But it takes three sets to win.
In many ways, last night was a metaphor for Agassi's entire career. He was favored, but he started out slow, fell behind, and was left for dead. But he kept fighting. Not screaming, not yelling, not brooding--just punching away. Every point, every shot.
Agassi has as much God-given physical talent as anyone who's ever played the game, yet he isn't a fluid, effortless player. He's a grinder. It never looks easy for him and that's because, for some reason or another, it never has been easy for him. But he keeps on swinging. If you watch Agassi move between points and games, he's always the same: head down, shoulders squared, with that funny, compact power-walk. He motors around the court between points, walking so fast that you think he might break into a run at any minute. It doesn't matter if he's winning or losing, his gait is always the same and it screams: Okay, next point, let's get on with it.
So last night, when it seemed that he was going to be blown off the court, Agassi did what he always does: He slugged it out. No self-pity, no arguing. He just kept firing, hoping that Blake might flag. And when it finally happened, when Blake suddenly realized where he was and his first serve deserted him, Agassi was still in it. He never checks out early.
To his eternal credit, Blake did not pull a Jana Novatna. He quavered, but by the fifth set had found himself again and he acquitted himself courageously. As the years pass him by, he'll be proud to have been part of this match.
After the match, Agassi had this to say:
I question myself every day. That's what I still find motivating about this. I don't have the answers, I don't pretend that I do just because I won the match. Just keep fighting and maybe something good happens.
It's true about sports; it's true about life. And it's a lesson that we all need to learn from time to time.