He Fights On
By Pejman Yousefzadeh Posted in Miscellaneous — Comments (3) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
I must be getting old, since I remember Andre Agassi back when he had wild hair, wild clothes, and more wild shots in his repertoire than a drunken gunslinger. I remember, of course, the rebel image, the sometimes-juvenile antics designed to play to the crowds and rattle various foes. I remember all of the professional pundits and the pundits-without-pay who gaped at Agassi's brilliant natural talent but wondered whether he would find the heart, the maturity and the discipline to win championships and to write his name in the Golden Book of Tennis.
Well, we have all grown up, haven't we? And we grew up with Andre Agassi and he with us. The wild hair is gone, replaced by a Spartan close-cropping that seeks nothing more than to make male-pattern baldness look good. No longer does Agassi play to the crowds. He is more mature now . . . he draws strength from them like the champion everyone hoped he would someday be, the champion he is now. No longer does he wear flashy clothes; his sartorial decisions tend towards the functional and traditional. The only thing that remains from the past is a boyish smile, gentlemanly behavior that always existed underneath his onetime brash exterior and an indomitable will to win. Whether that will always existed, or whether it is of more recent vintage matters not. No one doubts Andre Agassi's greatness any more.
He is leaving tennis now and reminding us through his departure of all of the memories we have of him. Of the way we somehow fooled ourselves into thinking that he would always be scampering around the court, hitting impossible shots and winning dazzling victories. He is reminding us that he has grown old. And that we have grown old with him.
But "old" need not mean "tired." No, it most certainly need not.
To say that Andre Agassi's victory over Marcos Baghdatis was A Victory For The Ages is perhaps to employ a cliché. I don't like clichés; too often, they get in the way of original thinking. But just because a statement is a cliché, does not mean that its use is always inappropriate.
So I am going to go out on a limb and say that Andre Agassi's victory over Marcos Baghdatis was A Victory For The Ages. I don't know how much longer Agassi can go. Roddick is out there, and so is Nadal and so is Federer and so, perhaps, are others who might bring the Legend's improbable last run for glory to an end.
But so often, glory is found in the very act of seeking it. Whether Andre Agassi will be the U.S. Open Champion for 2006 is beyond my ken to predict. All I know is this: Over 20,000 New Yorkers remained standing after a stirring five set victory and cheered Andre Agassi with joyful abandon, all the while seeking to support him for the coming battles he must fight to win the Open. They will do so as often as he can step out onto the court to do what he was born to do. If memory serves, the great Jimmy Connors once addressed an Open crowd by telling them that "You may not like me, but I like you." With that simple comment, New York was wooed and won and it took Connors to its heart.
Andre Agassi likes us. He proves it by going out on the tennis court and gives everything he has to make great memories for those privileged enough to watch him. And because of that, we like him back.
And in the end, what could be more glorious than that?