Agassi Qualifies for Record 14th Time
For the 14th time in his career, Andre Agassi has qualified for the circuit finale, clinching a spot in the $4.45 million Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai. Agassi, who is fifth in the INDESIT ATP 2005 Race, qualified when David Nalbandian lost Saturday in the Davidoff Swiss Indoors semifinals in Basel. Agassi can now fall no lower than sixth in the Race.
Guillermo Coria and Nikolay Davydenko are in the front running to claim the final two spots this week at the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris – the final tournament of the regular ATP season (where the Argentine and Russian were drawn in the same half). Coria, who qualified in Houston in 2003-04, needs only to win one match – against the winner of Tomas Berdych and Jiri Novak – to clinch his spot. Coria is currently sixth in the INDESIT ATP 2005 Race, 91 points clear of No .9 Ivan Ljubicic.
For Davydenko, who is seeking to qualify for the first time and become the second Russian qualifier in 2005 (Marat Safin), the task to clinch without relying on other results is much harder. Davydenko, at No. 7 in the Race, must reach the final to clinch his berth. If the Russian loses early he could be overtaken by one of seven players, including No. 15 David Ferrer, of Spain.
At 35, Agassi is the oldest player to qualify for the circuit-ending championships since Jimmy Connors did so at the same age in 1987. Agassi last played Tennis Masters Cup in 2003 at Houston, where he finished runner-up to Roger Federer, one of three finalist finishes he’s had in the circuit-ending championships. He won the title in 1990, defeating Stefan Edberg in the final of the inaugural ATP World Championship in Frankfurt. When Agassi takes the court in Shanghai, it will be his 13th appearance in the championships (he qualified in 1995, but withdrew due to injury), surpassing Ivan Lendl’s record of 12 appearances. All-time, Agassi is 22-19 in the event.
This summer in Los Angeles, Agassi won his 60th career title, giving him a title in 18 of the past 19 years and placing him seventh among Open Era title leaders. In 2005, he owns a record of 38-11, and has reached at least the quarterfinals in 10 of the 12 events he has played, including runs to the finals of the US Open and the Rogers Masters in Montreal. With a career record of 860-265, Agassi is seven wins behind John McEnroe for fourth place all-time. He is on pace to finish in the Top 10 of the INDESIT ATP Entry Ranking for the 16th time in his career, tying the record that is held by Jimmy Connors.
Six of the eight spots for singles at Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai now have been confirmed. Agassi joins Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt and Safin in the field. The final two spots as well as the alternate will be determined during the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris next week.
In doubles, five teams will battle for three spots that remain up for grabs next week. And, by chance, the Paris draw will pit four of those teams in head-to-head combat in the first round. Australians Wayne Arthurs and Paul Hanley (No. 7) will play Simon Aspelin and Todd Perry (No. 9); Israeli duo Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram (No. 8) meet Leander Paes and Nenad Zimonjic (No. 5). Additionally, Frenchmen Michael Llodra and Fabrice Santoro (No. 6) will play Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett (who have already qualified).