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Écrit par Jerome   
18-09-2006
By Neil Harman

Andre Agassi and I have something distinctive in common, we can both say that it all started for us at the 1986 US Open, his first and mine (we both had a lot more hair then). About only few tennis players since have I written more words, indulged in more vivid emotions and watched with such wholesome fascination and all those have been British.

Agassi was never, in truth, the prettiest player - there was nothing docile or genteel about his approach to striking a tennis ball - but when he was on the court, something was happening, electricity was being generated, there was a buzz, a real sense of an event. As ugly as this phrase is, Agassi made tennis happen.

Through his many metamorphoses, the fashion and fad changes, the hair, the shorts, the diets, the girlfriends, the gurus, the coaches, the bumps, the grinds, the excellent press conferences and the disappearing acts, Agassi the kind of personality who demanded front page reviews.

If there is a sadness at his departure, it is the more raw because, through these two decades, I never thought I really knew him. I watched in awe, I listened intently, I admired but was slightly disconcerted at the way when you asked him a question his eyes never left you until it was answered to his satisfaction, but he was forever thought provoking, articulate, reasoned, riled once in a while, though more often than not, in measured self control.

Ostensibly he was a touch aloof - and I am sure he wanted it that way, that the media could get close, but not close enough to disturb the rhythms and rhymes of his life. And yet he never hid, either on court or off it. He tried to live his life as normally as he was allowed given the fact that whatever he did was bound to generate a reaction.

The Agassi of 1986 was impetuous, strong-willed, a sassy kid with such flair and inhibition it took the breath away. Burn out was a real possibility. The Agassi of 2006 is cherished for having held it all together and remaining so incredibly sane. There are those who believe he could run for Governor of Nevada. If he did, the result would mirror the first 36 years of his life. He would win.

- Neil Harman, like Andre Agassi made his US Open debut in 1986. Harman is the chief tennis writer for the Times of London.
 
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