Article Published: Sunday, July 24, 2005 - 7:40:45 PM PST
Agassi is ready for Mercedes Cup
By Matthew Kredell , Staff Writer
Andre Agassi could be playing in Los Angeles for the final time as the ATP makes its only L.A. stop of the year for the Mercedes-Benz Cup.
The seven-day event begins today and goes through Sunday at UCLA.
Playing for the first time since losing in the opening round of the French Open in May, Agassi will need to carry the event after third- ranked Andy Roddick withdrew Friday because of a sore knee.
No other player ranked in the world's top 20 is playing in the tournament. Of course, if anyone can carry a tournament it is Agassi, the game's biggest name.
So it's understandable that event officials are not worrying.
"We were very sorry to learn of Andy's injury and we wish him a speedy recovery,' Mercedes-Benz Cup director Bob Kramer said. "Led by Andre Agassi, we have a very strong draw, and we're looking forward to a tremendous tournament.'
Strong may be an overstatement, but there are some compelling players surrounding the top-seeded Agassi, including a couple of formerly high-ranked players who are trying to play their way back up the standings in Tommy Haas and Nicolas Kiefer.
Haas, No. 27 in the world after being as high as No. 2 three years ago, is the defending champion.
"I kind of fell in love with the tournament the first time I got there,' Haas said of the Mercedes- Benz Cup. "It's great weather and a great atmosphere. I really enjoy being out there in Hollywood. I'm coming back to a tournament I love playing with great memories, and I'm going to try to repeat that.'
Bothered by various back, hip and toe injuries this season, Agassi, 35, missed Wimbledon last month and pulled out of the RCA Championships in Indianapolis last week.
Though Agassi, ranked sixth in the world, is the tournament's only top-20 player, there are eight more ranked in the top 40.
The field is wide open for someone like fifth-seeded Taylor Dent of Newport Beach to get a big victory near his hometown. Dent, ranked 30th in the world, has an interesting first-round match with friend Mardy Fish, an American ranked 68th.
Another good first-round match is No. 43 Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand against No. 32 Mario Ancic of Croatia. Agassi opens with a qualifier to be determined.
Tickets can be bought at the gate, from Ticketmaster or by calling (310) 825-2101.
Agassi, James Blake and doubles twins Bob and Mike Bryan will join celebrities Jon Lovitz, Gavin Rossdale, Randy Jackson, Pauley Shore, Alan Thicke, Debra Wilson, Angie Stone, KEM and the group Kool & The Gang tonight for the always entertaining charity event "Gibson Baldwin Night at the Net.' Matthew Kredell can be reached at (818) 713-3607.
Andre Agassi forever