I don’t normally watch tennis on TV but last night, flipping through channels, I came across one of the most captivating tennis matches I have ever seen.
It’s the second round of the US Open. Andre Agassi, 36, already having announced his retirement, is playing against the 8th seeded, 21 year old, Marcos Baghdatis of Cypress. After his last match, Agassi had to take cortisone shot to help his back recover. There are 23,000+ in the stands. The atmosphere is electric.
Agassi looks strong the first two sets winning them both 6-4. Then he struggles, losing the next two sets – blowing a 4-0 lead in the fourth. This is where I come in. The fifth set. The score is 3-2 Agassi. My first reaction when I see Agassi is – Wow! I can’t believe he is still playing at this level at 36!
They start trading games – nobody can break serve. It goes back and forth. Agassi is somehow making shots that seem impossible. Reaching drops that others would miss. 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, it goes on. I get the same feeling I get when I’m watching Michael Jordan play basketball, Tiger Woods golf, and Muhammad Ali box. You know you are watching greatness. The camera pans to the stands, his wife; Steffi Graf is cheering him on – yup -greatness.
All of a sudden, Baghdatis starts cramping. He’s already been treated for a thigh injury during the match so he is not able to call time out for his cramps. He has to play through the cramping. Somehow, he finds ways to make the shots, forcing point after point. The ninth game of the set was amazing. Agassi, with a bad back, and Baghdatis, with cramping thighs, play a eight-deuce, four-break-point game that eventually gives Agassi a 5-4 lead. Baghdatis would go on to win the 10th game to tie it at 5-5. Then, Agassi, the old man, gutted it out to win the next two – against what appeared to be a recovered Baghdatis – finally breaking Baghdatis’ 125+ mph serve, winning the final set 7-5.
After a grueling 53 game, 4 hour marathon match, Agassi secured a win, and the right to advance to the third round. His main concern? Will his body be able to recover enough to play at the level he needs to play? He was gracious in his win and appreciative of the fans that stayed to almost 1 a.m. to watch the match. Amazing…..
I am in awe of people who can play at such a high level. They make impossible shots seem effortless. I may never watch another tennis match again in my life but I am happy that I was able to see that match.
I will never be able to play a sport at that level. (I am just happy if I can make it through a game.) But one thing I do know – no matter what accomplishments we achieve here on earth, they don’t mean diddily-squat if we don’t have Jesus. The amount of awe I have watching great athletes perform doesn’t compare to the awesomeness of Jesus, and – here’s the greatest part – when we put our faith in Him, we gain access to the same power and grace that he demonstrated when He walked this earth. I’ll take that any day.