When Andre Agassi made his Citi Open debut in 1987, he was so disgusted with his first-round loss that he gave away all of his racquets and vowed to quit tennis. It’s safe to say he’s glad that never happened.
The American gave Washington, D.C. another shot in 1990 and faithfully returned each year, only missing this event in 2005. His five titles (1990-91, 1995, 1998-1999) remain a tournament record after more than 20 years.
ATPTour.com looks at Agassi’s five trips to the winner’s circle.
Agassi’s performance in his return to Washington, D.C. was a stark contrast from his debut at this event. The 20-year-old, then No. 4 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, delivered his best tennis from the first point. He cruised to the title without dropping a set, easily dismissing fellow American Jim Grabb 6-1, 6-4 in the championship match.
“You haven’t seen me let up on someone for awhile and I don’t think you’ll see it again for awhile. I’m just different now,” Agassi said. “It seems like every day that goes by, I’m more aware of the ability I’ve been given.”
The American returned the following year to deliver the first successful title defence of his career. He once again raced through five matches without dropping a set and required just 65 minutes in the final to defeat Petr Korda 6-3, 6-4, marking his 14th ATP Tour crown.
“If I don’t rise to the occasion, there’s no telling what will happen,” Agassi said. “But I am playing my best tennis. I went out there focused. I got through the week rather easily.”
Agassi battled Stefan Edberg — and the heat — in what remains one of the most dramatic finals in tournament history.
With the temperature on court reaching 48 degrees Celsius (118 Fahrenheit), the American became ill at 5-3 in the third set and vomited into a courtside flower pot. He felt sick once again at 5-5 and raced to the locker room, explaining afterwards that he “didn’t see an opportune place to puke”.
But while he lost his lunch, he didn’t lose his cool. It was Edberg who wilted in the final game as the Swede hit three consecutive unforced errors to give Agassi a 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 win.
“I haven’t experienced this kind of heat,” the Las Vegas-native said afterwards. “I don’t know if I’ll experience this kind of heat again until next year here. It’s crazy. I don’t know why I keep coming back.”
Guillermo Vilas, Jimmy Connors and Agassi shared the tournament record for most titles until 1998, when Agassi picked up his fourth crown in breathtakingly dominant fashion. He didn’t drop a set throughout the week and only lost six games combined in his last three matches, winning 11 consecutive games in the final to blitz Scott Draper 6-2, 6-0. The match only lasted 50 minutes and a sheepish Draper apologised to the crowd afterwards, but Agassi was in no mood to do the same.
“If this was disappointing,” Agassi told the crowd, “I hope to disappoint 20,000 people at the U.S. Open this year.”
Agassi’s last Citi Open title followed the trend of his other trophy-winning performances at this event as he once again prevailed without losing a set. He defeated Yevgeny Kafelnikov 7-6(3), 6-1 in the championship match, marking the first time he had won five titles at an individual tour-level event.
“It’s interesting what it feels like to win a fifth title somewhere – I’ve never done that before,” Agassi said. “It seems only fitting that it’s here.”