Andre Agassi defeats James Blake 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6).
Last night I watched a US Open quarter final featuring Americans James Blake and Andre Agassi. Agassi is the well known 35 year old veteran with an elaborate tennis career and resume to impress, and James Blake is a young player staging his comeback from a neck fracture which threatened his tennis future.
Blake snagged the first two sets, both by a score of 6-3. Agassi wouldn’t say die though, and took the next two sets back also by a score of 6-3. The fifth set, as expected from the title of this post, went into a tie break. Blake took a 3-0 lead which was matched by Agassi, then they exchanged the lead until finally Agassi took it home with a strong return to the baseline, winning the tie breaker 8-6.
Final score: Andre Agassi defeats James Blake 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6).
Watching this match made me rediscover tennis in a way. I was an avid fan when I was younger when the likes of Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg and Steffi Graf were in their prime, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl were still trying to stick around, Andre Agassi had hair down to his lower back and Pete Sampras was just getting started.
Not following tennis since makes me unfamiliar with today’s stars, and I also forgot what it was like watching a match, how exciting it can be. It’s very different from team sports, where surges of success are powered by many players pushing their limits in bursts, helping each other out and racking up wins. In tennis, it’s strictly an individual effort. Any comeback or surge of success solely depends on the player and errors are blamed solely on them as well. The tension can really build.
In fact, I noticed last night that the commentators would stop speaking during tense points being played, sometimes holding their silence across multiple points. The viewer is totally drawn in to the atmosphere on the court. They cheer with every point scored by their player, cringe at every unforced error commited and throw their hands up in despair each time advantage is given up on a double fault.
Right after the match an interviewer would come onto the court with a mic and briefly get both players to share their thoughts in front of the whole crowd. I don’t remember this happening in tennis before, but it adds to the personal experience tennis fans get. Last night they kept Arthur Ashe stadium packed until 1:15am awaiting the result of the 2h51m affair.