Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Agassi/Sampras Share Needles at Exhibition

“Hit for Haiti,” a charity exhibition match to aid earthquake relief, preceded the current PNB Paribas tournament in Indian Wells, CA. I was made so uncomfortable by Agassi's barbs that I didn’t even know who won the match. Not that it even matters. The match was entertaining but lacked the decorum it should have had. The imitation by Sampras of Agassi's duck-like walk was the one amusing element. Agassi, whom I have never liked as a tennis personality, lacked class when he picked on Pete for being cheap (which he also mentioned in his book, Open). By substituting cheap shots for tennis shots, Agassi was without class as usual. On the other hand, Roger Federer, gracious as ever, went overboard here to keep up that persona. Meantime, an update to this saga is that Agassi admitted he was "out of line" and apologized for poking fun at Pete Sampras. Well, it apparently was worth it. The event helped raise $1 million.

With respect to the women's match-Navratilova was the liveliest. I would like to have heard more chatter from the other players--Graf, Davenport and Henin. Here’s a brief AP article. The final sentence says it all. An article on www.tennisnow.com covers the event and includes a video:

Things Get Ugly Between Two Legends At Charity Event "Agassi/Sampras"

(AP)—An exchange between Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras during a charity match has captured the attention of the British tabloids and blogosphere. The Sun and The Guardian newspapers both had headlines touting the verbal volleys the two former tennis champions and rivals took at each other Friday night. Sports blog Deadspin and The Huffington Post also ran stories about it. Sampras was teamed with Roger Federer and Agassi with Rafael Nadal in a doubles match during the BNP Paribas Open to raise money for earthquake relief in Haiti.

The players were wearing headset microphones so the crowd could hear them talking. At one point Sampras mimicked Agassi’s pigeon-toed walk. Agassi, in turn, chided Sampras for being stingy. In his book, Agassi criticized Sampras for being a poor tipper. Sampras then served high and hard, forcing Agassi to duck out of the way. The crowd laughed throughout and both retired players wore big smiles.

Neither showed up at the post-match news conference.

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