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Join Date: Oct 2003
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Open-eyed Andre Agassi (article)
Open-eyed Andre Agassi
ANDRE Agassi's thirst for a fifth Australian Open crown has the American trekking a familiar, challenging path -- a festive season packed with exertion.
Agassi, 33, has barely stopped since losing the final of the Masters Cup in Houston last month to Swiss ace Roger Federer.
Agassi's Australian coach Darren Cahill last night confirmed the American had again spent almost all of the Christmas-New Year break toiling with strength coach Gil Reyes.
"Andre hasn't stopped, really," Cahill said.
"Since Houston, he's played a couple of exos (exhibitions) and he's continued to train through Christmas.
"So he's fit and ready to go.
"It's a good time for Andre. He treats it as a great opportunity to make progress off the court. He's been working with Gil on strength, speed and endurance work.
"Gil has been given a time frame in which to work and from which he can formulate a program. Andre and Gil have been working to that program."
Cahill and Agassi have been hitting in the world No. 4's native Las Vegas, but soon will transfer to San Francisco.
The pair will arrive in Melbourne a few days before the Commonwealth Bank Classic at Kooyong (January 14-17), where Agassi will intensify his Australian Open preparations.
The baseliner has won three of the past four Melbourne Park titles, having been forced to withdraw on the morning of the start of the 2002 event with a wrist injury.
The winner of 58 singles titles since 1987, including eight majors, Agassi last season captured 47 of 57 singles matches, adding $3.3 million to his bulging career earnings of $37 million.
In teaming smoothly with Lleyton Hewitt's former mentor Cahill, Agassi became the oldest player in history to claim the world No. 1 ranking in May. His effort to end the season at No. 4 meant Agassi had secured a top-10 ranking for the 14th time in 18 seasons.
Apart from his resounding success at Rod Laver Arena, where he dropped only one set en route to the title, Agassi also won in Houston (on clay in April), Miami and San Jose.
Agassi had earlier beaten German Rainer Schuettler to win the Australian Open before reaching the quarters at the French Open, the fourth round at Wimbledon and the US Open semi-finals in a remarkably consistent streak.
He reappeared after a two-month break, which included the birth of he and wife Steffi Graf's second child Jaz, to reach the Houston final, where he was demolished by Federer.
Agassi is part of a glittering Kooyong field, which includes world No. 1 Andy Roddick and Wimbledon champion Federer.