Walk through the museum at the International Tennis Hall of Fame, past the walls of wooden rackets with their yellowing, natural gut strings, past the pictures of women in full-length dresses and men in pressed white slacks, and you come to the room honoring new inductee Andre Agassi.
Suddenly, everything goes from black and white to Technicolor.
The blue denim shorts are there, beneath pictures of Agassi with a goatee and a purple bandanna. There is a shot of him as a towheaded 9-year-old meeting Bjorn Borg, and others with the flowing, highlighted hair that twice shocked the tennis world. In a Plexiglas case, treated with the reverence usually reserved for crystal bowls and silver trophies, is a pair of autographed hair clippers Agassi used to switch to the stubble-headed look he still sports today.
“What I hope is that I brought in that tent, I opened the sport up to people who might otherwise not have been interested,” Agassi said in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday. “I hope I brought people to the game. I hope I inspired kids who are out there now doing it better than I ever did it.”
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An eight-time Grand Slam champion and Olympic gold medalist who was the No. 1 player in the world for 101 straight weeks, Agassi will be inducted into the Hall of Fame today along with former WTA executive Fern “Peachy” Kellmeyer. Agassi joins wife Steffi Graf, who was inducted into the Hall in 2004, and dozens of men with handlebar mustaches who would, frankly, be shocked at his inclusion among them.
“I think they would get shocked at the state of the world all the way around -- including me being in the Hall of Fame,” Agassi corrected, with a laugh. “I had, certainly, a rebellion in me. But different than that, I had a fundamental belief that, `What’s wrong with this? There’s nothing wrong with this.’ If anything, I saw that some people liked it, that people were getting interested.”
DAVIS CUP -- Spain’s Feliciano Lopez beat Mardy Fish of the United States to earn Spain a key singles victory in the opening match of their Davis Cup quarterfinal in Austin, Texas.
Playing as the No. 2 for Spain, Lopez twice let Fish rally back from match point in the fifth set before winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-7 (7), 8-6. Andy Roddick faced David Ferrer in Friday night’s other singles match.
In a playoff in Switzerland, Roger Federer beat Portugal’s Rui Machado 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to put the Swiss in front 2-0.
HALL OF FAME CHAMPIONSHIPS -- Sixth-seeded Olivier Rochus gained his third straight semifinal on Newport’s grass courts, beating Matthew Ebden, 7-6 (5), 7-6 in Newport, R.I.
Rochus will face qualifier Michael Yani, who edged 18-year-old Denis Kudla, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-5. No. 1 seed John Isner will face eighth-seeded Tobias Kamke in today’s other semifinal.
SWEDISH OPEN -- Polona Hercog of Slovenia defeated Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 in the semifinals in Bastad, Sweden.
BUDAPEST GRAND PRIX -- Top-seeded Roberta Vinci of Italy rallied to defeat Zuzana Kucova 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-3 and reach the semifinals in Budapest, Hungary.