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Bollettieri could have avoided the sticky situation altogether. During the Agassi-Courier match he could have strolled over to Court Central, where his distaff phenom, 15-year-old Monica Seles of Yugoslavia, was upsetting fourth-seeded Zina Garrison. Or he could have taken up a favorite position amid the mists of Roland Garros's central fountain, where, often shirtless while sopping up the infrequent rays, he bestowed autographs upon awestruck fans.
Before the match, Cruz had urged Courier to stay inside the baseline, to counter power with power. From there Courier used his compact backswing to pock-mark the court with winners, win a first-set tiebreaker 9-7 and take a 4-2 lead in the third set before the match was called because of darkness at 9:04.
That night Agassi, who had clearly been outblasted and was dying on the vine (he has never won a five-set match), had the chutzpah to intimate that the postponement would help his opponent rather than his own weary bones. "He was all hit out," said Agassi.
The next afternoon Courier needed 44 minutes to hit Agassi out of the tournament. Agassi did have a brief respite when he cut down the pace and won eight straight points to get to 2-3 in the fourth set. But then dat ol' debbil Macho reared his flashy head again.
"When Andre turned it back on, I turned it back on too," said Courier, who converted 74% of his first serves and slammed seven aces. He also struck 60 winners, and most important on the machometer, he won the forehand slug-fest, pounding 29 placements to Agassi's 10. "Was I in the zone?" said Courier. "Pretty close to it. I was playing on instinct. I was just sort of out there."
The son of a sales executive for the Lykes Pasco fruit juice processing company in Dade City and of an elementary school librarian. Courier has been out there on the circuit only since February 1988. At 12 he was a power-hitting Little League pitcher and shortstop—he both delivered up a home run to and hit one out on Derek Bell, now in the Toronto Blue Jays system, then of Tampa's Belmont Heights. A few years earlier a great-aunt, Emma Spencer, who coached women's tennis at UCLA in the early '60s, introduced Courier to tennis. He gave up the diamond at 13, and entered the academy a year later.
In 1986 and '87, Courier made a name for himself in the juniors by becoming the first player since Bjorn Borg to win consecutive Orange Bowl titles. His breakthrough came last fall, when he reached the semifinals of the Stockholm Open with victories over two Swedes, Mikael Pernfors and Anders Jarryd. Nonetheless, before Paris his first season's match record was 9-8.
On Monday in the City of Lights he had his lights turned out again, this time by the U.S.S.R.'s Andrei Chesnokov, who rallied to win 2-6, 3-6, 7-6, 6-2, 7-5. In an even more dramatic comeback, earlier in the day, 17-year-old U.S. wunderkind Michael Chang overcame not only a two-set deficit but also cramps and dehydration to stun top-seeded Ivan Lendl 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. By the final set Chang, the 15th seed, was so debilitated he could do little more than patty-cake his serve, lob back his ground strokes and go for winners. Somehow, though, Chang hung in, and by the end Lendl was clearly addled by his inability to put away his hobbled opponent. He double-faulted on match point.
Among the Bollettieri gang, of which Chang has never been a member. Courier has always been the hardest worker, with a bright, cool head despite Sunday's postmatch gloatathon. An exuberant Courier hurled his racket Eiffel-high (upon its crash landing. Agassi's mane was nearly sheared into a crewcut) and conducted cheers for each section of the crowd.
Ah, but could one blame him? Last year Courier failed to qualify for the French Open, while our hirsute hero was wading through pop worship en route to the semifinals. Now, without a tournament victory this year, Agassi can't even beat his former roomie.