Day 8 - Andre Agassi (USA)  vs. Xavier Malisse (Bel)
Andre Agassi USA
Seemingly well on his way toward a short day of work, leading 6-3, 6-4 after the first two sets, Malisse stormed back in the third-set tie-break, giving Agassi all that he could handle. “The standard that Malisse played in the third and fourth was really high,” said Agassi. “I needed to answer that. I did in the fifth.” Almost conceding the fourth set, Agassi unleashed his reserve tank and exploded in the fifth set, closing out the match with a pair of breaks. Just as everyone was writing his eulogy, the X-Man decided that he wasn’t quite ready to call it a tournament, extending the two-time US Open champion to a nail-biting five sets. “If he's been unpredictable, he's answered that question this tournament. He's knuckled down and gotten the job done,” said Agassi about the 25-year-old..
Appearing weary in the fourth set, Agassi dug deep and summoned a second wind that buoyed him to the win. The biggest break of the match, Agassi penetrated the Malisse serve at 2-1 in the fifth. Converting on the second break point of the game, Agassi hit a vintage backhand winner that got him to 3-1. A game later, Agassi extended the lead to 4-1, closing out the match in style with another break of serve. Out of it for the first two sets and in grave danger of a straight-sets defeat, spraying unforced errors and at the mercy of Agassi, the X-Man sprung to life. Giving the capacity crowd more tennis than it had expected, Malisse extended the match by winning the third-set tie-break and carried that momentum through to the fourth.
The legend today passed the great Jimmy Connors as the oldest player to reach the quarterfinals of the US Open. At 35 years, 135 days by the time the Open ends, Agassi’s fitness rivals the very best of the teenagers and 20-somethings whom he plays against daily. Keeping him in the match when things were looking grim, the X-Man slammed 26 aces past Agassi, arguably the best returner in the history of the game.
The Belgian came in on many of those serves, converting on 22 of 33 (67 percent) net approaches.
The two-time US Open champion reaches the quarterfinals of New York for the fifth time in a row. Hard to overlook a possible dream match-up in the making, if James Blake can defeat Tommy Robredo on Monday, Agassi would meet his fellow American in primetime Wednesday night in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Talk about a hard ticket to get your hands on. All things considered a solid result for the pony-tailed Belgian. His come-from-behind, third-round win over No. 24 Mikhail Youzhny after being two sets down was something to build on. Having played a forgettable match, if Malisse can take a page from the Agassi work ethic, he still has time to turn around his career and take it to the next level.
To no one’s surprise, the jam-packed Labor Day crowd was out in full support for Agassi, one of the most popular tennis players of all time. Meanwhile, back in the players’ dining room, James Blake and his “J Block” were enjoying a pre-match meal before his late-afternoon fourth-rounder against Tommy Robredo. His first match of the tournament inside Arthur Ashe Stadium on a sun-splashed, blue-skied New York afternoon, at least the scenic view was a welcome sight for Malisse… Except for Agassi staring him down on the other side of the net, of course.
Andre Agassi forever