| Graf, Agassi
Paris, May 22: The love match that was to bloom in the Paris summer is not to be.
Disappointed' Well, don’t take it too hard. Tennis’ — if not all of sports’ — most famous partnership flourishes, at its productive best.
Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf can’t play together, as the husband had promised, in the mixed doubles in next week’s French Open. But then Graf is going to be mum again.
So… so, Agassi has an apology for fans whose hearts had been set aflutter when he announced in Melbourne in January that Graf and he would pair at Roland-Garros if he won the Australian Open, where he was playing then.
“When I said we could (play) mixed doubles with Steffi I didn’t know the news,” he told the sports daily ’Equipe.
“It wouldn’t be wise for a pregnant woman to play.”
He didn’t say how many months pregnant Graf was, but there were reports at the time of his January announcement that the lady was not too amused. Maybe she knew what he did not.
That would be surprising because the couple has been called a “team”: at night they lie in bed and talk strategy, a report in the Sports Illustrated magazine had said. When Agassi plays, Graf is almost always in the stands, watching, with or without son Jaden Gil.
Graf, who won 22 Grand Slam titles, including six French Opens, was cool to the idea and Agassi admitted in March he was doubtful the duo would be on court together in Paris. “I’m starting to get some dialogue but it’s a slow process,” he said then.
After reaching the semifinals in Melbourne, Agassi had announced: “For the record… if I win here, Stef has to play doubles with me in Paris. You can print that and I’ll hold you to it.”
The 33-year-old champion went on to win the championship, keeping his part of the bargain. His play for Paris has not come off, but he is unlikely to sweat very much over it, seeing the bargain he has got instead.
Agassi said he didn’t know whether 20-month-old Jaden Gil would be having a brother or sister.
He and Graf married in October 2001, two years after she hung up her racquet on winning the French Open for the sixth time.
She had played mixed doubles with former world number one John McEnroe at Wimbledon in 1999, but has never teamed up with Agassi. Not in a tournament, that is.
The couple does hit balls together. “She usually beats me. I have trouble keeping my eye on the ball,” he had said in Melbourne.
Some would say that at 33 he would have trouble keeping his eye on the ball anyway as he steps on to the court here. Agassi might turn around and tell them that when he was 20 he lost the final at Roland-Garros to a 30-year-old, Andres Gomez.
At 34 years and 10 months Andres Gimeno (victor in 1972) is the oldest to win the French Open.
Or would he rather say — with Graf standing on the sidelines with a trophy — who cares'