September 01, 2006

Eisai Monadikos

Like a good Cypriot, I failed to plan ahead for the Baghdatis vs Agassi match. I was oblivious to the fact that there were large screens set up - one of them at the Rockefeller Center - with a live broadcast of the showdown. Trekking out to Flushing was out of the question. The Arthur Ashe court was sold out. Over 23,500 locals cheering for their man, Agassi.

I eventually had to opt for the computer and a radio feed. One of the most tense experiences of my recent life. Somehow the scores were up to date on the US Open's web site but there was a confusing enough delay in the radio feed.

Where is Captain Pikifrinos when I need him, I murmured to myself.

The crowd was obviously going to be hostile towards Marcos, who was quoted as saying "Tonight, I'm the bad guy..."

And playing Agassi is not the same as playing Federer, really. You can't be thinking numbers, seeding or any of that. Here is a formidable opponent whose illustrious tennis career is coming to an end. One of a handful in the world with a Grand Slam career.

When Marcos started bouncing back, the crowd did not necessarily get hostile - they simply became downright rude.

At the end of it, the incredible amounts of energy expended and cramps took their toll on Marcos. And when it was all over he was cheered by the crowd. In earnest.

Marcos is unique. He blew everyone's mind and his determination and skill made people sit up and pay attention. His charm and gift are never overlooked.

Marcos is also naturally graceful off the court. The crowd erupted in cheers when he thanked Agassi for all he has given to the sport.

And there is so much you will give as well, Marco. That much we do know.


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