the Australian Open after beating his old rival Pete Sampras in a thrilling five-set battle.

Agassi came from two sets to one behind to clinch the match 6-4 3-6 6-7 7-6 6-1 to the delight of the Australian crowd.

We just kept raising the stakes. I think the best feeling is when somebody pushes you to the limit and you dig down a little bit extra
Andre Agassi
This was tennis at its finest with both players reaching top performance in a match which surpassed it's billing as "the real deal".

Both men produced some scintillating shots although in such an epic battle there were short periods when each temporarily lost their way.

Agassi's baseline play was as dynamic as it has ever been, his blistering returns defying Sampras' booming serve.

The match had been the talk of Melbourne and eagerly anticipated by the capacity crowd.

Agassi: Baseline shots were simply brilliant
They were not disappointed as Agassi set about making amends for his November defeat in straight sets at the hands of Sampras.

He took the first set 6-4, saving three break points on his own serve before breaking Sampras in the fifth game.

Sampras was still struggling to find the groove with his first serve, but he powered back to take the second set 6-3 and square the match.

The third set proved decisive.

Agassi began to wind up the pressure on the Sampras serve and the No 2 was forced to save nine break points, two of them at set point down.

But every time Agassi sensed a breakthough, he produced his best.

Sampras hung on to take the set to a tie-break and then tore through it with surprising ease, Agassi failing to take a single point.

Sampras: Even 37 aces was not enough
Having seemed set to re-take the lead, Agassi found himself behind for the first time in the match.

But the American used all his street-fighting determination to cling onto Sampras' coat-tails.

By mid-way through the fourth set Sampras had served 30 aces but it was not enough to shake off Agassi.

He shrugged off break points into two of his service games to take the set to a tie-breaker.

This time it was his strength of character which triumphed, producing two unplayable first serves to take a 6-5 lead before breaking Sampras with a fierce baseline one-two.

The crowd, who had thrilled to Agassi's exciting brand of tennis, erupted.

While Agassi virtually ran from the court at the prosect of a final set, Sampras shuffled somewhat disconsolately.

With the psychological edge restored, Agassi broke his man twice and ran out an easy 6-1 winner in the final set - the only anti-climax of a fantastic match.

He now plays Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia or 12th seed Magnus Norman of Sweden in Sunday's final.

After the match, Sampras said he had been troubled by a hip strain which may force him to miss next week's opening Davis Cup clash against Zimbabwe.

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