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Another Aussie triumph

Agassi storms past Schuettler to fourth title in Melbourne

Posted: Saturday January 25, 2003 11:38 PM
Updated: Sunday January 26, 2003 12:36 AM
  Andre Agassi Andre Agassi's serve was broken just once by his opponent. AP

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Andre Agassi just keeps getting better with age.

The 32-year-old Agassi overwhelmed Rainer Schuettler right from the start and breezed to his fourth Australian Open title 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 Sunday, becoming the oldest man to win a Grand Slam singles crown in 31 years.

"There's not a single day that's guaranteed or promised to us, and certainly days like this are very rare," Agassi said.

Agassi won his eighth Grand Slam championship. And the victory might also have been enough to lure his wife, Steffi Graf, out of retirement.

Agassi had said earlier that if he won this tournament, Graf would be his partner for mixed doubles in the French Open. After the final point, Agassi gave a quick wink into the stands at Graf, who won 22 Grand Slam singles titles before she stopped playing three years ago.

"There's one positive thing: I think everyone's looking forward to the French Open," Schuettler said, said drawing laughs from Agassi, Graf and the fans.

Agassi was the oldest man to win a Grand Slam singles title since Ken Rosewall won the Australian Open in 1972 at 37.

Career Grand Slams
Men's singles leaders
Player  Tot. 
Pete Sampras  14 
Roy Emerson  12 
Bjorn Borg  11 
Rod Laver  11 
Bill Tilden  10 
Andre Agassi 
Jimmy Connors 
Ivan Lendl 
Fred Perry 
Ken Rosewall 
Henri Cochet 
Rene Lacoste 
Bill Larned 
John McEnroe 
John Newcombe 
Willie Renshaw 
Richard Sears 
Mats Wilander 
 
 

"You never know when it's your last, but I'll never forget being here," Agassi told the crowd at the trophy ceremony. "I'll never forget playing for you. I'll never forget the love and support here. I feel like I'm half Australian."

It was a mismatch from the beginning.

Agassi sent back Schuettler's first serve back so hard that the German player could only push it long.

Agassi won the first eight points of the match. When Schuettler finally won a point to start the third game, he raised his hands in mock triumph.

Agassi now has won the Australian Open four of the seven times he has entered. He also had won in 1995, 2000 and 2001, but injured his wrist on the eve of last year's Australian.

The second-seeded Agassi was in complete control throughout the match, finishing off the 31st-seeded Schuettler in one hour, 16 minutes.

Agassi matched the most-lopsided victory ever at the Australian Open. By losing only five games, he tied the mark last done in 1926 when John Hawkes defeated Jim Willard 6-1, 6-3, 6-1.

Overall, it was the most-lopsided Grand Slam men's final since John McEnroe lost just four games to Jimmy Connors at Wimbledon in 1984.

"There's not a lot to say," Schuettler said. "I tried my best, but he was simply too good for me today."

 
Schuettler salutes champ
MELBOURNE, Jan 26 (Reuters) -- Rainer Schuettler paid tribute to Andre Agassi after being thrashed 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 in the final of the Australian Open on Sunday.

The 31st seed, only the second German man to reach the final in Melbourne, had no excuses after being blown off the court in just 76 minutes at Rod Laver Arena.

"Congratulations to Andre. I tried my best, but he was simply too good for me today," said Schuettler, who beat Andy Roddick and James Blake during his run to the final.

Schuettler, who had never been beyond the fourth round of a Grand Slam, joked that defeat was more bearable with the prospect of watching Agassi play mixed doubles with wife Steffi Graf at the French Open.

"There is one positive thing -- everybody is looking forward to the French Open."

Graf had promised she would play doubles with Agassi in Paris if he captured his fourth Australian Open title. 
 

To go with his four Australian wins, Agassi has won two U.S. Open titles and once each at Wimbledon and the French Open. He's also lost six Grand Slam finals.

His eight Grand Slam titles tie him at sixth with Rosewall, Connors, Ivan Lendl and Fred Perry.

Agassi also is the fourth man to win at least four Australian titles. Roy Emerson had six, and Rosewall and Jack Crawford four each.

In extending his winning streak at this tournament to 21 matches, he lost only 48 games in seven matches this time.

Agassi collected $654,000 for winning, bringing his career tournament winnings past $26.3 million.

Schuettler collected $327,000 to add to his previous total of $2.3 million.

The 26-year-old Schuettler never had reached even a Grand Slam quarterfinal before this year. His best previous record was reaching the Australian fourth round in 2001.

He gained one break when 2002 runner-up Marat Safin withdrew from their third-round match with a wrist injury.

In the semifinals, he overcame Andy Roddick 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 after the 20-year-old American wore himself out and hurt his wrist in a 4-hour, 59-minute quarterfinal victory over Younes Al Aynaoui.

 
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