"Wait till tomorrow," Agassi said.
Agassi had the tougher road in, wrestling Hewitt for just under three hours in the unseasonable heat before pinning him 6-4, 7-6, 6-7, 6-2. Sampras disposed of an outclassed Sjeng Schalken 7-6, 7-6, 6-2, but before that he had to get by one of the summer's hottest players, Rusedski; the third seed, Tommy Haas; and the 20-year-old Roddick. "It's what he's been saying all along," Roddick said after being crushed by Sampras in straight sets. "I'm not done yet."
Once again Roddick failed to make much of a dent at a Slam. Aside from one astonishing point in his fourth-round match against Juan Ignacio Chela, Roddick's most endearing moment in New York was the news flash that when he and Serena Williams were preteens at the Rick Macci Tennis Academy in Florida, Williams beat him in the one match they played. "Ask him," Williams said last week. "Indirectly, I've beaten a lot of people on the men's tour."
Hey, she's earned the right to brag. A year after losing to her older sister Venus in a historic U.S. Open final, Serena decisively won Saturday night's rematch, 6-4, 6-3, taking her third straight Slam final—each over Venus—and forcing another shift in the women's game. Just a week ago common wisdom had the two Williamses ruling this world, jointly pushing the game to a level never imagined by Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf. "I think both Serena and Venus are even better," said Monica Seles after losing to Venus in the quarterfinals 6-2, 6-3. "I don't think Martina or Steffi could serve as hard as Serena and Venus can."
But now Serena reigns alone. A sprained ankle knocked her out of the Australian Open, but since then she has lost only three of 46 matches, all by the slimmest of margins. Clad in a skintight black cat suit, flaunting curves and muscles that could be dreamed up only by the brains at Marvel Comics, undistracted by a stalker's arrest or by her sister's feelings, the 20-year-old Serena plowed through the Open without losing a set. She fired serves so hard and deceptive that her one true challenger in Queens, Lindsay Davenport, compared her to Sampras. In the final Serena dictated with ease, overpowering the player who had taught her everything.
"Little sister's gotten a little better over the last year, hasn't she?" Trabert asked Venus on court after the drubbing. Venus stood there speechless, grinning weakly.
That the two sisters failed to replicate their stirring Wimbledon final revived worries that they can't muster the competitive fury required for great matches. But more troubling is the fact that Venus, 22, left the Open a joyless shadow of her former self. She had won three tournaments heading into the Open and would have claimed the No. 1 ranking had she won it. But she showed little vitality at Flushing Meadows. She spoke of feeling exhausted. "I just had to tune out everything—people just wear you to death and talk so much," Venus said. "I just wanted to get away from the hype. I think Serena likes the attention."
She has liked it all year. Ever since Venus waxed her in last year's Open final, Serena has been a changed player—taking fewer chances on her backhand, placing her serve better, using her practice sessions with Venus to learn how to win again. "It's not that I thought I could win all three [Slam titles]," Serena said on Saturday night. "I just said, 'I'm tired of losing. I'm not going to lose anymore.' Life was passing me by."
No one in tennis knows that urgency better than Agassi and Sampras. The two men—who first faced each other at Flushing Meadows in 1990, when the 19-year-old Sampras drilled the 20-year-old Agassi in straight sets to win the first of his five Open titles—have always been opposites in every category: personality, playing style, approach to celebrity. They are not friends, but time has made them allies as much as rivals. Together they've produced some of the finest tennis matches in history. Forever paired in the public mind, they've watched each other go bald, fall in and out of love, win big and lose plenty. Everything has changed since '90: Agassi's wife, Steffi Graf, watches his matches and minds their 10-month-old son. Bridgette Wilson Sampras is expecting a child. When the two men saw each other in the locker room on Sunday afternoon, there was no gamesmanship, just two neighbors grinning tightly and saying a quick "How ya doin'?" as they passed each other on the way to work.
In his bag Pete carried a note from Bridgette. "I'm so proud of you," she wrote. "Go out there and enjoy today and enjoy yourself, attacking him from the first point on. Continue to do what you've been doing, playing your game.... Stay strong. Find your zone. This is your house."