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Return Winners: the 2000 Tennis Masters Cup final
When Gustavo Kuerten and Andre Agassi collided to decide the year-end championship.
Published Nov 22, 2020
In the last match of the last tournament in 2000, Gustavo Kuerten and Andre Agassi collided in Lisbon, Portugal.
In 2000, four different men won Grand Slam singles titles, and it came down to the last tournament of the year, the Tennis Masters Cup, to see who would finish the season atop of the rankings. The top two contenders were US Open winner, and top seed, Marat Safin; and the French Open victor, Gustavo Kuerten.
After dropping his round-robin match against Agassi, Kuerten’s prospects appeared to be waning, especially with Safin winning his opener. But they both advanced to the semifinals, where Kuerten would face the defending tournament champion, and 2000 Wimbledon winner, Pete Sampras. The two had faced each other in the finals in Miami, a match the American won in four sets. This time, though, Kuerten edged him out in three sets to set up another match against the Australian Open champion Agassi—who beat Safin in straight sets—in the final.
This would be Kuerten’s second chance to defeat both iconic Americans in back-to-back matches.
Kuerten got off to a perfect start, breaking Agassi in the first game. Agassi tried to make a charge a few games later by breaking back, but was denied. Behind that early break, Kuerten held on to win the opening set, 6-4.
It appeared it was going to be a similar story in the second, but this time, Agassi avoided getting broken in the first game. However, it appeared he was delaying the inevitable as Kuerten gained the advantage again a few games later, and rode out a single break to the end to take the second, 6-4, taking a two-set lead in the best-of-five=set final.
Renowned for his return, Agassi had multiple chances to break serve, but each time Kuerten came up with the goods to stop him. Getting one last crucial break of his own in the third set, Kuerten served for the match at 5-4. He clinched victory—along with the No. 1 ranking—behind another service winner for his biggest title outside of Roland Garros.
Kuerten became the first South American to end the year at the top of the rankings.
Agassi, playing in his third final at the year-end championships, was now competing in the event for a third decade, having made his debut in 1988 and winning the title in 1990.
This was Kuerten’s fifth title of the year, which would be a career-high.