Of all the titles that we assumed that at some point would raise Andre Agassi, the American started with the least expected. Before the Australian Open, Roland Garros, the US Open or the Olympic Gold, the boy from Las Vegas had to win Wimbledon. He was champion in 1992, conquering his first Grand Slam and reconciling himself with a surface that never convinced him. Perhaps because of that marked success, fourteen years later we saw him get excited on that same Center Court when he was defeated before Rafael Nadal in his last match in London. This is the story that we bring you today, the last dance on grass of one of the greatest in history.
We all had a heart to listen to Andre Agassi announcing that 2006 would be the last season of his career, even pointing out what would be the last eight tournaments in which he would take his talent for a walk. One of them, of course, would be Wimbledon, an event that would be taking place these weeks if not for the coronavirus. As always when it is a farewell, an almost retired one, each meeting in that fortnight carried that emotional tint of being the last. It was lived in the first round against Boris Pashanski, was repeated in the second round against Andreas Seppi and was valued more than ever in the third round, seeing him enter the Central Court at the same pace as Rafael Nadal.
“On warm-up, in those previous five minutes, I thought I was going to lose easily. Agassi was playing the incredible ball, very low, very hard, he couldn’t return it. Later in the match everything was different, it might have been the best day of service in my entire career“Commented the Balearic after doing his homework in 2h14min and scoring the three sets played (7-6, 6-2, 6-4). The North American, who was facing his 14th participation in the British Grand Slam, did not find the formula to stop the current number 2 in the world, a man who, at the age of 20, already arrived with two Roland Garros under his arm but with still a lot to prove grass.
“Losing with Agassi would have been a possibility, without a doubt,” acknowledges the Spanish in the report by Movistar (‘Nadal seen by Nadal’) aired last week. “But I was coming from saving a very difficult situation in the previous round, I do remember that well, against Robert Kendrick. A very tough game where I had to go back two sets to zero. After overcoming that duel I felt very strong, I faced Agassi’s match with the confidence that I could get it ahead, ”he says years later.
The truth is that neither of them will go down in history for being a great server, but that afternoon Nadal was intractable with the service. The man from Korea had a 88% of points earned with the first serve, to which he also added 18 aces in his personal account, one of the highest figures in his career. “It was a special match because Agassi had announced that it was her last participation in Wimbledon. It was not the first time that I played against him, we had already faced each other in the Montreal final the previous year, that partly helped me. It was a beautiful game, having witnessed Andre Agassi’s last game in such an emblematic place as Wimbledon, for me it was one of those moments that I will always remember fondly ”, acknowledges the twelve-time Roland Garros champion.
Agassi never could with Nadal, neither in Canada 2005, nor in Wimbledon 2006. Perhaps that had its weight so that years later he would bet on him as the best tennis player ever, although this is another debate. The thing is, Andre said goodbye through the front door to the first Grand Slam to see him crowned. “I am very happy for Andre, he deserves such a farewell. He deserves it because he is one of the best players in history, he is a legend and he has had an incredible career“Nadal said after achieving the victory. “When we met on the net, he congratulated me on everything, for the results in recent months, and wished me the best of luck for the future. I told him that he was the best and that he is incredible, in addition to congratulating him also on his excellent career. ” Days later, the Balearic would reach his first final at the AELTC, although he would still have to wait a couple of years to take the throne and feel the same as André felt 16 years ago.