Here's some news on the Cincy tournament:
Roddick-Federer, Agassi top storylines
By Neil Schmidt
Enquirer staff writer
MASON - The focus of the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters, which begins Aug.*2, could be on the growing rivalry between Roger Federer and Andy Roddick and the possibility of the world's top two players facing off here.
They represent the new regime that has supplanted the 1990s stars. Yet the sentimental story here could be a farewell to an aging great. Which begs the question: Will Andre Agassi play?
If he does, one won't know for certain until he takes the court here.
"We feel very confident about it," said Perry Rogers, Agassi's business manager. "He's a two-time winner there. He loves it there. Paul Flory puts on a great event .*.*. The plan is a full (summer) schedule, and it's on our schedule."
Monday was the announcement of the tourney's player commitments, and Agassi, 34, is on the list. All of the top 51 players from the rankings list six weeks prior to the tourney - just before Wimbledon - are automatically entered, and only injuries will keep them out.
That's where the concern comes in. Agassi withdrew from Wimbledon, citing a hip injury, and hasn't played since June 8. Last year, he made a surprise withdrawal two days before the Cincinnati event.
Agassi returns today in Los Angeles, opening as the top seed in the Mercedes Benz Cup against Alex Bogomolov Jr. A victory would be the 800th of his career, making him just the sixth man in the Open Era to reach that milestone.
Yet Agassi, who was ranked No.*1 as recently as last season, has been most mortal lately. He has lost his last four matches, his longest losing streak since 1997, and two of those defeats were to unknown qualifiers.
Agassi is now ranked No.*10 and apparently brittle. His statement last year when pulling out of the W & S field said, "At this stage of my career, I have to be selective about the weeks I can compete."
Yet he said at the time that he looked forward to returning in 2004.
That would be welcome news for fans and tourney officials. They got to bid goodbye last year to Michael Chang, but didn't get such a chance with Pete Sampras. An appearance by Agassi, quite possibly his last, would be well-received.
"For what he's done in the game and his popularity, it'd be great," tournament director Bruce Flory said. "In life, you never know when it's your chance to say goodbye."
Agassi is scheduled to play in Indianapolis and Toronto the next two weeks, then come here.
With a 25-10 record and two titles, Agassi leads active players among matches won and played in Cincinnati.
The tournament has awarded two of its four wild cards to Todd Martin and Jan-Michael Gambill. Martin, 34, is another American nearing retirement.
An example of the tourney's depth is that Wimbledon semifinalist Mario Ancic didn't qualify. He's now ranked 27th but wasn't high enough at the cutoff date. He'll be in the qualifier if he doesn't get a wild card. Other wild-card candidates include 2000 winner Thomas Enqvist, Tommy Haas, Greg Rusedski and Thomas Johansson.
Federer and defending champion Roddick have created a buzz the past year with their burgeoning rivalry. They'll likely be the top two seeds here.
Tennis in Mason
Men: Western & Southern Financial Group Masters, Aug.*2-8 (qualifier July 31-Aug.*1).
Women: W&SFG Women's Open, Aug. 16-22 (qualifier Aug. 14-15).
Seniors: W&SFG Senior Championship, July 30-31.
Where: Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
Tickets/info: 513-651-0303 (www.cincytennis.com