I’ve collected (just through internet combing!) some updates for anyone out there who misses Andre on the tour as much as I do. Not meant to be comprehensive by any means, and won’t be anything new to mega-fans out there like myself, but in case anyone has forgotten about him lately...
1. For US fans, ESPN Classic will be airing 3 1/2 hours of BBC coverage of Wimbledon exhibition matches (Agassi, Graf, Henman, Clisters) on May 17 starting at 9:30 am eastern time. (Aside-- there are no plans yet, and I doubt traditionalists will support it anytime soon, but I vote for night matches someday. LOVE the atmosphere at night in Flushing Meadows) See Andre and Steffi discuss on the BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/tv_and_radio/inside_sport/8043400.stm
2. Agassi is slated to play two matches for the Philadelphia Freedoms (professional team tennis) this summer, July 10 and July 17
3. He’s also on the roster for an Outback Champions Series event in Arizona this October 8-11. He’s the only player announced so far—requirements are to be 30 years old (he just turned 39 last month, btw), have either held a top 5 singles ranking, been a Grand Slam singles finalist or been a singles player on a Championship Davis Cup. Sampras, McEnroe, Courier, Rafter, etc, have played these events in the past.
1. Roland Garros this year: Agassi and Graf will be at Roland Garros on June 6 to mark the 10th anniversary of their 1999 victories
2. Andre’s autobiography is set to be released in November.
3. He has continued to very actively raise money for his charitable foundation and his preparatory academy (Night at the Hamptons fundraiser last August, annual Grand Slam benefit in October among other events).
4. Andre is a key member of the “Athletes for Hope” charity organization (also with Lance Armstrong and Mia Hamm), which has signed up about 500 athletes from several sports.
5. Andre and Steffi had to back out of their luxury hotel project in Idaho due to the difficult housing and financial market (This, according to an article by Charles Bricker of Bob Larson’s Tennis News, was a major factor in the very sad split, announced in October, between Andre and his childhood friend and agent Perry Rogers, which got even uglier—and sadder—late last year—see John Ralston, Las Vegas Sun, Dec 12)
· It’s obvious Andre keeps himself crazy busy with fundraising, increasing awareness for the sport, and I can only assume his family, but I wish he would guest-commentate some matches here and there! I can’t imagine any network wouldn’t welcome him, even briefly. His insight into intricacies of the game was always stunning, and his studied knowledge of his opponent’s strengths and weaknesses still applies to tons of guys still on the court! Apparently (I missed it because I was in the stands and didn’t catch the youtube in time!) there was quite the buzz about his amazing thoughts during the Roddick-Federer US Open 2007 match. So, throw us a bone, Andre! Play commentator for a day!!
· There’s a lot of discussion in the US (and Andre weighs in on this too) about the state of men’s tennis in the US and what can be done to revitalize. I’m pretty happy with my favourite Spaniard at the moment, so I’m not feeling too provincial, but I can definitely see that increasing talent pool in the US will benefit the sport overall. (And, entirely selfishly, improve my television coverage...)
· Since Andre seems to be out there on the court again this year, how much would we all love to see an exhibition vs. Pete?
· Okay, I know this was done to death a few years back when he retired, but for old-time’s sake anyone want to share favourite memories/matches of Andre? A few of mine (and, yeah, I’m ignoring early career and slam wins because my fanaticism didn’t fully develop until 2000...so please others add)
o 2001 vs. Sampras US Open obviously a classic
o 2002 vs. Sampras US Open a total heartbreaker he should have won (Pete was exhausted, but just played up at the right moments—mark of a champion, I know!)
o 2004, 2005 US Open vs Federer. Lost these, of course, like final 8 times he played him, but at least challenged him for a while
o 2006 last tour win, vs. Baghdatis. Rajat had as #1 aging warriors match. My personal favourite because I was there and it was exhilarating
o 2006 retirement speech—who wasn’t crying watching that??