i was looking through some old Wertheim Tennis Mailbags and came across this. From Feb. 8, 1999
Do you think Andre Agassi should retire? The Associated Press story on Agassi after his loss to Vince Spadea was brutal. Andre probably will not win another Slam but he is still in the top 10. What do you think his problems have been in the last few Slams? Do you think he has lost his physical ability? How come the press reacted harshly to Agassi losing early Down Under? It seems to me that there were quite a few seeds who lost before Agassi. Finally, will Andre make the International Tennis Hall of Fame?
—Bob Diepold, Charlotte, N.C.
I didn't see that particular AP article but I think the press reacted harshly because after the second-round exodus of seeds, the tournament was Agassi's to win. (Also, after Pat Rafter bit the dust, Agassi was the only hope the men's draw had for keeping pace with the women's in terms of excitement.) Instead of seizing the day, he came out flat as a gameboard against Spadea, a player he should be able to beat in his sleep, in a high-stakes match, and never found his game. The Agassi of old struggled plenty but often found a way to elevate his game within five sets. There was a sustained stretch last year when Agassi was gangbusters, hitting the ball as well as I'd ever seen him. But since August, he's reverted to his erratic ways, looking like a No. 1 player one match and like a clueless qualifier the next. My suspicion is that as he nears age 29, his days of winning Slams are behind him. Still, he's a no-brainer for the Hall of Fame. Winning three majors, remaining a fixture in the top 10 for a decade, playing Davis Cup consistently (and, of course, introducing tennis to day-glo apparel, denim shorts, two-toned rat-tails and the virtues of Suddenly Susan) are more than sufficient criteria.