Agassi vs. Blake
September 6, 2005 3:56 PM   Subscribe

The Old Man vs. The Comeback Kid. On Wednesday evening at 7pm EST Andre Agassi will face James Blake in the US Open Quarterfinals. At 35, this will be Agassi's 20th appearance at the US Open. Although he's been persistently dodging plans for retirement this may possibly be the last time Agassi graces Arthur Ashe court. James Blake's story is different. At 25, he's spent the past year and a half recovering from a neck fracture, the death of his father and an illness in which he temporarily lost feeling in his face and suffered from blurry vision. He will also be the first black man to reach the quarterfinals in the US open in 23 years. Will this match-up be a passing of the torch to a younger generation of US men's tennis players or will experience prevail over youth? Regardless, this may be one of the most anticipated matches at the US Open since Agassi faced Pete Sampras in the 2002 final.
posted by quadog (26 comments total)
Should be a great matchup between two of the sport's genuine good guys. I'm kind of pulling for Agassi, only because he's one of my generation, but I won't be unhappy if Blake, a fellow Nutmegger, wins it. Unfortunately, I give either of these guys slim odds to beat Federer later on, but should be a terrific night of tennis.
posted by psmealey at 4:34 PM on September 6, 2005

Overrated. Good riddance.
posted by Mach3avelli at 5:27 PM on September 6, 2005

Whatever. This should be a great match. I hope it lives up to expectations.
posted by caddis at 5:36 PM on September 6, 2005

Yawn. Isn't there a tennis discussion board or 50 where this should have been posted? Are you a publicist?
posted by longsleeves at 6:02 PM on September 6, 2005

Meh, longsleeeves is dull.
posted by caddis at 6:15 PM on September 6, 2005

Yawn. Isn't there a tennis discussion board or 50 where this should have been posted? Are you a publicist?

Hey longsleeves, do you denigrate all sports or just tennis? If not all sports, I'm certain that someone here can piss on competitive tiddliewinks.
posted by stirfry at 6:53 PM on September 6, 2005

and for more sports filter - Lance might come back, just as a big upward thrust middle finger to the French.
posted by caddis at 7:41 PM on September 6, 2005

longsleeves is an example of the average metafilter user who is just a naysayer waiting to naysay, with nothing valuable to contribute. i, for one, am looking forward to seeing this match; it should make for some awesome tennis.

tennis is so underappreciated as a spectator sport, i'm not sure why. i think because to be a fan of the sport, you can have your 'favourites' as players, but most of the time, you're just cheering great tennis, no matter who wins. i think the american audience is not really mature enough to handle this, hence the necessity for american players to be in the us open for ratings; they need a 'homer' to root for. also, hence the rabidity of pro-us-player fans - what i read on the espn tennis boards is purely shocking. reverse racism is rampant, even going as far as to assert that all other players but the williams sisters are on steroids "especially Maria Sharapova" (!!!)
posted by drgonzo at 7:42 PM on September 6, 2005

drgonzo well said! I'm not sure whether it's that tennis takes more practice (and practice partners) to be "good" at or whether it's that people just haven't been exposed to it (because a decent raquet and fresh balls tend to cost more than a football (soccer, and otherwise) that can be shared amongst many.

Tennis is a fantastic sport, and watching professionals can be (almost) as entertaining as watching professional hockey players (speaking as a Canadian who has/plays/ed a lot of hockey).
posted by PurplePorpoise at 9:03 PM on September 6, 2005

I suspect that in order to enjoy watching tennis you have to have played it at some point to appreciate what the pros are capable of doing. Hence my distaste for golf.

I thought this match might be a good opportunity for people who normally wouldn't give tennis the time of day to (hopefully) see how exciting it can be. A night match should be especially rowdy. I always assumed it was because the fans get gradually more drunk throughout the day. I've never been to the US Open so I have now way of knowing this.
posted by quadog at 9:32 PM on September 6, 2005

Played tennis once. Sucked. Horribly. I am not a tennis fan. But I am really looking forward to seeing this match.

Good post, quadog.
posted by subgenius at 2:10 AM on September 7, 2005

They are saying that Sharapova is on steroids??? Have they ever seen her? She's a great tennis player, but physically, she's a rail!

I honestly don't know what it will take for tennis to catch on as a spectator sport. I learned how to play in the tennis boom in the 70s (I was 8 when I started), and it is still my favorite thing to do. I had always attributed my love for the game to the fact that there were such great players around when I got hooked (Nastase, Connors, Borg, McEnroe, Vilas, Lendl, Becker)... it never mattered to me where they came from, just the game they played.

Tennis has gone through periods where the players were robotic and played that uninteresting, bludgeoning power baseline game (like Andre, even though I've always liked him)... but a guy like Federer who plays a brilliant, fluid all court game (so does Blake, for that matter), might actually do a lot to bring back the artfulness of the sport and increase its viewership.

Even if you can only stay at the Days Inn near LaGuardia to cut down expenses, I highly recommend spending a day at the US Open if you love tennis. Walking around the back courts and watching the pros practice is almost worth the price of admission. I don't think the average municipal court hacker can have any idea how insanely good these guys are until he's seen them play live.

I'm going on 25 years in a row (shit, I'm old), and I look forward to it every year.
posted by psmealey at 3:51 AM on September 7, 2005

My wife and I are big fans of Tennis on TV. We watch the US Open and Wimbledon every year. I think I may have gotten into it as a kid, watching Boris Becker tumble around the court, and watching the enigma that was Bjorn Borg treat tennis like was a true Bobby Fisher-esque talent.

The whole "rebel" thing surrounding Agassi went stale pretty quickly, and it was understood that most of his image was just that: Image. His style and honesty really did begin to peak through when he made it to many of the finals. He would often complain that a shot of his should have been called out, or made sure that the fans new at the Open that he'd heard their calls of support (strangely, not a thing too many players do).

I guess I've always supported Agassi because his upbringing sounded so white-trash, and he had the long hair, and as he grows older, he's cut it pretty short (if not shaving altogether). So -- he's mirrored my life in many ways. Yes, I've just compared a chubby, work-from-home computer programmer to a pro tennis star.
posted by thanotopsis at 8:10 AM on September 7, 2005

I suspect that in order to enjoy watching tennis you have to have played it at some point to appreciate what the pros are capable of doing.

For me, reading David Foster Wallace's stuff about tennis (there are two essays in A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, and of course large chunks of Infinite Jest are tennis-oriented) did a lot to help me appreciate televised tennis. I eventually learned the game, but it was the reading that started the ball rolling.

Of course, that only helps if you like Wallace's style.
posted by COBRA! at 8:39 AM on September 7, 2005

Agassi's had such an amazing career -- from being at the top of the world to falling out of the rankings altogether. He then had to fight his way through the satellite circuit (which apparently is a tough, tough path) and spent lots of time running up mountains to train. He does a ton of charity work, and seems totally in love with his wife (Steffi Graf, she of a truly beautiful backhand).

I saw Blake play Lleyton Hewitt (the year after they played each other and Hewitt implied that a line call went against him and for Blake because the linesman was black); the whole stadium was trying to will Blake to win so much we were devastated when he lost.

I can't wait for tonight!!
posted by armacy at 8:39 AM on September 7, 2005

armacy... another anecdote about Blake worth mentioning. After the incident with Hewitt, he said nothing of it in the media room after the match. Instead he confronted Hewitt about it directly about it in the locker room, apparently getting an apology from Hewitt and that was that. He never mentioned to the press after that.

Not that he should be lionized for doing what my father would call "the honorable thing", but it was gratifying to learn that Blake behaved like a man of character in a sea of media whores and crybabies.
posted by psmealey at 9:02 AM on September 7, 2005

I've never really watched tennis until the US Open this year, but I'm really enjoying it. Can't wait for the Blake-Agassi match.
posted by danb at 9:41 AM on September 7, 2005

I just wondered why tennis news belongs here. By the way Competitive tiddleywinks is THRILLING!
posted by longsleeves at 6:42 PM on September 7, 2005

The match is about to start.
posted by caddis at 7:12 PM on September 7, 2005

Not the match I was hoping for...certainly not the one I waited through that grueling women's match for. Come on Agassi!
posted by hellbient at 8:34 PM on September 7, 2005

okay, i take it back...
posted by hellbient at 9:23 PM on September 7, 2005

Tie-breaker. Exciting.
posted by Mach3avelli at 10:01 PM on September 7, 2005

Look's like Agassi's bribing of the judges won him this match.
posted by Mach3avelli at 10:12 PM on September 7, 2005

Harsh, Mach3avelli. Hometown/bad linecalling is practically a tradition at this event!

This year's Open has been very good, especially on the men's side as far as drama and good play go. Several of Federer's matches, especially the one against Santoro, are great examples of the things that are good about tennis and the amazing finesse shots that will blow your mind if you give it a chance.

As for the match tonight - I'm a hardcore tennis fan and have been watching the wall-to-wall coverage for the last week and a half and could probably tell you James Blake's medical history from rote memory by now. The commentators mentioned it every since moment they got the chance, and between that and the "J-Block" supporters I was actually rooting against the nicer guy in this matchup.

Agassi's not out of the woods yet - he still has to play Ginepri in the semifinal. Ginepri in a Grand Slam final would blow a lot of peoples' go Agassi!
posted by somethingotherthan at 12:22 AM on September 8, 2005

This was a great match. A fifth set tiebreak is always entertaining and with these players and their respective stories thrown in into the mix it was really emotional to watch. I hope you guys enjoyed it. No apologies to the naysayers. It appears I got through my first post relatively unscathed.
posted by quadog at 1:33 PM on September 8, 2005

Cobra!: I loved that Tennis essay by DFW. He's one of my all-time favorite essay writers. (Not so crazy about Infinite Jest, however.) One of the things that stuck with me about his observations is just how good and how obsessed someone has to be among the top 50 best at anything. We get so wrapped up in #1 that we forgot, as psmeasley says, how insanely good all pro players are. I always wondered what happened to the tennis player that he was following at the time, the focus of the piece, did he ever reach the top 10?
posted by sic at 3:05 PM on September 8, 2005

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