If Al Gore donned a super hero suit, flew into the stratosphere and single-handedly solved global warming, he couldn’t have hoped for a better standing ovation than Andre Agassi enjoyed at about 3.30am (AEST) today after falling in the third round of the US Open.
This was a standing ovation that felt as though it went for half an hour. Entire games of the match had felt shorter than the waves of applause that overwhelmed Agassi as he finally bowed out of professional tennis for good.
At least, as the bushrangers used to say, he died with his boots on, swinging lustily against a younger, stronger opponent with a booming serve, even if he was tottering around on painkillers and with a dodgy back.
Of course, as the applause washed over him, he cried. Added to Tiger Woods’ tears after claiming the British Open a few months ago, this is the year of emotionally expressive athletes. I’m all for it. The crowd gave their heart to Agassi in the wake of his 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-5 loss to Benjamin Becker, the world’s 112th ranked player and no relation to Boris. It was only right that Andre wore his heart on his sleeve one more time.
There was no way Agassi was going to stretch his fairytale goodbye into the last 16 at Flushing Meadows. Having somehow overcome the New Andre, Marcos Baghdatis, in a marathon five-setter in the previous round, Agassi didn’t have enough in the tank today. The familiar duck waddle was a distinct limp.
Afterwards, he told reporters he was completely at peace and had no idea what to expect now that training or resting or preparing for the next tournament was no longer part of his life. Enjoy retirement, Andre.
Meanwhile, Australia’s lone hand, Lleyton Hewitt, blitzed Serbian 20th-seed Novak Djokovi, 6-3, 6-1, 6-2, to move into the last 16. C’mon!