Agassi, Graf win match in Boise
Husband-and-wife doubles team Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf celebrate a point in their match against Mike Bryan and Viktoria Azarenka during an exhibition at Taco Bell Arena on Saturday. Agassi and Graf won 6-4.
The Idaho Statesman | Edition Date: 12-04-2005
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Andre Agassi nearly pulled off a perfect 3-for-3 performance Saturday night at the Rock-n-Racquets exhibition tennis event at Taco Bell Arena.
But Agassi, who teamed with wife and fellow tennis legend Steffi Graf to win a mixed doubles match and James Blake to win a men's doubles match, couldn't put Blake away in a singles match to close out the event.
Blake, who lost a five-set thriller to Agassi at last summer's U.S. Open, got the best of Agassi on Saturday night, winning a third-set tiebreaker after the pair split the first two sets in front of 7,225 fans who watched some spirited tennis.
Asked after the match whether beating Agassi in Boise made up for the disappointment of losing to him at the Open, Blake responded with a laugh: "I think the money's a little better there, but the money I earned here goes to a really good cause."
The Rock-n-Racquets event, sponsored by Tamarack Resort and a fund raiser for the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, featured Agassi, Blake, Graf, the world's top-ranked men's doubles team of American twin brothers Mike and Bob Bryan, and the world's top-ranked female junior player, Viktoria Azarenka of Belarus.
Agassi paired with Blake to battle the Bryan brothers in the opening match of the night, a one-set, best-of-eight game affair. Agassi and Blake jumped out to a 3-1 lead, built their lead to 5-3 and led 7-3 after Agassi hammered home an overhead. But the Bryan brothers battled back and cut the lead to 7-6 before Blake served out the match.
The night’s second match featured Agassi playing a mixed doubles match with Graf for the first time ever, and the pairing turned out to be a success. Graf, who retired from the WTA Tour in 1999, looked sharp against the pairing of Mike Bryan and Azarenka. There were no service breaks until Agassi and Graf broke Bryan’s serve in the decisive 10th game to win the match 6-4.
“I rarely get the chance to play anymore, and especially in front of such a tremendous crowd,” Graf said.
Agassi said he relished the chance to play side-by-side with his wife.
“It was such a thrill to be on the court with her and to play mixed doubles with her,” Agassi said.
Saturday night’s crowd was enthusiastic, cheering and jeering all the players throughout the night. One of the more memorable screams heard from the crowd included a, “Let’s go, Steffi’s husband,” during Agassi’s match against Blake.
Paula Copeland, of Boise, attended the event mostly to see the Bryan brothers play. The mother of twin girls herself, Copeland said she was pleasantly surprised by the turnout.
“I thought it was a great tennis event,” she said. “I thought it was a great turnout for Boise, especially in the middle of winter.”
One of the ballboys was Justin Armstrong of Boise, who attends West Junior High.
“It felt really cool to be that close to the pros,” Armstrong said. “It was pretty exciting. I thought James Blake did the best.”
Asked if he was nervous to be on the court alongside some of the best tennis players on the planet, Armstrong replied, “A little bit. I didn’t want to get hit in the face with a serve or anything.”