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In odyssey, Greek wasn’t their hero September 2, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Tennis Squash.
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Phantasmagorical. In a word, that’s what it was. Homer, the old Greek scribbler, would have relished this 3-hour-48-minute rewrite of his “Odyssey.”

Though only a tennis match, the wandering of two combatants called Andre and Marcos through a variety of perils along the treacherous way to the third round of the US Open was high melodrama in five acts that seduced countless viewers. They watched across the globe via the electronic Cyclops, TV, or were eyewitnesses in the amphitheater honoring an earlier battler, Arthur Ashe.

Those in the immediate Flushing Meadows audience formed a Greek chorus of 23,736 voices, but they were not there to praise the young Greek Cypriot , Marcos Baghdatis. Far from it. Their hero was the ancient one, a wielder of a gut-strung scepter, the Armenian-blooded Andre Agassi. They let Baghdatis know it every sneakered step of the way from Thursday night into yesterday morning.

Such a loud and raucous clamor of feverish adulation and hero worship hadn’t been raised here since 1991, when another beloved ancient, James Scott Connors, 39, was bashing his way improbably to the semifinals. Jimmy, like 36-year-old Andre, was a midnight man, forcing his foes to toil, fruitlessly, from one day into the next, winding up the faithful like cuckoo clocks.

But at the juncture of midnight, the chorus was wary and worried because the Greek had just struck one of his 23 aces and another of his 12 service winners to pull even, 3-3, in the climactic fifth act. Baghdatis, the bearded belter, seemed the killjoy who would take down Agassi like the whirlpool, Charybdis, that threatened Homer’s main man, Odysseus.

The beguiling nail-biter, twisting and turning like Charybdis, and changing directions often, suspensefully lurched toward Baghdatis three games before the curtain. He was one point from virtual victory four times. But the Greek gods, Zeus & Co. must, curiously, have turned their eyes away from Baghdatis and gleamingly onto Agassi, the triumphant: 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 7-5.

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