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Inside Agassi and Becker’s secret rivalry October 31, 2009

Posted by pacejmiller in Entertainment, Tennis.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
agassi admission

Few people know the real reason behind Agassi's drug revelations

[For my new post on the Agassi-Chang rivalry, click here]

By now everyone should know about Andre Agassi’s explosive admission that he used crystal meth (the dangerous drug otherwise known as ‘ice’) in 1997, tested positive, then got away with it by writing a simple explanation letter to the ATP.  However, very few people know about the underlying reason for this seemingly pointless admission – Agassi’s ongoing contest with Boris Becker to see who can dominate the tennis spotlight.

What? I hear you say.  Allow me to explain.

All one has to do is to take a look at the careers and post-career lives of these two great tennis champions.

First set

Boris Becker played 15 years of professional tennis, was number 1 in the world and claimed 6 grand slam titles.  Andre Agassi, on the other hand, stuck around for 20 years, was also number 1 in the world at some stage, and bagged 8 grand slam titles, including the rare career grand slam.  Strictly speaking, Agassi has probably had a slightly more impressive career based on titles alone.  Further, Agassi has a 10-4 record against Becker, including a 4-1 record in grand slam matches.  The first set goes to Agassi, 6-4.

Second set

However, the real battle between these two warriors took place outside the tennis courts.  Both men craved the spotlight, and it was only a matter of time before they started trying to outdo each other.

Boris Becker, with his attacking style, struck first, marrying famous photographer Barbara Feltus in 1993 by first getting her pregnant.  The couple also caused shockwaves when they posed nude together in a photo taken by Babara’s father before the wedding.  Becker had captured the spotlight of the tennis world off the court, and for a while, there was no one to challenge him.

Enter Andre Agassi, who either intentionally or inadvertently stole the spotlight from Becker with a high profile celebrity wedding of his own.  Agassi, the natural baseliner known for his defensive brilliance, took his time, dating actress Brooke Shields from 1993 (perhaps already with Becker in mind) and wedding her in 1997.  It was a stormy relationship that the media feasted on, snatching away the attention so dearly craved by Becker.  Easy second set for Agassi, 6-2.


Andre Agassi

Third set

Frustrated, Becker planned his next move, only to be caught off-guard by a pre-emptive strike from Agassi, who rocked the tennis world again by ending his marriage with Brooke Shields in April 1999.  Not to be outdone, a furious Becker initiated a separation from his own wife in December of the same year.  To kick it up a notch, there was the whole debacle surrounding the pre-nup the couple signed, which brought more media scrutiny than even Becker had hoped for.  Thanks to the messy divorce settlement, Becker finally edged Agassi this time in a tie-break, 7-6 (11-9).

Fourth set

From here, both tennis greats stepped up their games and took the rivalry to a new level.  First Agassi began dating one of the greatest female tennis players of all time, Steffi Graf, after the French Open champion’s ball in 1999.  Two of the greatest of all time dating?  It was a strange doubles combination, that’s for sure, but think about the kids they’d have!

But Becker brought his A-game this time and dropped a bombshell on Agassi and the tennis world by revealing that he had impregnated a waitress in the broom closet of Nobu in London after his last match in 1999 (following Wimbledon).  Just to milk it a bit more, Becker initially denied paternity, claiming that he was an ‘unseeded’ player, until a DNA test confirmed what he had known all along.

Nevertheless, the impact was undeniable.  Becker was king of the headlines once more, and as a result people barely flinched when Agassi and Graf married in 2001.  A big comeback for Becker, 6-1 in the fourth set!


Boris Becker

Final set

From here, with the match tied 2 sets apiece (6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 1-6), the two men were exhausted and struggled to come up with new material.  Agassi and Graf started pumping out kids and made a few headlines when they played doubles together.  Becker, on the other hand, went through a custody battle and another broken engagement through which he was dumped by text message.  It was all very tame and both men were having difficulty coping without controversy.

Becker even tried to relive some of his best moments when he recently (a week before Agassi’s latest revelations) declared that the daughter he had with the waitress was actually conceived on an uncomfortable set of stairs as opposed to a broom closet.  Regardless, he admitted in shame that it was the quickest match he had ever played, prompting suggestions that there were other reasons apart from his powerful serve that earned him the nickname ‘Boom Boom’.  Indeed, the waitress recently likened Becker to a “runaway train” in her new tell-all book In One Breath (named after the length of the encounter).

Just when the two champions appeared to be heading down an endless fifth set with each unable to break the serve of the other, Agassi stunned the world with his latest drug revelations.  One of the greatest tennis players of all time not only took ice, but he had also gotten away with it!  Let’s not forget, 5 of Agassi’s 8 grand slams were won after 1997 – if he had been banned from tennis the way he should have, then Becker probably would have won their secret contest already.

The disappointment in Becker was apparent for all to witness in his latest interview, where he said: ”I’m the last person to throw stones, as there have been some difficult times in my own life (emphasis added), but to hear that he took crystal meth, that certainly puts a whole new light on Andre.  And it’s not a beautiful light.”

”There have been stories over the years about some tennis players taking drugs, but maybe they were just stories, and now Andre, a big star, has been so open about what he took and how he lied to avoid punishment. I’m struggling to think of anything else in tennis that comes close to this.”  At this point, Boris whipped out some old newspaper clippings of his Nobu scandal, but no one seemed to notice.

”Andre didn’t just take drugs, he also tested positive for drugs and then got away with it, and that’s not good at all for tennis, especially for the governing bodies,” Becker said. ”People are going to be thinking, ‘How could this happen?  How could he get away with this?'”

Clearly, the fact that Agassi ‘got away with it’ has plagued Becker, who added: “If it had been made public in 1997 that Andre was using drugs, his career, and his life, would have been very different.  He wouldn’t be where he is today.  Maybe his career would not have survived if everyone knew that he had taken drugs, and if he was banned from the tour for a while.  But no one knew until now, and it was after he took crystal meth that he played some of the best tennis of his life.  He won many grand slams after that.”

For the last person to throw stones, that’s certainly a lot of rocks!

Perhaps sensing that defeat was inevitable, Becker threw in a futile last-ditch effort, reminding everyone that in his own memoir, he admitted to washing down sleeping pills with whisky.  I’m sure he wanted to say: “That’s almost as bad as ice!”  Unfortunately, victory had already slipped out of his grasp.

Game.  Set.  Match.

Agassi defeats Becker, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (11-9), 1-6, 27-25, in their secret contest.


1. matthew - November 13, 2009

haha fantastic read dude! didnt know all that stuff about either of them.

I also thought becker was married to a black woman, which stirred up lots of controversy in germany. Surely that’s worth a point in your scoring system?!

if Agassi has been banned for drug use, that would have really changed sporting history.

pacejmiller - February 7, 2010

Yes, Becker was indeed married to a black woman. I thought I’d let that one slide. I’m not slick enough with race jokes.

2. Niraj Sharma - February 7, 2010

My greetings to all. I am Niraj from India. Back home in India we have a lot of Becker and Agassi fans. Both of them were high profile charismatic players with immense talent. I agree Agassi has a much more impressive career based on titles alone and am well aware that He enjoys a 10-4 record against Becker. In fact to my knowledge he has beaten becker 8 time successivley till becker ended that winning streak at wimbledon 1995 semifinal in a famous victory which agassi himself admits had devasted him. (that wimbledon was famous for the Jeff Tarango incident as well ie 3 round exit after having a scuffle with umpire Bruno Reuboh ). I am a becker fan and I know he is certainly not an angel but in my opinion has more sportsman spirit than Agassi. After losing to Pete Sampras he actually did a victory lap at Wimbledon centre court. I belive Agassi also has admitted that he purposely lost to Chang in the australian open semifinal to avoid facing becker as he was afraid of losing to becker and rather loose to Chang. Cricket is our favourite sport in India where we always enjoy a duel between a fast bowler and a master batsman. There are many bowlers who on seeing a batsman scoring heavily make some escuse and refuse to bowl out of fear that the batsman who is currently in form may spoil their statistics. Andres confession reminds me of above example. I agree with becker most of andres achievements have come after he took that drug. Although his grand slams cannot be taken from him but still in my opinion he cannot be considered a better tennis player than Boris Becker.
best regards
Niraj Sharma

pacejmiller - February 7, 2010

Thanks for commenting Niraj. Cricket is very big here too but it’s not my thing, though my Indian friends won’t shut up about Tendulkar.

I think both Becker and Agassi are legends on and off the court. I’d very much like to write something about Agassi and Michael Chang’s God-thanking business.

sriram - June 19, 2010

u guys have to grow up
why always cricket comes to the picture..
let me clear you few things..
drugs r all together different types the one which agassi has claimed to be taken is not performance enhancing drugs..
its an recreation drug my dear friend…
people always think that..
there is only one drug and it will enhance thee performance..

Peter - July 18, 2010

Niraj, Agassi was wrong to take amphetamines, but Becker was a Total Fucking Asshole. Becker is not too bright. Agassi is articulate and truly a kinder person.

pacejmiller - July 18, 2010

Whoa Peter!

Niraj - July 28, 2010

Whoa Peter. Among All the players in the Becker – Agassi generation, except Patrick Mcenroe no one was a graduate. Hence Becker not being bright is correct. But Agassi is also not an Albert Einstein either. Coming the other “holy words” which you have uttered for Becker I have come across these very same words for Agassi in various blogs. Every one has his or her point of view. In the Bond film Die another day we hear a dialogue one mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter.

3. God umpires Andre Agassi vs Michael Chang « About Writing – The Personal Blog of Pace J Miller - February 7, 2010

[…] a follow up to the popular “Inside Agassi and Becker’s Secret Rivalry” post, I have pitched Andre Agassi against Chinese American superstar Michael Chang, another […]

4. sriram - June 19, 2010

u guys have to grow up
why always cricket comes to the picture..
let me clear you few things..
drugs r all together different types the one which agassi has claimed to be taken is not performance enhancing drugs..
its an recreation drug my dear friend…
people always think that..
there is only one drug and it will enhance thee performance..

Niraj - June 22, 2010

Mr. Sriram in a discussion or a debate you can give examples to prove your point. Hence I had mentioned cricket solely for that purpose. I admit I stand corrected that those drugs were not performance enhancing drugs hence Agassi’s greatness as a champion cannot be challenged but up there a comparison between him and Becker was made and it was pointed out that Agassi overall has more impressive statistics than Becker ie 8 grand slams to Beckers 6 and also has beaten him 9 time successively. Let me tell you that Ivan Lendll also has won more grand slams than John Mcenroe and has a winning lead over him in head to head matches. Lendll too beat Mcenroe 9 times successively till the 10th time in a very hard fought match Mcenroe defeated Lendll and in his charismatic manner declared “ no man beats me 10 times in a row. Not even Lendll. Despite this most tennis experts are unanimous about John Mcenroes superiority over Lendll. When you are comparing 2 people in any field any profession you have to judge them by their greatest performances. If I am comparing Pierce Brosnan with Daniel Craig I have to see Brosnan at his blazing best ie as James Bond. I cant quote his performance in Mrs Doubtfire or Remington Steele. Similarly when comparing Albert Einstein with Isaac Newton I have to quote them at their greatest discoveries ie theory of relativity and theory of gravity rather than judging them by their high school projects. Fact is when Becker was at his best he was indeed better than Agassi. Agassis chickening out and losing to Michael Chang is the biggest proof. Agassi has a healthy record against serve and volley players. He has a winning lead over Stefan Edberg as well. But we must not forget that for 3 years he had skipped wimbledon ie 1988- 1990 and that when the Becker Edberg rivalry was at its peak.

5. Book Review: ‘Open’ by Andre Agassi « About Writing – The Personal Blog of Pace J Miller - April 19, 2011

[…] know I like to make fun of Andre (as I did in satirical posts A and B, two of the most popular ever on this blog), but he’s always been one of my favourite […]

6. Zand - August 31, 2011

Very nicely put together – and funny!! :-) Agassi also won a lot of points for his better looks than the white red head big thies German! Althogh his Barbara was much better looking than both Brooke Shields and Steffi (how come she has never operated that nose of hers???)

pacejmiller - August 31, 2011

Having read Agassi’s Open, I have a feeling that Andre worships Steffi and wouldn’t want her to change a thing about her.

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