Graf / Agassi Defeated Kournikova / Roddick 8-7 (7-4)
Love conquers all -- even in tennis
Agassi and Graf form a formidable twosome on and off the court
BY JOHN PACKETT
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
Dec 3, 2005
The husband and wife team of Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf had never played mixed doubles together before last night's Genworth Children's Advantage Classic.
"I anticipate winning the mixed," Agassi said prior to the exhibition against Andy Roddick and Anna Kournikova in front of a sold-out audience at the Siegel Center.
Agassi's forecast proved correct, as he and Graf pulled out an 8-7 decision, claiming the eight-game pro set by virtue of a 7-4 tiebreaker and then celebrating with a long kiss before heading to the net to shake hands with their victims.
The Agassis smooched more than once during the match, which may have made up for the time that Graf hit her husband in the back with a return during one point.
"It'll certainly be a great experience for us," said Agassi before the match. He is still plying his trade on the tour while his wife, 36, has been retired since 1999. "To enjoy each other on that level. I don't anticipate things being too fiery on our end."
In other words, Agassi wasn't counting on either of them being disturbed when the other missed a shot.
"We haven't really done that [gotten mad] yet," Agassi said. "I don't think tennis will get us there."
Indeed, there were nothing but smiles and grins from the Agassis, who were married in October, 2001, and have two children, Jaden and Jaz. While they weren't exactly color coordinated, the couple played well enough together to outlast Roddick and Kournikova.
Just because they prevailed against some pretty stiff competition -- Roddick didn't hold back on many of his trademark rocket serves -- doesn't mean there are any plans to play together on the circuit.
"That wouldn't be my guess," Agassi smiled. "It takes a lot to get her to put herself in that position out there. The reasons why we're here are why we're doing it at all."
All of the proceeds, which totaled a little over $500,000, will benefit Virginia Commonwealth's Lobs and Lessons program for inner-city kids and the William Byrd Community House.
In the final match of the evening, Agassi showed that he can still stay with the best in the world at 35 when he pulled out a first-set tiebreaker and went on to post a 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 verdict over Roddick, 23, who finished 2005 ranked No.3 in the world. Agassi wasn't far behind at No.7.
"My game is one that's designed to play against different styles of players," said Agassi, who's planning to get 2006 started with the Australian Open next month. "More than anything, it's important to have the motivation and focus, and I've done that over the years.
"I'm still challenged, but the challenge has certainly taken on a different nature as I get older. I'm still very motivated to get out there and figure out a way. If I can stay healthy and play well throughout the year, then I'll take a good look at it and see where I stand."
Prior to the matches, all of the players participated in an afternoon clinic for about 300 kids from Richmond and Newport News. Some of the invited juniors -- most were from underprivileged neighborhoods -- went on the court and hit with the stars, while the majority watched from the stands and tried to absorb the lessons.
The afternoon and evening sessions were taped by The Tennis Channel for showing later this month and next year.