I watched the Agassi vs. Baghdatis 2nd round US Open match on Thursday night completely awestruck. The match will go down in history as one of the truly great matches of the Open, but the bigger story is the information before and after the match. You see, Andre is suffering from a herniated disc and sciatica. I personally know how much pain sciatica can cause. Some days you can't even get out of bed the pain is so great.
Agassi is retiring after this open and his commitment to see it through extends beyond the pain he is going through. After Monday's four set match against Pavel he received an epidural steroid injection to reduce inflamation. I've had three of these (you're only allowed three in a one year period due to the long term negative effects on the body). I don't know how he played as well as he did or even at all on Thursday after having the injection only Tuesday. It typically takes a week or so for the pain of the injection to go away.
Thursday's match was absolutely brilliant and became a war of attrition over five long sets (nearly 4 hours) with Agassi outlasting his 21 year old opponent who started having muscle cramps late in the fourth set. Point after point, Agassi grimaced in pain as he relentlessly pursued some very good corner and drop shots from Baghdatis . He certainly lost quite a few points, but came through when it counted, winning the match.
After the match the San Jose Mercury News reported that when Agassi was leaving the Billie Jean King complex at nearly 2am he was in so much pain that he had to lie on the ground while waiting for his driver to pick him up. He reportedly had an injection of Toradol after the match to help reduce inflammation. I am watching him now, playing again this morning and am utterly amazed at his tenacity and ability to play through the pain at an incredible level. I told my wife after the last match that he would certainly need to withdraw ... but here he is, back again.
Good for you Andre. You are truly an inspiration!