Wczoraj minęła 10 rocznica niezapomnianego meczu pomiędzy Petem Samprasem, a Andre Agassim, w ramach 1/4 finału US Open. Panowie rozegrali 4 TB, Sampras wygrał 3-1 w setach.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/29/sport ... ref=sportsSampras vs. Agassi, 2001: An Open Classic Endures
Ten years ago, nobody knew that American tennis was close to being broken. To make the case that the sport here was alive and kicking, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi played a quarterfinal match at the United States Open in which neither broke serve.
"Two great players playing great
at the same time. That doesn't happen
often," said Pete Sampras.
It was Wednesday night of the second week, days before the city’s downtown skyline and the nation’s psyche were tragically scarred. Two proud Yanks took center stage in a showcase of contrast that tennis is now sadly without.
All day, there was a buzz about the Open, anticipation for a match between players who had won a combined 20 major titles — the most to that date in a Grand Slam men’s match since Roy Emerson and Rod Laver, holders of 22, played in the 1969 Open quarterfinals.
A young American named Andy Roddick said he would get in an afternoon hit and retreat to his hotel room to watch the match. A rising Australian, Lleyton Hewitt, called Sampras and Agassi “the two guys I idolized growing up.”
Marat Safin, a hard-hitting Russian who dominated Sampras in the 2000 Open final, said of the two American elders, “Many things to learn from them.”
Unfortunately, the moral of Sampras’s 6-7 (7), 7-6 (2), 7-6 (2), 7-6 (5) victory was lost, especially to the next generation of Americans now struggling for traction in a sport dominated by Europeans.
Sampras, 30, wore baggy white shorts. Agassi, 31, was dressed in black. The clothing amplified the personalities that were as different as Roger Federer’s and Rafael Nadal’s. But it was disparate playing styles that defined their careers relative to the list of all-timers.
“Two great players playing great at the same time,” Sampras said, recalling the match in a recent telephone interview. “That doesn’t often happen.”
Under breezy conditions, Sampras reminded everyone of what usually happened when the great serve-and-volley player brought his A game to a match against the classic counterpuncher. Sampras — who finished 20-14 against Agassi for his career, 6-3 in Grand Slam events and 4-1 in Slam finals — won it by knocking off three straight tie breakers after dropping the first.
“You’ve got to do more than hold your serve, I guess, huh?” Agassi said after doing so in 24 straight games.
“Andre wasn’t a big server, but he was an unbelievably smart server,” said Paul Annacone, then Sampras’s coach and now Federer’s. “He was similar to Roger in that sense, though not as big, but Andre may have been the best at the combination of first serve and strike. If you didn’t do something with the return, he hit the ball so cleanly and then you were never going to be in the point.”
That night, Sampras served 25 aces to Agassi’s 18, not a terribly relevant statistic in an all-tie-breaker match that was decided by a winner here, an unforced error there. As the players rose for the fourth-set tie breaker after three and a half magnificent hours, the crowd of 23,033 at Arthur Ashe Stadium rose for an ovation that almost moved Sampras to tears.
“That was the first time I was ever affected by a crowd to the point where it got me out of a match mentally,” he said.
Not for long, though. Struggling with his conditioning at that point in his career, Sampras was exhausted and knew that a fifth set would favor Agassi, a fitness freak. But leading by 3-1, Agassi put a makeable forehand into the net, and Sampras the opportunist ran off five straight points before sending everyone home after midnight on his third match point.
“Win the thing,” Agassi whispered in Sampras’s ear when they shook hands at the net. Sampras didn’t, losing in the final to Hewitt, but he came back the next year to beat Agassi in the final for his 14th career major, again in four sets. Agassi won the 2003 Australian Open for the eighth Grand Slam title of his career. Roddick won his first and only Grand Slam event in New York that summer, and no American man has won one since.
In Sampras’s informed opinion, the country has lost its collective nerve, given in to the belief that technology has made serve-and-volley an impractical and antiquated tactic.
“You hear it over and over — the rackets are too strong, the guys hit the ball from the baseline too hard, the Wimbledon grass is too slow — and I get tired of hearing it,” he said. “If there is a problem with serve-and-volley, it’s that it takes time to develop. It’s a progression. It takes patience. It takes a willingness to sacrifice matches in the juniors that parents don’t want to make.
“But when they say you can’t play serve-and-volley in today’s era, I think that’s a lot of malarkey. I look at Nadal standing 10 feet behind the baseline, and as great as he is getting to balls, I’d take my chances kicking him out wide and coming in behind it.”
Alas, Sampras is resigned to serve-and-volley being “pretty much extinct, basically gone,” along with the opportunity for young Americans to play to their fast hardcourt strength and create their own tour niche.
In his 2001 match against Agassi, one of the game’s greatest returners, the acrobatic Sampras went to the net behind not only his first serve, but also his second. If his first serve was not enough of a weapon, his second was a well-disguised mix of power, placement, guile and guts.
If there is going to be another Sampras, he had better have great athleticism to match his grand ambition.
“What I always try to explain to my friends who don’t know tennis that well is that it’s a lot like pitching and hitting,” Annacone said. “In baseball you’re a really good hitter if you hit .300. Roll that over to tennis and to Pete and Andre. If they both play well, do their thing, Pete is the pitcher and Andre is the catcher, who has to react. It makes sense that the guy with the ball in his hand would have the advantage.”
Not by much on that memorable quarterfinal night in 2001. But enough to send a message about the breaks and basics of the game that few of his countrymen apparently wanted to hear.