Agassi Sings Praises Of Rios After Losing ’98 Miami Final
Marcelo Rios defeated Andre Agassi 75 63 64 in the 1998 final of Key Biscayne with such a grand display of tennis that the EUROSPORT commentator was inspired to state, “I’ve rarely seen a better performance from any player, any match, from my time in watching tennis. This performance by Rios stands up to any match.”
After the match, Agassi answered questions about Marcelo Rios…
Q. Do you think it’s going to take you a few times playing a guy like him? Seemed like you were having trouble reading his shot. Was it your game being off or, “This guy is good, I’m going to have to play him a few times”?
ANDRE AGASSI: I definitely had trouble reading some of his forehands. When I would hit my backhand crosscourt, I had trouble having a sense for when to cut it off and take it up the line. Sometimes he was flicking it up the line. A little trouble reading his serve, his forehand, wasn’t quite pulling the trigger on my own shots. He’s the kind of guy that you can’t wait for him to miss; you’ve got to be able to take it to him. I didn’t quite do it. I mean, I was hitting the ball okay, but I wasn’t stepping in and really getting good wood on it.
Q. Andre, how much did it hurt you not to have played a couple big finals, be on a regular roll when you come to this stage?
ANDRE AGASSI: Honestly, I felt like it had more to do with Marcelo than that particular situation. You know, you have to address him like a big player. I was going out there and playing him like he’s five foot eight. I thought I could back him into the paint. The bottom line is, you know, he doesn’t play his size. He has good stick, he moves well, serves better than you expect. You know, he puts you in a position to have to do something early in the point. That’s to his credit.
Q. A match like this, long rallies, two guys who weren’t six-foot-four hitting 180 miles an hour serves, how good is this for tennis in the United States?
ANDRE AGASSI: It’s nice. You know, I never thought we’d see a player as good as Marcelo again after Chang. He plays well. Brings another dimension to tennis. It’s nice for me as a competitor to get out there and play that kind of tennis. It really forces you to think, forces you to move, forces you to execute. I think it’s good for the game. There’s no question about it, especially in America where, you know, people tend to be a bit — have more options for big-time sports, they don’t want to tune into tennis if they’re watching a big serve here, a big serve there. This is good for tennis all-around, especially here.
(Scoop’s book “Marcelo Rios: The Man We Barely Knew” was called “Magnificent, excellent, you did it in a very unique way,” by Nick Bollettieri. It’s available at Amazon.com for $12.99.)