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Agassi: One more time?
Agassi: One more time?
From flourescent-clad denim-wild man to elder statesman of the men's game Andre Agassi finds himself the last remaining player of a tribe of five that took tennis to a new level in the 1990s. So on the eve of a new season can fans really expect the Las Vegan to add to his eight Grand Slam titles with a win in Melbourne?
Compatriots Jim Courier and Malvai Washington were the first to call it a career, then at the U.S. Open in September Pete Sampras and Michael Chang waved goodbye.
Nobody would have thought that when Agassi made his professional debut as a 16-year-old at La Quinta, California in February 1986, that 18 seasons later he'd still be playing, let alone winning 'big'.
With 58-career titles to his name and the prospect of a fifth at Melbourne Park, when the Australian Open begins on 19th January, the 33-year-old will be hoping to continue his characteristic form in the first part of the year.
In January 2003, Agassi beat Rainer Schuettler in the Rod Laver Arena, in the most one-sided Grand Slam final for almost 19 years.
And by the end of April, Agassi had won three further tournaments, adding the titles in San Jose, the Miami Masters and U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships in Houston to his collection.
But then the titles dried up as he became the world number one for the fifth time in his career, a day before his 33rd birthday, and ended Lleyton Hewitt's 75-week stay at the top.
While age had conquered youth for so long, the emergence of three players with an average age of 21 years as winners of the next three Grand Slam championships would not have been lost on Agassi.
After all, it was at this time ten years ago that Sampras, Chang and himself had started to seize control of the world rankings and titles on offer.
So his performances against Juan Carlos Ferrero (French Open), Roger Federer (Wimbledon) and Andy Roddick (U.S. Open), the other major winners in 2003, will determine how long he stays playing.
As Agassi's name continues to be bandied about for the role of 'tennis commissioner' many commentators believe Agassi will retire in wake of another major achievement.
In the same way as his wife Steffi Graf did in the summer of 1999, shortly after reaching the Wimbledon final for a ninth time.