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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 June, 2003, 08:00 GMT 09:00 UK
Classic Matches: Rafter v Agassi
1997 - Men's Singles Semi-final
P Rafter (Aus) bt A Agassi (US) 7-5, 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3

Pat Rafter
Rafter prevailed in a titanic struggle

Often it takes years for a match to attain the status of classic but the 2000 semi-final between two of the game's biggest names is already mentioned among the very best.

It was the clash of styles that delighted the purists.

There was Pat Rafter, the Australian who would serve and volley on every point and take every opportunity to steal the net from Andre Agassi.

The American has perhaps the greatest ever return of serve and super smooth passing shots.

Rafter started the brighter and broke serve when Agassi double-faulted, holding out to take the first set.

Agassi levelled after breaking to lead 5-4 in the second as the Centre Court crowd started to appreciate that both men were playing at their very best.

Agassi handed Rafter the third set when errors start to creep into his play but the American bounced straight back with an early break in the fourth and kept Rafter at bay with fierce groundstrokes.

But eventually the pressure of seeing his opponent constantly at the net told even on Agassi, and Rafter, who broke to lead 3-2, held on to reach the final.

Never one to mince his words, the only person on Centre Court who did not appreciate what had happened was Agassi. "It sucked" was his verdict.





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