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Tennis aces reminded of glory days in Taiwan

2012/05/26 21:55:03

Taipei, May 26 (CNA) Tennis greats visiting Taiwan for a series of exhibition matches said Saturday that they were feeling nostalgc after playing in front of an enthusiastic crowd.

After a laughter-laden mixed doubles, in which Martina Hingis and Goran Ivanisevic beat Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi 6-3, the foursome joked about their rivalry of the old days but did not forget to recognize one another's achievements.

Asked in a post-match press conference how she compared Saturday's showdown against Graf with the one at the 1999 French Open, Hingis jokingly shifted the spotlight to Ivanisevic.

"I cried in 1999, did you cry at Wimbledon?" the Swiss asked, referring to both their unsuccessful bids in Grand Slam championships against their rivals -- the "golden couple" who were sitting right nextto them.

In 1999, Graf conquered Hingis in Paris to claim her last major title, while Agassi won his first Grand Slam in the 1992 Wimbledon final, beating Ivanisevic in five sets.

"There were so many great memories," said the Croatian, adding that he felt great pleasure playing again with Agassi, especially in front of exuberant local fans.

Likewise, Agassi and Graf said they had had a great time in Taiwan, picking up old memories with their former foes and enjoyingTaiwanese hospitality.

"It has been incredible," said Graf, who promised fans earlier on court that her stay in Taiwan "will not be the last time."

The audience were treated to a hilarious 40-minute mixed doubles, bursting into laughter whenever an impromptu act took place.

At one point at the match, Agassi and Graf exchanged a kiss over a winner. Hingis also jokingly chased Ivanisevic around the court for an error he made.

The stellar line-up even helped one local fan propose to his girlfriend, with Agassi playfully suggesting that the girl should turn him down.

Attendance at the event was reported by the organizers to be 7,000 --only around 60 percent of the capacity of the Taipei Arena. Tickets pricesranged between NT$800 (US$27) and NT$10,000.

A similar event last year featuring Agassi and Russian great Marat Safin attracted more than 9,000 people.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)