from Sun Sentinel
by Jim Sarni
Pictures from plazbovo.free.fr/
KEY BISCAYNE -- Andre Agassi soaked up the applause like sunshine. The largest crowd to see a tennis match in the state -- 12,355 -- roared for the new Lipton champion Sunday.
Agassi turned and bowed to the fans, then hit a ball up into the bleachers.
Stefan Edberg, as he had all afternoon, had no play on this shot either. The Swede was too slow for the Las Vegas flash.
The youngest Lipton male champion won 6-1, 6-4, 0-6, 6-2 and established himself as the best player in America again.
Andre Agassi may be the best player in the world right now. He is 16-2 on the year. One loss was to Pete Sampras in Philadelphia, but Agassi was forced to retire with food poisoning at one-set all. The other loss was to Edberg in four sets at Indian Wells, Calif., and Agassi avenged that nicely Sunday.
"I wanted it," said Agassi, after winning the biggest title of his career. "This is the kind of tennis I played all week. I came here to give it everything I had. This year, I'm playing better than I ever have, and I just want to get better."
Agassi stayed on top of Edberg from the start. He slowed the pace, pulled his opponent wide and passed him with forehands and backhands.
The first two sets were over in an hour and six minutes. Edberg rallied to win the third set easily, but Agassi came back strong to seal off the comeback.
"It was difficult to keep my concentration and play that level for three sets in a row," Agassi said. "I got lackadasical in the third set. After he broke a second time, I geared up for the fourth set. I felt strong and I don't think he wanted to play a fifth set."
Edberg won the opening game of the fourth set at deuce to extend his run to seven games. Agassi held at love, then broke at deuce, as Edberg doublefaulted on his second break point.
Agassi hit a great lob to push Edberg back to the baseline, then smashed a backhand crosscourt passing shot to set up the second break point.
Agassi held at 15, then broke again at 15, as Edberg once again doublefaulted on game point.
Agassi held at 30 for 5-1. Edberg saved two match points in the next game, and a third on Agassi's serve, before capitulating with a forehand volley into the net.
"You have to move quickly when you play Agassi, and I was a little bit slow," said Edberg, who committed 72 unforced errors to 55 for Agassi in the two-hour and seven-minute match.
"I felt flat and my timing is off. Everybody can hit the ball, and the most important thing is to move my feet. I have been struggling all week, but I got into the matches and won. I didn't get into the match enough today."
"Edberg played better at Indian Wells," Agassi said. "I wanted to make him work today and not force the points as much. I played well and that magnified the fact that he was a little tentative."
Agassi is in the best shape of his life, after a grueling off-season conditioning program with Gil Reyes. Five-set matches are no longer his Achilles heel.
"Last year, Edberg would have got confidence going into the fourth set," Agassi said. "He would hve felt if he hung in there, I would get tired or careless.
"But I'm a lot fitter and tougher mentally. To beat me now, you have to work. The one thing that separates me from doing better is my strength. I've added some power to my ability and I believe I've just scratched the surface. I hope this is just the start."
Agassi won the toughest tournament of the year at Lipton. Seventeen of the top 20 entered, including the top five.
"I'm the last one standing," said Agassi, who was seeded fifth, his ranking which will improve to No. 4 this week. "That excitement speaks for itself."
Edberg, despite the loss, will move to No. 2 in the rankings behind Ivan Lendl and ahead of Boris Becker, who drops to Edberg's old No. 3 spot.
Agassi lost at 2 in the morning here in 1988. He lost in the first round in another lonely stadium last year.
Sunday, Florida's historic tennis crowd stood to cheer the first American champ since Tim Mayotte won Lipton I in 1985 at Delray Beach.
The applause felt like sunshine.
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