Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, March 18, 2010

 

When serves become slow…

It is a rare, if not non-existent, day in tennis when one gets to see the combined winners of 44 grand slams playing on the same court. So it doesn't come as a surprise that when news let out that Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Rafael Nadal were going to play a one-set doubles match in a charity event for Haiti, people jumped for a ticket. Promising to be a great night of tennis, it delivered…well, a great night for old rivalry to say the least.

It started off as fun as one could imagine. All the players were fitted with microphones so everyone could hear their chatter. Agassi and Federer teased each other and joked around, delighting the crowd. Nadal, chimed in with a comment or two once in a while, but mostly kept a bit quiet because of his weak English. But Sampras was his usual aloof and serious self.

But eventually, Agassi got more and more talkative and started verbally prodding Sampras. Everyone expected Sampras to loosen up a little and talk back in a bit of good humour. But Sampras pulled a Djokovic and decided to do an uncannily accurate impersonation of Agassi doing the pigeon walk. Just when you thought a Sampras imitation by Agassi was incoming, Agassi decided to go a bit below the belt. He pulled out his pockets and said, “Tip? I don't have any money… Oh wait! Here's a dollar.” It was a reference to Agassi's autobiography Open, where he tells of how once Sampras tipped a valet a dollar, despite his huge income. Whether the information is accurate or not, is beside the point. The point is Agassi mentioning it live in a charity match, which Sampras clearly considered an affront. “You got personal,” he said to Agassi, who replied, “No, no, everyone knows already.” This resulted in a bit of chatter out there in the middle and Federer and Nadal could do nothing but stand there, with Federer remarking to Nadal, “This rivalry is intense, man.”

They eventually hugged it out at the end of the game, which Federer and Sampras won 8-6. And Sampras said in an after match interview that he has “Nothing but love” for Agassi. What this event did though, was overshadow the charity match just prior to this one; the one between Davenport and Steffi Graf vs Martina Navratilova and Justin Henin, which has been argued to be a bit unmatched, since Henin is not far from her prime and Navratilova is still fit. Davenport, however, is only a shadow of her previous self.

Hit for Haiti 2 raised a million dollars for the cause.
Reference: Internet, Television

By Kazim Ibn Sadique

 


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