Maybe it’s the lights, maybe it’s the matches that last until 2 a.m., or maybe it’s the fact that it’s New York — for whatever reason, the U.S. Open seems to bring out some crazy. As part of our coverage over the next two weeks, TSF will be posting clips of madness and memories from tournaments past. We’re talkin’ about the nitty gritty stuff. Stuff you can’t make up. The ones of Spirlea-bump proportions.
(Do you remember a moment or match at the U.S. Open that we should mention? Tell us!.)
I’ll start with this 1998 fourth-round match between Karol Kucera and Andre Agassi. Tempers flared, ball tosses were mocked, and the rain-suspended dogfight concluded the day after with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-7, 1-6, 6-3 win by the Slovakian. In all honesty, I was pretty turned-off by Agassi for a while after this match. It really wasn’t until his swan song in 2006 that I was won over.
Enjoy the read.
Karol Kucera denied America the tennis showdown of its dreams when he out-gunned Andre Agassi after their bad-tempered rain-hit fourth round match resumed last night.
American tennis lovers had been drooling at the prospect of Agassi reviving his rivalry with Pete Sampras in the quarter-final to bring a surge of electricity to this becalmed tournament.
But the Slovakian, with his nerves restored after the fraught dogfight the night before, finally overcame the American 6-3 6-3 6-7 1-6 6-3.
The match had resumed with Agassi two sets to one down but leading 3-0 in the fourth set after he had resorted to street-fighting tactics to keep his hopes alive.
In a boorish manner, reminiscent of Jimmy Connors at his most belligerent, Agassi had mimicked Kucera’s aborted ball toss, whipped up the Flushing Meadows crowd into a frenzy and adopted moon-ball tactics to upset his opponent. (emphasis added)
It saved him from the brink of elimination on a rain-hit Monday night and at first he grasped the lifeline when the match resumed in the Louis Armstrong stadium two court here.
The stadium was filled to capacity an hour-and-a-half before the match as fans anticipated another no-holds-barred shoot-out.
The atmosphere was frantic and fervent and neither man had lost his appetite for a fight. Kucera quickly lost the fourth set as Agassi pressed home his advantage and with the match all-square it was set up for a sublime finale.
The flow looked to be going with Agassi when he broke Kucera’s serve in the first game of the final set, the Slovakian double-faulting on game point as apparently he wilted under the pressure.
Agassi strutted about the court but Kucera, who boasts wins against the likes of Pete Sampras, is made of very stern stuff.
He broke back in the fourth game and then, with some scintillating returns and exceptional movement, Kucera broke again to gain the crucial momentum. At 5-3 Kucera, serving for the match, found his 18th ace and despite his eighth double fault held off Agassi to take the match and reach the quarter-final.
Kucera later said: ”It was very tough, I had to fight for every ball and I’m just happy to win.”
>> TSF’s u.s. open coverage continues…