Tag Archives: Pete Sampras

Andy Roddick’s Loss Shows Return of Serve is Achilles Heel of U.S. Tennis.

Although Andy Roddick will probably be the first to admit he played too passively through most of his shocking five set loss to unheralded Yen-Hsun Lu in the Round of 16 of Wimbledon, more than anything it was Roddick’s inability to make inroads into Lu’s service games at key moments that will haunt the American for some time. Sure Roddick hit a backhand pass winner to break Lu in the first set, but why couldn’t Roddick string together a few more points like that especially when Lu seemed vulnerable in the final games of the fifth set when Lu kept missing first serves? Roddick’s tactics will be debated for some time but this loss, along with the epic win by John Isner last week, proves once again the return of serve is the Achilles heel of U.S. men’s tennis. Continue reading

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Agassi Apologizes for “Hit For Haiti” While Sampras Plays the Victim.

In response to ongoing criticism from his comments made during the “Hit For Haiti” charity event at the BNP Paribas Open, Andre Agassi issued a video apology along with commenting yet again that he has reached out to Pete Sampras to set things straight. What appears to be lost in all the back and forth analysis of what was said by both players is the fact that the event was set up for controversy before it even started. Continue reading

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Review – Andre Agassi’s “Open”.

For all the continued talk over Andre Agassi’s recent admission that he took crystal meth in 1997, after reading “Open”, one can understand how that life error could occur. It doesn’t condone what happened or how it was covered up, both by Agassi and the ATP, but after reading the book, one realizes there is so much more to the man than that dark period in his life.

Agassi’s story is a roller coaster ride from the very beginning. Basically forced into tennis by his overdemanding Armenian/Iranian father, Agassi recounts spending most of his youth rebelling against his natural talent, then against Nick Bollettieri, the ringmaster impresario entrusted with developing his gifts. Once Agassi is free to play as a pro at the age of 16, basically the only career choice available to him, he finally does so with a mixture of joy at finally being able to earn a living, and a good one, but always with a tinge of regret that he really never chose the sport.

Agassi relates with candor his fairytale gone bad marriage to Brooke Shields, his deep friendship with trainer and almost spiritual advisor Gil Reyes and his later courtship and marriage to Steffi Graf. If one hopes to find “bitter gossip” about Agassi’s love affairs, you won’t find it here as even his most painful moments regarding Shields are written in a sad yet guarded tone.

Agassi’s frank talk about life on the tour back in the 90’s reminds the reader that it was still a bit of circus, where players could avoid Grand Slams based on “not feeling like it” and cherry pick events in the hopes of avoiding certain players or surfaces to protect ranking points. Agassi was one of those players who floated in and out of the tennis world, winning big and then losing big. It’s probably a miracle that such inconsistency yielded major wins, Wimbledon and his first U.S. Open, at such improbable times.

The writing is superb and mention must be given to Agassi’s collaborator J.R. Moehringer who allowed Agassi’s voice to emerge with such vivid clarity.

Probably why Agassi’s book is having so much impact is that Agassi really did transcend the game into public consciousness. Pete Sampras may have more Grand Slam titles, but Agassi will be the one long remembered for his style and personality which, as we are now finding out, was more of a reaction to his life than a reflection of it. Even he admits the whole “image is everything” line was forced on him by hungry ad execs.

If Agassi’s new image as humanitarian and revered veteran gets tarnished by his honest admissions is still unknown. The book is a journey and after finishing it, one gets that sense that Agassi’s is just beginning.

My recommendation – A definite buy and/or holiday gift request.
(Special Thanks to Knopf for providing me the book).

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