Friday, 4 July 2014


The Grand Slam Cup held in Germany from 1990 through to 1999 was an interesting tournament to say the least. Some players hated it, namely Andre Agassi who went to extraordinary lengths to not play it, or lose it. In 1990 Agassi was rather vocal regarding his thoughts on a tournament that was nothing more than a money fest for the invited players.
The Grand Slam Cup was for the best performed 16 players of the year , until 1998 when it was changed to the top 8, not unlike the Masters. The first two rounds were best of three sets and the semi's and final were best of five. This tournament however offered no ranking points, just 2 million dollars for the winner, half that for second place and some rather substantial spending money for the rest. Back to Andre.
The great man did not want to play in it's inaugural year, he let everyone know, but as a professional he was actually 'required' to play, so what did he do ? Nine days before the tournament the Davis Cup final was held in the US and with the title in the bag at 3-0 Agassi played Darren Cahill in a dead rubber. At one set all Agassi retired due to a 'pectoral strain', I remember it vividly as they taped him up to no avail, he retired 'injured'. Only Darren and Andre know the real story to this 'injury' as Cahill became Andre's coach towards the end of his career.
So Andre got his wish , no Grand Slam Cup for him , as was the same case the following year however the reasons were unclear. In 1992 he actually did play and was seeded number 2 but put in a 'token gesture' and lost first round to Michael Chang. In 1993 Agassi's ranking had significantly dropped so he did not have to play but the following year was rather humorous, I remember it well.
Agassi was required to play and was seeded 2 again, he drew Thomas Muster in the first round and anyone who knows anything about tennis knows that these two did not get along.
To cut a long story short Andre was not leaving Germany without beating the Austrian and he did it in straight sets which set up a clash with Swede Magnus Larsson. This match was a comedy, unfortunately it is unavailable on you tube but I would pay good money for it. At one set all a rather visibly upset Andre put his foot through the throat of his racket, let me describe this.
The racket was placed on the ground, head first, on an angle, grip in hand, then he has put his foot straight through the throat and snapped it in two. Now there is an art to this technique, it aint easy. Andre also said the F word and from memory it was something like this "So I'm not allowed to say f..."? The umpire's response, again from memory was "very close now Andre", in reference to a default.
Andre didn't need an umpire, he self imploded losing the final set 0-6 to the Swede who actually went on to win the tournament against World number 1 Pete Sampras in the final. This was to be Agassi's last performance at the Cup until 1998 where he went on a 'bagel' rampage. As if to bury some past demons he won his first match against Pioline without dropping a game then in his next match against Korda he won the second and third sets 6-0, 6-1. In the semi's he beat Kucera 6-0 in the fifth before losing to Rios 6-3 in the fifth in the final. This was the last year it was played.
For history's sake in 1993 Czech Petr Korda beat World number 1 Sampras 3-6, 7-6, 3-6, 7-6, 13-11 in the semi finals which earned him the right to play for $1.625 million first prize. The tournament dropped it's winner's purse from two million in it's first four years but hey, these guys were  still playing for big bucks.
In the final he took on German Michael Stich who was ranked 5 but had beaten World number 2 Stefan Edberg in five sets in his semi. The final was another epic and Korda prevailed by the score of 2-6, 6-4, 7-6, 2-6, 11-9
I would call his $1.625 million well earned.......

No comments:

Post a Comment