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  Saturday, 7 September, 2002, 20:58 GMT 21:58 UK
Agassi conquers Hewitt
Andre Agassi salutes the Flushing Meadows crowd
Agassi won the US Open in 1994 and 1999
Andre Agassi survived an attack of the nerves against defending champion Lleyton Hewitt to set up a US Open final clash with old foe Pete Sampras.

Agassi, champion at Flushing Meadows in 1994 and 1999, was poised to complete a straight-sets win over the Australian after opening up a 6-4 7-5 4-1 lead.

But the American suddenly lost control of the match, allowing Hewitt to take the third set on a tie-break.


Nothing in my career compares to playing against Pete - he's the best I've ever played against, and that forces you to do something special
Andre Agassi

Agassi quickly regained his composure, taking the fourth set 6-2 to book a meeting with Sampras, who demolished giant Dutchman Sjeng Schalken in the first semi-final.

In a match of breathtaking quality at times, Hewitt took an early break in the first set but could not hold onto his advantage as Agassi slipped seamlessly into top gear.

The Las Vegan had Hewitt on the back foot with some searing returns and the Australian finally succumbed at 4-4 when his error count rose considerably.

Agassi again fell behind in the second set but broke straight back before a fired-up Hewitt broke again for a 5-3 lead.

But as the crowd threw their full weight behind Agassi, the American showed the kind of fighting spirit for which Hewitt has become famous.

He levelled the set at 5-5 before breaking again to serve for a two-set lead, but he double-faulted on set point and Hewitt needed no further invitation to roar back into the match.

In a closely-fought tiebreak, Hewitt recovered from a 5-2 deficit but Agassi refused to be bowed and after the longest rally of the match, looked to be well in command when Hewitt netted a forehand.

Lleyton Hewitt
Hewitt was undone by the quality of Agassi's groundstrokes

And Hewitt's crown was slipping away when he found himself 4-1 down in the third but incredibly the 20-year-old discovered yet more reserves of determination and battled back to 4-4.

He served for the set at 6-5, but a tiebreak eventually decided it and a rattled Agassi managed only one point.

The Australian looked favourite to complete a remarkable comeback as the fourth set began and the crowd was suddenly hushed by the sight of Agassi making some uncharacteristic errors.

But the Las Vegan steeled himself at 2-2 for one final push and began to show the form that had seen him through the first two and a half sets.

At break point, he dug out a near-impossible drop volley which even the scampering Hewitt could not reach and Agassi was back in control.

A further break down, a tired-looking Hewitt made one final stand to stave off two match points but it was not enough to stop Agassi clinching a remarkable win.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Iain Carter
"Agassi produced some spell-binding tennis"
USA's Andre Agassi
"I still feel I can improve"
Australia's Lleyton Hewitt
"There's no shame in losing to Andre"
All the news from Flushing Meadows

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Iain Carter in NYC

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Links to more US Open stories are at the foot of the page.


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