#9 End of an Era

Benjamin Becker def Andre Agassi 7-5 6-7 6-4 7-5 3rd Round 9/3/06

The big story at the Open this year was that it was Agassi’s final tournament and he would be retiring afterwards.  His 2nd round against Baghdatis turned out to be an epic match. I had just returned from Europe and was still jet lagged so I went to sleep with Agassi up 2 sets and when I woke up I was shocked that it had taken him 5 sets to get the win, ending after 1am the next morning.

In agonizing back pain, Agassi came out to play his 3rd round match against Benjamin Becker. It was the Sunday of Labor Day weekend so of course I was at the Open and I certainly wouldn’t have missed being in Ashe stadium.  The stadium was packed since everyone wanted to see what was potentially Agassi’s last match. Becker won in four sets and Agassi’s professional tennis career was over. The atmosphere in the stadium was amazing. The crowd gave Agassi a four minute standing ovation and he made an emotional speech thanking his fans. As reported by the NY Times, “‘The scoreboard said I lost today,’ Agassi told the crowd. ‘But what the scoreboard doesn’t say is what it is I have found. Over the last 21 years, I have found loyalty. You have pulled for me on the court and also in life. I found inspiration. You have willed me to succeed, sometimes even in my lowest moments. And I’ve found generosity. You have given me your shoulders to stand on to reach for my dreams, dreams I could never have reached without you. Over the last 21 years, I have found you, and I will take you and the memory of you with me for the rest of my life.’”

On September 10, Federer continued his dominant year winning his 3rd US Open trophy in a row and his 3rd grand slam of the year. With Sampras having retired four years earlier, the Sampras-Agassi era was officially over and the Federer-Nadal one was just heating up.

The next day, Monday September 11, I started my new job.