TOKYO, Japan - It was 22 years ago to this day, on April 10, 1995, when Andre Agassi - a tennis legend, and one of America’s national treasures, really - rose to No.1 in the world for the first time.
After years of energizing the tennis world with his flashy power game - as well as something of a rock star appeal - Agassi put together a phenomenal stretch between July 1994 and April 1995 that propelled him to No.1, winning 56 of 63 matches and seven titles (including back-to-back Grand Slam titles at the US Open and Australian Open and Masters 1000 crowns in Canada, Paris and Miami).
Leading up to the big breakthrough, Agassi was focused on only one thing - his results - and he knew the top ranking would come if he didn’t let those slip. “I want to play the best tennis in the world every time I’m on the court,” he said from Indian Wells in March. “If getting to No.1 happens this week or next week, or whatever, I mean, or never - you just stick to your game plan and hope for the best.
“It’s always going to happen if I keep executing what I’ve been doing.”
And when asked whether it was more important to play his best tennis or reach No.1?
“I’d have to say playing the best I can, simply because I don’t want to be No.1 if I don’t deserve it.”
Play his best is exactly what he did, and he clinched No.1 going into the ATP World Tour event in Tokyo a few weeks after the Indian Wells and Miami swing. He would spend 101 career weeks as the World No.1, spread out across five seasons (1995, 1996, 1999, 2000 and 2003). He also holds the distinction of being the oldest man ever to be No.1 (he was 33 years old when he last held it in 2003).
He finished his career with eight majors, which included four Australian Opens (1995, 2000, 2001 and 2003), one French Open (1999), one Wimbledon (1992) and two US Opens (1994 and 1999).
Here are highlights of one of the last matches that pushed Agassi to No.1, his nail-biting win over Pete Sampras - whom he bumped out of top spot - in the final of the Masters 1000 event in Miami:
And here are a few more throwbacks to April 10, 1995, the day Agassi first became No.1:
- There was also a change at the top of the women’s rankings that day, as Steffi Graf took No.1 back from Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario
- Bad Boys was the No.1 movie at the US box office (knocking Tommy Boy out of the top spot)
- Batman Forever, Dangerous Minds, Pocahontas and Mortal Kombat weren’t in theaters yet
- Nick Kyrgios wasn’t born yet (he was born on April 27, 1995)
- And later that week, this would become the No.1 song in the US: