He brought the crowd to its feet when he defeated Becker 6-2, 7-5 in the third round. In the middle of the match Agassi charmed everyone. Becker, disgusted with his play and trailing 6-2, 2-0, handed his racket to ball girl Stephanie Flaherty, a high school senior from Miami. Agassi waved her onto the court and played a point with her.
After he had dismissed Pioline 6-4, 6-2 in the fourth round, Agassi moved on to Edberg, the third-ranked man in the world, and defeated him 7-6, 6-2. Afterward the crowd again gathered at the ramp for the pleasure of basking in Agassi's dazzling presence. Just a few feet away Edberg, the father of an eight-month-old daughter, folded a baby stroller into his car and drove away unnoticed. Brad Stine, Courier's coach, lounged in a hallway inside the stadium and took in the guards and walkie-talkies. "It's rock-and-roll tennis," said Stine.
Sampras just smiled at it all in his ever-pleasant way. "It's good, it's all good," he said. "I want Andre back in the Top 5. You might not agree with some of what he does, but the game needs him."
Indeed it does. On Sunday morning Sampras awoke feeling nauseated, and he played the final only because Agassi—the new Agassi—made one of the classiest gestures of his career. Sampras was not well enough to take the court for the match's 1 p.m. starting time, so Agassi, rather than accept a victory by default, agreed to push back the starting time of the match an hour while Sampras was treated by a physician. "I'll never forget it," said Sampras of this concession. His gratitude did hot, however, prevent him from steamrolling over Agassi in the last two sets for a 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 victory and running his 1994 match record to 23-2.
Agassi had no regrets. This was just the beginning of his comeback, and it was an auspicious beginning, too. His performance in Key Biscayne moved him back into the Top 20. As his jet continued on the way to New York, where he would meet Shields, Agassi changed into a pair of clean warm-ups, unwrapped a turkey sandwich and dished himself up a plate of pasta primavera. He poured two packets of sugar into his coffee and reclined in an overstuffed swivel chair. "I don't really stress too many things in my life," he said.
What stresses him?