Andre Agassi will take part to the World Tennis Day Showdown in London on Monday, where he’ll meet archrival Pete Sampras – in another Wimbledon final rematch Ivan Lendl will face Pat Cash.
Prior to his return to London Agassi talked to Tennis Oggi about Wimbledon and its importance in his career.
Interview by Roberto Angelelli, translated by Tennis Buzz
22 years after his first Grand Slam triumph, Agassi recounts the historical moments on that magical green mantle, which helped him to grow as a player but also as a man.
“The last time I played in London – says Andre – was for the opening of the roof on Centre Court in 2009. But other times I came back just to enjoy the city.”
“I’ve always looked for an excuse to set foot on those courts again, and I think the best way is just that: play with Pete. Wimbledon makes me reflect and memories resurface. My career owes much to this tournament and to these people. I’ve learned so much here, I’m very fond of London. Here my wife shined and I grew up and matured, any excuse is a good one to come back and I look forward to it.”
“My first experience in England was not good,” admitted Agassi. “It coincided with a particular period of my life, I felt overwhelmed by the big city and from different cultures. Playing for the first time on a totally different surface made me feel like an intruder. I felt like I was in a dollhouse. I have lived a unique, bizarre experience that blew me away enough to not want to come back, because of a number of reasons, for three or four years.”
Opposed to the dressing code of the tournament, which always requires a predominantly white clothing, Agassi ended his self-imposed exile in 1991. And one year after, he won the first of his eight Grand Slam titles. A real turning point in the career of the American tennis player, who then wrote some of the most memorable pages in the history of tennis.
“When I really understood what Wimbledon meant to our sport, I came back and was forgiven by the British people. I think it was a great relationship, something unique, that grew over time. Every time in my career I played in London, regardless of the outcome, I always felt people were ready to support me and this helped me a lot in my life and career, to realize most of my dreams.“
Andre Agassi also had an opportunity to test the Longines Smash Corner at Roland Garros.
The Smash Corner is an interactive game where guests can test their serve speed against various tennis stars for 2€. Each player gets three serves and a certificate, but participants this weekend got something better – advice from Agassi himself! The proceeds from the Smash Corner go to Andre Agassi and wife Steffi Graf’s respective charities: Andre Agassi Foundation for Education and Children for Tomorrow.
To further support the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education, Longines presented Agassi with a US$50,000 cheque at a dinner at the Champs Elysees. Set up in 1994, this foundation is dedicated to improving the education of disadvantaged children in the USA.
Since 2007 Longines has been the official timekeeper for the French Open at Roland Garros. The brand uses this occasion to organise its Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament for international under-13 players. These young tennis stars compete for the grand prize: funding that will finance their sports equipment until their 16th birthday and the chance to play with Longines Ambassadors: Andre Agassi and Jim Courier in 2011, Steffi Graf and Sabine Lisicki last year.
Photos by Longines
Need a break between two tennis matches at Roland Garros? Pay a visit to Roland Garros tennis museum (also called Tenniseum), situated near Gate B. It is open to the public free of charge from 10am to 7pm during the tournament.
The museum was created in 2003, I first visited it in 2005 or 2006 but haven’t since.
The permanent exhibition area, that has been totally revamped last year, features some player memorabilia, a few videos as well as some infos about tennis history and the future Roland Garros expansion.
Located just off the famed Place des Mousquetaires, Longines Smash Corner is the interactive game that lets spectators test the speed of their serves against the game’s best.
For just 2 €, players have three serves and will receive a certificate documenting their performance. All proceeds from the Longines Smash Corner will be donated to the associations set up by Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, which help children in need.
Roland Garros visitor’s guide:
How to buy Roland Garros tickets
Roland Garros 2013 FAQ
Get behind the scenes at Roland Garros – part 1
Get behind the scenes at Roland Garros – part 2
Take a seat: court Suzanne Lenglen
Take a seat: court Philippe Chatrier
Today at Roland Garros: Court Philippe Chatrier
Longines Smash Corner
Roland Garros store
Beach tennis and mini tennis at Roland Garros
Fashion and gear:
Rafael Nadal Nike outfit preview
Rafael Nadal Nike outfit
Nadal Nike Air Max Courtballistec 4.3
Roger Federer Nike outfit preview
Roger Federer Nike outfit
Federer Nike Zoom Vapor 9 Tour
Maria Sharapova Nike outfit
Serena Williams Nike outfit
Victoria Azarenka Nike outfit
Li Na Nike outfit
Juan Martin Del Potro Nike outfit
Caroline Wozniacki adidas dress
Andrea Petkovic adidas outfit
Ana Ivanovic adidas outfit
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga adidas outfit
Novak Djokovic Uniqlo outfit
Venus Williams dress by EleVen
Maria Sharapova footwear collection
A trip down memory lane:
1956: First time at Roland Garros for Rod Laver
1969: Rod Laver defeats Ken Rosewall
1982: At the request of Monsieur Wilander
1982: first Grand Slam for Mats Wilander
1984 French Open: Ivan Lendl defeats John McEnroe
1985 French Open: Chris Evert defeats Martina Navratilova
1990 French Open: Opposites attract, Gomez defeats Agassi
1991 French Open final: Jim Courier defeats Andre Agassi
Steffi Graf – Martina Hingis Roland Garros 1999
1999 French Open: Agassi-Graf, two days, one destiny
2005: Rafael Nadal defeats Mariano Puerta
2008: Rafael Nadal defeats Roger Federer
A look back at Roland Garros 2011
Recap and analysis:
Heading to Roland Garros
Day 1 recap part 1: Ana Ivanovic, Serena Williams and Roger Federer
Day 1 recap part 2: Laura Robson, Ernests Gulbis, Tommy Haas…
Pics of Serena Williams first round match
Pics of Roger Federer first round match
Pics of Ana Ivanovic first round match
Day 2 recap: Mikhail Youzhny, John Isner, Svetlana Kuznetsova…
Tommy Robredo practice session
Roland Garros 2013 men's winner?
- Rafael Nadal (49%, 91 Votes)
- Novak Djokovic (26%, 48 Votes)
- Roger Federer (17%, 31 Votes)
- Juan Martin Del Potro (3%, 5 Votes)
- Other (2%, 3 Votes)
- David Ferrer (1%, 2 Votes)
- Tomas Berdych (1%, 2 Votes)
- Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (1%, 2 Votes)
- Andy Murray (0%, 1 Votes)
Total Voters: 185
Roland Garros 2013 women's winner?
- Serena Williams (41%, 66 Votes)
- Maria Sharapova (35%, 56 Votes)
- Victoria Azarenka (9%, 15 Votes)
- Other (4%, 7 Votes)
- Li Na (3%, 5 Votes)
- Sam Stosur (3%, 5 Votes)
- Agniezska Radwanska (2%, 3 Votes)
- Angelique Kerber (2%, 3 Votes)
- Petra Kvitova (1%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 162
Which French player has the best chance to win RG 2013?
- Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (66%, 56 Votes)
- Richard Gasquet (21%, 18 Votes)
- Benoit Paire (6%, 5 Votes)
- Other (5%, 4 Votes)
- Gilles Simon (1%, 1 Votes)
- Paul Henri Mathieu (1%, 1 Votes)
- Jérémy Chardy (0%, 0 Votes)
- Julien Benneteau (0%, 0 Votes)
- Michael Llodra (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 85
During the recent ATP world tour semifinal, I listened with interest to the radio commentary between Roger Federer and Andy Murray.
Andy Murray came out of the blocks all guns blazing playing aggressively and going after Federer, taking an early break and controlling the match. Federer sounded a bit rattled, not too dissimilar to the start of the Wimbledon final in July. The commentators then got into an interesting discussion where they claimed that Murray was targeting the Federer backhand and Murray thought he could get to it and be almost “dismissive” of it. Federer’s one hander somehow wouldn’t cut it at the very top level they mused.
My ears pricked up instantly for two reasons, the first was I thought the commentators were taking liberties; and the second was that I have heard it all before. There is no doubt the two hander has major advantages in the modern game, and has done since the 1970s when Jimmy Connnors, Bjorn Borg and Chris Evert changed the game with that stroke. However, the way Federer turned the match around confirmed to me what I thought from the moment the discussion was made by the commentators.
For sure, the pundits will look to Federer’s forehand as to why he came out on top in that particular encounter. After all, the Federer forehand is deadly especially when his feet are moving well. However, what changed the match was Federer’s versatility, and his one hander was a big part of that. Federer changed the tempo of the rallies often, using the one hander when stretched to slice the ball and float it, allowing him to get back into position.
Federer also chipped the backhand return on Murray’s 2nd serve, and on breakpoint in the 1st set, used the old chip and charge tactic to great effect, breaking Murray’s serve in the process. Federer also used the backhand down the line whenever possible to stretch Murray.
These were exactly the same tactics Federer used to turn around the Wimbledon final, on that occasion Federer also drove the backhand return often and took to the net more than he usually does. When those tactics work, the forehand is the icing on the cake. The fact that Murray thought he could win the match by attacking the backhand was a mistake, a mistake many players have made over the last five or six years. Nadal’s lefty topspin has always been a big problem but other opponents hit flatter and into his hitting zone.