Today is a big anniversary for Andre Agassi. It was 25 years ago—April 10, 1995—when the major tennis icon rose to No. 1 in the ATP rankings for the first time in his career.

By 1994, Agassi was one of the biggest names in tennis—he had his first major under his belt, at Wimbledon in 1992, and he had been as high as No. 3 on the ATP rankings. But going into that year’s US Open, he was at No. 20, and not many were expecting the magic that was about to take place.

Unseeded, the American went all the way to his second major in Flushing Meadows, surging from No. 20 to No. 9 afterwards. And after two more titles in the fall—one in Vienna, the other at the Masters 1000 in Paris—he climbed to a new career-high of No. 2, which is where he finished the year.

After a phenomenal start to 1995, which included winning his third major title at the Australian Open over No. 1 Pete Sampras, Agassi went into the Sunshine Double within striking distance of his countryman’s top ranking. Winning matches was all he was focusing on, though.

“I think No. 1 is a by-product of continuing this kind of intensity, focus and concentration, and just executing your game plan every time you step on the court,” he said en route to the Indian Wells final. “It’s just one match at a time for me.”

He would finish runner-up to Sampras at Indian Wells, but two weeks later he got his revenge in the final of Miami, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (3). Not only was their on-court rivalry getting more and more exciting, but so was the battle for No. 1—Agassi’s victory in Miami brought him within 227 points of the top spot.

“The intensity against Pete is above and beyond anything that I think I can feel with anybody at the present time,” Agassi said. “I do feel a sense of professional intensity when I play against other guys, and I have a lot of respect for their ability, but with Pete there’s that added level—people are very familiar with us playing each other and the rivalry, but on top of that there’s also the hunt for No. 1.”

That hunt for No. 1 would come to an end two weeks later after Sampras didn’t compete at back-to-back events he had won right after Miami the year before—both in Japan, in Osaka and Tokyo.

On this day: Andre Agassi takes over top spot for first time in 1995

On this day: Andre Agassi takes over top spot for first time in 1995


AP Photo

The seven-and-a-half-month stretch that led him from No. 20 to No. 1 saw him win 49 of 54 matches and six of the 11 events he played—he also made the quarterfinals or better at the other five events.

And not only did he have what it took to get to No. 1, he also knew how to hang onto it.

“When you’re No. 1, people raise their level and play stronger against you; that’s the downside,” he said. “But the upside to it is that it’s a little nerve-wracking trying to beat the top guy when you might not get that opportunity again for a long time, so it creates a certain amount of nerves, I think.

“Either way, you’ve got to win to be No. 1 and you’ve got to win to stay No. 1. If you don’t, it’s not going to last very long.”

Agassi would end up spending a total of 101 weeks at No. 1 in his career, one of only nine players in ATP history to hit triple digits. His time on top was split into six stints and spread out across more than eight years, with his last 12 weeks coming between June 16 and September 7, 2003.

He finished his career with eight Grand Slam titles: four Australian Opens (1995, 2000, 2001 and 2003), one French Open (1999), one Wimbledon (1992) and two US Opens (1994 and 1999).

On this day: Andre Agassi takes over top spot for first time in 1995

On this day: Andre Agassi takes over top spot for first time in 1995