AGASSI AT THE OPEN: LIKE A JET ENGINE WITH A GIANT HEART BEAT

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FROM TWO-TONED MULLETS TO NUANCED INSIGHTS AND U.S. OPEN INSIGHTS

Andre Agassi, a two-time winner of the U.S. Open, returned to Ashe Stadium Sunday to be inducted into the U.S. Open Court of Champions. The Las Vegan was known almost as much for his style and charisma as for his daring and flashy play. As a teen who just got his driver’s permit, he showed up for his first Open, but he could not convince an attendant that he belonged. His first opponent, Britain’s Jeremy Bates, ranked No. 128, wasn’t convinced either.

But according to Andy Roddick, who introduced his friend, Agassi ‘’had a whole generation of kids wearing jean shorts and pink tights.’’

Andre told the huge crowd awaiting the women’s final that he first showed up ‘‘rocking a spiky, fluffy, two-tone mullet.’’ Agassi, who has evolved into both a remarkable humanitarian and a adept speaker, said, “I always came back here. It’s the only Grand Slam that I have never missed. Quite honestly, I wish I had the words to describe the sounds you make during critical matches, the roar, the pause, the look, it’s like a jet engine and a giant heartbeat. I used to start to hear that sound back in the tunnel. In Paris, you get to center court through a stairway, in London you get to centre court through a club, in Melbourne you enter through a hallway, and here in New York, you enter through a long tunnel, which amplifies the noise [and] amplifies the love. That sound is almost as powerful, almost as inspiring as your silence. In Paris, in London, in Melbourne, they fall silent many times during a match, but here in New York, you don’t bestow your silence at just any moment, so when you do it is dandy. It’s a sign of deep respect with high expectations. And it’s deafening. I assure you that you will never in your life hear something so loud as 23,000 stone cold, silent New Yorkers.
People often ask me if I miss the game, and I think of my back, and I think of my hips, and I remember Federer taking me apart like my kids taking apart their Lego toys, and I say, yes and no. But when someone asks me if I miss the U.S. Open, I don’t hesitate. I miss your sound, I miss your silence, I miss giving everything I had and a little bit more. Thanks for giving me everything you had for 21 years and a little bit more.

“Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to once more walk into that tunnel and being reminded, I love you. Thank you so much.”

Inside Tennis and a few other reporters then caught up with Andre after he walked off court.

Question: Does today’s game make you feel older?

Agassi: “It makes you feel older every time you see the standards of play out there, it’s pretty insane. Everybody takes their turns, and everybody has their reasons, everybody have their time and their ways. I am grateful that Andy [Roddick] was generous to share that with us, because it would have been easier for him to not. It gave us a chance to say goodbye. It’s a gift.”

Q: Talk about the silence you feel here amidst all the noise compared with Wimbledon with its pervasive sense of quiet.

Agassi: “It’s so different, the quietness here and the murmur in Centre Court. When they go quiet here on court, you are hit by this reality that this is a big moment. When the English start to murmur and they have that low whispering tone, they give you that same kind of feeling.”

Q: What is your take on Murray vs. Djokovic in tomorrow’s final?

Agassi: “I liked Murray going in the [Olympic] finals against Fed, I just think that whole crowd [would help him]. I thought after the roof closed it made it easier … This particular one, on paper, you would say there is a tighter advantage for Djokovic. But with what Andy accomplished at the Olympics, Andy believes that he can do this and I think that believe is a big difference. He has beaten Djokovic in this surface before.
They have beaten each other in these surface before. They have grown up together, they have been in this moment before. Djokovic had horrible conditions yesterday and today he had a chance to go out and let it loose and relax …. [Now] he can focus on what he has to do come Monday. I think he will play with conviction, with purpose … [But] if there is anybody that deserves a Slam, it’s Andy, because of the generation he found himself in, yet he still puts himself out there to create some incredible memories for himself. I would love to see him cross the finish line. I think he will win a tight epic.”

Q: Can you see the impact that Lendl had on Murray?

Agassi: “Sometimes, I see the trust that it seems that Andy now has of his physicality deep into matches, and how he has turned to Ivan for trust and his discipline. I noticed that I see glimpses of what I would guess Ivan is trying the correction into it. But the truth is I still think that Andy has too many moments when he is too passive because his movement and defense skills are so good that if there weren’t quite as good I think he would be a better player. Because he would literally set up the play with complete conviction early in the point. But he is so quick … Hopefully he will work through that. I think winning at the Olympics might give him that sense that he has to go out there and take it.”