The Tennis Podcast: 1999 - Agassi at last; Graf finishes with a flourish




 

Nine years after a Las Vegas kid fell short in the French Open final, a mature, worldly 29-year-old won the title. Both went by the name of Andre Agassi.

The American's transformation was complete, and as The Tennis Podcast remembers in the latest of its Roland Garros Re-Lived podcasts, it was one of the biggest tennis shocks ever.

Brad Gilbert, his coach at the time, tells The Tennis Podcast that Agassi didn't even want to go to the tournament, such were his doubts over his own fitness and form, but he was talked into it. Gilbert details the extraordinary route Agassi took to the title, and the 60-second pep-talk he delivered during a rain delay after a terrible first set.

A day earlier, Steffi Graf had won her 22nd and final Grand Slam title. Months later, she would begin a relationship that resulted in marriage and two children with Agassi, and she would reach retirement with a memorable win over precocious 18-year-old Martina Hingis in the final.

A match full of incident and irritation resulted in Hingis hitting two underarm serves, being booed by the Paris crowd, and bursting into tears ahead of the trophy ceremony. The Tennis Podcast team recount the story, with help from Graf's coach, Heinz Gunthardt.

Roland Garros Re-Lived will run every day over the next week, and Wimbledon Re-Lived podcasts will be produced from June 29 to July 12.

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