Andre Agassi, 1990 Lipton Open

From Hard courts: real life on the professional tennis tours, by John Feinstein:

As always, the Lipton was full of strange matches on the men’s side. None was stranger than Ivan Lendl’s three-set loss to Emilio Sanchez in the fourth round. Sanchez was a good player, solid on hard courts although more comfortable on clay, but he never seemed to beat the big names. This time he did – even after blowing four match points in the third set and letting Lendl break. Down 4-5, Lendl went up 30-0, serving to even the match. Then he collapsed, losing the last four points.
The wind swirled around the stadium throughout the match and Lendl clearly was unhappy with that. Lendl doesn’t like anything that takes away from his precision. Gerry Armstrong, umpiring the match, knew Lendl was in trouble when he tossed the coin before the match began and the wind took it.

“Ivan had this look on his face,” Armstrong said, “that said, ‘I want out of here’.”

Lendl certainly didn’t tank. He is beyond the stage in his career where he does that. But when the match was over he made no bones about the fact he was delighted to get out of town.

“I’ve never liked playing in south Florida,” he said. “The only reason I’ve always played here is because it was in my adidas contract. I committed to play this year when I still thought I was going to be with adidas. I’m not with them anymore, so I probably won’t play here again in the future.”

Now he was gone from the Lipton and not at all sorry about it.

Boris Becker was gone too. He lost a round earlier than Lendl, in the third, to Jean-Philippe Fleurian 7-6 6-1. Becker’s mind just wasn’t on tennis. He was in the process of breaking up with his girlfriend of the previous two years, Karen Schultz, and still not all sure about what he wanted to do with his life. Play tennis? Party? Save the world? All of the above? None of the above?
Becker didn’t leave Miami after his loss. He stuck around to play the doubles, reaching the finals with partner Casio Motta, and to hang out with friends. After starting the year on the verge of wresting the No. 1 ranking from Lendl, Becker had now dropped behind Edberg into the No. 3 spot. If truth be told, he didn’t much care.

With Lendl and Becker gone, the Lipton became your basic Andre Agassi-fest. There was no doubt that Agassi was playing good tennis. He won three straight three-setters over Andres Gomez, Jim Courier, and Jay Berger (who reached the semis when Sampras had to default), and then beat Edberg in the final.
Edberg was there only because a line judge had botched a call on match point in his quarterfinal against Jakob Hlasek. Hlasek had hit a half volley winner just inside the line while ahead 6-5 in the final set tiebreak. The line judge called it wide. Hlasek lost the next two points, and Edberg made the final even though he wasn’t playing very good tennis.

Agassi rolled him in four sets, then acted as if he had won Wimbledon.

“I guess people can’t say I don’t win the big ones anymore, can they?” he crowed afterward.

Clearly, the kid had lost touch with reality. Even Butch Buchholz wouldn’t claim the Lipton was a big one. Bigger than a bread box, perhaps, bigger than Memphis or Sydney or Bologna. But not quite up there with the Slams.
After all, the Slams all knew where they were going to be held the following year. As the workers began tearing down the temporary stadium on Key Biscayne, Butch Buchholz had no idea where his tournament would be held in 1991.

John McEnroe, Andre Agassi, jim Courier and Pete Sampras

From John McEnroe’s autobiography’s Serious:

My final Davis Cup tie, in Fort Worth, was a brief, strange respite. I has brought along a support group: my parents, my brothers, all three of my children, a nanny, and my agent, Sergio Palmieri. I needed every one of them. A few days before, I had been staying at Andre Agassi’s house in Las Vegas, telling Andre, “I don’t know if I can do Davis Cup – I just can’t function”.

The news of my separation with Tatum had leaked to the press – a couple of photographs of Tatum out kicking up her heels with new friends had fanned the flames – and it was all the reporters wanted to talk about. I spent the days before my match (I was there to play doubles with Pete Sampras) trying to practice and spend time with my kids as I dodged inappropriate questions.

The strain showed when I finally got on court to play. The atmosphere inside the Tarrant County Convention Center was the kind of chaos I’d once loved in Davis Cup – American fans waving flags and sounding boat horns at lederhosen-wearing Swiss fans chanting and rattling cowbells – but now it felt all too much like the chaos inside me. I double-faulted at set point in the fist set tiebreaker, then dropped my serve again at 5-4 in the second set, which Pete and I went on to lose in another tiebreaker.
I felt furious and humiliated. This was my final Davis Cup; I couldn’t go out on a loss – to the Swiss! (It was the first time they’d ever made it to the final). I began yelling at Pete, trying to psych him up; trash-talking at Jakob Hlasek and Marc Rosset, the Swiss team. Somehow we managed to hang on and take the third set, 7-5, but by the time we went into the locker room for the ten-minute break, I was in some kind of altered state. All my fear and anger and frustration and sorrow had built up to the point where smoke was practically coming out of my ears.

“We’re going to go out and kick some ass!” I screamed, at Pete and Jim Courier and Andre Agassi.

“We’re going to go out and kick some ass!” I repeated. I screamed it over and over, like a war chant, until my voice was hoarse.
And when Pete and I went back out, that was exactly what we did. Every time we won a point, Agassi and Courier would shout, “Answer the question!” a little phrase I occasionally used to shout at umpires. Pete – imagine it; Pete Sampras! – was shouting, pumping his fist. The fans in the stands were going crazy, the boat horns drowing out the cowbells. We won the last two sets 6-1 and 6-2. When it was over, Pete hugged me. “I love you, Mac”, he said.

I rested up my voice that night, then screamed it hoarse again the next day as Jim beat Hlasek in four sets. When it was all over, I took a big American flag from courtside and ran around and around the court, waving it high from both hands, as the crowd went nuts. I was as happy as I’d ever been.

Davis Cup 1992

From Pete Sampras’ autobiography, A champion’s mind:

Shortly after the US Open, we played our Davis Cup semifinal against Sweden on indoor clay at the Target Center in Minneapolis. Because clay was not my best surface, I played only doubles – with McEnroe. We toughed out a real war with one of the best doubles squads of the era, Stefan Edberg and Anders Jarryd.

This was my first Davis Cup experience as a “doubles specialist”, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the assignment. Doubles is an enjoyable sideshow at most tournaments, but it has a starring role in Davis Cup because of the format. As the third and only match on Saturday, doubles is the kingmaker in Cup play. Most Davis Cup teams that enjoyed long-term success were anchored by a great doubles team. When a tie is 1-1, which is often the case after the Friday opening singles matches, getting to that 2-1 lead can be huge. It also didn’t hurt my own enthusiasm level, or results, that my partner on some key occasions was McEnroe. Remember, it was McEnroe’s own longtime partner, Peter Fleming, who famously quipped, when asked to name the best doubles team of all the time “John McEnroe and anyone”.

We went on to meet the Swiss team in the 1992 final, on an indoor hard court in Fort Worth, Texas. Gorman, perhaps still mindful of Lyon, decided to play it safe. He named Courier and Andre, who were both playing very well, to the singles slots, and put me down for doubles, again partnered with Johnny Mac.
That was fine with me – Andre had proven himself a great Davis Cup singles player. He’s an emotional guy who really gets into all the hoopla. Jim was right there with Andre as a Davis Cup warrior. He gave his all, he was gritty and very cool under pressure. We had, arguably, the greatest Davis Cup team of all time – and a pretty subborn bunch. In the opening ceremony, the promote wanted us to wear these ten-gallon hats and it kind of freaked Jim out. He snapped, “I’m not wearing that stupid hat!” So there were no cowboys hats.

1992 Swiss Davis Cup team

The Swiss had a very tough two-man team consisting of Jakob Hlasek and Marc Rosset. Both guys were very good on fast courts, which is unusual because most Europeans prefer the slower clay. So much for our home-court/fast-court advantage. Hlasek was in the midst of his career year in singles, and Rosset was a guy with a game as tricky as it was big. He could play serve and volley, even though his career moment of glory occured on slow clay a few months earlier, when he won the singles gold medal at the Barcelona Olympic Games.
Andre won the opening rubber, but then Rosset showed his mettle with an upset of Jim. McEnroe and I would be playing Hlasek and Rosset in what suddenly looked like a critical doubles match. And when we lost the first two sets, both in tiebreakers, it looked like tiny Switzerland might pull one of the most shocking of Davis Cup upsets – and on US soil, no less.

John was in one of his McEnroe moods. Throughout the match, he trash-talked Hlasek, a very quite but cool guy who minded his own business and got along with everyone. John was suffering, and coming dangerously close of losing control. But then he was unlike anyone else in that he often played better after going nuts. Some of the line calls in the first two sets seemed dodgy, and in the third set John finally lost it over another apparent bad call. He started in on the umpire, and he just kept going on. He yelled at the official, and he yelled at our own captain, Gorman (for not making more of a fuss and “standing up for us”). He was just going ballistic in general, in any direction he wanted, long after the point in question was over.
Finally, I just lost it myself. I turned on John and snapped,

“John, it’s over. Done with. Let’s not harp on what happened three games ago, it’s time to move on, man.”

For some reason, my own little outburst had two welcome results. It calmed John down (emotionally, if not verbally) and it fired me up. We won the third set and adjourned for what was then still the required ten-minute break before the start ofthe fourth set. John and I came off the break with wild eyes and fire in our bellies. It was one of those rare occasions when I got into the emotion of it all. I was pumping my fist and yelling. McEnroe must have said, “Come on, let’s kick ass” a thousand times. We clawed and fist-pumped and yelled our way to a not very pretty but extremely relieving win, 6-2 in the fifth.

John McEnroe and Pete Sampras, 1992 Davis Cup final

Although I became very emotional in that match, in general John and I were like a Jekyll and Hyde pairing; I tended to be cool and forward-looking, he was hot-tempered and all wrapped up in the moment, always ready for an altercation. He thrived on that, and I understood it. We were good for each other. He pumped me up with his emotional outbursts, even if I didn’t show it, and I calmed him down with my self-control, even if he was, externally, still the same contentious, fiery player.

The next day, after Jim beat Hlasek to clich the tie, I became a Davis Cup champ. It mattered not at all that I had played only doubles in the final; I had done my share all year and felt as proud and entitled as if I had played every singles match for the United States in our drive to win the Cup.

Photo credit: Paul Zimmer

Tsonga and Gasquet

The countdown to the Davis Cup final has begun, follow our Davis Cup final coverage on Tennis Buzz!

Le compte à rebours a commencé, suivez toute l’actualité de la finale de Coupe Davis sur Tennis Buzz!

Wednesday 19 November

The Davis Cup was exposed in the Tennis Village in Lille today. Here are a few pics.

Quelques photos du Village Tennis inauguré ce midi par Martine Aubry et Jean Gachassin place de la République à Lille: des courts de mini-tennis, un court de padel, quelques stands et …. la Coupe Davis:

Davis Cup

Tuesday 18 November

Wawrinka and Federer arrived in Lille yesterday: by Eurostar for Stan, by private jet for Roger.
Really disapointing behaviour by both players who avoided their fans who waited for several hours in front of the Hermitage Gantois and entered their hotel through the kitchen door!

Wawrinka et Federer sont arrivés à Lille hier après midi, Stan par l’Eurostar et Roger en jet privé. Tous deux ont évité leurs fans qui les attendaient depuis plusieurs devant l’Hermitage Gantois et sont entrés dans l’hôtel par la porte des cuisines! Lamentable…

French and Swiss players practiced for the first time today on the clay court of Stade Pierre Mauroy, see video below.

Français et Suisses se sont entraînés pour la 1ère fois sur la terre battue du Stade Pierre Mauroy.

I have tickets for Friday and Saturday’s matches, and that the view I will have:

J’ai des tickets pour vendredi et samedi et je verrai… ça:

Monday 17 November

Lots of talk about Federer’s withdrawal and alleged dispute with Wawrinka in the press today.

Le forfait de Federer à Londres et son altercation avec Wawrinka font la une ce matin:

Le mystère Federer, l'Equipe

Sunday 16 November

They’re coming! The French Davis Cup team is coming to Lille this evening, they will stay at the Hôtel Couvent des Minimes. The Swiss come tomorrow evening, they stay at l’Hermitage Gantois, a former 15th Century hospice that had been coverted into a 5-star hotel.

Ils arrivent! L’équipe de France de Coupe Davis arrive ce soir à Lille, ils logeront à l’hôtel Hôtel Couvent des Minimes, quai du Vault. Les Suisses arriveront lundi soir et logeront à l’Hermitage Gantois, un ancien hospice du XVIè siècle reconverti en hôtel 5 étoiles:

Hospice Gantois, Lille

Photo credit: Velvet

Meanwhile in London, Roger Federer pulls out of his final against Novak Djokovic.

Pendant ce temps-là, à Londres, Roger Federer, blessé au dos, déclare forfait pour la finale des Masters face à Novak Djokovic.

Saturday 15 November

Today we have a look back at the 1992 Davis Cup lost by Switzerland and at the mythic 1991 final won by Henri Leconte and Guy Forget over the american dream team of Agassi, Sampras and Flach-Seguso.

Séquence souvenir: la finale 92 perdue par les Suisses contre les Américains, et la mythique finale 91 remportée par Henri Leconte et Guy Forget face à la dream team américaine d’Agassi, Sampras et Flach-Seguso:

Friday 14 November

Seen in the tramway today, a poster urging people to use public transport to attend the matches.

Vu aujourd’hui dans le tramway, un poster incitant les spectateurs à utiliser les transports en commun pour se rendre au Stade (désolée de la mauvaise qualité):

Tramway Davis Cup poster

Thursday 13 November

While the French Davis Cup team is training in Bordeaux and Federer and Wawrinka are battling in the London ATP finals, the team of Roland Garros head groundsman Bruno Slastan is preparing clay courts at Stade Pierre Mauroy.

Pendant que les Français sont en stage à Bordeaux et que Federer et Wawrinka bataillent au Masters de Londres, l’équipe de Bruno Slastan, responsable des courts à Roland Garros, commence la préparation des courts en terre battue au Stade Pierre Mauroy.


Wednesday 12 November

Autograph session with kids for the French Davis Cup team in Bordeaux.

Séance d’autographes pour les Bleus à Bordeaux:

No autograph session in sight for Les Bleus in Lille, but a few events are planned. The Tennis Village, Place de la République, aims to recreate the Davis Cup atmosphere in the center of Lille, to allow as many people as possible to participate in the event: mini-tennis, competitions, quizzes.. The matches will also be broadcast on a giant screen.

Pas de séance d’autographes prévue à Lille, mais des animations seront organisées Place de la République, pour essayer de recréer l’ambiance Coupe Davis dans le centre de Lille: mini-tennis, concours, quizz… Et bien sûr, les matches seront retransmis sur écran géant.

Tuesday 11 November

Captain Arnaud Clément picks Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet and Julien Benneteau to play the final next week.

Head to head / Face à face
Tsonga – Federer: 5 – 11
Tsonga – Wawrinka: 3 – 2
Monfils – Federer: 2 – 8
Monfils – Wawrinka: 2 – 2
Gasquet – Federer : 2 – 12
Gasquet – Wawrinka: 1 – 1

Head to head on clay / Face à face sur terre battue
Tsonga – Federer: 1 – 2
Tsonga – Wawrinka: 2 – 2
Monfils – Federer: 0 – 4
Monfils – Wawrinka: 0 – 0
Gasquet – Federer: 2 – 2
Gasquet – Wawrinka: 0 – 1

SWI or FRA who will win the Davis Cup final?

  • Switzerland (73%, 45 Votes)
  • France (27%, 17 Votes)

Total Voters: 62

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Monday 10 November

First training day in Bordeaux for Richard Gasquet, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon.
Début du stage d’entraînement à Bordeaux pour Richard Gasquet, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon.

Tuesday 4 November

Sans surprise, le capitaine suisse Severin Lüthi a sélectionné les mêmes joueurs que pour la demi-finale contre l’Italie: Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Marco Chiudinelli et Michael Lammer.

Saturday 1 November

Just a few weeks to go to the much awaited final between France and Switzerland!

Plus que quelques semaines avant la finale tant attendue entre la France et la Suisse!

Richard Gasquet, le coq sportif

Saturday 11 October

Behind the scenes of the Stade Pierre Mauroy that will host the final, read my report here.

Visite guidée du Stade Pierre Mauroy qui va accueillir la finale de Coupe Davis, lisez mon reportage ici.

Stade Pierre Mauroy

Saturday 4 October

Bienvenue à Lille for the Davis Cup final! All you need to know if you plan to attend the final: how to get to Lille, buy some tickets and more.

A lire si vous envisagez d’assister à la finale de Coupe Davis: Bienvenue à Lille for the Davis Cup final!

Grand Place

Monday 22 September

The French Tennis Federation announced today the Davis Cup final between France and Switzerland will be staged on clay. Do you really know what clay is made of?

Les Français ont choisi la surface sur laquelle sera jouée la finale de Coupe Davis entre la France et la Suisse, ce sera la terre battue (indoor bien sûr). Découvrez ici ce qu’est réellement la terre battue (article en anglais).

Friday 19 September

It is now official, the Davis Cup final France vs Switzerland will be played in Lille, my hometown! So stay tuned for news, photos and exclusive coverage on Tennis Buzz!

C’est officiel: Lille (la ville où j’habite) accueillera la finale de Coupe Davis entre la France et la Suisse! Suivez toute l’actualité de la finale sur Tennis Buzz!

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