On Sunday, two icons from my youth are set to rekindle their rivalry.
In front of over 15, 000 fans at the Venetian Macao casino in the Chinese territory and gambling enclave, Andre Agassi is set to play Pete Sampras. If you listen to the words coming out of Sampras’ mouth, it is shaping up to be more than a friendly exhibition. ” As much as its an exhibition, theres still a lot of pride. Our egos are pretty big. Once the first point starts, I’m going to want to beat him.”
Growing up, Andre Agassi was my favorite athlete in the world. I admired his rebel persona and unorthodox approach to the game. He wore neon colored outfits and hit winners from the baseline. I began to like him even more as an athlete, when he had trouble winning his first Grand Slam title. When he finally won the 1991 Wimbledon mens final after deciding to play the tournament for the first time, i felt as if i had finally broken through and won. Agassi went on, of course, to have a legendary career, winning eight Grand Slam titles, incuding being one of only six men to win a career Grand Slam.
Sampras, on the other hand, was the direct opposite of Agassi. He was much more conservative than Agassi, on and off the court. He didnt attract the spotlight like Andre did, letting his game do the speaking for him. He used a punishing serve and volley to destroy his opponents, never giving them a chance to rally. After upsetting Agassi in the memorable 1990 U.S Open final, his success was instanteous. Sampras went on to win a record 14 Grand Slam titles, a mark recently broke by the legendary Roger Federer. Sampras is probably a little roused over that and I expect him to come out playing at a very level.
This rivalry makes me wax nostalgic for the better days of american tennis. Agassi, Sampras, Courier, Connors, and Chang were more than just tennis players, catapulting themsleves to international fame. Now only if Andy Roddick and MardyÂ FishÂ had more charisma andÂ brought American tennis backÂ from the dead!