** Andre News Articles & Interviews !! ** - Page 2 - MensTennisForums.com
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post #16 of 732 (permalink) Old 02-02-2004, 08:30 PM
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post #17 of 732 (permalink) Old 02-04-2004, 03:16 AM Thread Starter
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Excellent news! Andre insists that he'll still be heavily involved in tennis even after he retires! I'm so happy to hear this!

Tuesday, February 3, 2004
One governing body interests Agassi

Associated Press
Andre Agassi would like to stay involved in tennis once he's no longer on the court -- perhaps in a major leadership role.

If the sport's governing bodies one day consolidate, Agassi is interested in being part of the process. Currently, tennis is managed under several different umbrellas: the ATP Tour, the WTA Tour and the United States Tennis Association. Many believe the sport would run more smoothly with a unified organizing system.

But Agassi doesn't want some fancy title, such as "Commissioner of Tennis."

"I would have a tremendous amount of interest in helping the sport that's been so good to me," Agassi said Tuesday during a conference call for next week's Siebel Open in San Jose, Calif.

"I have no interest in having some token job title. There's a lot of help the sport needs right now. ... It can go a long ways in a short amount of time."

He said change would require sacrifice from everyone involved, especially the players.

"I would enjoy very much directing the potentials of where that could lead," he said. "I think tennis is in for serious improvement, even from here."

While the women's game has gained significant popularity since sisters Venus and Serena Williams arrived, American men's tennis is finally on the rise again.

That's thanks to energetic young stars such as Andy Roddick, James Blake, Mardy Fish, Taylor Dent and Robby Ginepri.

And the 33-year-old Agassi, of course.

Last year, two of Agassi's longtime rivals retired. Pete Sampras, who won a record 14 Grand Slam titles, and Michael Chang both said goodbye during the U.S. Open.

While Agassi and wife Steffi Graf now have two young children, he is still going strong. He acknowledges there are more scheduling conflicts these days.

Agassi is ranked No. 5 in the world this week after losing in the Australian Open semifinals to runner-up Marat Safin, a three-set loser to Roger Federer in the final.

Agassi is the defending champion at the Siebel Open and is making his 12th appearance in the Bay area in 15 years. He knows he can still win Grand Slam events.

"For me, I have to believe that my best will get it done," he said. "I'm still believing in (my game)."

Congrats to Andy Roddick, 2017 Hall of Fame!

"I beat him the last time. He's lucky I retired." — Andy Roddick on RF

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post #18 of 732 (permalink) Old 02-05-2004, 11:54 PM
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Really nice Andre article, and very true. He is going to be the biggest loss to the ATP tour ever, in my opinion.
Guru Agassi is irreplaceable

January 31, 2004

JOHN McENROE posed Andre Agassi a hypothetical question. Say in 20 years, if the child of Agassi and his wife Steffi Graf met the child of Lleyton Hewitt and Kim Clijsters in a match at the Australian Open, who would win?

The champion wasn't sure other than that the winner would probably meet him in the next round. As Agassi methodically steered his way to the semi-finals this fortnight, it did not seem so far-fetched.

Reality returned at Melbourne Park on Thursday night. At 33 years of age Agassi has limited time at the top. There will be no public slide. When he realises defeats like the one he suffered at the brutal hands of Marat Safin are inevitable then Agassi will walk away. That's official. "I come here with the belief I can win," he said last week. "My motivation is the fact that, if I play my best tennis, can I still win? I need to be able to answer that question 'yes'."

So those famous short little steps will soon take him to retirement.

Agassi has been everything to tennis. Brash and belligerent in youth, a wise and considered veteran. The freaky kid in denim, the guru in old age. He has won a Grand Slam on grass, clay and hard court. He has confronted the greatest players - McEnroe, Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Stefan Edberg - and he has beaten the new generation of Andy Roddick, Hewitt and Roger Federer. He has been ranked No.1 and as low as 141.

Most of all he has been sensible when the game has been silly. He is leaving when the sport fines Fabrice Santoro threepence for spitting in the direction of a linesman, when no action at all is taken after Karol Kucera suggests Australian linesmen and women cheat.

God knows what he thinks of the argument that has raged around Mark Philippoussis and his loss to Hicham Arazi. It has been nonsense yet it has lasted days. Pat Cash apparently now all but fears for his life.

There is no ready replacement because the sensible Todd Martin has probably played his last Australian Open, too. Roddick would seek to speak for the game but cannot see the difference between fact and propaganda. A furious Hewitt has taken the game to the legal court over, of all things, a television interview. The women's game is lucky it has Lindsay Davenport.

Tennis will miss Agassi the ambassador just as much as it will miss Agassi the player.

Players are seeking to take more and more control of the game. Hewitt was influential in the establishment last April of a breakaway players' union, the International Men's Tennis Association. Agassi is moving on at the very moment he is required.

During this tournament Agassi has been asked to comment on matters as varied as the weather to the death of David Hookes.

There were two questions and answers that best sum up Agassi.

"Have you ever been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn or a king? Each time you find yourself flat on your face, do you just pick yourself up and get back in the race? That song is one of your favourites. Would that sum up Andre Agassi in some ways?"

Agassi: "Yeah, I suppose I leave that for others to read into more than I ever have. I just have a strong sense of appreciation for anybody that has experienced a number of areas in their life, lived it, learned it, gotten themselves through some tough times. That's why I've connected to the song. I'm not quite sure I would flatter myself with the power of those words. But you certainly strive for that."

Question: "What do you say to people to inspire them to reach their dream?"

Agassi: "Any dream, just by definition, is a long way off. It's something that you dream about. You need to sort of work backwards from it. To me, you have to first understand what it is you want to accomplish. You have to then sort of look at yourself and be honest about where it is you actually are. Then you have to set up a plan that keeps you focused on a million small steps that need to happen that continually build that momentum for your life. So you set your plan, and then you work your plan. And your plan should include a lot of little victories every day ... Long live dreams."

He always had a great return of serve.
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post #19 of 732 (permalink) Old 02-06-2004, 12:09 AM
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thanks for the article, l_mac! it's a nice one.
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post #20 of 732 (permalink) Old 02-12-2004, 01:55 PM
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Hope this hasn't already been posted. It's from right before the AO, but I wanted to post it anyway because it's a nice tribute!

Final verses in sweet redemption song
By Rohit Brijnath
Another View
January 17, 2004

One day next week I'll be there. Without a notebook. With no pen. No break point noted, or forehand winner circled in red. One day it will be fitting to go there not as reporter but as spectator. Just to watch, to admire, to take him - Andre Agassi - in like one last deep breath.

To note the impossibly abbreviated strokeplay. The swift, short steps between points like a man late for dinner with Steffi Graf. The unfussed serve. The forehand so quick he would leave Billy the Kid for dead. The pate polished with a towel, the glinting earring a reminder that the maverick is not all dead. The return, a product of some sophisticated radar, that brings to mind Newton's third law of equal and opposite reaction.

This is history walking pigeon-toed, this is player as era in himself, this is geometry practised at full speed. Connors, McEnroe, Lendl, Becker, Edberg, Wilander, Sampras, Courier, Chang, Rafter, Stich, Mecir, somewhere, sometime, he has played them all, chastised many, an encyclopedia on shot-making, an almanac of audacity. This you have to see.

This you have to see because as the past few years suggest, he is at his most complete here (he has not won a slam elsewhere since 1999), legs fresh, mind alert. On hardcourt, too, his game these days finds its fullest expression, his repertoire is at its most damaging.

This you have to see because it could be the beginning of the journey's end, although if you said that to him, he might still spit at your feet.

Perhaps he will play on, and on, "34 in April" just another number of many affixed to his name (like more than 1025 matches played . . . over three decades).

He suggested, last Open, that if he found his best was not good enough to win, then the racquets would be mothballed. It has not come yet, but that cowboy Roddick, that matador Ferrero, that artist Federer, that marathoner Hewitt, all just out of nappies when he began, they are going to gang up and tell him to pick up his pension cheque.

He is not ready to listen, but eventually it's not them but time that will stand as an unconquerable opponent. On his day, he is still master of his universe, but how many days in succession he can summon up greatness, even he will not know. The curtain is threatening to begin its slow-motion fall.

He will not, you think, go easily into the dying light, intent on squeezing every last victory out of his second coming.

If we can casually slate sportsmen into heroes and sinners, winners and wasters, then few men are able to cross that divide and erase what is part-truth and part-stereotype. Only George Foreman, perhaps, who journeyed from bristling, surly brute to jesting, jabbing preacher, has reinvented himself more completely.

Years ago, an American writer constructed a haunting appraisal of Jimmy Connors, that read in part: "There will come a time when Connors is 50, that he will be sitting alone in an airport between flights over a cup of coffee faced with the shards of his past. He will be a man then and he will wish that as a boy he had done it better." For too long, it seemed that epitaph would capture Agassi as well.

He was born to extraordinary gifts but seemed oblivious to them. It was as if F. Scott Fitzgerald were satisfied writing supermarket flyers. He was style sneering at substance, a long-haired rebel with no adequate cause, genius gone wild. When, later on, he was appraised in the shadow of Pete Sampras - all silent, disciplined desire - this shallowness was heightened.

But there must be courage to a man who turns a cautionary tale into an inspiring one. Agassi might still wish he had done it better as a boy, but he has compensated for it as a man. The poser who showed us his aerodynamic hairless chest now has us gawp at his musculature; the utterer of inanities like "I'm as happy as a faggot in a submarine" now is tennis's resident philosopher.

The player who won only three grand slam titles of the 34 he contested between 1986 and 1998 won five of 19 from 1999-2003. The dilettante who earned headlines for his girlfriends is lauded for his humanitarian work. The mutineer against tradition has become its embracer.

The showman lives through his post-match blown kisses, the last residues of his petulance occasionally surface (his 2001 comment of a lineswoman who complained of his audible obscenity was "I blame her husband for that"), but as a transformation it is compelling. It is appropriate that only Agassi could shave his head and grow in strength.

Is he slower now, more attracted to domesticity, less taken by tennis's grinding schedule? We do not know. But this we do: he will see this Roddick and Federer and Hewitt and Ferrero, with their winged feet and youthful ambition, and he will want to have a final say, provide one reminder that at disciplining babies he is well-versed.

It's why you have to be there, to hear what could be the final verses of this redemption song.

This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/articles/20...878026542.html
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post #21 of 732 (permalink) Old 02-14-2004, 03:19 AM
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a snippet of an article from tennisx:

Agassi Wins, Shrugs Off Retirement at ATP San Jose
Posted on February*12,*2004
Andre Agassi won in his opener at the ATP stop in San Jose, but not without some effort. The former No. 1 beat Georgia's (the country, stupid, not the state) Irakli Labadze, who he had lost to in 2001 at Shanghai, with a grinding 7-6(4), 6-4 effort featuring one service break.
"I'm going on 34, and I feel if I do things right I'll keep myself in position to win," said Agassi, indicating he will play beyond the 2004 season. "I would tend to believe there are a few years left."
Labadze, who earned the nickname "Freak Show" for his vast array of shots and unpredictability, kept Agassi off balance with a big lefty serve, and an variety of backhand slice and topspin.
"That was an awkward match," Agassi said. "I felt like I was playing better than him in most departments except I couldn't quite get over that hump of breaking his serve." Agassi will face Weslie Moodie on Thursday.

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post #22 of 732 (permalink) Old 02-14-2004, 10:51 PM
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I hope he plays on for a while yet!
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post #23 of 732 (permalink) Old 02-25-2004, 06:07 AM Thread Starter
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Amid titles and trophies, family ranks No. 1 in Agassi's life

The things in life that most of us crave -- fame, fortune, being the best in our chosen field -- hometown tennis star Andre Agassi has had in abundance for much of the past 15 years.

Ironically, it is the things you and I have in abundance but often take for granted -- family, normalcy, stepping into a noisy, busy house after a hard day's work -- that Agassi has long craved.

Funny world, isn't it?

We want to be him. He just wants to be us.

Agassi is the first to admit he has grown up a lot over the past four years. His love-love match with retired tennis great Stephanie Graf, to whom he has been married for 2 1/2 years, is the primary reason.

From the wild-maned tennis lion we first met at age 16 to the sex symbol that had girls swooning from London to Paris to Melbourne, from the corporate pitchman who told us "Image is everything," to the wildly gifted player who occasionally courted a petulant image, Agassi aged before our eyes.

It was in private, however, where Agassi, two months shy of 34 years old, finally grew up.

First, wife. Then, family.

Now, fulfillment.

"It puts everything in perspective. There's nothing more important than the time you get to spend with your family," Agassi said Monday, his handshake firm, his smile warm and genuine, as he went through a series of interviews at the new 24 Hour Fitness Agassi Super-Sport Club in Summerlin.

The lifelong Las Vegas resident is in partnership with 24 Hour Fitness chief executive officer Mark Mastrov on the lush, upscale workout facility located in Village Center Circle.

"Everybody can identify with coming home from a hard day's work and getting a chance to look at your babies, even if they're sleeping," Agassi continued. "It's an incredible thing, and tennis has given me the opportunity to spend the rest of my life raising my children."

Raising the champion's trophy at center court? Exciting, sure. But nowhere near as fulfilling to Agassi as playfully raising his young son, Jaden, above his head or gently lifting his infant daughter, Jaz, from her crib.

Familiar with those days of 2 a.m. feedings, changing diapers and the tantrums of the Terrible Twos?

The mere mention of those everyday duties of a new parent evokes a giddy laugh from the man who has won 58 singles titles and eight grand slam championships, has been ranked No. 1 in the world on several occasions and has earned, on the tennis court alone, $28.5 million.

"Unless you pay the price with your child, I don't think you're in a good enough position to embrace the reward," Agassi said. "There's a lot to parenting that's not easy, but there are a lot of victories each day -- and a lot of rewards."

Agassi's family travels with him to "about 85 percent" of his tournaments. He wouldn't mind it being more.

"For a day it's great, because I finally get my sleep," he said jokingly of traveling alone. "I'm going, `Man, this is awesome!' But a day later, I'm going, `Boy, this feels a bit empty. This feels a bit meaningless right now.'

"I have to remind myself what I'm doing and why I'm doing it."

What Agassi is doing is playing tennis at a high level, a remarkably high level for a player of his age.

He ended 2003 ranked No. 4 by the Association of Tennis Professionals. With a semifinal loss to Russia's Marat Safin in the Australian Open last month, followed by a semifinal loss to American Mardy Fish at the Siebel Open in San Jose, Calif., this month, Agassi's world ranking has slipped to No. 5.

Not to fear, he explained. He'll be back in action in March, with renewed vigor, at the Franklin Templeton Classic in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Which is to say, there are no thoughts of retirement in Agassi's mind.

"There's not a time frame. My motivation is strictly based on the challenge to be the best any given week, especially the (weeks of the majors)," he said. "As long as I'm out there with the best players in the world having to play their best tennis to beat me, I'm doing everything I've always done.

"I feel an obligation and responsibility to give it everything I've got for the sake of all of those who have supported me, for the sake of the sport that has given so much to me, for the sake of thousands of kids here in the inner city who are reaping the benefits of so much hard work on the tennis court. That's my motivation."

But Agassi knows there will come a time, in the not-too-distant future, when pulling his racket from the bag will be solely for the simple joy of hitting the ball around with his wife and children.

When that time comes, he will go quietly but not necessarily gently, into tennis' good night.

"You don't want to hand the torch off to anybody. It needs to get taken from you," Agassi said when asked about the growing success of American sensation Andy Roddick, an Andre-in-the-making.

"There's such a part of me that looks forward to the day that it is taken because I'll know I can unclench my fist and say, `Fight's over.'

"Until then, I keep working."

Working and living a life not too unlike our own.
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Congrats to Andy Roddick, 2017 Hall of Fame!

"I beat him the last time. He's lucky I retired." — Andy Roddick on RF

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post #24 of 732 (permalink) Old 02-25-2004, 05:40 PM
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from TennisWeek

Agassi Is A Hit In His Red Sox Debut

Photo By Susan Mullane By Richard Pagliaro
The Red Sox struck out in the A-Rod sweepstakes, but have succeeded in getting an even bigger star to wear a Boston uniform — Andre Agassi. You can see the the eight-time Grand Slam champion show his skills on the baseball field when Agassi, clad in the home white Red Sox uniform, wearing a pair of batting gloves and looking completely comfortable in the batter's box, slaps a sharp single to left field tomorrow night.

It's not a spring training game — it's the latest Nike commercial campaign that features well-known champions competing in different sports. If the sight of Agassi, whose quick hands and rapid racquet-head speed would make him an ideal middle infielder, isn't intriguing enough, consider the prospect of recently-signed Nike endorser Serena Williams playing beach volleyball, another striking scene in the commercial.

In addition to Agassi and Serena, Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong appears as a boxer, Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson is a bowler, Olympic sprinter Marion Jones flies through the air as a gymnast NFL stars Michael Vick and Brian Urlacher are hockey teammates.

Created by Portland, Oregon-based ad agency Wieden & Kennedy, the concept of commercials are "What If?" and are based on the theme that champions share a common will to win that transcends individual sport. Wieden & Kennedy was the same agency that created the famed "Bo Knows..." commercial campaign that showed two-sport standout Bo Jackson interacting with a variety of Nike athletes including an incredulous John McEnroe who uttered the phrase: "Bo knows tennis?"

"The basic premise for 'What If?' is what they all have in common other than hard training and dedication," Nike U.S. advertising director Nancy Monsarrat told The New York Times' Stuart Elliott. "It's the will to win. We asked how we can make that a bigger story and we can make it a bigger story when we show it in multiple ways. What if Tiger Woods' father had handed him a baseball bat (rather than a golf club) or when Lance Armstrong was three years old his mother handed him a pair of boxing gloves instead of a bike."

Agassi, who once told Tennis Week he did not play organized baseball growing up, actually did all his own hitting in the commercial, according to Nike. Red Sox player Jason Varitek appears with Agassi to add authenticity to the ad. There was one a bit of movie magic added to Agassi's commercial — it was actually shot in Dodger Stadium rather than Boston's Fenway Park with Fenway's famed Green Monster added later with special effects.

The commercial campaign kicks off Wednesday night and will be shown hourly starting during the 8 p.m. time slot on cable channels ESPN, MTV, VH1, UPN and Fox. According to the New York Times, the complete 90-second version of the commercial will air through Saturday when the condensed 15 and 30-second commercial versions will begin. The commercials are scheduled to run for six weeks on television and on the Nike web site starting tomorrow.
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post #25 of 732 (permalink) Old 02-28-2004, 12:29 AM
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from Tennis Week:

Agassi Academy Welcomes Presidential Presence

Photo By Cynthia Lum By Tennis Week
Andre Agassi hosted a Presidential prep school appearance on Tuesday. Former U.S. President and avid tennis fan Bill Clinton made a special appearance at the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy on Tuesday afternoon.

The Chappaqua, New York resident sat in on a sixth grade class discussion on Civil Rights before conducting an information question and answer session with students in the Agassi auditorium.

"Later in life, you'll be glad that you've worked hard," President Clinton told the students. "Education is vital to your success, and it will help you prepare for the future. Education gives you values and knowledge which, in turn, allows you to make good choices."

Agassi and Clinton once shared the stage at Roland Garros when the President appeared during Agassi's quarterfinal with French man Sebastien Grosjean. Agassi, who annhilated Grosjean 6-1 in the opening set, seemed unnerved by Clinton's appearance and won just five games over the final three sets in falling 1-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3.

The former occupant of the Oval Office said serving as President was a challenging and inspiring experience.

"It's hard work and you try to make the right decisions for future generations," Clinton said of his two terms in the White House. "I enjoyed being the President of the United States, even on the tough days. The key is that you have to find a job that you truly love, that inspires you, and that will make all the difference."

The Presidential visit came 12 days after one of the most tumultuous days in the school's history. A February 12th meeting at the Agassi Academy in which some parents voiced their concern over the expulsion of some students and the fact eight teachers have either resigned or been fired since the school year erupted in emotion. Marzette Lewis president of the West Las Vegas action group WAAK-UP, was arrested at the Academy following a verbal and physical altercation with police, according to a published report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal written by Lisa Kim Bach.

"I'm a 64-year-old woman you're going to drag on the ground," Lewis shouted to police officers escorting her from the meeting, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "I have freedom of speech. I live in America."

Some parents criticized both the turnover in faculty and the performance of new principal Kimberly Allen, who assumed her post at the beginning of the school year, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal report

Allen defended the school's staffing decisions as being in the best interests of the school's 250 students.

"When standards aren't met after corrective actions have been taken, when verbal and written reprimands have been given, choices have to be made," Allen told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "I have to weigh whether I'm going to have a teacher's bruised ego against what's best for kids. And with me, kids win out every time."

Founded in 2001, The Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy's current curriculum is for students in grades three through seven. The independent public school, which is funded by both the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation and tax dollars, plans to add a grade each year until it features a high school senior class. The Academy's waiting list features almost 300 families, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
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post #26 of 732 (permalink) Old 03-12-2004, 01:27 AM
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They have five nice audio clips of Andre at Indian Wells on the tournament website. Check out the link:

Andre interview clips

OK, I'm going back into hiding, work work work!
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post #27 of 732 (permalink) Old 03-12-2004, 01:30 AM
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Re: ** Andre Articles & Interviews !! **

I'm actually "working" too, but this place is too addicting. Provides a nice stress relief though.

Thanks for the link.

Like father, like son

"For seven and a half years I've worked alongside President Reagan. We've had triumphs. Made some mistakes. We've had some sex...uh...setbacks."
George H.W. Bush, 1988

"I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family."
George W. Bush, 2000

15.5 - 40.5 ... 2,1,1 demolition job
(fan club spots are still open! )
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post #28 of 732 (permalink) Old 03-12-2004, 04:56 PM Thread Starter
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AHA! Caught you sneaking in some MTF action, Mr Q. Get back to work and don't come back until you're done! and thanks for the audio links

American Agassi finds plenty of reasons to keep going

Mar 12, 2004

INDIAN WELLS, United States (AFP) - Those thoughts of retirement keep creeping into Andre Agassi's head, but each time they do he swats them away like a well-placed backhand.

"I'm looking for reasons to quit. I am just not finding them," said Agassi.

The 33-year-old American said he feels confident heading into his opening match at the 2.8 million dollar ATP Indian Wells Tennis Masters Series event which gets underway this week.

"I feel good. I am practising well so I still believe, that if I play the way I know I can, I can still win."

One of the most decorated players in tennis history, Agassi endured a nagging right shoulder injury last year that forced him to withdraw from the Indian Wells tournament. He has also been bothered by right wrist and hamstring injuries.

"I have been injured here two years in a row," said Agassi. "My first concern is just nursing anything these days. I don't want to be nursing something all year long. I want to be at my best."

With his 58 career ATP singles wins, eight Grand Slam titles and more than 28 million dollars in career prize money, Agassi could walk away with his head high.

"I am proud of the fact I am out there still doing it," he said. "There are some handicaps with getting older but there is also some arsenal with getting older. And I don't think much about age when I am on the tennis court."

The fifth seed is also only the fifth player in tennis history to win all four Grand Slam titles.

He won Indian Wells in 2001, beating Pete Sampras in the final 7-6 (7/5), 7-5, 6-1. While Sampras enjoys retirement, Agassi rolls on.

"For me it has always been about the challenge. When I used to come to this tournament and Pete was the No. 1 or 2 seed I used to answer questions about him on Sunday and my answer was 'I don't recognize Pete being in town until our Saturday matches'.

"It has always been one match at a time for me. With the guys on the tour now I am finding enough reasons to be challenged. I don't need Pete as an additional one."

Agassi finished 2003 in the top 10 rankings for the 14th time in his 18-year career and became the oldest player to finish in the top five since 35-year-old Jimmy Connors in 1987.

"When time comes I feel I am playing my best tennis and not winning, there are going to be a lot of things I can feel good about that day.

"When it is over I just don't want to be the last one to know," he said.

Congrats to Andy Roddick, 2017 Hall of Fame!

"I beat him the last time. He's lucky I retired." — Andy Roddick on RF

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post #29 of 732 (permalink) Old 03-18-2004, 06:51 PM Thread Starter
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Re: ** Andre Articles & Interviews !! **

Congrats to Andy Roddick, 2017 Hall of Fame!

"I beat him the last time. He's lucky I retired." — Andy Roddick on RF

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post #30 of 732 (permalink) Old 03-20-2004, 03:28 AM
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from TennisWeek:

Win City: Vegas Continues To Inspire Agassi

Photo By Cynthia Lum By Richard Pagliaro
He has evolved into one of the hardest-working men in tennis — a player who spends holidays sprinting up hills and his labor days patiently pounding penetrating groundstrokes to break down opponents with the force of a jackhammer**jabbing jarring holes in pavement.

Andre Agassi constructs points with a purpose, but the foundation for his world-class work ethic was formed in a city chiming with the sound of silver dollars streaming from slot machines and attracting tourists seeking to strike it rich with a single roll of the dice.

In an interview titled "A Sure Bet" published in American Airlines' American Way magazine, the 33-year-old Agassi assesses the allure of Las Vegas and the influence the city has had on his life.

Like one of its most well-known residents in the day-glow and denim days of his youth, Las Vegas is sometimes derided as a being long on glitz, glamour and gimmicks and short on purpose, perspective and principle. But life-long Las Vegas resident Agassi points to the city as a powerful source of possibility, performance and passion.

"Vegas has been the fastest-growing city in America for more than 30 years," Agassi told American Way. "It's a city of great vision. It's a city where the community believes that if you actually believe in something enough, you can create it and make it happen. It gets a tough rap because it's perceived as an adult Disneyland. But the community of people who actually live here is strong. It is a community that bonds together and looks out for each other. It's an incredibly inspirational city."

As a child, the eight-time Grand Slam champion found a lifetime of inspiration in his own living room. Both of Agassi's parents set an example with the work ethic he would emulate as a tennis player. His father, Mike, a former boxer who competed in the 1952 Olympic Games, arrived in the United States as an immigrant who spoke little English before making his way to Vegas. Mike Agassi worked a 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift at the Jubilee showroom at the MGM Grand Hotel and hired local workers to help him build a tennis court in the Agassi family backyard where he taught tennis to his children. Agassi's mother Elizabeth worked at an unemployment office in the city.

In addition to learning the importance of hard work, Agassi's experience growing up in the city of neon gave him an innate sense of showmanship he would bring to the court as a professional.

"A lot of times when I was with my mom, whether we were going to go get dinner or go shopping, we needed some money from dad, who was working," Agassi told American Way. "So we would pull into the old MGM Grand Hotel, and at like eight years old, I would go running through the casino to the Jubilee showroom where they had all the naked dancing ladies, the follies kind of chorus line type stuff...to just wait for my dad to come through his little turn there in the office. He would give us some money and I'd go running back out, go to the grocery store and go home. As a little boy, it felt strangely normal."

The casino culture put food on Agassi's table and the boy who grew into a Grand Slam star continues to contribute to his native city through the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, which has raised more than $35 million for charity and the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, his charter school that offers education to 250 students.

Agassi actively promotes the city where he lives with wife Steffi Graf and their children Jaden Gil and Jaz Elle.

"The thing is, excluding the slot machines at grocery stores, there's nothing about living here that would seem more or less odd than living anywhere else," Agassi told American Way. "We have a few casinos that have popped up in different areas of town, but we also have more churches per capita than most cities in America. That's not wedding chapels; that's real churches. We have 27 high schools here. It's a very narrow perspective to think that a person who was born and raised here had an abnormal upbringing. It's like thinking if you live in New Orleans, that you've gotta get drunk every night."

Agassi recalls his first professional tournament experience came in Las Vegas while he was still a child. The young Agassi, who obsessively orchestrates the positioning of ball kids on the court during his matches now, served as a ball kid himself during the annual Alan King Tennis Tournament held at Caesars Palace. The experience provided Agassi with invaluable insight into the thoughts of a pro player during the course of a match.

"Being a ball boy really got me in tune to what the players might or might not be thinking or feeling, and being up close, watching the concentration and seeing the sweat, hearing the movement and the grunting," Agassi told American Way.

The alluring charm of the city where he was born set the stage for Agassi's dreams and taught him the importance of inner strength in transforming those dreams to reality.

"Caesars would give $50,000 to the winner. They would pay you in silver dollars they brought out in a wheelbarrow," Agassi told American Way. "Obviously, that was for show and you would get a check. I remember watching the greats win, and they would bring the wheelbarrow out. It was sort of symbolic: This is a dream world, a dream life. But it only happens if you have the backbone and strength to dream it. Las Vegas made me feel like I can dream."
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