Thursday, November 05, 2009

Andre Agassi : Image is Everything

Andre Agassi : The circle is complete

After being out of the limelight, the past week the mullet formerly known as Andre Agassian has hit the headlines with a bullet, with some interesting revelations in his book that is coming out. Like anything with a big impact, there are just as many questions and theories as to why this information has come to light and the timing that it was released, more on that later on.

Lets have a look at the stages of the Agassi career. He came onto tour as a very promising 16 year old with spiky hair, which was acquainted with Dr. Bleach at this stage. He was not the first protege to come out of the Nick Bollettieri Academy aka the Forehand Factory. Jimmy Arias and Aaron Krickstein were the first ones, but Agassi had more flamboyance and a sense of difference in addition to his talent and look, that made the media and tennis public take notice.

1988 was Agassi's first big year on tour, hitting massive forehands and using the court well, but he lacked fitness, this was highlighted in the semis of Roland Garros when he played Wilander in the semis. Agassi got it to a 5th set and the French crowd were loving his sense of style, but the Swede outsmarted and outlasted him 6-0. He won some tournaments this year and they hyped him up big time at the US Open, then he ran into Lendl, who knocked the stuffing out him. Then delivered the great line about Agassi, "He is just a haircut and a forehand", how wrong Lendl was to be proved later on.

Agassi was making a lot of noise for the wrong reasons as well, he pissed off Mark Woodforde in a match, he was losing , but managed to win the match and Woodforde asked what happened "he started acting like an 18 year old kid". The worst was his absolute lack of class in a Davis Cup match against in Argentina in Argentina. He was thrashing Martin Jaite 6-2 6-2 5-0 and Jaite was up 40-0 on serve, then Agassi catches the serve taking the piss out of him big time, the Argentine crowd understandably were fired up by the disrespect and booed for 5 minutes. This stuff was par for the course, along with the faking of injuries to a level Djokovic and Inzaghi would be proud of, tanking when getting beaten and bullshit excuses when he lost. Then he managed to turn the perception of himself around in such a way, he could feed the press a turd wrapped up in Kobe beef, and the press would eat it up and not see it was a turd.

The turnaround from brat to multi grand slam champion, coming back from the problems he had with the game and starting over in the Challengers to rebuild his ranking got him respect with the public and the press alike. It got to the point where initially he was criticised for nearly everything to the point where he could do nothing wrong at all. For those of cynical persuasion or questioning minds, there were rumblings how much Agassi really changed or was it, that he was able to express himself in a clear and precise manner knowing when to say the right things at the right time, without really saying anything at all.

Lets have a look at the way he treated the ballkids, he was very anal retentive about this, yes Nadal is anal retentive about some things, but not to the point where he won't play unless the ballkids weren't in the exact spot and they couldn't stand together, this was classic Agassi. Towards the end of his career he was very similar to Carl Lewis, that he was once a great, but suffering more defeats as the ageing process took place. They still managed to steal the limelight even when they lost, he isn't the only one guilty of this, though it leads into the things he is guilty of. His last US Open was a classic case of banality and sentimental crap that was cringeworthy at best.

Revelations that he took crystal meth for a year during the 90s, in his down period. As for whether they should test for recreational drugs or not is another subject, but the fact that the ATP did test for them at the time and that he failed these tests. Yet, the ATP did not release his name and decided to get rid of the forensic evidence, just reconfirmed what sceptics have said about the ATP. The higher up the food chain, the more likely that they will get protected from any suspension this is not just related to drugs performance enhancing or recreational, match fixing and we have seen the lack of fairness when it comes to applying penalties for these offences. The ATP just look even more incompetent than usual, which takes a lot of effort.

Mike Agassi gave Andre speed allegedly, but nothing will come of this, even though he revealed this in his book. Why would it come out now, if he was truly honest, then he would have accepted the penalties at the time, irrespective of whether the rule stinks or not and there would be no sweeping under the carpet. There have been suggestions that Agassi has taken performance enhancing substances during his career, not that he would ever be caught at all, especially the way the ATP handled his previous positive results.

The subject of carpet, Agassian is a hirsute character and had a carpet chest, yet the funniest revelation and best one of all is that he wore a wig in the final of RG against Andres Gomez. Wearing a wig before a GS final that is a combination of massive insecurity in his own appearance and arrogance in the way that he could beat Gomez wearing a wig. For the good of the game it was great to see Gomez win that final. But Agassi wearing the "Wig of Righteousness" is some funny shit. Worrying about your hair falling out or trying to win a Slam for the first time, the choice is difficult.

Agassi said he hated tennis. In this case, it's not so surprising that he was pushed into the game as a kid by his father, hitting balls when he was 2 years old and the combination of being pushed very hard as a kid, then to a point where it became a job, instead of doing something he loved. Yes, most of us hate our jobs at some point, this is natural, but we aren't as fortunate as the top pro athletes, who can make a great living out of the sport in the limited time they have and if they are financially astute won't have to work again once their career is over.

If Agassi wanted to get this all of his chest and really be honest about it, then he would have gone to a priest or a psychologist and then worked through it. But, no he chose to write this book, he did get a large advance in writing the book, so that is more money for the foundation. At the same time as Eric Bischoff (a figure in the wrestling business) said "controversy creates cash", these controversial moments have created a buzz and reaction, so the theory should be that individuals will want to buy the book in large numbers generating more revenue. At the same time Agassi fell out with his former agent Perry Rogers who knew a lot about Agassi and could reveal these negative things about him, so it looks like getting retaliation in first. By doing this now then Agassi can attempt manipulate and control the reactions as much as possible, just like when he was a player in the second phase of the career where he was treated like a demigod.

Personally, I won't buy the book, but when it comes to the library, then I will borrow it and read it at that time some of the hype will have died down by then. All these revelations by the man have not changed my opinion on the man at all. In fact it reconfirmed my previous view of Agassi. Insecure, need to be loved and in the limelight, while pretending to be modest and humble, when not the case. People like Thomas Muster, Marcelo Rios, Yevgeny Kafelnikov for example are truer to themselves, while being blunt, not always likeable and throwing platitudes around for the sake of it, at least it's not swimming in saccharine and people can take it or leave it, which is preferable to an individual being fake.

Wondering if Fernando Vicente is still happy with the shirt he stole from Agassi when he was a junior.


rocketassist said...

Love the Inzaghi reference, haha.

Disquieting Muse said...

Then again he would consider new attractive career options: would it be in politics, with a public affairs company, a pollster?

Cobalt60 said...

As I mentioned on MTF; egos are something else aren't they? Agree with you on everything GW. Nice blog column.

Martine said...

Very good blog entry GWH. I really enjoyed the read!

aphex said...

Ha ha Agassi is too funny! He was so two-faced even in the later stages of his career. I remember when he lost to ToJo at Stockholm Open and was so pissed off he refused to arunner-up interview afterwards.

Marc said...

Excellent entry with some usual silly references, but they made sense.

Agreed about Agassi, the catching of the serve in Davis Cup is totally classless, never knew that people were so gullible to fall for this line of crap.

Thanks for that bit of information Aphex.

A. said...

Wow, is it me or you don't really like Agassi?
It seems he was a real prick in his youth( too many people are saying it to be disregarded, I remember only the horrible hair and clothes :o) and after that neither his redemption was believeble :(
I don't know, I'm the one who gives people a chance, maybe he had something on his chest and wanted to take it out, too many people are screaming PR!!! at these revelations which are actually extracts from his book.
I think one should read it entirely to make a better oppinion of it. Not that I suspect you to have a better oppinion of anything that AA might do anyway lol
But if someone says "rarely you're behaving like an ass" and another one quotes only "you're behaving like an ass" that changes a little the perspective, isn't it?
The wig story is actually funny and endearing, everyone has his little vanities.....

Sigurd Sigurdsson said...

As for my view on Agassi, which is fairly clear, but I will clarify a few things.

Sure the guy was a shithead in his youth and was flawed, like most humans are, the flawed bit and not the shithead antics.

Well there are rumours of getting stung badly in a real estate deal. Then getting the retaliation in first, by revealing this now to stop from someone else revealing this, therefore not being able to limit the damage control.

He was a fake then and a fake now, just managed to hide it better as he got older. If he was any sort of a man, then the test results would not have been thrown out.

CyBorg said...

1990 US Open - definitely wig
1990 Masters Cup - wig-tastic
1991 French Open - not 100% sure
1991 Wimbledon - obviously wig