No matter what planet you live on, you’ve heard that Andre Agassi is playing his last tennis tournament of a long career at the right-now US Open in New York City. It’s the biggest, noisiest, rowdiest, wildest shrine to tennis that exists. And, as many signs said in the crowd last night, it’s Andre’s House.
I have been in wonder at Andre’s enormous gifts since I first saw him on TV at a friend’s house in 1986. Just the freedom, swing and pinpoint accuracy of those shots, easy, without thought… he actually does live up to Barbara Streisand’s naming him as a Zen Master at a French Open a long time ago.
And now I appreciate him for much more as well. The way he has lived out his life in public in front of us, always sharing his feelings and understandings, through good times and bad. The ups and downs – what great lessons, great pain, great joy.
His match with Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus last night on Center Court – his favorite time and place to play – the surreal lateness of the hour as we were on the edge of our seats, unbelieving the drama. First two sets to Andre, easily – taking into consideration the cortisone shot after Monday night’s hard match. Then Marcos began to focus – and fall apart at the same time. Finally hitting his backhand well, a hurt wrist, cramping thighs. Turns out the 36 year old is more match fit than the 20 year old. The fifth set – which everyone in tennis knows is all about heart, not tennis. Heading toward a fifth set tiebreaker, which friend Diane and I knew we would not survive.
Andre has regained his accuracy, going for shots – especially Marcos’ drop shot – that he didn’t chase earlier. They trade incredible rallies – the match is a classic whichever way it goes. And then, on Match Point Number 3 – Marcos’ return goes long. It’s 7-5 in the fifth and we’re all exhausted. 23,000 people in New York, millions on TV, Diane and I, Marcos – Andre is still skipping around.
What A Match!