Near-Death Experiences

In big-time tennis, that which does not kill you makes you stronger

If not for geezers Martin and Pioline the men's side would have been about as interesting as spelling-bee reruns on ESPN2. With Rafter and Sampras out early, this tournament represented an opportunity for a young player to step up and take the stage. Instead what we got was Agassi II: The Nightmare Continues. The little plaque on the trophy may call him champion and the computer may rank him number one, but excuse me if I demur— Agassi hasn't beaten Sampras in a meaningful match since he was Mr. Brooke Shields.

In the end, this year's U.S. Open proved that tennis was more about survival than shotmaking. And on that point, it was a position paper for Unequal Prize Money— the women proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they deserved more. But don't take my word for it, just ask William Jefferson Clinton. Given the choice between the prematurely balding prima donna with the waxed back, and a strong young multicultural champion, he made the right call. The man knows a survivor when he sees one.

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