The second Hit for Haiti match in Indian Wells featured Pete Sampras and Roger Federer against Rafael Nadal and Andre Agassi. Rafa came out wearing a shirt with the Haiti flag and ‘Kinbe Pa Luge’ written on in, before sending the crowd into a frenzy with a quick shirt change to his normal Nike gear. Andre Agassi entered the stadium with his usual showmanship, blowing a kiss and nodding in appeciation to each of the 4 walls of fans.
The game was essentially the servers versus the returners, and as predicted the servers won 8-6. But it was Agassi that stole the show with numerous quips throughout the match, some of which seemed to ruffle Pete’s feathers.
When asked before play started what the event meant to him, Agassi said “It’s something to have these generations come together for a common goal and cause. Americans stepped up for Haiti recently but the truth is there’s a lot of people still homeless. The truth is next month is rain season, it’d gonna bring problems, so the people are going to struggle with their lives. And the next month is going to be hurricane season. There’s a lot of problems still out there and if we can help the motivation to help them, it’s a great thing.”
When pressed for an answer about who, out of Nadal and Federer, would ultimately win more Grand Slams, Agassi, again diplomatic, said “I’ve watched this guy across from me (Federer) do some amazing things. I’ve seen a bigger heart in this man (Nadal) than possibly anybody in sports… So watching their future unfold will be… I get a front row seat and that’s the best place to be, not on the court with them.”
Nadal was asked if, as the only childless player on the court, he felt out of place. An awkward smile followed an “I am only 23″ response and a quick deflection of questions about Shakira and starring in her video with Nadal suggesting they should keep working hard to make the world a better place.
Agassi went on to tease the Spaniard while they played after Rafa missed a ball saying “You move a lot faster on TV” as well as poking fun at his own pale skin. He even joked that “All the children are probably wondering, ‘Who are these two old bald guys playing with Federer and Nadal?’” to which Sampras responded with, “I still have some left. You look like Kojak over there.”
It took a slightly awkward turn when Agassi said “You always have to get serious, huh Pete?” and then apparently accused Pete of being a bad tipper, with Pete then imitating Andre’s serve and walk. Pete said in the post match interview “It got a little tense. I just want to tell Andre that I love him. He thinks I’m a bad tipper, but I tip very well, trust me.”
The original Hit for Haiti that was played on the eve of the Australian Open may have only raised $600,000 compared to the $1 million plus donations from Indian Wells but it seemed more light hearted and more enjoyable for the audience. The fact that somehow at a charity event Agassi and Sampras managed to make things a little awkward was disappointing.
Pete Sampras Rafael Nadal
Age: 38 Age: 23
Turned Pro: 1988 Turned Pro: 2001
Weeks at number 1: 286 Weeks at number 1: 46
Titles: 64 Titles: 36
Grand Slams: 14 Grand Slams: 6
Win-Loss: 762-222 Win-Loss: 409-93
Career Prize $: $43,280,489 Career Prize $: $27,508,603
Roger Federer Andre Agassi
Age: 28 Age: 39
Turned Pro: 1998 Turned Pro: 1986
Weeks at number 1: 273 Weeks at number 1: 101
Titles: 62 Titles: 60
Grand Slams: 16 Grand Slams: 8
Win-Loss: 688-162 Win-Loss: 870-274
Career Prize $: $55,350,788 Career Prize $: $ 31,152,975