Agassi Enters Madrid, Moya Out, Roddick Questionable
Andre Agassi will bring his game to Spain. The eight-time Grand Slam champion, who has ruled out an appearance in the United States' Davis Cup final against host Spain in December, is scheduled to arrive in Madrid tomorrow to begin practice for next week's Tennis Masters Series-Madrid.
It will be Agassi's first ATP tournament since he suffered a five-set quarterfinal setback to top-ranked Roger Federer at last month's U.S. Open. The 34-year-old Agassi will waste little time getting to work: he's scheduled for a hitting session with coach Darren Cahill shortly after arriving in Madrid.
"Agassi was due to have his first hit at the Rockodromo arena later in the day, hours after arriving," said a statement on the official Tennis Masters-Madrid web site. "The American's presence will help attendance at the penultimate Masters Series of the season, with doubts now surfacing about the availability of world number 2 Andy Roddick."
Former U.S. Open champion Roddick has not yet officially withdrawn, though tournament organizers believe the Miami champion may pull out to rest the sore right elbow he strained in reaching the Bangkok final where he fell to top-ranked Roger Federer in the Bangkok final on October 3rd.
The 22-year-old Roddick, who flew to Bangkok after leading the United States to a Davis Cup semifinal sweep of Belarus, sustained the elbow injury during a 7-6(1), 6-7(0), 7-6(2) semifinal victory over Marat Safin.
"I hurt my elbow against Marat Safin, but I don't think that made a difference," said Roddick after his loss to Federer in the final that was a rematch of the Wimbledon final. "Roger's been beating people all year. I came out and gave it a shot but, when I went back to the room yesterday, I started to feel something in one of the tendons in my elbow. I probably just strained it, but it made it pretty tough out there."
Though Roddick has played Agassi in two charity exhibition matches since Bangkok, he has yet to play an ATP event and there is growing speculation he may sit out some of the upcoming indoor European events — Madrid, Stockholm and Paris — in order to rest his elbow and practice on the red clay in preparation for the Davis Cup tie against Spain in Seville, December 3rd-5th. Roddick's official web site Andy Roddick.com, lists all three events on his schedule, but he's made it clear that the Davis Cup final is his top priority.
"The most important thing is the Davis Cup final. I want to be ready for that," said Roddick, who will play next month's Tennis Masters Cup in Houston. "I need to be 100 per cent physically — all of my decisions will be based upon that goal."
The United States Davis Cup squad will not include Agassi, who reiterated his decision to step aside from Davis Cup competition. One of the most successful Davis Cup singles players in recent American history, Agassi owns a 30-5 Davis Cup record, but has repeatedly said his Davis Cup career is over.
"My reasons have nothing to do with winning or losing," Agassi said. "I'm growing tired, have a family, and it's time for the young guys who have gotten the team to the final to have the opportunity to win it."
His early arrival in Madrid means Agassi is committed to competing for the title he won two years ago.
The 2002 Madrid champion missed the tournament last year as he skipped the European indoor fall season. Two years ago, Agassi arrived at the inaugural Madrid tournament for his first event since his loss to Pete Sampras in the U.S. Open final the prior month. He defeated Juan Carlos Ferrero in the quarterfinals and Sebastien Grosjean in the semis before receiving a walkover win in the final as Jiri Novak withdrew before the final with a strained hamstring.
While Agassi will play and Roddick's status is uncertain, former No. 1 Carlos Moya will not play Madrid and may well sit out the rest of the European fall season to rest his stained shoulder before playing the Tennis Masters Cup in Houston and the Davis Cup in Seville.
The ATP has confirmed that Roland Garros runner-up Guillermo Coria, three-time Roland Garros champion Gustavo Kuerten and Frenchmen Fabrice Santoro and Sebastien Grosjean will be out of the tournament. Coria is recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder and hopes to play the Tennis Masters Cup, though that prospect appears unlikely. Kuerten is recovering from his second arthroscopic hip surgery that could sideline him for as many as six months, and Grosjean and Santoro both pulled out with injury.
As a result of the withdrawals, Robin Soderling, fresh off his first career title last Sunday, and Russian Mikhail Youzhny have received main draw spots.
Andre Agassi forever