Saturday, March 13, 2010

Oh What A Night!

by Savannah

I don't publicize it but Friday nights are pour moi. If possible I avoid the Internet and sit and watch television. I did that for the first part of the evening catching up on shows I missed during the week that were sitting on the DVR and preparing for a tennis overdose tomorrow by avoiding the above mentioned internet and except for a foray onto the Foodnetwork to find an oven setting I did well.

But such is my life that I got a text asking when my fave ATP player was going to play so I went to the BNP Paribas Open/Indian Wells official site to check out the Order of Play.

You see once I start looking at tennis stuff my brain short circuits and I end up on tennis fanboards. That is how I found out about the Dust Up in the Desert (I don't have that rhyming gene a la Muhammad Ali. Sorry.) The boards were all lit up about some trash talk between Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras. There was talk of a fired up Agassi with blood shot eyes going after Sampras the way he did in his book. Deciding I needed to find out just how serious this was I went on Twitter and the tennisheads were all over the situation too. Insinuations were being made there that Andre appeared to be "on something".

I found this hard to believe. I mean what tennis player is going to take the court in a high profile exhibition match aimed at raising money for the people suffering in Haiti intoxicated or high? Andre has done a lot to tarnish his image in the last few months and something like that would just be beyond the pale.

Fortunately Tennis Channel's war with Cablevision ended right after the US Open last year so when someone let me know they were repeating the event I put on my television. This was the regular television not the HD one that's in the living room. I had read that on HD the condition of Andre's eyes was very clear so I decided that when the men's segment came on I'd watch it on the HD television.

It must be said that Martina Navratilova talked all through the women's portion but while annoying it didn't get personal. Unfortunately my ear isn't tuned to her accent when she's speaking fast so I didn't catch a lot of what she said. I can say I'm sure that no insults were spoken by her.

Unfortunately I could easily understand what Andre was saying. It started when he said younger viewers probably wonder who the two bald guys are playing with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Even though Sampras managed to reply by saying he still had some hair left you could see that he was annoyed to say the least. Losing your hair is traumatic for anyone, male or female, as Andre of all people should know. You will read that it started when Pete imitated Andre's pigeon toed walk. Sampras did that after the hair comment. Now it was Andre's turn not to be amused.
Before you could settle down Andre started in on Pete being a cheapskate and bad tipper. First he turned his pockets out and imitated a person pretending to look for money in said pockets and finding none. A few minutes later he said he'd hate to be a parking valet when Pete drove up.
Sampras aimed a serve right at Andre barely missing him. The crowd had been laughing and taking the comments lightly. Now an uneasy silence reigned and both Federer and Nadal were quite uncomfortable. Federer tried to make some jokes of his own but by that point things had gone too far downhill to salvage the good feelings that were part of the first few points.

Both Tracy Austin and Patrick McEnroe were stunned into silence. Justin Gimelstob tried his best to calm the waters but instead seemed to be making matters worse. At the end there was an embrace at the net but no one was fooled. Emotions were still running high.

By the end of the match Agassi had run out of gas and his team lost 8-6 to Federer/Sampras. But the score will always be secondary to what happened between the two biggest stars of American tennis. It's perverse tennis history and something that will be talked about for a long time. Was Andre "on something" as many implied? I don't know. I know that I saw that his eyes were big and round, pupils hugely dilated, the whites of his eyes were bloodshot and that he suddenly ran out of gas leaving Rafa to play two men on his own. HDTV is a bitch. It shows everything.

What should have been a joyous occasion before a packed house turned out to be a downer. The people of Haiti, and the people who put the exhibition together, deserved better.

The good news is that a check for one million dollars was given to the Red Cross. That is what this was supposed to be about.


Karen said...

Thanks for that Savannah. I tell you love them or hate them, Federer and Nadal are really good for the sport. They have exemplified sportsmanship at the very top. I can tell you with certainty that you would never see this type of behaviour from those 2. They have had their differences but it is all about mutual respect for these 2. The exo fell flat on its face. Too many people with too many egos. The women were over shadowed by Martina's constant chatter (shut up already) and 2 of the men had too much baggage for any lightheartedness to be sustainable. What ticked me off about the women was that afterwards when Tracy was interviewing the women, it felt like an club membership discussion at the water cooler. I made the analogy elsewhere that they reminded me of the rich women at my local tennis club. You go in to sign the sheet to book a court and they are standing right there having their own conversation oblivious to you trying to get to the sign up sheet and when you say excuse me they look at you like something stuck on their shoe. Clearly these guys did not see how today's top players deal with jokes. Foot Fault gate was made fun of in Australia, the way how Rafa plays to Fed's backhand was a joke, the fact that Serena will knock you flat with a serve and with a volley as well, the fact that Nadal has the biggest top spin forehand ever seen in tenns. These are things that you make fun of, not what someone allegedly does off the court. Ridiculous.

Savannah said...

Karen you are so right about the country club vibe of the women's match. It's why I chose the pic of Stefanie (as she prefers to be called) and Lindsay. They look like two members chatting about kids, husbands - or the latest new best thing - and what have you.

But at least the ladies kept it civil.

I think the announcers were stunned that Stefanie was so adamant about her kids not playing tennis. When Tracy asked her directly she was able to say it's not their choice but her initial reaction said all that needed to be said.

Karen said...

It amazes me that both Steffi and Andre seem to hate the sport of tennis so much after it has brought them so much. Counter that with how Federer and Nadal view the game. They love it. They would play every week if their bodies could hold up. They revere the legends of the game and respect the history of the sport. Graf and Agassi just seem to hate it, and yes, I did see how she answered quite ferociously that she would never have her children play tennis. Very bizarre. If both of them are of the view that their respective fathers forced them to play a sport that took too much out of them then fine, but when you look at Venus and Serena and see that at their ages they are still passionate about the sport that brought them so much, you have to really wonder whether Graf and Agassi are not just spoilt kids finally rebelling against their respective fathers or rich white folks who love to be rich but pretend to be poor (or one of us)

Karen said...

And finally can we stop with this oh you have children and you play tennis it must be so hard - hello, you have women in third world countries that have 5 children, earn less than the cost of a pair of shoes and they go out to work every single day, care for their children and have been able to do it since time began. What makes these women who have 2 children, lots of money, nannies at their disposal different from the rest of us who have borne children. It is like I read an interview where Clijsters mentioned how it is so much harder now because she has Jada and she has to clean the house and cook dinner. Does she really think that we believe that she goes out on the court to train with her coach and then when she gets home she has to cook dinner and clean the house. Give me a freaking break already.

Savannah said...

I knew I heard Rafa tell Andre to stop the banter but I just read a transcript of what he said. It was "Andre, Andre, Andre stop with the lip."
He obviously sensed that things were spiraling out of control and tried to stop it. Agassi of course wasn't having it.

I'm really surprised at the number of people trying to defend Agassi. Anyone who watched the match knows Agassi started it and that he is the one who can't take a joke.

And Karen anyone who thinks Kim or Stefanie, or Lindsay, cook, clean dirty diapers, wash two or three loads of clothes every day and mop the floor at night is probably on something. To her credit Kim has said that she has help and her daughter's nanny has been shown on television.

Savannah said...

And yes, you do wonder why, despite horrible tennis dads and all, Steffi and Andre aren't more grateful.

You mention Venus and Serena. Nothing they do is ever good enough for the US tennis establishment and no one would come down on them if they just picked up their racquets and went home. They are multi millionaires after all and will be comfortable the rest of their lives. Yet they still play despite chronic injuries.

Craig said...

You two are carrying on something fierce over here.

All I can say is...

Umph, umph, umph.

Kia said...

I'm a day late but had to comment in the mess that was Hit for Haiti. So little fun so much tension and unnecessary drama.

I know we're supposed to be convinced of the holiness that is the Graf/Agassi union b/c of their ad campaigns but boy did they make the proceedings last night awkward.

I would understand their reluctance to have their children play professionally b/c of the comparison, pressure and their desire for them to have the choices they didn't. But reluctance isn't vehemence...

As for AA its always been all abot him so no surprises that he wanted to be the star of the show. And TC's little revisionist clip where everybody was having loads of fun was quite amusing.

As far as actual tennis am thrilled with the potential that Stephens showed last night. Never having seen her play it was nice to match a game with a name.

I know Asia Muhammed is another young player that I've heard of but haven't seen, will have to stop by zoo tennis to see what is up with her.

Karen said...

Kia, not sure I have seen you posting here before. Great thoughts on the whole Hit for Haiti debacle. TC can spin all they want. Does not help when James LaRosa is tweeting last night that both Andre and Pete had words in the tunnel after the whole shebang. He said he would love to be a fly on the wall.

Christian said...

I sincerely hope Agassi did not write an entire book unveiling every niche of his addiction, only to turn to them again...that would be sad...

I wonder about Steffi's reaction to tennis, though. Often, actors and singers express the same sentiments about not wanting their children to follow in their footsteps. However, in the USA at least, tennis celebrities do not possess that level of celebrity as say Beyonce (with the exception of Venus and Serena). I wonder if it's celebrity she is reacting to or the game of tennis itself.

Savannah said...

I'm guessing it has to do with what the business end of it does to people after all the difficulties with her Dad and her reported lack of friends on the tour.

love40 said...

Slob was fanning the flames.

And this mess is not going away anytime soon!

Kia said...

love40 you're right about that. With Agassi's unapologetic apology, Hit for Haiti is the gift that keeps on giving and not in the way one would hope for a charitable cause.