Andre Agassi

6 09 2006

It was great to see Andre Agassi play in the 2006 U.S. Open.  Even though his back was in pain, he won his first two matches in dramatic style.  His 2nd win, over the tremendously talented Marcos Baghdatis, was intense — the momentum switched several times and you really didn’t know who would win.  In this third-round match against Benjamin Becker, it was difficult to watch because Agassi was obviously in pain and wasn’t playing well, but he fought through until the end.  And so he received closure on a legendary career.

In a short tribute to Andre Agassi, here’s a couple of quotes :

As great as their tennis is, it’s not hard to admire these two for more than their ability to strike tennis balls.  Andre Agassi and Roger Federer are thoughtful and composed, athletes — better said, men — of tremendous character.  They’re the opposite of the coddled, ego-driven, materialistic and shallow sports figures we’ve come to expect.  Federer and Agassi are the game’s model citizens.  Living in what could be a bubble, they possess perspective. … The match that followed appealed not just to tennis purists but to the masses that tennis has had some difficulty attracting.  The tennis was an enthralling match-up of artistry versus hard work and grit.  As great as it was to witness brutal forehand exchanges between two of the all-time greats, it was even more gratifying to see universally admired sportsmen take each other on and speak so highly of one another after the final point. ~ Neil E. Schlecht, 9/11/05

He went from mullet to chrome dome, brash young punk to the Julio Franco of the ATP Tour.  He once treated tennis like a punch line; entering his final tournament, he treats the sport like something sacred.  Of everything written and said about Andre Agassi’s transformational journey through the sport and life, all you really need to know is this: If he can change, then maybe we all can change.  (Cue “Rocky IV” music).  Forget the ad slogans.  Therein lies the real key to Agassi’s lasting appeal.  For all his otherworldly talent — give Agassi a baseball bat, and he’d be Ted Williams — he’s always been the sort of athlete the rest of us can relate to, a guy who makes mistakes but keeps moving forward.  Which makes him well worth watching, one last time. ~ Patrick Hruby

It’s amazing to see how much Agassi has matured over the years.  I like the point in that last quote that says, “If he can change, then maybe we all can change.”  It’s true that we can all change.  All of us have character flaws and problems in our personality, but we aren’t required to keep them.  Agassi went from being very disrespectful and arrogant (“Image is everything”) to a respectful statesman of the game and being humble and understanding his place in the sport and not taking it all for granted.

In the postmatch press-conference after Agassi’s last match (which you can read here), he said he wanted to give more than he received.  That’s a good philosophy.  Did you know that last year he gave more to charity than any professional athlete of any sport?  He didn’t make more than all other athletes, but he gave more.  That’s respectable.  He has a foundation to help children, which he works with directly and pours millions of dollars into.  It’s really great to see someone who makes a difference in this world.  We all have that potential, whether on a large scale or just in our community, but few people ever do much with that potential.  It’s amazing to see someone who became one of the all-time great athletes and made millions of dollars, yet stayed humble and connected with real life and wanting to help others who are less fortunate.

I will miss seeing Agassi play tennis, but I will not forget the contributions he has made to the sport and to life in general.

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