Monday, September 04, 2006

Andre Agassi retires (yawn)

The big news from the U.S. Open tennis tournament is that Andre Agassi has played his final match. He retired after losing to a qualifier ranked 100 and something. Agassi's aching sciatica nerve was the real reason for the loss.

A while ago Agassi announced the Open would be his last tournament. When the draw was announced people saw that he could meet Andy Roddick in the fourth round, and were looking forward to the confrontation. But his aching back prevented that, despite a cortisone shot and three anti-inflammatory injections over the last few days.

Frankly, I never liked Agassi, and I won't miss seeing him on the tour. I certainly won't miss his blowing kisses to the stands after every match--a particularly annoying bit of pandering to the crowd as far as I'm concerned. He may have gone from the young "image is everything" rebel to the elder statesman of tennis (or at least of men's tennis), but he always seemed to me to be nothing more than a one-dimensional tennis machine. Well, maybe he expanded to one and half dimensions after he became a father.

Basically, I always thought he was a little dumb, and certainly uneducated. He did manage to get a high school diploma, after years of correspondence courses. Lack of formal education is not unusual on the tennis circuit, especially among the top players, but some manage to compensate for that by being smart--smart enough read and educate themselves a bit. I never noticed any of that with Agassi.

His committment to playing Davis Cup waned over the years--he played all of one Cup match after 2000. This made me like him even less.

In anticipation of his looming retirement, Sports Illustrated ran a long piece on him in July. It basically just confirmed what I already thought. Agassi is an overly-competitive, impulsive, rather self-centered guy. One may say that this is common among top athletes, and maybe it is, but it's not necessary--I can think of plenty who aren't that way.

Andre Agassi is someone I'd probably hate to spend any time with. That's my test of whether I'm going to be a fan of any particular athlete. Agassi gets an F in my grade book in that subject.

No comments: