Sunday, October 18, 2015

Marcelo Rios vs Andre Agassi 1998 Grand Slam Cup

Marcelo Rios has perfect flow on his shots. He angles his body on his each shot for perfect rhythm, torque and power. The point at 0:47 he out Agassis Agassi.

But Agassi is the early aggressor. Rios is staying consistent and Agassi is missing by inches. Agassi has a great deep approach shot, only he doesn't come in. In tennis deciding whether to come in or stay back is always tricky. If Agassi had come in and covered the down the line Rios's ability to blister the ball up the line while on the run wouldn't be displayed.

But Rios gets so much slice spin on his serve he forces the error. 3:20 is a great point for various reasons: 1.  Andre Agassi and Marcelo Rios are keeping the ball in play while going for angles and direction on their shots; This is not the boring power tennis up the middle of today. 2. From what should have been a defensive shot Rios hits a winner up the line.

1-1 all

5:35 Marcelo lines up the out wide serve and then hits the inside out forehand winner. But he gives himself so much margin on this shot by having the path of the angle go through the middle of the court, and hitting the ball short through low pace and topspin. This makes Rios's tennis put away shot virtually impossible for him to miss. However, Agassi strikes back by doing much the same thing over the next two points.

6:48 Agassi would have won this point against anyone else in the world. Agassi is hitting to the same corner multiple times widening the angle each time. In this point Rios hits the sickest angle you may ever see. All of this great play for Rios to hold 2-1. But early in the match he is sending Agassi the message that Agassi's best within Agassi's wheelhouse isn't good enough. When Sampras dominated Agassi; Agassi probably felt outside his comfort zone. Rios is in Agassi's territory in the type of baseline exchanges Agassi wants yet Rios is out playing Agassi. This would devastate most opponents but Agassi doesn't give up.

 I love Marcelo Rios' practice court mentality. He is relaxed and isn't going to miss shots due to nerves. He is just trying to find his control. This will pay off for him over the course of the match. Rather than just pushing the ball to keep it in play and getting dominated by Agassi, Rios is searching for his control. Yes it's terrible to give up points by not keeping the ball in play. But when you start making your shots and are in the flow you want to capitalize on your concentration by going for big enough shots. In this way can you reel off multiple games in a row. And play sicker points.
than if he had tried to push to just keep the ball in play.

In the opening point of Rios' service game he is late on a backhand. The 2nd point Marcelo plays a long rally just missing long. Love-30. But Marcelo Rios looks to the good he has built up the last two points and betters this. From the baseline he takes the same backhand he has previously missed and instead hits a swinging backhand down the line. He follows this approach shot to net and takes the overhead out of the air for a winner. He doesn't lack confidence and wins 3 points in a row. This rarely happens on its own, you have to stay relaxed each point. He hits a topspin slice serve out wide. He always is hitting with multiple spins on each shot. Agassi hits it deep to his backhand again and forces the error. Relentless Agassi leads 3-2.

Rios takes some pills and then gets treated for what looks like a serious injury. Boris Becker is commentating in German. I don't know if he appreciated the subtle beauty of the Agassi Rios rivalry. He enjoyed his raw power game. He and Agassi hated each other as descried in Andre Agassi's book Open. Since I don't know German I don't know if Becker is treating this match like the classic match it is.

Let's see if Rios runs likes  a cheetah after treatment as so many players do. But really this shows his heart and intensity. After all, the treatment is geared towards these super athletes being able to play at peak performance. Rios continues on with crowd support.

After winning the 19:57 point Rios seems to be standing through the net. Like he is standing on Agassi's side. Agassi had given up control on this point. He should have punished the second ball in the rally into the opposite corner. He allowed the similarly styled Rios to gain control of the point. He did this by hitting the ball to the same corner. This pattern of play can be effective. But the most  brutal form of the side to side strategy is to always have the opponent running. Never let them catch their breath or gain momentum by hitting to the same side. Because then you will feel the pressure and go for too much on your next shot. Only hit to the same side if you hit the ball short or deep as the winning shot. But Agassi repeats his mistake. Rios retakes control of the match. A few good Marcelo serves and Rios leads 4-3. That concludes part 1. We find ourselves 24 minutes into this match.
If you must skip ahead I urge you to check out the following points in the Agassi vs Rios Grand Slam cup match.
49:52   Sensational smash from on his back.

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