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08-28-2005, 08:50 AM
Posted on Sun, Aug. 28, 2005
Andre Agassi blows kisses to the adoring crowds after his victories.

• Then & now with Andre Agassi
• About the U.S. Open


Transformed and enduring

Andre Agassi has gone from young brat to beloved legend, and he remains a U.S. Open contender at age 35.


Andre Agassi crashed the tennis establishment two decades ago, a bratty 16-year-old from Las Vegas who shunned country-club whites for denim shorts, neon spandex biking shorts and a bleached-blond mullet that was better suited for a Bon Jovi concert than the hallowed courts of Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows.

''Image is everything,'' he declared in Canon camera commercials. Nike anointed him the coolest thing in tennis. Never mind that he had poor work habits, a potty mouth and irritated opponents with his histrionics.

Tennis purists complained he was more style than substance, a fad that surely would pass. ''A haircut and a forehand,'' in the words of then-No. 1 Ivan Lendl.

Twenty U.S. Opens, four U.S. presidents, and a few reincarnations later, Agassi is perhaps tennis' most beloved legend, the consummate gentleman and among the most generous philanthropists in all of sport, raising more than $24 million for disadvantaged youth.

He is 35 and bald now, married to fellow legend Steffi Graf, and the doting father of two children. With the help of cortisone shots to ease his ailing back, he is still in the mix heading into the 2005 U.S. Open, which begins Monday.

His wife and his peers -- Pete Sampras, Jim Courier and Michael Chang -- are well into retirement. Agassi is still out there with his pigeon-toed shuffle, lethal forehand and lightning reflexes, grinding down opponents, giving no hint this could be his last Open.

''I've said for a long time that I'm going to play this sport as long and as hard as I can,'' he said at a news conference two weeks ago. ``I don't know how long that's going to be, but I'm going to give back every bit it's given to me, or at least retire knowing I couldn't do more. It would be great to win [the Open], but I have no interest in putting a nice little bow around my career and handing it over to anybody.''

He dresses conservatively these days, has transformed into a fitness freak, is fastidious about everything from his diet to his string tension and ends every match with respectful bows and heartfelt kisses for his fans. This is the same guy who once forgot to bow to the Dutchess of Kent on Wimbledon's Centre Court.

His faithful followers have been along for the ride as Agassi went from No. 1 to No. 141 to irrelevant and back to No. 1. They've been there for all the haircuts, his unlikely friendship with Barbra Streisand, his marriage to Brooke Shields and subsequent divorce, his sweet romance with Graf and the birth of their children.

''Andre did something so many professional athletes never do,'' TV commentator Mary Carillo said. ``He grew up. He became a grown-up. It's been fun to watch, because we all saw him as the young guy, dripping with talent and earrings, and then through his slump and the love affairs. This is his 20th Open, and he is still the biggest draw without question.''


Patrick McEnroe, who played against Agassi and is now a CBS commentator, added: ``When you look at Andre now, the respected player and person he has become, it's hard to believe he's the same kid who used to brag about eating McDonald's, the guy who tanked matches, just relied on his talent and didn't get it. I don't know that anyone in sports has had such a turnaround as an athlete and a person. It's a great story.''

In 1997, Agassi married Shields, fell out of shape and slid to No. 141. He was written off at age 27. A year later he clawed back into the top 10, one of the greatest comebacks in tennis history. He won the French and U.S. Opens in 1999 and reached the final at Wimbledon.

''Andre had an epiphany in '97, and it changed everything for him,'' McEnroe said. 'I remember he lost to Gustavo Kuerten in Cincinnati in 42 minutes, and Brad Gilbert, who was his coach then, basically told him, `Either you recommit, or you're just cheating yourself.' ''

Andre took the advice and has never taken his talent for granted again.

Agassi's style of play has undergone a complete makeover from those denim days. Blessed with the ability to strike the ball and return serve better than just about anyone in the game, Agassi as a young man was known to bang from the baseline and hope for the best. He made errors, but that didn't seem to bother him.

Now he plays a wiser game and goes for the high-percentage shots.

''He has become the ultimate percentage player,'' McEnroe said. ``He is so consistent and plays so smart. He left so many things to chance early in his career, and now he leaves nothing to chance. Everything is calculated. Maybe his old style was a little more fun to watch, but when he's healthy he's still playing top 5 or 6 tennis.

``You take away Federer, who nobody can beat right now, and Andre is right there. You tell me he's going up against [Lleyton] Hewitt, [Andy] Roddick, [Marat] Safin or [Rafael] Nadal, and I'd say he's got almost a 50-50 shot.''

And as long as that's the case, Agassi says he'll keep playing.

He has won eight Grand Slam events, $30 million in prize money and is one of only five men to complete the career Grand Slam -- winning Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, French Open and Australian Open.

But he insists the sport never gets old, that he still finds inspiration every time he steps on the court.

''It's never old when people are taking a day of their lives to come watch you,'' he said.

He will quit only if he can't be at his best. And that has been an issue this season. Agassi suffers from a sciatic-nerve condition that forced him to limp through a first-round loss at the French Open and withdraw from Wimbledon. He came back to win in Los Angeles and reach the final in Montreal, where he gave young gun Nadal a tough match.

''As much as I want to get out there and do the best I can, you will not see me on the court anymore if I'm not 100 percent,'' Agassi said. ``If I have a little pain in my life; that's fine. I just don't want it on the tennis court, because I work too hard to get out there and feel helpless.''

Carillo said: ``Image used to be everything for Andre, now fitness is everything.''


Agassi hopes he can make it through another U.S. Open, where he tends to play some of his best tennis.

In his past six appearances he has won it once (in 1999), finished runner-up once (to Sampras in 2002), reached the semifinals once and the quarterfinals twice, most recently last year when he stretched eventual champion Roger Federer to five sets.

Agassi admits his body is tiring. He chooses his tournaments carefully and skips others, even if it means hefty fines. He is just trying to buy time.

''It's hard, and it's getting harder,'' he said. ``I mean, the standard of tennis is picking up. The pace of the ball, the violence of the movement, the wear and tear on the body, it's all -- it all builds up on you. It's no wonder why careers don't last as long as you would see in other sports.''

And that is what makes him the most compelling story at the Open this year.

''If Andre is still around the second week, what a great thing that will be to watch,'' Carillo said.
:wavey:Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

08-28-2005, 08:53 AM
Agassi saving best (and possibly last) for U.S. Open
By Jane McManus, The Journal News
Andre Agassi cut through the Lexington Avenue sidewalk traffic with such efficiency that at least one pedestrian did a double take. With the familiar bald pate, dressed in jeans and an adidas T-shirt, he walked among the suits and designer threads like any other person in New York with someplace to be.
Agassi may be hoping for a dramatic (and victorious) swan song at the U.S. Open.
By Paul Chiasson, AP

That night it was an event for the well-heeled at the W Hotel. Starting tomorrow, it will be the U.S. Open at the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow, where Agassi is seeded seventh and attempting to add one more major to his legacy.

Certainly Agassi has worked hard enough to earn another chance at what would be his ninth Grand Slam title, the happily-ever-after kind that Pete Sampras rode off with in 2002.

Many had written off the 35-year-old earlier this summer during a nine-week injury hiatus, but Agassi stunned them all by winning the Mercedes-Benz Cup in Los Angeles, his first tournament back. He proved he can still do it, but the pain in his back makes it harder for his results to meet his demands.

"Sometimes it's just harder to remind yourself about what you're doing and why you're doing it," Agassi said. "Other times, you have a great desire for it, but physically you're not responding the way you want. That presents other challenges. Then sometimes it all comes together."

He's hoping that will be the case over the next two weeks. His training and treatment have been focused like a laser, and here is why: This is his last best chance.

There might be others, but for now his no-longer-reliable body is in very good shape. If Agassi looks ahead, he can probably see a civilian life of charity and family exerting more of a pull. How many more years can he endure the brutal three-hour daily training sessions needed to get him ready to take on the best in the world, men often a decade younger?

"I think we've seen the final days for two years," Tennis Week publisher Gene Scott said. "He's made a valiant stab, but the ghosts of Agassi are lurking more every day."

In order to remain in peak condition, Agassi pulled out of tournaments in Washington and Cincinnati this summer after playing into the finals of the previous tour stops.

"I think he's really putting all his eggs in one basket and getting ready for the Open," former coach Brad Gilbert said.

The ATP frowns on such withdrawals, but Agassi doesn't need to worry about fines and disapproval.

"I've gotten to a point where I don't even think about them anymore, because I can't afford to weigh myself down with sort of the rat race of trying to keep up with everything," Agassi said. "I can't do it anymore."

After yielding the first major title to Sampras when they were fully follicled kids in the 1990 U.S. Open final, Agassi was the graceful runner-up in 2002. Between those two matches, he learned that talent wasn't enough, and since that realization, Agassi has maintained a blue-collar air, walking briskly from the chair on changeovers as if summoned by a foreman's sharp whistle. That ethic eventually earned Agassi one of each of the four Grand Slams, a feat only five men's players have accomplished.

Recognizing that his style of play depends on stamina and quickness, Agassi hired trainer Gil Reyes to get serious about tennis. Reyes instituted a killer fitness plan, which at times included sprinting up mountain slopes and working with marathoners. Agassi has said running up the peaks made his lungs burn, but he gave his son, Jaden, the middle name Gil.

Agassi already has made a mockery of expectations that he, like most players, would start to fade at 30. Gilbert, who helped Agassi resurrect his career from a 1997 free fall to No. 141, said Agassi looks into other sports and sees similarities in the careers of Roger Clemens and Jerry Rice. Tennis may favor youth, but with proper training and focus, Agassi has remained at a peak level longer than nearly anyone else in the Open era.

"He's pushing the envelope," Gilbert said. "All these guys when they turn 30 can say, 'I can work hard and still make it happen.' "

This summer, however, has been a test. Agassi didn't last a round at the French Open and didn't go to Wimbledon. He waited without knowing if he would play again. But upon his return, Agassi won in L.A. and was the runner-up in Montreal in August, losing to French Open winner Rafael Nadal.

"I don't know anybody who could take nine weeks off and then — boom — come back and win a tournament," Gilbert said.

Although Agassi has defied the predictions for years now, the cortisone shots he must take to ease his back pain hint at an uneasy truth. Without the pain, Agassi might go on like this, cherry-picking tournaments and taking long stretches off.

The cortisone injections — he has gotten three this season, according to Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe — are a limited solution. Too many shots in one area can destroy surrounding tissue. And pain has a purpose; masking it can lead to further injury.

"I would be concerned that down the road, for the short-term solution, that he would be affecting his long-term health," said John McEnroe, who admitted to three or four shots in his own career. "You see a lot of players in other sports, football comes to mind most obviously, where a lot of these guys can barely walk because they were given so many injections during play and even at halftime."

Gilbert said Agassi isn't one to drag out the inevitable. He said that when Agassi is ready, he would leave the tour as quickly and cleanly as his wife, Steffi Graf, did when she retired.

Agassi simply has other things he is concerned with, like his charity work and family. He hasn't waited to start his legacy. He has the charter Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas, where economically disadvantaged children have access to the best educational tools. When Nike wasn't interested in his charitable foundation, he severed their 19-year relationship.

His passion and financial commitment to this haven't gone unnoticed by his peers.

"I think Andre Agassi is one of the greatest role models that we have in tennis," former champion Patrick Rafter said. "It's important with my young family to understand charity work and to get them involved as much as I can; I hope to be a role model for them."

So now it is time to see if he has timed everything just right. Perhaps he has visualized those matches on the Arthur Ashe Court a dozen times. The cameras with their flashbulbs going off, the expectant crowd wanting the happy ending for him as much as he does.

"It's nicer if he goes out on a high note," said Mary Davis of Madison, Conn., who visited the Pilot Pen Tennis tournament in New Haven last week.

Agassi sees no reason why he can't do just that.

"So now all of a sudden I'm faced with the reality that I can actually go enjoy the Open this year, because I'm doing a few things right, which is nice to feel," Agassi said. "Yeah, I like where I am right now."
:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

08-28-2005, 08:54 AM
Posted on Sun, Aug. 28, 2005

Then & now with Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi has been coming to the U.S. Open for 20 years. A look at how he and the world around him have changed from 1986 to 2005:


• Then: A long mane of bleached hair (right) and denim tennis shorts were the most marked breaks from tennis tradition.

• Now: Most colorful accessory is Agassi's red racket. Otherwise, his hair is tightly cropped and clothes are quite understated.


• Then: Ronald Reagan, a conservative Republican who made history by nominating Sandra Day O'Connor to be the Supreme Court's first female justice.

• Now: George W. Bush, a conservative Republican who has nominated John Roberts to replace a retiring O'Connor.


• Then: Ah, the good ol' days, when average price for all grades of gasoline had yet to climb over the $1 per gallon mark.

• Now: SUVs and minivans beware. A fill-up often runs in excess of $50 as regular grade prices are soaring toward $3 per gallon


• Then: What wasn't to love about the Huxtables and Keatons? NBC was riding high thanks to sitcoms The Cosby Show and Family Ties.

• Now: A sharp contrast in viewers' tastes, as the ultra-serious Without a Trace and CSI: have made CBS the king of primetime.


• Then: Paul Hogan introduced America to the Outback in Crocodile Dundee.

• Now: The anti-Hogan, Russell Crowe is anything but affable and jovial.


• Then: Top Gun. It only got better for Tom Cruise after this one. Unfortunately for Kelly McGillis, this was as good as it got.

• Now: Star Wars, Episode III. Some even saw it twice -- the same day it hit theaters.


• Then: Swatch watches. The more, the better. Often all worn on one arm.

• Now: iPod (above). Much pricier than a Swatch.


• Then: A year after stealing the national spotlight in The Color Purple, Oprah Winfrey's talk show entered national syndication.

• Now: A better-than-ever Oprah (right) is still on each afternoon, having also become a magazine publisher, movie producer and TV network founder.



• Then: Ivan Lendl (left), a robotic European-born player who very often seemed impossible to beat.

• Now: Roger Federer, a robotic European-born player who very often seems impossible to beat.


• Then: Martina Navratilova (below); Agassi's future wife, Steffi Graf, was still a year from her first U.S. Open final.

• Now: Maria Sharapova, like Agassi a teen phenom who wears Nike clothes and is sponsored by Canon.

:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

08-28-2005, 11:55 PM
Agassi, Graf to Do Another Ad Together

Sun Aug 28, 3:03 PM ET

LAS VEGAS - Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf are continuing their doubles play with a financial services company that is promising to support their charitable works.

Genworth Financial said it will debut a third print and television advertisement Monday featuring the husband-and-wife duo, and will announce an extension of the sponsorship agreement through 2007.

The new ad coincides with the start of the U.S. Open in New York. Agassi and Graf first appeared in a Genworth commercial in June 2004.

The company said it will help sponsor the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation's annual Grand Slam for Children benefit concert in Las Vegas, and will make a contribution to Graf's Children for Tomorrow Foundation, which supports children traumatized by war or violence.

Agassi, a winner of 59 singles titles on the ATP circuit, quit Nike last month and joined Graf as an Adidas endorser. Graf has 107 WTA singles titles.

The couple married in October 2001. They have two children.

:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

08-29-2005, 10:17 AM
Posted 8/28/2005 11:00 PM Updated 8/28/2005 11:17 PM

Agassi's plan includes winning the U.S. Open
By Douglas Robson, special for USA TODAY
Andre Agassi often talks about playing with "urgency." His words have never rung so true.
Andre Agassi practices in Arthur Ashe Stadium, site of the US Open tennis tournament, in New York, August 26, 2005.

A nerve condition in his lower back, a younger generation of talented opponents and most of all, Father Time, have tinged every Agassi appearance in 2005 with the thought it might be his last.

Yet none of these forces has conspired to make the ageless tennis icon less than a legitimate threat to win the 2005 U.S. Open, which begins Monday. It marks Agassi's 20th consecutive trip to New York, the only Grand Slam tournament he hasn't missed in two decades on tour.

"I prepare to be there under any circumstances, which in many years has been less than ideal," says Agassi, who plays Razvan Sabau of Romania in one of the two featured matches Monday night.

Two months ago Agassi and his advisers plotted his late-career assault on the record books. A few days earlier, the Las Vegas native had crashed out in the first round at the French Open.

At that late-May strategy session in Marin County, Calif., with coach Darren Cahill and longtime trainer and confidante Gil Reyes, Agassi decided to skip Wimbledon to focus on rehabilitating an inflamed sciatic nerve in his back. The decision had another focus in mind: Winning what could be the eight-time Grand Slam champion's last and best chance at the U.S. Open.

"In one sense, it was an easy decision to make because you have a good racehorse who is about to pull up injured, so you have to take him off the track and fix him up," Reyes says. "But it was tough to have to make it."

Playing at an age when most players no longer compete for major titles, the 35-year-old Agassi arrives eager to add to his legacy with a third Open title to go with those he captured in 1994 and 1999.

"It's hard for me to put it in context," Agassi says of his relationship with the bustling and sometimes unforgiving New York crowds. "I can say I enjoy playing there more than anywhere else in the world. When you step on the court there, regardless of how you feel, you always push yourself to get the most."

With the help of Reyes, Agassi — the modern recordholder with 59 Slam appearances — has remained one of the strongest and fittest men on tour.

Still, the husband and father of two won't predict whether this will be his final stint in New York.

"I don't know. I don't know," he answers. "I've been asked that every week for the last four years."

Among the rest

Agassi is not the favorite heading into the year's final Slam. That belongs to world No. 1 Roger Federer

But No. 7 seed Agassi is no dark horse. Despite his layoff after Paris and questions about his back, he returned to his preferred hardcourts this summer. He won his first tournament of 2005 — and 60th all time — in Los Angeles last month and followed up two weeks later with an appearance at the Montreal Masters final.

"Double A has a great shot at winning the Open," says Cahill, Agassi's coach.

Most consider him in the second tier of contenders with former U.S. Open champions Andy Roddick of the USA and Lleyton Hewitt of Australia. Also in the mix is world No. 2 Rafael Nadal of Spain, who with Federer leads the ATP Tour with nine titles (eight on clay, including the French Open).

"One thing about Andre," says ESPN analyst Brad Gilbert, who coached Agassi from 1994 to 2002, "never underestimate him."

King of New York

Agassi's trips to New York trace the arc of his undulating career. The young renegade with multicolored hair, earrings and denim shorts who reached his first Open final in 1990 struck a chord with fans — but it was often discordant.

Like Jimmy Connors, a five-time U.S. Open champ who rubbed fans the wrong way until he became wildly popular after his prime, Agassi has earned his place in the hearts of New Yorkers and vice versa.

"My relationship with the fans from early on went from not being well received to finding as much support there as I do anywhere in the world," Agassi acknowledges.

When he lost his first three Grand Slam finals in the early 1990s, the tagline for his marketing pitch with Canon camera, "Image is everything," took on an ironic bent. It seemed the kid with so much talent lacked substance. That was compounded by first-round exits in 1991 and 1993 at the Open, cementing his underachiever reputation.

He began garnering fan empathy when he won his first Open as an unseeded player in 1994, beating German Michael Stich in the final.

His flashy tennis, charisma and good looks didn't hurt.

In ensuing years, fans witnessed his on- and off-court triumphs and losses, as Agassi struggled through a high-profile marriage and divorce to actress Brooke Shields, watched his mother and sister battle breast cancer and plummeted to No. 141 in the rankings in 1997 — only to re-emerge in 1999 to win a second U.S. Open and claim the year-end No. 1 ranking.

"He understands that people work hard to buy tickets to see him," trainer Reyes says. "He's them with a racket, and they are him with a necktie."

Becoming more human

The fairy tale continued in 2001 when he married a tennis player with stature equal to his, Steffi Graf, and then fathered a boy, Jaden Gil, and a girl, Jaz Elle, all while continuing to compete at the highest level.
Andre Agassi serves to Gaston Gaudio during the recent Rogers Cup in Montreal.

His inability to focus on his tennis when his off-court life faltered further endeared him to the public and put his humanity into fuller view. Agassi went from showoff to statesman and easily became the most recognizable tennis player in the world.

"In the beginning, he did everything with the viewpoint of what's in it for Andre," says longtime rival and friend Jim Courier, who first ran into Agassi in the 12-and-under juniors and later trained with him as a teen at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida. "But he transformed himself from just another selfish athlete into a generous, caring, enlightened person, someone who ran away from responsibility and now dresses himself up in it."

Nine years ago, Agassi formed his charitable foundation to assist at-risk youth in Las Vegas. Four years ago, he opened the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, a charter school in struggling Las Vegas that has become a model around the nation.

"Some players win a lot of trophies, but few leave a mark on life," says Bollettieri, who has reconciled with Agassi after a falling out years ago. "Andre will leave a mark that will last longer than those who did more statistically because he had an impact on people's lives."

Agassi says part of his evolution, if one wants to call it that, was just growing up in the public eye.

"I think if any of us looked at ourselves 20 years ago we'd see a lot of differences," he says. "My career has been a long one, and it's been a full spectrum. It's been growing up in front of all the fans that I still compete in front of. For that I'm so grateful for how they've allowed me to grow not just on the court but also off the court."

A little bit of luck

For Agassi to hold the trophy on the final Sept. 11 in Arthur Ashe Stadium, he'll need some breaks and a bit of luck.

His draw is decent, with a possible quarterfinal showdown with Nadal and no chance to meet Federer until the final. But observers say he will have to come through the early rounds relatively unscathed. Too many tough matches early on could wear Agassi down.

The weather is another variable. When he lost the 2003 Open semifinal to Spain's Juan Carlos Ferrero, several days of rain had forced Agassi to play three matches on consecutive days. That lack of recovery time could spell doom, especially with his back a question mark. Last year he was a whisker away from beating Federer in a quarterfinal match that was played over two days because of rain and heavy winds.

Mum on future

If this is Agassi's final stint in Queens, he is not tipping his hand.

"For me, it's been about seeing through this year and assessing things from there on," he says, echoing his commitment to play out the season. "I really don't allow myself to think too much about (retirement) because it detours me from the task at hand."

With eight major championships, 60 ATP titles and a top-10 ranking in numerous statistical categories, Agassi's place in tennis history is a lock. More than any American player of his generation — more than Pete Sampras, Courier or Michael Chang, the other members of the Fab Four — Agassi has given wattage to tennis.

"There has never been a player with such a transforming effect on the sport over such a long period of time, and there are literally hundreds of players on tour now who have jobs because of fans and sponsors that he brought into the game," says the top-ranked American and 2003 champ Roddick, who is seeded fourth.

"For me, he's been a much bigger influence off the court by the way he carries himself with professionalism and dedicates his life to his foundation and the academy."
:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

08-29-2005, 10:25 AM
Agassi remains a top contender
7th seed seeks Open title
Published in the Asbury Park Press 08/29/05

Andre Agassi cut through the Lexington Avenue sidewalk traffic with such efficiency that at least one pedestrian did a double take. With the familiar bald pate, dressed in jeans and an adidas T-shirt, he walked among the suits and designer threads like any other person in New York with someplace to be.

That night it was an event for the well-heeled at the W Hotel. Starting tonight, it will be the U.S. Open at the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow, where Agassi is seeded seventh and attempting to add one more major to his legacy.
Andre Agassi is focused on the U.S. Open, which starts today.

Certainly Agassi has worked hard enough to earn another chance at what would be his ninth Grand Slam title, the happily-ever-after kind that Pete Sampras rode off with in 2002.

Many had written off the 35-year-old earlier this summer during a nine-week injury hiatus, but Agassi stunned them all by winning the Mercedes-Benz Cup in Los Angeles, his first tournament back. He proved he can still do it, but the pain in his back makes it harder for his results to meet his demands.

"Sometimes it's just harder to remind yourself about what you're doing and why you're doing it," Agassi said. "Other times, you have a great desire for it, but physically you're not responding the way you want. That presents other challenges. Then sometimes it all comes together."

He's hoping that will be the case over the next two weeks. His training and treatment have been focused like a laser, and here is why: This is his last best chance.

There might be others, but for now his no-longer-reliable body is in very good shape. If Agassi looks ahead, he can probably see a civilian life of charity and family exerting more of a pull. How many more years can he endure the brutal three-hour daily training sessions needed to get him ready to take on the best in the world, men often a decade younger?

"I think we've seen the final days for two years," Tennis Week publisher Gene Scott said. "He's made a valiant stab, but the ghosts of Agassi are lurking more every day."

In order to remain in peak condition, Agassi pulled out of tournaments in Washington and Cincinnati this summer after playing into the finals of the previous tour stops.

"I think he's really putting all his eggs in one basket and getting ready for the Open," former coach Brad Gilbert said.

The ATP frowns on such withdrawals, but Agassi doesn't need to worry about fines and disapproval.

"I've gotten to a point where I don't even think about them anymore, because I can't afford to weigh myself down with sort of the rat race of trying to keep up with everything," Agassi said. "I can't do it anymore."

After yielding the first major title to Sampras when they were fully follicled kids in the 1990 U.S. Open final, Agassi was the graceful runner-up in 2002. Between those two matches, he learned that talent wasn't enough, and since that realization, Agassi has maintained a blue-collar air, walking briskly from the chair on changeovers as if summoned by a foreman's sharp whistle. That ethic eventually earned Agassi one of each of the four Grand Slams, a feat only five men's players have accomplished.

Recognizing that his style of play depends on stamina and quickness, Agassi hired trainer Gil Reyes to get serious about tennis. Reyes instituted a killer fitness plan, which at times included sprinting up mountain slopes and working with marathoners. Agassi has said running up the peaks made his lungs burn, but he gave his son, Jaden, the middle name Gil.

Agassi already has made a mockery of expectations that he, like most players, would start to fade at 30. Gilbert, who helped Agassi resurrect his career from a 1997 free fall to No. 141, said Agassi looks into other sports and sees similarities in the careers of Roger Clemens and Jerry Rice. Tennis may favor youth, but with proper training and focus, Agassi has remained at a peak level longer than nearly anyone else in the Open era.

"He's pushing the envelope," Gilbert said. "All these guys when they turn 30 can say, "I can work hard and still make it happen.' "

This summer, however, has been a test. Agassi didn't last a round at the French Open and didn't go to Wimbledon. He waited without knowing if he would play again. But upon his return, Agassi won in L.A. and was the runner-up in Montreal in August, losing to French Open winner Rafael Nadal.

"I don't know anybody who could take nine weeks off and then — boom — come back and win a tournament," Gilbert said.

Although Agassi has defied the predictions for years now, the cortisone shots he must take to ease his back pain hint at an uneasy truth. Without the pain, Agassi might go on like this, cherry-picking tournaments and taking long stretches off.

Gilbert said Agassi isn't one to drag out the inevitable. He said that when Agassi is ready, he would leave the tour as quickly and cleanly as his wife, Steffi Graf, did when she retired.

Agassi simply has other things he is concerned with, like his charity work and family. He hasn't waited to start his legacy. He has the charter Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas, where economically disadvantaged children have access to the best educational tools. When Nike wasn't interested in his charitable foundation, he severed their 19-year relationship.

His passion and financial commitment to this haven't gone unnoticed by his peers.

"I think Andre Agassi is one of the greatest role models that we have in tennis," former champion Patrick Rafter said.

So now it is time to see if he has timed everything just right.

"So now all of a sudden I'm faced with the reality that I can actually go enjoy the Open this year, because I'm doing a few things right, which is nice to feel," Agassi said. "Yeah, I like where I am right now."
:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

08-29-2005, 10:29 AM
Agassi finding it hard
to say goodbye
Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi plays tonight at the U.S. Open against Razvan Sabau of Romania — yet another major, yet another hopeful journeyman across the net. After two decades of this, you have to figure Agassi is looking for an exit strategy.

He won't admit to that, maybe not even to himself. He told a crowd in Montreal just a couple weeks ago he would see them in a couple years, still brandishing a racket in hand. He loves the game, still. He has a foundation to support, and he takes that role seriously.

But if a graceful departure were available, if the yellow brick road appeared magically before him, surely Agassi would follow the moment and leave behind a sweeping, four-corner goodbye kiss.

He is 35, his bones ache when he wakes up in the morning, he's got a famous wife (who quit tennis at 30) and two little kids. There are guys like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal breathing down his forehand, whispering in his ear.

If only he could go out like his old rival Pete Sampras in 2002, with that one last major title here after two years of winless tennis. Sampras got out before Federer decided to be king of the world, before it became all but impossible for Agassi to steal his ninth major.

So Agassi likely will settle for less, and you wonder what Agassi wants from this Open, and whether he will need to go on after what he gets.

Don't read this wrong. Nobody is asking Agassi to retire. He is too much fun to watch, always has been. His player's box isn't as funky as it once was, no Barbra Streisand in sight, but Agassi is still a hypnotic waterbug on a hardcourt. He's 32-10 this season in singles. His instinctive half volleys and, yes, just the way he walks pigeon-toed from one point to the next is enough to keep you interested.

He's been around so long, everything has changed. The opponents. Even his tennis shoe, now Adidas. He was never an angel, though Agassi has mellowed noticeably since his second marriage, that to Steffi Graf. You can still see him smacking a ball at a lineswoman at Wimbledon, telling her to go home and have sex with her husband. You still see him throwing silly tantrums, mimicking Karol Kucera in a tough match at the 1998 U.S. Open.

There are too many drop shots and tantrums under the bridge. But Agassi also has given back a lot to his sport, and to the kids in Vegas.

So you want the draw here to open up for him, the way it does sometimes for the great ones in their late years. The way it did for Sampras, and the way it once did for Jimmy Connors in 1991. And then, maybe, Agassi can have the sort of curtain call he deserves.

On paper, it doesn't look great. Agassi potentially has Nadal in the quarters, Andy Roddick in the semis, Federer in the final. But you never know. It didn't look great for Sampras in 2002, right up until Agassi knocked off Lleyton Hewitt in a brutal semifinal, then fell, exhausted, to Sampras.

There's a chance. There's also a better chance the sciatic nerve will act up, as it did when he withdrew recently from a tournament in Cincinnati, or that his brain will turn to other matters at exactly the wrong time.

"There are some days where it's much tougher mentally," Agassi said at the tournament in Montreal two weeks ago. "Physically, you can feel great, but, you know, you might have a bad dream about your children, and you're three thousand miles away from them. Sometimes it's just harder to remind yourself about what you're doing and why you're doing it. Other times, you have a great desire for it, but physically you're not responding the way you want.

"Then sometimes it all comes together," Agassi said.

He hopes it comes together here, starting tonight. Then another season of majors ends, and another decision must be made before Australia in January.

Agassi knows the game will go on without him.

"I can't be objective as to how I fit into this picture," Agassi said, "But I can say that I'll miss it a lot. I'll miss the competition, I'll miss the sport, I'll miss the guys, all the stuff that goes with it."

Agassi versus Sabau tonight, after Maria Sharapova vs. Eleni Daniilidou. Another wave, in the long goodbye.

Originally published on August 29, 2005

:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

08-29-2005, 06:19 PM
I wish I were on Lexington Avenue and saw Andre!
Love all the articles, very interesting to read! Thank you for posting them!

09-01-2005, 01:09 AM

If Agassi doesn't find a way to get his racket on the 6-foot-10 Karlovic's huge first serve, he could be in for a very long day. Andre will not be seriously threatened from the back court and will attempt to move the big man around, but that's easier said than done when a man is firing 130 mph service blasts at you and you are struggling to get into points.
No. 7 Seed Andre Agassi defeated Razvan Sabau (ROM) 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 in a first round match on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Still one of the world's most effective returners (wrong, my opinion: Andre is the best of the best returners, Gigan...), Agassi has beaten plenty of big servers before, but he has also fallen to the likes of bombers Mark Philippoussis, Pete Sampras and Greg Rusedski. But all those men are better all around players than Karlovic, who doesn't have much beyond his serve and forehand. Andre will be pushed in every set, but he'll never be broken, break the Croat twice and win one set in a breaker. Agassi in straight sets.

:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

09-01-2005, 04:41 AM

Agassi Is Back to Being Great U.S. Hope

Published: September 1, 2005

The attention had shifted back to Andre Agassi, not Andy Roddick. Agassi was the highest-seeded American left in the men's draw of the Open at No. 7 a day after a demoralized Roddick dashed from the grounds of the National Tennis Center after his first-round loss.

Through 20 years of personal, professional and promotional changes, Agassi has been the one constant at this tournament. At 35, with a shiny pate and a lithe frame, he is in better shape than he was a decade ago, his longtime conditioning coach, Gil Reyes, said yesterday.

Despite the troublesome sciatic nerve in his lower back, which upset the first half of this season, Agassi won one title this summer and reached the final in Montreal.

He is turning back retirement thoughts with one mantra. "I just keep working, just keep working," Agassi said, on the move yesterday after his practice session to prepare for a tricky second-round match today against Ivo Karlovic of Croatia.

Agassi's priorities might have shifted, but his focus has not. While the American Express campaign seemed to have foretold the fourth-seeded Roddick's exit - "Have You Seen Andy's Mojo?" - Agassi's commercial image is far more subdued and far more reflective of his life.

If image is everything, as his camera ads in the early 1990's suggested, then consider this: Agassi and his wife, Steffi Graf, now drive a minivan in a commercial for a financial services company.

Agassi really does drive a minivan.

"Which he got a lot of flak from the office for," his brother, Phillip, said yesterday.

"When he was like 18 and 19, he had a Lamborghini, Corvettes," Phillip Agassi said with a laugh. "At one time, he owned three or four Porsches. It was really kind of ostentatious and sick. A minivan works great for him."

He and Graf have a son, Jaden, who turns 4 in October, and a daughter, Jaz, who turns 2 in October. "Andre and Stefanie are really humble," Phillip said. "You couldn't find either one of their trophies in their house, not one picture, not one poster. He's got photos with Clinton, Shaq, but the ones that are up on the wall are the ones that are family and close friends."

Two years ago, Agassi was featured in an American Express commercial in which he bought a ball-hopper so he could pick up children's toys. Yesterday, he said he was not shocked by Roddick's defeat.

"Not too much separates so many of us," Agassi said about Gilles Muller's three-set upset of Roddick. Agassi beat Muller, a left-hander from Luxembourg, to capture the Los Angeles title in July.

That was the first tournament he played after losing in the first round of the French Open in Paris, where he endured severe sciatic pain. It was then that Agassi rededicated himself to strength training.

"After Paris, he said: 'We're going to get this right. I'm not finished,' " Reyes recalled. "I told him, 'O.K., here's what we're going to change, here's what we can no longer do, some of the lifts, and here's what you're going to have to do.' "

For two months, Agassi and Reyes, who have worked together for more than 16 years, spent hours in the gym every day.

"We upped his training time, going over two hours nonstop in the weight room," Reyes said. "Every single training session was game day."

Darren Cahill, Agassi's coach, saw the results. "Gil and Andre have done some great work over the last 15 years, and the last training camp was one of the best," Cahill said.

Agassi has also taken cortisone shots, including one after his Mercedes Cup title in Los Angeles, to ease the pain. He said Monday that he was feeling well again.

Today's match will once again test Agassi's ability to adapt. He is playing Karlovic for the first time. Karlovic, 26, is the tallest player on the men's tour at 6 feet 10 inches.

"I don't think there's anybody on the tour that enjoys playing Karlovic," the 5-11 Agassi said after his straight-set victory over Razvan Sabau of Romania on Monday night. "A guy like that is really awkward. It's an odd trajectory that the ball's coming down from. It's not even so much the pace; it's the trajectory as well."

These days, 19-year-old Rafael Nadal, with his capri pants and muscle shirt, has become the new fashion renegade. With eight major championships - the last being the Australian Open in 2003 - Agassi is more icon than iconoclast. After minivans, what can be next?

Try Barry Manilow. Agassi and Reyes said they were inspired by Manilow's lyrics in "I Made It Through the Rain," a song about triumph and being an example.

"Paying back the sport as much as I can is a great motivation for me," Agassi said. "It starts with the people. And just respect for the game.

"It's all going to come to an end at one time or another. Until that point, I want to be committed to this and see it through."

:wavey: I apologize if it's already been posted.

09-01-2005, 09:58 PM
Old man Agassi fells the giant at US Open 38 minutes ago (how old are you, f-n reporter? ;) )

NEW YORK (AFP) - Andre Agassi's 20th straight US Open campaign remained on course as he cut down to size giant Croatian Ivo Karlovic.
US tennis veteran Andre Agassi, 35, checks the strings on his racket in between games...

The 35-year-old American went through to the third round 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/4) with his 73rd win at the US Open, tying Ivan Lendl for second place in the Open era.

Only Jimmy Connors with 98 has won more matches here.

Next up for the crowd favourite is a match against either the dangerous Thomas Berdych of the Czech Republic or Ricardo Mello of Brazil who were playing later Thursday.

With Andy Roddick's shock first-round defeat on Tuesday, Agassi is the highest-ranking American man left and he has built up a groundswell of support urging him on to match Pete Sampras' emotional finale in 2002.

"That was a difficult match. It's so hard to beat him. You have to concentrate well. It was good to close it out when I did. It was only getting tougher," he said.

"You know he is going to get his aces. I had to get my racket on the ball and know what to do when I did."

Like many before him Agassi, playing for the first time against the 2.08m tallest player on the circuit, found the Karlovic serve a devil to cope with.

He did have a clutch of break points in the seventh game of the opening set, but could do little about the missiles that his opponent served at him to stave off the danger.

And he was given a scare at 5-6 down when Karlovic's chip-and-charge tactics were rewarded with a set point, but Agassi kept his cool to send a precision passing-shot past his opponent forcing the tie-break.

The US Open champion in 1994 and 1999, fell behind 0-2 in that but a welcome Karlovic double fault got him back on level terms and from 4-4 he won the next three points clinching the 47-minute set when Karlovic netted a backhand.

Agassi sped to a 3-0 lead in the second set and he looked about to put some distance between himself and his opponent, but Karlovic silenced the big crowd in the Arthur Ashe Stadium by breaking back to level at 4-4.

Karlovic then saved three set points to force a second tie-break but the result unfortunately for him was the same as Agassi comfortably took it 7-5.

The American had established a stranglehold on the match but still the Croatian, who earlier this year set the world aces record of 51 in a first-round loss at Wimbledon, would not relent with his one-track game plan.

Games again went with serve with no hint of a break to force a third tie-break and again the streetwise American came out on top, taking his cue from Karlovic's double fault gift on the opening point.
:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

09-02-2005, 12:51 AM
Agassi wins battle of nerves
American defeats Karlovic, advances at U.S. Open

Thursday, September 1, 2005; Posted: 8:20 p.m. EDT (00:20 GMT)
Andre Agassi acknowledges fans Thursday after defeatiing Ivo Karlovic in three sets.

Andre Agassi stood 11 inches shorter than 6-foot-10 Croatian Ivo Karlovic, spun serves about 50 mph slower, and logged far fewer miles on court.

The ace count went to Karlovic, 30-5, as he clocked serves consistently in the 130-142 mph range, but the second-round victory at the U.S. Open on Thursday went to Agassi, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4).

At 35, nine years older than the gangling giant across the net, Agassi came up bigger on the big points to continue his run for one more Grand Slam title in his 20th visit to the Open. His wife, Steffi Graf, and 3-year-old son, Jaden, watched at courtside.

"Listen to that," Agassi said as the standing crowd in Arthur Ashe Stadium cheered his victory. "How does that get old? Thanks guys."

Agassi, seeded No. 7, couldn't equal Karlovic's power and didn't care. Rather, he settled for cleverness and steadiness, taking advantage of the Croatian's weak backhand and awkward lateral movement. No one on the tour likes to play against the No. 56-ranked Karlovic, Agassi had said before playing him for the first time, because his serves come down from an unfamiliar trajectory, as if fired from the roof. Agassi felt the same way after winning.

"It's an incredible serve," Agassi said. "I'm trying to figure out where it is I would need to stand on the court to have the same trajectory. It's not a function of how fast it is because a lot of guys can serve it 135-plus. The trajectory is the main issue because you're lunging, but then it's up. You're sort of diving, but then you can't reach it, even if you dive perfectly and on cue."

Agassi swung and swished at some serves and stared helplessly as many others sped by. Each time he walked calmly to the other side, waiting for the ones he could get a racket on, trying to get Karlovic to play on different terms in rallies. There Agassi had the advantage.

"If I was coaching him, I'd fine him $100 every time he hit a groundstroke," Agassi said. "In his most difficult moments, he was more awkward than I anticipated."

The first-set tiebreak turned in just such a moment, when Agassi drilled a forehand that Karlovic volleyed wide to give Agassi a minibreak at 5-4. Agassi kept taking aim at Karlovic's backhand and watched him hit two straight unforced errors off that side to lose the set.

Agassi had to go to five set-points in the second set before he won it with a deep forehand that Karlovic swatted long. In the third set, serving with a 5-4 lead in the tiebreak, Agassi hit six straight shots at Karlovic's backhand, then ripped a winner to his open forehand side to set up match point. Again, Agassi picked on Karlovic's backhand, hitting three shots to that side and watching Karlovic dump the last one into the net.

Agassi played with extra caution in this match, not going for too much in the wind against Karlovic.

"Today required a lot of concentration because it only took a mental lapse for one or two shots and the set's over with," Agassi said. "On a calm day if I'm taking risks against a guy like that, all he needs is one game and then he's going to win the set. I couldn't afford to get too risky. Points happen too quickly out there."

Agassi's wariness was particularly raised after watching No. 4 Andy Roddick fall in three tiebreakers in the first round against Luxembourg's Gilles Muller. Muller's luck and poise didn't hold in the second round as he was beaten 6-1, 6-1, 6-4 by American doubles partner Robby Ginepri.

"It's good to beat Roddick," Muller said. "But then if you play in the next round ... like I did today, it doesn't change anything."

Sebastien Grosjean beat No. 14 Thomas Johansson 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, and No. 19 Tommy Robredo knocked out former French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-2.

In women's matches, No. 2 Lindsay Davenport, No. 6 Elena Dementieva, No. 7 Justine Henin-Hardenne, No. 12 Mary Pierce, No. 13 Anastasia Myskina, No. 15 Nathalie Dechy, No. 17 Jelena Jankovic, No. 19 Elena Likhovtseva, and No. 23 Tatiana Golovin all won in straight sets.

Agassi's balky back hasn't acted up yet, but he's wary that it could go at any moment. A herniated disc shot pain down his right leg at the French Open, leading to his first-round loss there and his absence from Wimbledon. He could be playing his last U.S. Open but he hopes he will be able to keep going another year or two. Nothing, he said, would be decided until the end of this year.

"It was a good sign to play a guy where I had to lunge a lot and jump around," Agassi said. "It was 21/2 hours. I felt pretty good."

The fans, meanwhile, are relishing every moment with him, as he is with them.

Agassi has played the U.S. Open more than any man in the Open era except Jimmy Connors, who competed here 22 times. Agassi's win against Karlovic was his 73rd at the Open, tying him with Ivan Lendl for second in the Open era behind Connors' 98.

"I always enjoyed watching him as a kid," Karlovic said of Agassi. "He is a legend."

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

09-02-2005, 04:32 AM
Nice articles. :rocker: Nice job! :hatoff:

09-02-2005, 11:51 AM
US Open
Flusing Meadows, New York, U.S.A.
September 1 , 2005
Agassi Ties Lendl With Second Most US Open Wins
Andre Agassi won his 73rd match at the US Open on Thursday to tie Ivan Lendl for the second-most wins in tournament history. Agassi and Lendl trail US Open all-time winner Jimmy Connors by 25 wins. On Monday, Agassi picked up his 72nd win to surpass Pete Sampras’ mark of 71-9.

Agassi, the No. 7 seed, survived a 30-ace barrage by 6’10” Croat Ivo Karlovic to win 7-6(4), 7-6(5), 7-6(4). It was only the second time in Agassi’s 90 career matches at the US Open he has played in three tie-breaks. In the 2001 quarterfinals, the two-time champion (1994 & 1999) lost to Sampras in four tie-breaks.

The Las Vegas native will next play No. 32 seed Tomas Berdych and is on par for a quarterfinal collision with No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal in a rematch of their Rogers Masters final last month.

:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

09-02-2005, 09:31 PM
Reyes reveals Agassi near the end
"He knows this is the last time, though whether that's a matter of months or weeks we don't know," Gil Reyes, Andre Agassi's long-time personal trainer, revealed to Eurosport at Flushing Meadows. The two-time U.S. Open champion realises: "Now is the time. There is no tomorrow," Reyes explained.

"We just don't know - hopefully years. But we know we're at the end of a wonderful career, one that he's very grateful for. He understands that he must bring everything he has," Reyes added.

It was when Agassi returned to Las Vegas in May, after a second consecutive first round defeat at Roland Garros, that the 35-year-old remedied to start all over again."At Roland Garros it was an eye-opener," said Reyes. Agassi lost to Finnish qualifier Jarkko Nieminen.

Sciatic nerve problems in Agassi's back were to blame and regular cortisone injections every few months this season have dictated the veteran's schedule.

"When we returned from Paris, he said we're going to do this right," explained Reyes. "He insisted: 'I'm not finished.'"

Reyes told Eurosport of how Agassi's training regime had been slightly modified as a result of the back injury.

It came as little surprise to tennis journalists that Agassi withdrew from Wimbledon.

Playing at the grass-court major championship would have jeopardised his hard-court campaign and a chance to play at a 20th U.S. Open. at his Las Vegas base, Agassi remained true to his mantra: 'Just keep working'. He trained harder than ever.

"It was a new Andre," Reyes insists.

"We trained harder than ever, longer than ever, more than ever and right now he's more fit at 35 than he was at 25."

Eurosport - James Buddell - 02/09/2005
:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

09-04-2005, 01:41 AM
Agassi Regroups, Takes Out Berdych
by Brian Cleary
Saturday, September 3, 2005

Getting off to a slow start, Andre Agassi dropped the first set to the big-serving Czech Tomas Berdych, giving the pro-Agassi crowd some anxious moments in Arthur Ashe Stadium. But, as if to assure his fans that at 35, he's still got the goods, No. 7 Agassi picked up his game in the second and took control of the match, winning 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (2).
Andre's Alive

"I went out there. I didn't really have my timing at the start. I think I was still in the locker room a little bit in the first set,'' Agassi said after the match. "I knew it could only get better from there."
Backhand Winner

Agassi gift-wrapped the first set by double faulting twice in the fourth game, an opening the dangerous Berdych, just 19 years old, took advantage of easily with his power game. But in the second set, Agassi did indeed get better and, as he's done so many times before in his career, started taking the ball earlier and working his opponent around the court. Ultimately, he was able to wear down the 6-foot-4 Berdych and grab the breaker in the fourth for the win. Berdych finished the match with 43 unforced errors compared to Agassi's 23.
Tomas Berdych
"In the fourth set, I was just thinking make him play a quality match to win this,'' said Agassi, who is playing in his 20th straight US Open, a record he shares with Jimmy Connors.

This match was a classic example of the discrepancy in experience Agassi has over many of his opponents at this stage in his career, particularly a 19-year-old like Berdych. Agassi had a career record going into the match on hard courts of 577-150, while Berdych's was just 21-18. Agassi has won 60 career titles to Berdych's one. He has a 216-50 career Grand Slam record. Berdych? A pleasant 10-8.

Agassi was feeling good about his game after the match saying, "I was at a place where the standard of my game was really high in the fourth set and that's good news for me.''

He next takes on the winner of the Xavier Malisse-Mikhail Youzhny match.

Arthur Ashe - MS - 3rd Round

Match Statistics

Andre Agassi USA (7) 3 6 6 77

Tomas Berdych CZE (32) 6 1 4 62

- Agassi is playing in his 59th Grand Slam event, a record for the Open Era.

- By beating Berdych, Agassi won his 74th US Open match. He trails only Jimmy Connors for most US Open wins. Connors has 98.

- Agassi is one of three former US Open champions remaining in the draw, along with Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt.

- Berdych has wins over Rafael Nadal, who he beat this year in Cincinnati, and Roger Federer, who he beat at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

- At the 2004 US Open, Berdych reached the Round of 16.

:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

09-04-2005, 02:08 PM
Going strong
'Old man' Agassi beats Berdych, advances at Open
Posted: Saturday September 3, 2005 8:45PM; Updated: Saturday September 3, 2005 8:45PM

Andre Agassi played his first U.S. Open in 1986, a few weeks before Tomas Berdych, who he beat Saturday, turned one.

NEW YORK (AP) -- For an old guy with a creaky back, Andre Agassi still has the moves.

He gave the adoring U.S. Open crowd another treat Saturday, overcoming big-hitting Tomas Berdych with a gritty 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (2) victory. The fans were on their feet as soon as Berdych's backhand sailed over the baseline to end the match, and a beaming Agassi clapped his racket.

"I had a little bit more in me, which is good. I felt pretty good," he said. "I get to come back one more day, how about that?"

Agassi played his first U.S. Open way back in 1986, a few weeks before Berdych turned 1. Since then, he's won eight Grand Slam titles, lost his hair and gone from a brash rebel to a mature family man. His old rivals, guys like Pete Sampras, Michael Chang and Jim Courier, have long since retired, and Agassi has no idea how much longer his back will let him play.

But he hasn't lost his love for the game. And, as the fans showed Saturday, they haven't lost their love for him.

Agassi looked like a 35-year-old father of two in the first set, mis-hitting some shots by a second or two. He's always been able to move his opponents around with his ferocious backhand, but this time it was Berdych who had him on the run.

In what seemed like no time, he was down a set and looking as if he might be Berdych's next big victim. The 6-foot-4 Czech beat Roger Federer at the Olympics last summer, and knocked off Rafael Nadal in Cincinnati last month.

"I was just out of sorts," Agassi said. "I think I was still in the locker room there in the first set. I knew it could only get better from there as far as my standard went. I think he got a little careless in the second, allowed me to settle in a little bit more."

And Berdych also learned an important lesson: Don't mess with Agassi at the Open.

Though it took Agassi time to feel comfortable at the Open, he has a bond with the crowd here like few others. Fans were urging him on when he walked onto the court for the second set, and they didn't let up for the rest of the night. They cheered wildly anytime he won a game, and yelled encouragement in tight games.

And whenever Berdych looked flustered, the fans jumped on him. There were several times someone shouted when he was winding up for his serve. When he complained about a ball he thought was out in the third set, someone shouted, "Quit your crying!" Another yelled, "Berdych, do you want your binkie?" when he questioned a call in the fourth set.

But that's part of playing at the Open.

Agassi broke Berdych twice in the second set to get back in the match, then took control with another break in the third. Berdych rallied, breaking Agassi in the fourth for the first time since early in the game.

But Agassi came right back with a break of his own. Both held serve, and Agassi forced a tiebreaker with a gorgeous drop shot.

"I think a perfectly played drop shot is one of the prettiest to watch in the game," Agassi said. "In order for the drop shot to work, somebody has to be respecting what it is you might do besides that. ... When it leaves the racket, you know if you've done it or not."

Agassi won three straight points in the tiebreaker, and then took the last four to close out the match, giving the old guy at least one more day at the Open.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

09-04-2005, 02:46 PM
New York Stories: Angelina Agassi
Andre Agassi stunned Flushing Meadows with a shocking cross-dressing revelation after his Saturday defeat of Tomas Berdych. Also in New York Stories, Xavier Malisse goes one better than racket smashing, Elena Dementieva lauds Maria Sharapova's mental grit and James Blake keeps his feet on the ground
There once was a time when American ace Andre Agassi got in touch with his feminine side through his flowing blond locks. It now seems that, although shorn of anything remotely resembling hair, the veteran winner of 60 career titles has a strange penchant for dressing up as a women.

And not any women, but the delightful specimen that is his wife, Steffi Graff. Having struggled through his third-round clash against Czech Tomas Berdych in four sets, the 35-year-old told reporters that he hoped his desire to dress up as his wife would rub off on his tennis.

"I'm at the stage where I've thought to myself, 'If I dress like my wife, maybe I can play like my wife'," said Agassi, before confiding "[It's] been working, by the way."

Yet for all those worrying about the effeminate tendencies of their idol, it's worth adding that Agassi was merely explaining why he now plays in classic tennis whites rather than the more garish attire he used to wear in his 90s heyday.

Quote of the day
"Berdych, do you want your binkie?" An Agassi supporter riles Tomas Berdych for complaining to the umpire during his defeat by the hands of the American. A "binkie" - for all those who do not speak American English - is slang for a child's dummy.

Smash and trample

At the turn of the millennium, Xavier Malisse was touted at being the next big thing. With his kidney-shaped head, long-hair and surfer-dude looks, the Belgian was an attractive package for the viewers - and had the short temper to boot.

After coming back from 2-0 down to beat No. 24 Mikhail Youzney in the third-round, the unseeded Malisse will face Agassi, who has yet to lose a set in their previous four encounters.
The 25-year-old has recently had a spat with the Belgian tennis selectors after he was dropped from the Davis Cup team due to face the USA for the in-form Rochus twins.

Judging by the photo from Saturday's match against Youzney, the world number 54 is not someone whose nerves you want to test. Not only did he hurl his racket to the ground during the first set, the fiery hot-head proceeded in trampling over the offending object until it was smashed to smithereens. Classy.
Complete the sentance...

Andre Agassi on fourth-round opponent Xavier Malisse: "He has a big fore----." Is the answer a) hand, b) head, c) court in his house...? (Please, no other funny suggestions such as 'skin'...)

Blake puts win in perspective
Twelve months ago, James Blake didn't believe he would ever play professional tennis again let alone star at the U.S. Open, where he beat second seed Rafael Nadal in the third round on Saturday.

Blake could only watch on television, having broken a vertebrae in his neck in practice in May 2004. A rare illness slowed his recovery and he also lost his father to cancer last summer.

"About this time last year, I was wondering if I would play in the U.S. Open again," said Blake. "I think I do owe a lot of it to having a new perspective, if I lose a match, it's not the worst thing in the world.

"Whether I won or lost, I gave 100 percent. I acted according to the manner that I know (my dad) would think is appropriate. If I won or lost this match, I'd like to think that he was proud of me. It's just icing on the cake that I won it and played as well as I did."

Blake reckons his four-set victory over Nadal was second only to his win over Andre Agassi in Washington in 2002.

"If someone had told me a year ago that I'd have to go out and lose 0, 0 and 0 in the quarter-finals of the Open to Andre Agassi, I'd say, I'd take it in a heartbeat," he said. "If I do get in that situation, I'm going to go out there and play the same way I've been playing, not be afraid."

:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

09-04-2005, 02:50 PM
"Berdych, do you want your binkie?" An Agassi supporter riles Tomas Berdych
i like it ;)

Andre, go win next match easier!
:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

09-04-2005, 07:19 PM
Good follow-through
Agassi joins Blake in fourth round
By Amalie Benjamin, Globe Staff | September 4, 2005

NEW YORK -- The court was still shaking, still rustling and reverberating, the crowd still whispering and smiling as Andre Agassi entered the court. But it wasn't for him, not this time. This time the buzz belonged to someone else.

misunderstand. He's still the favorite here in Flushing, especially with Andy Roddick already home. It's just that his dominance may suddenly have some competition in the most unlikely of players.

James Blake had just won, just taken out second-seeded Rafael Nadal with his speed and athleticism and a series of emphatic overheads. It was good for the Arthur Ashe Stadium denizens, kept them up when they briefly feared for Agassi, concerned that the only two Americans seeded in the top 10 would be eliminated before glimpsing the fourth round.

They shouldn't have worried.

Borne on the shoulders of his raucous fans -- and likely a few on a Blake hangover -- Agassi came back to win in four sets, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2), after dropping the first to a teen-ager, Tomas Berdych, who was only a year old when Agassi made his first US Open appearance.

''I went out there and certainly didn't have my rhythm," said Agassi, who had 15 aces despite a first serve that dipped to 56 percent. ''I wasn't timing the ball well. I was out of sorts. I think I was still in the locker room in the first set. I knew it could only get better."

Berdych -- the kid who beat Nadal in Cincinnati -- was supposed to be a problem for Agassi. He was supposed to challenge the 35-year-old, to have the potential to erase the seventh seed in just the third round, which would have been his earliest exit since 2000.

But Agassi made him miss, made him falter and act like a teen, using the drop shot to bolster his always-stellar return game. It's what you do when you simply don't have the legs to outhit a 19-year-old.

Berdych came back, though, breaking Agassi in the fourth and serving for the set. He couldn't win it, though, nerves getting the better of him as Agassi broke back.

''The good news in the fourth set was the standard had improved," Agassi said. ''It started to be toe-to-toe tennis. He had chances, I had chances. At that stage I just made him play a quality match to win this, made him hit every ball. There's not much more you can do than treat every point with urgency and hope for the best."

It was a good day for Americans, Agassi following up Blake on Ashe. But the fans may have a problem come Wednesday and the quarterfinals. Agassi and Blake will meet if each gets through his fourth-round match.
:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

09-04-2005, 07:59 PM
One must read, fans!!!
september 2005

By Bill Simons
From Lance Armstrong on the Champs Elysees, to giddy girls up in Row X, to the adorable kid streaking across center court to get a big hug from his triumphant Daddy—this was elder Andre Agassi’s unadulterated summer of love. How sweet it was. After all, at least for one fleeting season, Roger Federer was chilling in Europe, a serve ‘n’ volleyer named Pete was but a chapter or two in some dusty record book and, most of all, the debilitating pain that hobbled and humbled him at Roland Garros was in remission.

To partake in the love-in, I joined with other reporters as the most beloved guy to emerge out of tennis shared his wit and vision as he spoke of pain, empathy, transformation and Jeremy Bates.

You have so many insights, such a vision for children, such a passion for giving. But let’s face it, 20 years ago, you weren’t exactly known for such things. What turned you around?
Don’t forget that I remember you from 20 years ago, too.
Well, at least I never lost to [Brit] Jeremy Bates.
True enough. That was a comical answer, but if you look at any of our lives 20 years ago, you would hope we are a lot different. I don’t know if I can point to any given turning point, I can just say I’ve always tried to live up to the values I have for myself. My values have changed in many respects, but I still fall short. I still keep striving.
What did you miss most about tennis when you were away?
Not being in a position to challenge yourself. It’s like a car going uphill without brakes. You’re either going forward or you’re going backwards. When I’m home watching, I’m going backwards.
How many injections are you willing to take until you get to where you say, “I don’t want to do this anymore”?
I don’t know what’s going to go into my decision about how long I can do this, but I can tell you one thing: I don’t want to be on the court unless I’m at least engaged and letting my game fly and feeling good. Because if there’s one thing I learned in Paris, it’s that limping around in front of the world is not a comfortable thing to do.
On the Champs Elysees, just after winning the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong said you were one of the athletes he most admired.
That’s as much of a compliment as any athlete could ever hope to hear coming from someone like Lance. In my opinion, what he’s accomplished is the greatest accomplishment in the history of sports.
Because ...
Physically, to win seven Tours de France anytime in your career, let alone in a row, let alone after fighting testicular, lung and brain cancer and having just a 30 percent chance of recovery. He would be great if he had just beaten cancer. But to watch him persevere and establish himself as the greatest in the history of his sport is a testament to what humans are really capable of. It’s beyond an inspiration to me. Of the people that inspire me, Lance comes in first, second and third.
Is it odd putting on your new adidas gear?
It’s a different experience, to say the least. ...[But] there’s no more fighting in my house [with Steffi, who has long worn adidas] about what shoes my kids are going to wear. That has a practical impact on my life.
Why the switch, after all these years with Nike?
It’s always disappointing when any chapter in your life comes to a close. We came to terms with everything, but we didn’t quite work out the terms for the foundation. As I’ve gotten older, it’s become more of what I’m committed to. It’s been a major component in every deal I’ve structured over the past 10 years. It’s been great with Nike—no question. I don’t fault them. They have a business to run and they run it quite well, but I’m in a fortunate enough position to not have to worry about me. But I do have to worry about the kids who I’m responsible for. Adidas came to the school, saw what I was doing and shared my vision and passion. That was good enough for me. ... They’ll provide a platform to make sure we continue looking out for the people we’re responsible for.
But Nike’s commercials were so memorable and helped popularize the game, and yours were some of the best: “Wake ‘em up at the country club,” playing catch with the Queen, “urban tennis” with Pete.
Ahh, now you’re really taking me down memory lane. For sure, playing in the streets with Pete was one of the greatest experiences I’ve had. Commercials aren’t usually as fun as they appear, but that one was.
Who won the commercial?
I won every time I played Pete, but nobody knows it.
If Federer played Pete, who would win?
That’s the stuff you’re supposed to write and I’m supposed to read about.
Andy Roddick is handling his role really well and, obviously, he’s a fantastic player. But it was a year between his winning hard-court tournaments and you could argue that the gap between him and Roger is widening.
The biggest crime that Andy’s committed is coming up at Roger’s time. Let’s call it like it is: Roger has established himself as the best player in the world right now. It’s been that way for a while. Nothing suggests that’s going to change for a while. If it weren’t for Roger, Andy already would have at least another U.S. Open and two more Wimbledons.
But you came around when there was a guy named Pete.
It cost me a title or two, but added a lot to my career too. When you have a rivalry, it also gives a lot. It’s not so much a function of changing your game, but a function of the level you push for every time you’re on the court. When you’ve got a guy on the other side of the net who says, ‘To be better than me, you’re going to have to be great,’ is quite a standard.
So you’re glad Pete was there during your career?
No, no. [Laughs]. Yes. Nobody’s guaranteed that feeling in sports. You could have the greatest career in the history of sports and be missing that piece that I got to enjoy, and that’s saying something.
Pete was playing a charity golf event the other day. Are you eager to do that?
If I had five hours in my day right now, I would choose to play golf. But I don’t.
And what about Steffi making a comeback?
No...she doesn’t want to play any more.
She won’t pull a ‘Martina’?
If Steffi wants to do that, I’m thinking I’m doing about a hundred things wrong. I’m not doing enough diapers, not enough dishes. I’ve got to make home a nicer place.
You do so much extra stuff like playing tonight’s charity match and give so much back to tennis, yet you’re still fighting injuries. Do you sometimes think that you should minimize your time on court?
Going out there and playing against Jon Lovitz—if I can’t handle that at this stage, I think I’ve got a few other things to be concerned about.

Are the simple joys of tennis still there for you?
The things I get joy from are more now. But the other side is also more difficult. The things that aren’t enjoyable are tougher. I do enjoy challenging myself, digging deeper. It could be practicing, it could be in a match. To me, tennis is about problem solving, figuring out what to do to beat the guy you’re playing. It’s about figuring out a way to get more out of yourself, whatever you can bring that day. That’s a challenge that leaves you pretty fulfilled if you pour yourself into it.
It’s amazing, you were the childhood idol to many of today’s pros.
There are a few times during a tournament where you realize how much older you are than everybody. I think, ‘Show some respect and don’t play a good match today. Look how much I’ve given to you. Give something to me.’ I’ve seen guys who have that admiration, respect, having grown up watching me, and it results in a very nervous experience. They don’t play to their level. Other times when they feel that sense of urgency, they play one of their best matches.
Could you see yourself playing next year?
My plan has always been to play hard as long as I can. I don’t know what my reasons not to play would be, to be honest. But I’m not going to assess any of that until the end of the year, and then I’ll have to make the decision based on all the lives that are affected, starting with my family. It’s one thing for me to pay a price to play, which is difficult, but that price pales in comparison with the price my family has to make, and that would be a heavy consideration.
Injuries, tendons, muscles—you’re always aware of the state they’re in and you know you can negotiate it to some degree. You know your healing process and what you’re aggravation level is. I’m nervous. It’s very frustrating because it can go from not so good to incapacitating, like in Paris [where] I literally couldn’t move. It was hurting me to sit down; it was hurting me to stand; it was hurting to walk. I was helpless, just helpless. I don’t like that feeling, and I’ve committed to not being on the court like that. So if I’m not feeling good and not able to be out there, just letting it fly and having a good competitive go and hopefully adding something to somebody’s life who’s watching, then it’ll be tough for me to decide not to do this, but I need to be healthy.
Does the fact that you help the game so much factor into your decision to keep on playing?
Here’s what I know. The longer and harder I work, the better off I am, the better off I feel, the better off the children effected by my foundation are and hopefully the better off the game is as well.
Your foundation gala raises so much money. Each year at the end of that evening you must get an incredible high. How does that feel in comparison with...
That evening is exciting and exhausting. But you have to remember that it pales in comparison to when you go to the school and see the children taking pride in themselves, respecting others and getting up to grade level after being two years behind. When you see that you know nothing compares to it. It’s unparalled emotionally when you see the children.
When athletes are asked what one characteristic they admire most, they usually say passion, or commitment or intensity. But awhile back, you said empathy was the quality you admired most.
What I hope to instill in my children, if I could pass on one thing, it would be to teach them to be able to look at life through the lens of others. That’s what’s it’s about. If more people did that, there’d be a lot less pain in the world. It’s looking at any situation through a lens of how it affects others. There’s something nice about people who don’t have to look out for themselves because the person next to them is doing that. It’s a great feeling. If you have somebody in your life that you can do that with, then you’re a lucky man. If the world could exist like that, it would be a special place.

© 2005 INSIDE TENNIS All rights reserved.

:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

09-05-2005, 09:37 PM
Ageless Agassi Advances to Quarterfinals By NANCY ARMOUR, AP National Writer
9 minutes ago

NEW YORK - Andre Agassi became the fourth man over 35 and the first in 14 years to make the U.S. Open quarterfinals Monday, outlasting Xavier Malisse 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 4-6, 6-2. Two points from a straight-sets win, Agassi couldn't find answers when Malisse cranked up the intensity and evened the match.
Andre Agassi gestures to fans after defeating Xavier Malisse, of Belgium, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (5),...

"I was a bit discouraged there in the fourth. As hard as I was wanting to try, there's not a lot you can do when you're just not getting into the points," Agassi said. "Physically, I felt great. I just needed a chance. I didn't get that until the fifth.

"I was going to make him earn it," Agassi added. "He was going to have to play another great set."

With the adoring Open crowd chanting his name, Agassi regained energy in the fifth set. He broke Malisse, then stunned the Belgian with three aces in a row — two 120 mph-plus — to lead 5-2.

"Even a blind dog can find a bone now and then," Agassi said, chuckling.

Agassi wasn't the only veteran to advance Monday. Lindsay Davenport, the 1998 champion, made it to the quarterfinals for the 11th time in 12 events this year with a 6-0, 6-3 romp over France's Nathalie Dechy.

Davenport next plays sixth-seeded Elena Dementieva, last year's runner-up, who beat No. 11 Patty Schnyder in straight sets.

Agassi grabbed two quick points on Malisse's serve, then capped the afternoon with another solid backhand. The Belgian had to lunge for it and drove it long, setting off raucous cheers in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Agassi took off his hat, and pumped his fists at the crowd.

"It felt great," said Agassi, who is playing in his 20th straight Open. "It means a lot more than the 19th and a lot less than the 21st."

He's the first "senior citizen" to get this far since Jimmy Connors made his run to the semifinals as a 39-year-old in 1991. Next up could be James Blake, who called Agassi "a legend" a few days ago, if the younger American can get by 19th-seeded Tommy Robredo.

Bald head, creaky back and two toddlers aside, Agassi isn't your average 35-year-old. He's reached the quarterfinals or beyond at all but two events this year, including all of his hard-court tournaments. After a herniated disc in his back shot pain down his right leg at the French Open, leading to a first-round loss and his absence from Wimbledon, he won his first tournament on his return in Los Angeles.

Two weeks later, he reached the finals in Montreal before losing to No. 2 Rafael Nadal.

And now he's making a run at the Open. With wife Steffi Graf and son Jaden watching, Agassi took an early lead against Malisse, who he'd beaten in straight sets in their previous four meetings.

"I need to get that first set so I can get my beliefs up," Malisse said. "Next time I'll have that confidence."

Agassi seemed to slow in the third. After putting Malisse on his heels with powerful backhands from the baseline and sneaky drop shots, Agassi suddenly looked tired. Instead of sprinting for shots, he began letting them go by, making everyone wonder if he was having back trouble.

He forced a tiebreaker and jumped to a 5-3 lead. But Malisse won the next four points to take the set — and Agassi's momentum.

"It's not like in basketball, where you run out the clock and somebody throws up a half-court shot that happens to go in and rips your heart out," Agassi said. "This is a guy that's forcing me to close him out. ... He deserved that set, and outplayed me in the fourth."

For the first time, Malisse was dictating the action. He pounded ace after ace by Agassi — he served 26 in all — and had 36 winners in the third and fourth sets.

But Agassi isn't ready for the senior circuit yet. After holding serve to take a 2-1 lead in the fifth, he broke Malisse and the momentum was his again.

"When I got on top," Agassi said, "I think the wheels came off quickly."

:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

09-06-2005, 12:41 AM
Agassi labors into Open quarters
By Steve Wilstein, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Three points from the end of a sunbaked five-setter, the man draped over the net like a wet noodle was 10 years younger than Andre Agassi. Maybe to rub it in, maybe because Agassi felt rejuvenated, he hopped on his toes as Xavier Malisse, gasping and all but gone, peeled himself off the net and returned for the final moments of punishment.
Despite losing the third and fourth sets to Xavier Malisse, 35-year-old Andre Agassi held on to reach the quarterfinals.
By Elise Amendola, AP

Agassi shrugged off Malisse's brave last stand — a 26th ace — then crushed a forehand into the corner to set up double match point. At 35, Agassi tries not to waste too many opportunities to stomp on an opponent he has down, though he missed a couple when he was two points from winning in straight sets.

This time he unleashed a backhand that the lunging Belgian whacked long, giving Agassi a 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 4-6, 6-2 victory Monday and making him the oldest men's quarterfinalist since Jimmy Connors' legendary run at 39 to the semis in 1991.

Age and balky back aside, Agassi suddenly is looking like a serious contender to go at least as far as Connors did that year. At No. 7, he's the highest seeded player in the bottom half of the draw. He next faces unseeded fellow American James Blake, who came back from injury and illness to knock off No. 2 Rafael Nadal in the third round and beat No. 19 Tommy Robredo in the fourth, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-3.

A year ago Blake was recovering from partial paralysis of his face, caused by shingles, and watched the Open on television, uncertain if he'd ever play again. Asked what he would have thought then if told he'd be playing Agassi in the quarters this year, Blake laughed.

"I don't think I would have been able to speak," he said. "I think my year would have gotten worse, because I would have had a heart attack."

Blake, the first black American man to reach the quarters at the Open in 23 years, made a startling rebound from fractured vertebrae in his neck 16 months ago and the shingles that followed just after his father died of cancer. He's been the feel-good story of the tournament, along with the seemingly ageless Agassi.

Agassi still has the legs, the will and the game to beat anyone. He had enough left to drill three straight aces — two at 120-plus mph — and a service winner in his final serves against Malisse.

"Even a blind dog can find a bone every now and then," Agassi joked. He's better known for his returning prowess than his serves, but he's rarely been broken this tournament.

Yet Agassi knows that the herniated disc in his back can flare up at any moment and shoot sciatic nerve pain down his leg, as it did when he lost in the first round of the French Open. He took a cortisone shot in the spine, missed Wimbledon, and came back to win a tournament in Los Angeles and reach the final of another in Montreal. That was enough to give him hope that he might just have enough left to challenge for the Open title he won in 1994 and 1999.

Winning a 3-hour, five-setter only raised Agassi's hopes.

"It's a great sign," he said. "I've trained hard. This is why you work so hard, so that physically you can do it. Something like a nerve, you never know when it's going to be an issue. I'll keep my fingers crossed from this day forward. I play by different rules now. My body plays by different rules. I need to listen to that."

Agassi's trainer and close friend, Gil Reyes, said they worked hard on Agassi's leg strength this summer. The trick now is to keep Agassi healthy enough to play best-of-five matches every other day. Reyes is particularly concerned about Agassi's recuperative time at his age.

"We will do whatever we need to do to have him ready," Reyes said. "I asked him just a little while ago, 'At 35, what are we going to do?' And he said 'I don't know, I've never been 35 before.' He said, 'Let's learn together. 'We'll have to see how he pulls up in the morning, how he feels. Whoever he plays he's going to be ready."

Agassi looked as if he would roll over Malisse, who seemed lethargic in the first two sets. But two points from losing, when Agassi led the third-set tiebreak 5-3, Malisse cranked up his game and won four straight points to extend the match.

"Two points from the match ... there's still a person standing in the way there," Agassi said. "It's not like in basketball, where you run out the clock and somebody throws up a half-court shot that happens to go in and rips your heart out. This is a guy that's forcing me to close him out, and I didn't do it because of his standard. He deserved that set and outplayed me in the fourth."

Agassi got discouraged and played careless in the fourth, but said he had every intention of making Malisse play at the same level for another set.

"When the fifth starts, the best thing you can do is put everything behind you and focus on the next point," Agassi said. "I'm pretty experienced at doing that. So, mentally, I was ready for that challenge. I got up early in the fifth, which always makes it easier."

Agassi broke Malisse to 3-1 and three games later made it 5-2 with his three consecutive aces and service winner. At love-15 on Malisse's serve, Agassi hit a forehand that clipped the net cord and popped over. Malisse raced in from the baseline, tried to scoop it up, but sent it into the net. Exhausted, Malisse leaned over the net, his ponytail hanging down, while Agassi stood bald but buoyant on the other side.
:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

09-06-2005, 01:38 PM
Agassi's image changes for the better
34 minutes ago

Andre Agassi is lucky to be the old man on the other side of James Blake's net. As a fresh running rebel out of Vegas, a silly boy in perpetual search of a clue, Agassi might never have made it to a quarterfinal pairing with Blake in the U.S. Open lights, not when bailing on a five-set match with Xavier Malisse would have been the most attractive option on the board.

Image is hardly everything in the world of Blake, a Harvard man one season removed from a broken neck, the cancer-caused death of his father and a bout with shingles that made a jigsaw puzzle of his movie-star face.

A young Agassi would stand little chance in that world. A 35-year-old Agassi kind enough to build a school for children in need and secure enough to marry a woman who almost tripled his number of Grand Slam tournament titles might actually have a prayer.

"Andre has chiseled away the things from his character he wished to get out of the picture," said his longtime trainer and part-time father confessor, Gil Reyes. "He had to prove his substance, and he has."

Substance. The way James Blake is stealing America's heart, you're not beating him without it.

In the bad old days, when Agassi was Barbra Streisand's temporary cabana boy, a Zen master lost in a metaphysical daze, he would've been steamrolled by the feel-good aura of Blake, who comes complete with a personal cheering section that outnumbers your average Ivy League football crowd. But this isn't the Agassi who once plunged to No. 141 in the world rankings and played in a Challenger event, the Agassi once fired through the mail by Nick Bollettieri, the Agassi who once blew off the Arthur Ashe Stadium dedication ceremony to catch a movie.

This is the Agassi who traded James Bond sports cars for family-of-four minivans. This is the Agassi who has won 75 U.S. Open matches, the Agassi who could look positively Jurassic in the third and fourth sets Monday, look like just another broken-down champ with a bad back, and then unleash a fifth-set fury on a younger man who never knew what hit him.

Would a 19-year-old Agassi have had the fortitude to win this match? "That's a great question," Reyes said. And one with an easy answer: no shot.

"Andre is a stronger, more fit athlete than he was at 19," Reyes said. "Mentally stronger, too. Even when the shots weren't there against Malisse, he kept his foot on the gas. That's why I'm very proud of him. No matter how tough the match gets, he's not giving in. You're going to have to beat him."

When Agassi first showed up unannounced in Reyes' UNLV office in 1989, he was a skinny kid who had just lost in Rome. Andre told Jerry Tarkanian's strength and conditioning man that his legs had turned to jelly in the final set and that he never wanted to go down that way again.

Reyes told the kid he didn't know the first thing about tennis. "I do," Agassi said. The wide eyes and easy smile won over the trainer, who told Agassi he could start pumping iron when Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon and Greg Anthony were through.

Sixteen years later, Reyes still cries over the fact that Agassi named his son Jaden Gil. The trainer remains that familiar barrel-chested figure in the player's box, and Agassi remains that familiar pigeon-toed figure in the shadow of a bigger talent. Pete Sampras has been replaced by Roger Federer. In his 20th Open, Agassi was the longest of shots to see Federer in the Sunday final, his back having betrayed him in Paris.

But after refusing to touch a racket for four weeks, passing on Wimbledon and engaging in two hours of weight work every day, every week, Agassi has resurfaced as the oldest Open quarterfinalist since Jimmy Connors turned this event on its ear 14 years back. Sampras made this kind of run here before heading off to be a dad.

"It's just not in our plans yet to retire," Reyes said.

Agassi has too much going for him to quit right now. He has Steffi Graf in his corner. He has a school in Las Vegas that majors in hope for the underprivileged.

"He's really a true gentleman," Blake said of Agassi, "one of the friendliest guys in the locker room. ... He's someone that you can tell your kids to look up to and be proud of it."

Way back when, Connors would've never said the same. But Agassi has changed plenty more than his sneaker affiliation from Nike to Adidas.

A foolish boy has grown into a responsible man. In the image-is-nothing world of James Blake, Old Man Agassi stands a fighting chance.

Ian O'Connor also writes for The (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal News
:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

09-06-2005, 03:36 PM
I am TRYING to get a ticket to this match! James Blake is playing fantastic, but I hope that Andre has one more trick up his sleeve. Nice words from James about Andre!

09-06-2005, 05:28 PM
US fans torn between Agassi and Blake in quarters

By Larry Fine
23 minutes ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York sports fans are a vociferous, highly opinionated breed, yet this year's crowd at the U.S. Open cannot decide who to root for when beloved Andre Agassi plays inspirational local James Blake in Wednesday's All-American quarter-final.

"I'm torn," said Debra Martin. "I'm looking forward to a really good match.

"Go USA, basically," she added.

"I want whoever plays better to win. They're both such good stories. I'd love it to come down to a fifth set, a fifth-set tiebreaker," said Daniel Ou.

"I'll be happy as long as someone wins," said Umar Rashid. "I'm just going to be excited the whole match."

Both the 35-year-old Agassi, playing in his 20th U.S. Open and aiming for his ninth grand slam title, and 25-year-old Blake, invited as a wildcard after falling from the top 200 when forced to deal with injury, a rare ailment and the death of his father, have enjoyed thunderous support at the tournament.


Leading the cheers for Blake, who grew up in nearby Connecticut, has been his own section of friends and family who wear matching T-shirts and call themselves the "J-Block."

"I think my friends are definitely going to be here. But I know he's got fans all over the world, especially here. He's won here. I mean, he's such a legend," Blake said, referring to his twice-champion opponent.

"He's got so many fans that I think they're also going to be cheering very vocally for him."

Though many fans were openly torn over the question of who they would support, others had made up their minds.

"I'm for Agassi because he's a veteran and I want to see him go out on top," said Melissa Kirksinger. "I'm sympathetic to Blake's story, but I would love to see Agassi go out on top."

"Agassi, because he's 35 and I'm in the same genre," said Charlotte Clarke.

Santhosh Nedum Parambil said he was for Blake. "He's a newcomer. I want him to do well. There were so many catastrophes for him last year, so it would be nice for him to win."

Julissa Marrero said she would be pulling for Agassi out of nostalgia. "I remember Agassi when he had hair."
:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

09-06-2005, 05:33 PM
Web Exclusive | Arts - Sports
U.S. Open Showdown: Agassi v. Blake

To continue an improbable run from wildcard to the semifinals, James Blake must topple his boyhood tennis idol, Andre Agassi

Posted Tuesday, Sep. 06, 2005
Down 2-5 in the second set to Spain's Tommy Robredo yesterday, James Blake's U.S. Open romp appeared over. Robredo had already won the first set, and Blake, the man who outran the quickest tennis player on earth, Rafael Nadal, in a stunning upset on Saturday, had clay feet on the hard court surface. Blake's best shot, a blazing forehand, was a tad slow. Even his rowdy cheering section in Suite 236 of Arthur Ashe Stadium, clad in baby-blue t-shirts and self-dubbed the "J-Block," seemed a bit deflated.

He would still be an inspiring story. The unseeded Blake, 25, who last year broke his neck after slamming his head into a the metal net post in Rome, lost his father, Thomas, to cancer, and contracted a stress-triggered virus that paralyzed his face, had made it to the fourth round of the U.S. Open, upsetting the second-ranked player in the world, Nadal, along the way.

But suddenly the weakest part Blake's game, his backhand, starting smoking. Robredo tightened, serving double faults and whacking balls into the stands. Arthur Ashe started sounding like a football stadium, the J-Block leading chants of "Blake! Blake! Blake!" Blake took five straight games to take the second set, 7-5, then cruised, 6-2, 6-3, to cap off the comeback. As Robredo's final shot sailed long, Blake dropped his racquet and cupped his hands on his head in disbelief. Says Blake: "I guess I remembered how to play."

Remember American men's tennis? When Andy Roddick lost to unseeded Luxembourgian Gilles Muller in the first round of this year's U.S. Open, critics decried the lack of hometown talent. Was a fading Andre Agassi, 35, all the U.S. had? Did the country really have to count on Taylor Dent? But Blake's stunning run to the U.S. Open quarterfinals has fulfilled an American dream: Blake vs. Agassi, center court on Wednesday night, the most anticipated American vs. American match since 2001, when Pete Sampras beat Agassi in an Open quarterfinal.

Roddick and his grating mojo can go party all night. Either Agassi, playing in his 20th, and given his brittle back, possible final Open, or the underdog Blake will slide into the semifinals. And with a pair of solid but not scary opponents, the 8th-seeded Guillermo Coria, of Argentina, or yet another American underdog, 46th-ranked Robby Ginepri, waiting as potential semifinal foes, a path to the final is clear (though defending champ Roger Federer, who looks like he'll lose his next match at the '11 French Open, lurks on the other side of the draw).

As a kid Blake, who was born in Yonkers, N.Y., a lob shot away from Ashe Stadium, and grew up in suburban Fairfield County, Connecticut, idolized Agassi. He first saw him play at the U.S Open some 15 years ago during Agassi's mullet and earring years. "I saw him here back when he had those lime green shorts hanging out of the denim shorts," Blake says. "I think I got a pair of the denim ones. Not the lime green ones—I couldn't pull that off." Even after beating Nadal, Blake still considers a 2002 win over Agassi at a Washington, D.C. tournament the highlight of his career.

Can Blake duplicate it? Agassi looks healthy and on his game, but even his longtime trainer, Gil Reyes, wonders if the eight-time Grand Slam winner can recover from yesterday's three-hour, five-set match against Belgian Xavier Malisse to keep up with Blake, one of the most athletic players on tour. "We're in uncharted waters," Reyes admits. If Agassi's agility fails him, maybe he can rely on a big serve, a surprising ally against Malisse. Up 4-2 in the fifth set, Agassi dealt himself a winning hand: ace, ace, ace. Match over. Says Agassi: "Even a blind dog finds a bone every now and again."

One advantage Blake will hold is the crowd. Agassi, the Open champ in 1994 and 1999, is a favorite, but Blake is the story of the tournament. And there's no show on tour like the J-Block, 20 or so of Blake's lifelong friends who stuck with him through the worst eight months of his life. "You can see James glancing up at us—he feeds off our energy, big time," says Andy Jorgensen, 40, one of Blake's childhood tennis teachers, celebrating in Suite 236 after the match. "And you can see the other guy look up at us too—he always knows we're here." Blake cherishes the support. "You know, right after the match, just to look up to my box, look at my friends and think about how much they've helped me get to where I am, it doesn't seem real," he says. "I want to give back to them so much, I want them to experience this happiness. I just wouldn't have expected it this soon."
:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

09-08-2005, 01:14 PM
Agassi Outlasts Blake in Open Classic
By NANCY ARMOUR, AP National Writer
7 minutes ago

NEW YORK - Pushed to the edge of defeat by James Blake, Andre Agassi responded with a match for the ages that rivals Jimmy Connors' legendary run to the U.S. Open semifinals at 39.

Down two sets and a break, he took Blake to five sets, then survived a tiebreaker for a 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (6) triumph that put him in the semis — and two wins from the title he won in 1994 and '99.

When the match finally ended at 1:09 Thursday morning, Arthur Ashe Stadium was still full and fans at home were mesmerized, knowing they'd been treated to something rare.

Agassi bounded onto the court with the joyful grin of a child, his eyes wide as he soaked in the adoring cheers of the crowd.

At 35, he is ageless, his tennis a timeless classic.

"It's all a bit surreal," Agassi said. "I get out there and I try to work and I come off the court and many times in my career I feel like it's been a dream. That's the way it feels here."

He is the oldest Open semifinalist since Connors, and will now play unseeded American Robby Ginepri on Saturday. Ginepri outlasted Guillermo Coria in another five-set thriller.

Sixth-seeded Elena Dementieva beat Lindsay Davenport.

"What Jimmy did was incredible," Agassi said. "I've heard him talk about it as if it was the most meaningful thing to him. That certainly speaks volumes with a career like that. A match like tonight can add to your life, regardless of the titles on the line."

An eight-time Grand Slam winner, Agassi has played better matches and had bigger comebacks. But on this stage, at this point in his career, he's never been more spectacular.

"I never feel great after a loss, but I guess it's about as good as I can feel. I fought my heart out. I did everything I could," Blake said. "He just played too good for me at the end."

Agassi was no match for Blake in the first two sets, humbled by the younger American's speed and precision. Every shot Blake hit found its mark, and time and again he raced across the court to save a ball that, for anyone else, would have been impossibly out of reach.

He got better with every point he played, while Agassi got worse. He looked every bit a 35-year-old trying to keep up with someone 10 years younger, rushing shots and spraying them long and wide.

When Blake broke Agassi to go up 3-2 in the third, it seemed as if a torch had been passed.

"He was really hitting the ball clean and big and making me feel like I was a step behind on all of my shots," Agassi said. "I overreacted to that and started pressing too much and hitting too big just to try to hang with him a little bit. And I lost my rhythm."

But Agassi is a master at resurrection. He won the French and U.S. Opens in 1999, two years after he'd fallen to No. 141. This year, he feared his career might be over when nerve pain from a herniated disc in his back led to a first-round loss at the French and forced him to skip Wimbledon.

He broke Blake for the first time since early in the second set with one of his patented gorgeous drop shots, then took the next three games. He settled back into his own game, running Blake all over the court from the baseline to wear him down, then pick him apart with sneaky drop shots.

"James is a guy that runs on high octane," Agassi said. "He's a fighter jet. He burns the fuel fast and furious, and he's gotten much better with that over the years. But he plays so big and he's so fast that if an edge does come off, it's a big relief. ... When he comes down into just warp speed, it gives you a little breath of life."

Blake slowed in the fourth set, and the precision he had early faded. But the American didn't endure the personal tragedies he did last summer to simply give up.

Blake broke his neck in a freak accident while practicing at a tournament in Rome in May 2004. Two months later, his father died of cancer. And a week after that, he got a severe case of shingles that left part of his face temporarily paralyzed.

"I've matured a little. I think I learned that a little while ago, but now it's translating to my game," Blake said. "Now I know that I can play pretty darn good tennis."

He cranked up his intensity again in the fifth set, breaking Agassi for a 3-2 lead with a ferocious forehand winner. Agassi got the break back and put the pressure on Blake to force the tiebreaker. He did — with a 118 mph ace.

Agassi finally put an end to the duel after 2 hours, 51 minutes, with a forehand winner that smacked the sideline.

"Your heart drops a little. You feel that in your stomach, once you realize it's over," Blake said. "You've got to just walk up there and congratulate Andre. That's all I could do, is think about how proud I am and move on."

Blake and Agassi exchanged a hug at the net. Blake then went back to his chair, burying his head in a towel while Agassi went back onto the court to celebrate.

"Everyone keeps asking when he's going to retire," Blake said. "He has no reason to retire. He's one of the best in the world, still chasing Grand Slams. If he's still enjoying it and still finding ways to motivate himself, I say let him play forever."
:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

09-08-2005, 01:20 PM
Late-night epic finishes up in morning glory of game

Just when Andre Agassi seemed overwhelmed and overmatched, he lifted Flushing Meadows on his shoulders. It was a sliver past midnight, he was down two sets to love, and the chair umpire had already said "thank you" an inordinate amount of times.
In genteel tennis, "thank you" is just another phrase for "kindly close your traps," but this was no ordinary crowd at the U.S. Open, no ordinary match. From somewhere high in the Arthur Ashe Stadium stands, someone screamed "Harlem in the house," a shout out to the guy who developed that jack-hammer backhand in the Harlem Junior Tennis Program. James Blake, so athletic and quick, had taken Agassi apart early last night with serves that caused mini-tremors and rallies that made his opponent seem more irrelevant than old, and for a while the crowd appeared more interested in watching the scene up in Suite 244, where anarchy reigned.

They stood and screamed and chanted "Jim-my B," a blob in powder blue pushing tennis decorum to its fine limits. But now there were other rebels in the house, huge blocks of people refusing to let Agassi go quietly into the night. Suddenly, he was infused with a shot of determination and grit. Suddenly, it was Blake - Agassi's junior by 10 years - who was breathing heavily. Agassi had four break points in this seventh game of the third set, and won it when Blake's backhand flickered into the net.

This might not have been an exact replica of that classic match between Agassi and Pete Sampras years ago - Blake doesn't yet have Sampras' clout - but in many ways it was even more electric and compelling. It had Agassi whiffing clean through one of Blake's blistering returns in the first set, when Blake cruised through one of those zones that's nearly impossible to pierce. It had Agassi looking sluggish and luckless, a frustrated shadow dying in Blake's brilliance.

Turns out that was all a ruse by the crafty Agassi, who has learned a few tricks or three across his magnificent career. The quiver in Blake's legs grew more perceptible with every Agassi shot, until Blake began to lose his serve and a bit of his confidence. The wild-card entry began the night wearing day-glo yellow and by 1 a.m. he had changed into a white shirt. In between, there were more goose-bump moments than any match deserves to have. Agassi outlasted Blake in a fifth-set tiebreaker, winning 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (6). At the end, Blake had match point on his racket, only to get beat by a 35-year-old who still returns the ball better than most anyone.

The contrasting expressions that ran across Blake's face during that tiebreaker told one story: He looked ready to weep when Agassi hit a sweet passing shot, then grew all steely-eyed after winning the next point. The joy that seeped out of Agassi's every pore told another story: the childlike hop he did when the match was finally his on a forehand return, the dignified, grateful bow he gave the crowd that wouldn't let him leave, the genuine admiration he expressed for Blake.

"This was the most fun I've had losing," Blake told Agassi at the net, after a long embrace.

"Let's be clear about something. I wasn't the winner, tennis was," Agassi told some 20,000 fans who were still in the stadium. "I never felt I was going to win that match but somehow it just fell my way."

This was a night when American tennis deserved to pat itself on the back, finally. With the sport desperate for a star, for a rivalry that would inject some juice into what has been a lukewarm rinse, Blake and Agassi were perfect foes. Agassi's personal evolution, his altruism, his influence on nearly every young man who walks through the locker room overshadow his 60 career titles. Blake's renaissance is impossible to overstate. It's just too bad that famous credit card company spent millions on Andy Roddick's mojo, only to watch him crash out of the tournament before it barely began.

While Roddick does a turn on the sponsorship circuit, while Roger Federer waits in the wings, Blake and Agassi turned Arthur Ashe Stadium into the place to be. It began with Blake's entourage of friends and family handing out T-shirts, a token gift to folks lucky enough to spend a spectacular late summer evening at Flushing Meadows. On the front were the words J-Block and on the back was the word BAM and nobody needed to ask for translation.

Blake hit rock bottom last summer, when he broke vertebrae in his neck and lost his father, Thomas, to cancer and developed a stress-related viral infection and tumbled to No.210 in the rankings. He should take great joy from last night's match, a loser who didn't seem to lose a thing.

"I'm from New York and I'm still the underdog. He's the favorite everywhere he goes. If I was in the stands I'd be cheering for him, too," Blake said of Agassi, the man who owns Flushing Meadows.

Originally published on September 8, 2005
:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

09-08-2005, 01:48 PM
Full Extension
Never Quit

Awesome Agassi Resurges, Bests Blake In Five
by Erin Gell
Wednesday, September 7, 2005

They say it ain’t over until it’s over. And this one wouldn’t be over until after 1 a.m. Tonight’s epic match between Andre Agassi and James Blake needed all five sets and then some before Agassi took the win.

The all-American quarterfinal left fans debating which way to throw their support. Either way, the anticipated match-up promised to be an impressive contest. But Blake had a different plan. Right out of the gate, "The Harvard Guy" was hitting confidently, barely allowing Agassi room to breathe as he sealed the first set, 6-3.

"I was real frustrated," Agassi said. " started off letting a few balls fly. I actually liked the way I was hitting the ball when we started the match. I liked the way I was feeling, got comfortable. But he let a few second-serve returns fly. Then he started swinging for the fences. I sort of overreacted to that by picking up the pace of my ball too much. I lost my rhythm and started missing a lot."

Blake, who missed the Open last year after being sidelined with injuries, wouldn’t let up and jumped to a 4-1 lead in the second set. Much of the crowd who stood solidly with Blake during the earlier rounds began to rally behind Agassi who had to save three break points just to hold serve in the next game. For a second, it seemed as if he would break back and have a chance at getting back into the set, but it wasn’t to be—at least not yet.

Blake continued to serve well in the third set, producing ace after ace. He pulled out some unbelievable shots, zooming from corner to corner to return Agassi’s balls, and really forcing the older man to fight to keep himself in the game. Agassi went down a break at 2-3, but resurged to win the next two games. By taking advantage of Blake’s increasing double faults and scoring some down-the-line winners, Agassi forced a fourth set.

Champions like Agassi specialize in finding a way back into seemingly impossible matches, and once into the fourth, he seemed to gain confidence and move a lot better against a flagging Blake. Agassi came through to go up an early break. It seemed that the ball had moved, quite literally, into Agassi’s court. The previously stoic Blake let loose a roar of frustration as he lost his serve and the rejuvenated veteran went on to break to send the match into a fifth set that would have seemed improbable just half an hour before.

Blake managed to rechannel some of his early energy to pull ahead in the final set. But Agassi had a few more tricks up his sleeve, and pushed a fifth-set tiebreak. Filled with clean winners, each point was played out to the fullest. There didn’t seem to be a shot that wasn’t a battle. Up 6-5 in the tiebreak, Blake actually had a match point, but just a few moments later, it would be Andre Agassi who emerged victorious before the animated crowd.

"I don't know if I can put in context how this compares with some of my greatest experience on the tennis court, but I know it's right up there because this is what you work so hard for, you know," Agassi said. "To be honest, with the way a mentality like mine sort of works, is this means as much to me as doing it in the finals. This is what it's about. It's about just authentic competition, just getting out there and having respect for each other's game and respect for each other's person and letting it fly and letting it be just about tennis."

Agassi will come up against another fellow American, Robby Ginepri, in the semifinals.

[B]Arthur Ashe - MS - Quarterfinals

Match Statistics

Andre Agassi USA (7) 3 3 6 6 78

James Blake USA 6 6 3 3 66

- James Blake served up a whopping 19 aces in the match.

- Blake has beaten Agassi just once in their five meetings. He dubbed that 2002 victory the best win of his career.

- This was Blake's first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

- At 35, Agassi is a full decade older than Blake.

- Agassi finished second to Andy Roddick in the US Open Series and will therefore increase his winnings here by 50 percent.
:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

09-09-2005, 12:22 PM
Family Life Keeps Agassi Grounded

By SANDRA HARWITT, For The Associated Press
Fri Sep 9, 3:56 AM ET

NEW YORK - Andre Agassi has his priorities straight: kids first, then tennis.

Though he labored long into the night to beat James Blake in an epic five-setter, Agassi was up early Thursday to play with his two toddlers before heading back to the practice courts for a semifinals tuneup.

Before going to sleep at 4:15 a.m., three hours after finishing off Blake, Agassi told his wife, Steffi Graf, not to keep their son Jaden and daughter Jaz from waking him in the morning.

"When you're young, you can sleep in till 12," Agassi said after a 30-minute practice session in the afternoon. "When you're older, your body clock goes off, you're up early anyhow.

"I told Stef I wanted the kids jumping on me as soon as they can. She fought them off until about 8:15. Jaden comes in and wants to get under the blankets and make a house out of it. My little daughter asks me if I want coffee, because she's big on helping me make my coffee."

What Agassi appreciates most about having children is that they keep him grounded in reality. Although Jaden, almost 4, was seen pointing to a picture of Agassi in a hallway at the Open earlier in the tournament, exclaiming that it was "daddy," his children are blissfully unaware of their parents' star power.

"You realize when you have special moments they don't quite absorb it," Agassi said. "They're not interested in your dramas. They need you for a few things, and you just count on each other."

Graf, a 22-time Grand Slam champion, made an easy transition from her former life as a superstar to the more traditional roles of wife and mother.

Agassi acknowledges, though, that Graf's familiarity with what it takes to play at the highest level enables him to keep going.

"How she helps me is with understanding the subtleties required to accomplish this task," said Agassi, who has won "only" eight Grand Slam titles, including two U.S. Opens. "She's been through it. She knows how to create an environment that gives me that platform to succeed. It's things that don't need to be said. She's very supportive of the times I have to come out and work, time put in at the gym. And the time you have to rest. Those are the more frustrating times.

"You are so tempted to burn the candle at both ends," he added. "You need an environment that is constantly aware of the demands put on you."
:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

09-09-2005, 12:24 PM
nice article, fans
read it
:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

09-09-2005, 10:54 PM
Nice little mentions of Agassi

09-11-2005, 04:02 PM
This is an article that Agassi fans shouldn't miss....


09-11-2005, 07:25 PM
same article, but printed in San Jose so it doesnt need a subscription

09-14-2005, 12:10 PM
From John Feinstein...ALWAYS has been one of AA's harshest critics...looks like AA won him over,too...

Andre forever
09-14-2005, 12:30 PM
Aww thanks fro sharing

09-14-2005, 05:28 PM
From Only undaunted Agassi can rally in the face of Federer
Las Vegan remains the No1 threat to the world No1

Les Roopanarine
Wednesday September 14, 2005

Guardian Unlimited

If Roger Federer is secretly a tad miffed that Andre Agassi's inspired performance partly overshadowed his achievement in becoming the first player since Donald Budge to win Wimbledon and the US Open in consecutive years, he shouldn't be; Agassi is a phenomenon.
At 35, Agassi is the oldest man to compete in the final of a Grand Slam event since Ken Rosewall squared up to Jimmy Connors in the 1974 final at Flushing Meadows. A Grand Slam champion on eight occasions, the Las Vegan is a happily married father of two whose hair - or what remains of it - is flecked with grey. Yet age cannot wither him.

Consequently, as Federer's rivals sift through the wreckage of their own Grand Slam aspirations for a second successive summer, they should resist the temptation to draw comfort from Agassi's ability to unsettle the Swiss. No other player in the world could have stood toe-to-toe with Federer and traded blows to such breathtaking effect.

That is not to discount the manifold skills of Marat Safin, Rafael Nadal and company. Rather it is to acknowledge the singularity of Agassi's gifts. Blessed with immaculate timing, lightning-fast hands and an ability to read the flight of the ball quicker than players half his age, Agassi is preternaturally comfortable taking his groundstrokes on the half-volley, a priceless asset when it comes to handling Federer's ferocious array of heavy artillery.

It is a measure of Federer's quality that even these attributes brought Agassi little success at first. The world No1 began the final in the imperious style that has become his trademark on the big occasions, sweeping the ball majestically into the corners. Lesser men than Agassi would have crumbled. Lleyton Hewitt endured a similar experience in the opening set of last year's final and never recovered.

But Agassi, whose tennis education was at the school of hard knocks known as the Sampras era, understands better than anyone what it takes to meet the game's greatest challenges. Upping his level from the superb to the sublime, the American quickly put the loss of the opening set behind him and went on to subject Federer to the sternest examination he has faced in a Grand Slam final.

In the process, Agassi staged a masterclass in how to disrupt the Swiss metronome's rhythm. From the latter stages of the first set to 6-6 in the third, the American dictated play from the baseline with strokes of almost inhuman power and precision, eliciting a series of errors from Federer. In particular, Agassi demonstrated that there is substance to the view - often articulated, rarely exemplified - that Federer is relatively vulnerable on the backhand side. Impressively, he did so by pursuing a strategy that few players have the courage or skills to emulate.

Conventional wisdom has it that the Federer forehand, one of the most potent weapons in the game, is to be avoided at all costs. Agassi, though, has rarely gone in for the conventional. Undaunted by the world No1's formidable right side, the veteran boldly exchanged forehands, disturbing the champion's customary equilibrium and thereby establishing the perfect platform from which to launch a sustained assault on the backhand.

Had his body served him better, Agassi, who has been plagued by an inflamed sciatic nerve for most of this year, would have had a genuine chance of recording a third US Open win. Nonetheless, having survived three five-set matches on the punishing cement courts simply to reach the final, Agassi is hardly on his last legs.

Talk of retirement is premature, not least because Agassi, on his day, remains one of the few players capable of stopping Federer's relentless acquisition of the game's major prizes. Tennis needs him.

Since winning Wimbledon in 2003, Federer has collected six Slams. Unbeaten in his last 23 finals, he appears vulnerable only on clay, where he has twice stumbled to defeat this year, against Richard Gasquet and Nadal. On terra firma, only Safin, the prodigiously talented Muscovite who survived match points against Federer en route to winning this year's Australian Open, has shown himself capable of maintaining the level of tennis required to tame the Swiss over five sets.

Safin, though, is notoriously volatile, and - until his performances are governed by something more predictable than whether he has got out of bed on the right side - it is difficult to see him mounting a sustained challenge to Federer's dominance.

Of the other main pretenders, Andy Roddick will continue to stagnate until he addresses the need for greater tactical variety in his game, while it remains to be seen whether Nadal, who won a combined total of three matches at Wimbledon and the US Open, or Gasquet, a fourth-round loser in both tournaments, can bring their talents to bear on surfaces other than clay.

In the meantime, hopes of derailing the Federer Express in Grand Slam competition rest largely with a follicly-challenged father of two. Like Federer, Agassi can do things on a tennis court that no else can. This is no time to quit.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005Guardian Unlimited:

Andre forever
09-14-2005, 09:09 PM

09-14-2005, 11:07 PM
Sports Illustrated

Byline: S.L. Price
Publication: Sports Illustrated
Issue: September 19, 2005 Vol. 103 No. 11
Publication Date: 09-19-2005
Page: 106
Section: Tennis

What will the kids remember? The big moments in the stadium, with thousands of people screaming their father's name? The little moments in between, like the time Dad bit that piece of candy in half so Jaden wouldn't choke on it, or the mornings Jaz brought him his coffee? Or maybe they'll remember that little playhouse with the slide next to it, just outside the players' lounge at Arthur Ashe Stadium. They all spent a lot of time there during those two weeks that seemed to last forever. Just after 4 p.m. on Sunday, Andre Agassi was standing next to the house's tiny window when his three-year-old son told him the kind of thing parents laugh about for years. "Kick butt, Daddy," Jaden said.

Agassi pulled his 23-month-old daughter close then and, just before leaving for perhaps the most remarkable match in one of sport's most remarkable careers, looked up at his wife. Steffi Graf, who knows something about winning Grand Slam finals, put on a sober look and clapped her hands. "Go get him," she said.

Agassi did as he was told. He turned and hustled into the building, passing his brother Philip, who had been in Flushing Meadow 20 years ago for Andre's first loss at the U.S. Open. The two locked eyes and bumped fists, but Andre kept going. "He's just going to come out swinging," Philip said.

What will the kids remember? Maybe that the old man almost pulled it off. Midway through the men's final of the 2005 U.S. Open--with the match split at one set apiece and the 35-year-old Agassi having just broken the serve of the world's No. 1 player, Roger Federer, to go up 4-2 in the third--disturbing thoughts began flying through Federer's usually imperturbable mind. Maybe this is a fairy-tale tournament. He's going to come back from a set down to win? Is this a joke or what?

The confusion was understandable. For the first time in months the same Federer who had won his last 22 finals looked as if he could lose. The packed house at Ashe, 22,859 strong and overwhelmingly pro-Agassi, began to believe. Though fearing a flare-up in his inflamed sciatic nerve, though coming off his third five-set match of the tournament, though the oldest man in a U.S. Open final in 31 years, Agassi suddenly had the upset of the decade in his hands.

But then Federer did what great players do. He stayed calm and worked to find his game. Then Agassi did what old men do, what 39-year-old Jimmy Connors did in the Open semifinals in 1991: He began to act his age. He found that all the yearning, all the hard work that had carried him this far wouldn't be enough. The afternoon sun had faded away, the harsh stadium lights gleamed off his bald head. A shanked Federer backhand dropped on the baseline, Agassi sent a forehand wide, two more winners from Federer fell in, and the defending champion broke back. Agassi began to groan as he swung, and by the time the third-set tiebreaker ended at 7-1, he was finished. The 24-year-old Federer won his sixth Grand Slam title 6-3, 2-6, 7-6, 6-1, the last set a showcase of unparalleled talent in its prime. For the first time since Don Budge did it in 1937-38, a man had won both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open two years running. Agassi has played Connors, John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg and, of course, Pete Sampras. But battling Federer in a Grand Slam final for the first time, Agassi faced a kind of tennis with which he wasn't familiar: airtight strokes and an ability not only to generate spectacular shots but also to switch instantly from defense to offense.

"He's the best I've ever played against," Agassi said of Federer. "There's nowhere to go. Other guys you play, there's a safety zone, there's a place to get to, there's a way, you know? He plays the game in a very special way. I haven't seen it before."

Of course, no one had seen anything like Agassi before he broke onto the scene in 1986. Taking the ball impossibly early and wearing outrageous clothes, he embarked on a career marked by strange absences and confounding comebacks, odd eloquence and startling crassness, and he won three of his eight Grand Slam titles--Wimbledon in '92, the U.S. Open in '94 and the French Open in '99--when no one expected it. So despite Federer's excellence, despite the stirring breakthrough of Kim Clijsters to win her first major, this U.S. Open belonged to Agassi. He had hobbled out of the French Open in May, his back flaring, a first-round loser. He had skipped Wimbledon and briefly considered retiring. "I told him to take a few days off, maybe a week or a week and a half, and then we could talk about it," says his longtime trainer, Gil Reyes. "He called the next day and said, 'I ain't finished. Let's get this right. Let's fix it.'"

The numbing salvation of two more cortisone shots and the benefits of Reyes's exercise regimen kept Agassi pain-free the rest of the summer and set up perhaps his most riveting tournament run yet. Rolling past the huge-serving, 6'10" Ivo Karlovic in the second round, then dangerous talents Tomas Berdych and Xavier Malisse and resurgent Americans James Blake and Robby Ginepri, Agassi fired the crowd's emotions like no one since Jimbo went on his astonishing roll. "If I was in the stands," Blake said after his five-set loss to Agassi on Sept. 7, "I'd cheer for him too." When Agassi tried talking to the crowd after Sunday's final, the last of a weeklong series of shouts from the seats interrupted, "We love you!"

Agassi answered, "I love you, too," neatly summing up the fortnight's unusual tone. Perhaps it was the disturbing images beamed up from New Orleans, but rich-and-spoiled tennis carried itself with a rare gravitas in New York City; when Agassi teared up at a press conference on Sept. 1 and said, "I'll be a part of anything that might make a difference," the tournament assumed a seriousness that it never quite lost. The USTA pledged $500,000 to the Red Cross; players filmed public-service announcements and donated equipment for an online charity auction; Clijsters announced that she was donating $25,000. Contribution buckets and stands were set up on the grounds of the National Tennis Center, and by Sunday fans had chipped in $65,000.

"It puts in perspective how lucky I am to run around [a tennis court] and have my family there," said the fourth-seeded Clijsters, who beat Mary Pierce 6-3, 6-1 in the women's final. The 22-year-old Belgian had raised another $25,000 before the tournament began to help build an orphanage in India for victims of last year's tsunami. "It can all be over very quickly," she said.

Clijsters knows. Last year left wrist surgery knocked her off the tour for eight months; she watched the 2004 U.S. Open unsure if she would ever play again. Like Agassi, Blake, Ginepri and Pierce, Clijsters added to this Slam's sober feel with her tale of a career reborn. Unlike them, however, she didn't seem hell-bent on making up for lost time. Tennis had defined her life, after all; she had begun dating Australian pro Lleyton Hewitt when she was 15 and become a full-time pro at 16. For the first three months of her layoff Clijsters didn't miss the sport. She and Hewitt broke off their engagement last fall, and she became involved with Brian Lynch, an American basketball player in Belgium. By the time she returned to the tour in February, Clijsters was better conditioned, with a firmer serve and forehand. But even while dominating the summer hard-court season, she announced a plan to retire after the '07 season. For years she had been depicted as the tour's Happy Warrior, too nice to win; she had lost four Slam finals. But even after dispelling that image by thrashing Pierce last Saturday night, Clijsters had no thought of changing her plans. She wants children and doesn't want to wait.

"Brian's the most important thing in my life now," she said after the final. "I would give up this title, straight away, just to have him. Because at the end of the day when you go home, the trophies are not talking to you. They're not going to love you. I want the people I love with me."

Clijsters's attitude was typical of this Open. Though there were the usual minor squabbles over umpiring and gamesmanship, the sport seemed to have come down with a case of contagious maturity. Even as he grinds the tour deeper under his heel, Federer remains the most universally liked No. 1 ever. And Agassi, who spit at a chair umpire during the 1990 U.S. Open, has pretty much forsaken his old antics. No one has a bad word to say about him. "One of the more genuine people I've ever met," says Blake. "He's the last person to act like a superstar in the locker room. He's happy, friendly with everyone, having a good time. If you just mention a charity event, he's going to be there. If he likes you, he'll bend over backwards to help."

Yet what happened between Agassi and Blake in their quarterfinal still took the Open by surprise. The 25-year-old Blake, after missing last year's Open with a bout of shingles--which followed the death of his father, which followed a training accident in which Blake broke his neck--seemed ready, after two flawless sets, to seize his place at last as the next U.S. star. But Agassi wouldn't give way, grabbing the next two sets. Blake lifted his game to force a tiebreaker in the fifth, and thus began a stretch of near-perfect tennis, both men pushing beyond their limits. Agassi said later that he had never, not even in his classic matches against Sampras, played before a louder crowd. Blake went up 3-0 in the tiebreaker, looked up to the sky and said, "I love you, Dad."

Jaden and Jaz slept through that moment, so they'll have to ask their dad someday about that night and how a 35-year-old man, coming back from two sets down, somehow won the first fifth-set tiebreaker of his 20-year career. Maybe Agassi will tell them how Blake held off one match point with a stunning forehand, and how the best returner in history then topped that on the next match point by hammering the perfect return, another forehand to the pocket where sideline and baseline meet. Maybe he'll tell, too, how thousands went silent for an instant, waiting for the call that never came. How Blake sagged, and some fan threw a dozen napkins fluttering into the air. "Unbelievable!" a man screamed. Maybe Agassi will tell his kids how that man was right. Afterward Andre and Philip joined Reyes and Andre's coach, Darren Cahill, for dinner at that old Manhattan saloon P.J. Clarke's and relived the points. Soon they were reliving other battles, other furious nights at Flushing Meadow, back when the Open felt new.

Once, when he was young and worried that he was squandering his talent, Agassi would've awakened on the morning of a Grand Slam final sick to his stomach. But that was six years and five Grand Slam titles ago; no player, ever, has had as productive a second act. Agassi woke up on Sunday morning calm. The most pressure he feels now, he says, comes when he cuts Jaz's fingernails. "It's about not defining myself by what happens [on the court] anymore," Agassi said afterward. "I pretty much know who I am, and I work on being more of that every day. Having a beautiful family makes any disappointments a bit easier and the good a lot better."

His daughter got to him first as he walked out of Ashe Stadium after the final. Agassi isn't sure if he'll play there again, but, really, it doesn't matter. What's left to prove? He shuffled over to Jaz. "Daddy didn't win," she chanted. "Daddy didn't win."

Agassi picked her up, and then Jaden walked up and asked, "Who did you play?"

"Some guy with long hair," Agassi said.

Someday, you can be sure, Daddy will tell about him, too.

09-15-2005, 04:41 AM
thanks for the articles...

Andre forever
09-15-2005, 10:18 AM
more pls..thanks

09-15-2005, 01:03 PM
Thanks so much, LMason. You saved me a trip to the doctor's waiting room, lol. What a great article. Like much this week very Aga-centric but hey he earned it :)

09-15-2005, 02:44 PM
Great articles, thanks everyone :hug: :hug: :hug:

Special pressie for the AA fans: a video of Andre and Andy from Arthur Ashe Kids' Day. 34MB. Enjoy! :bounce:

Andre steals Andy's mojo (

Andre forever
09-15-2005, 04:42 PM
Great articles, thanks everyone :hug: :hug: :hug:

Special pressie for the AA fans: a video of Andre and Andy from Arthur Ashe Kids' Day. 34MB. Enjoy! :bounce:

Andre steals Andy's mojo (

sorry but i don't see anything :confused:

09-15-2005, 10:03 PM

for the ones who speak and read french, here is a very nice article about andre.

take care

:worship: andre agassi :worship: andre agassi :worship:

Quinzième finale pour l'Américain
La belle histoire d'Andre Agassi

New York : de notre envoyée spéciale C. S.
Le Figaro
Quel que soit le sort que Roger Federer a réservé la nuit dernière à Andre Agassi – ou l'inverse –, l'Américain aura illuminé cette quinzaine. Qu'il ait été à 35 ans et cinq mois le finaliste le plus âgé de l'US Open depuis Ken Rosewall en 1974 est déjà un exploit en soi. Mais en plus, le natif de Las Vegas y aura mis la manière. La classe, le panache et une sacrée combativité.
En stoppant samedi en demi-finale l'étonnant Robby Ginepri, l'Américain a joué son troisième match consécutif en cinq sets. Trois travaux pour un authentique Hercule des courts, qui aurait même usé un joueur de dix ans son cadet. Mais c'est une envolée à la Jimmy Connors – demi-finaliste surprise en 1991 alors qu'il était âgé de 39 ans – qu'Agassi s'est offert ici jusqu'à la finale. Avec ce diable éternellement ressorti de sa boîte, on pensait avoir déjà tout vu. De son retour au sommet à l'aube de la trentaine au moment où l'on préparait sa nécrologie sportive, jusqu'à ses incursions tardives au sommet d'un classement mondial qu'il a été le joueur le plus âgé à occuper.
Ces derniers mois pourtant, l'outrage des ans semblait rattraper l'homme aux huit titres du Grand Chelem. Un nerf sciatique capricieux l'avait éjecté au premier tour de Roland-Garros où il était arrivé sans préparation, puis privé de Wimbledon. Il révéla très vite que seules des injections trimestrielles de cortisone le maintenaient sur le court et les rumeurs de retraite couraient, jusqu'à ce qu'il apparaisse totalement requinqué sur un circuit d'été américain qui le vit s'imposer au tournoi de Los Angeles. «Ces injections ne sont pas une façon de vivre, concède le joueur. Mais si je ne me battais pas sur le court avec des mecs de 22 ans, je n'en aurais pas besoin.»
Ici, durant cette quinzaine new-yorkaise, il suffisait de le regarder pour constater qu'Andre Agassi prenait un plaisir fou dans ce tournoi, qui l'a vu atteindre sa quinzième finale dans un Grand Chelem et sa première depuis sa victoire à l'Open d'Australie en 2003. «C'est incroyable ce qui m'arrive, lâche l'Américain. Quand je pense que pendant Wimbledon, j'ignorais si je pourrais rejouer.»
Depuis sa victoire contre James Blake en quarts de finale, l'Américain a inauguré un nouveau rituel. Non content de s'incliner successivement devant les quatre tribunes, Agassi sautille désormais sur le court comme un gamin comblé. Une sorte de retour en enfance qu'il est le seul à pouvoir se permettre dignement. «Ces matchs sont parmi les plus beaux souvenirs de ma carrière, avoue le quadruple vainqueur de l'Open d'Australie. Je garderai cela avec moi pour le reste de ma vie.»
Le grand moine sage du tennis mondial est tellement heureux qu'il a entrouvert la porte de son jardin secret, cette famille qu'il a construite avec Steffi Graf et qu'il a toujours jalousement protégée du public. Après sa demi-finale, on a vu Agassi étreindre successivement ses enfants dans les coulisses, le turbulent Jaden Gil de presque 4 ans et la rigolote Jaz Elle, pas tout à fait 2 ans. L'Américain est retourné au vestiaire en tenant sa fille à la main, non sans avoir posé un rapide baiser sur les lèvres de sa femme.
C'est à New York, il y a six ans, que le voile avait commencé à se lever sur l'idylle naissante entre les deux champions. La ville aurait-elle pour eux une signification particulière ? «Ma relation avec elle (Steffi) a commencé il y a douze ans, répond Agassi en riant. C'est juste qu'elle n'était pas au courant.»

09-15-2005, 10:07 PM
merci pour l'article, il est top et j'l'avais raté :worship: , c est mieux que L'Equipe qui raconte toujours les mm choses ,sauf qq (trop) rares exceptions

09-15-2005, 10:29 PM
can someone translate please? in english

Andre forever
09-15-2005, 10:31 PM
yah pls?

09-15-2005, 11:17 PM
From tennisweek:
Four Finalists Find The Winners Within

By Don Sand

On the grand stage of the year's final Grand Slam that is the U.S. Open Andre Agassi again expanded our consciousness after his inspirational match with James Blake. In a duel that ended shortly after 1 a.m., both Blake and Agassi riveted tennis fans all over the world with exceptional effort in the most magnificent match of the Open.

Minutes after the match was over, Agassi expressed how the match moved him in sentiments shared by many spectators.

"This is what it's about. It's about just authentic competition, just getting out there and having respect for each other's game and respect for each other's person and letting it fly and letting it be just about tennis," Agassi said. "That's what it means, what you just saw out there. There's no place like it. It's 1:15 in the morning, 20,000 people out there, and tennis won tonight."

Agassi has again reminded us that professional sports does not have to be just about one winner. It is not just about who wins or about how much money is made. It does not have to be about digging up a controversy or who is dating who or who is wearing what. In a cynical world of crude and selfish athletes, dubious leaders and self-absorbed celebrities, many of us, particularly children, need role models who remind us to see the bigger picture and inspire us to participate in creating it.

We all need reminders that redefine what winning is and to inspire us to be winners ourselves. Agassi reminds our kids that tennis can be a metaphor for our life and that a winner is about being humble; a winner takes the spotlight off of themselves and puts it on others. Andre is a role model who demonstrates that we all can be winners depending on how we play the game. That real champions win by "doing their best", by showing respect to their opponent, by showing appreciation to their support team, friends and family.

"I don't have to look very far in my life to understand where tennis fits. You know, I have to look as far as my children," Agassi said. "Watching (wife Steffi Graf) going about her life is the greatest lesson I could learn. In tennis, when you evolve as a person and you're more disciplined in your life and more commitment and passion and focus and intensity, it all translates into the tennis court, and vice versa. When you start showing more discipline on the court, then your life starts to reflect that. So seeing how Stef went about parts of her career, most of it I wasn't anywhere near seeing close up, but more importantly how she goes about her life. It's pretty clear focus, every day reflecting her values and priorities. So I aspire to that. Tennis is still a big priority for me, so I try to make sure it has its place every day."

The 35-year-old Agassi draws his inspiration from his wife, a former champion. Can women’s pro tennis produce someone our daughters can look up to who can convey more meaningful messages than: "You can't afford me" or "It's all about the bling" or "I let my racquet do the talking?" or "Don’t bother me now, I’m _____________ ( fill in the blank with: eating, playing, preparing to play, resting after playing, going to my photo shoot)"?

Against pretty big odds, this U.S. Open final gave us not one, but two women who walk the walk and talk the talk of true champions and role model for girls everywhere. Both Kim Clijsters and Mary Pierce played the final as usual with a kind of regal class and high self esteem. I could imagine Gwyneth Paltrow playing either of their roles in a movie. One won and one lost with grace, living the inscription of Rudyard Kipling's "If" that is inscribed over the player’s entrance onto the Wimbledon Centre court: "If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same".

Although their styles of play are obviously different, Kim and Mary share similar traits that make them ideal role models to young women. Neither player is known to throw her racquet, neither swears when missing a shot and neither are prone to the dark mumblings under their breath, neither shriek or make wild excuses for losing. Pierce was playing with so much peace and joy of the moment that although she lost some very important points in the semifinals against Elena Dementieva and the final against Clijsters, she would still clap the strings of her racquet to acknowledge the beauty of her opponent’s shot. Perhaps the first time I saw this stylish gesture was about 17 years ago when a teenager with long hair named Agassi did it in an early-round match.

Some of the tennis press who are unaccustomed to seeing positive role models are perplexed with Mary’s polar opposite reaction to the contemporary common pro. Instead of beating herself up if she misses an easy shot, she just smiles broadly or laughs. Isn’t smiling supposed to release dopamine, the "reward chemical" of the brain associated with zoning? In a media world that often rewards crude and self-indulgent behavior, it is nice to give our children a couple of modern classy role models that are throwbacks to heroines like Goolagong, Wade, Court, and more recently Evert and Graf.

The concept of a role model is in part how we all influence each other and how we need each other to inspire us to be our best. It’s also about how we admire certain people or build friendships with people with whom we share certain values. Is it a surprise that a young Kimmy had a poster of Graf on her wall and that Graf would marry Agassi and that Kim would eventually become a role model to young girls just as Agassi is to young boys?

In a press conference during her run to the Indian Wells title in March, Clijsters made a comment that evoked some of Agassi's remarks: "When you do your best, it's always good enough."

Clijsters faced a deep deficit against world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport in the Indian Wells final. Davenport entered the final fresh off a 6-0, 6-0 drubbing of Maria Sharapova and raced out to a 4-0, 40-0 lead against Clijsters. Instead of packing it in, Clijsters got that deep focused, almost mesmerized look on her face and came back to win the first set with six straight games, and eventually the match. In the post-match press conference she was asked what was on her mind being impossibly down like that? How did she do it and what would she tell kids about how they can also be successful on the court or in life?

"My parents have always told me, you know, no matter what happens, you have to try to stay positive," Clijsters replied. "You know, bad things can happen to you, but if you try to stay positive, something positive with come out of it…I believe that everything happens for a reason. And something positive can come out of it."

In the aftermath of Clijsters' wrist surgery, her ranking dropped to No. 134. Agassi, who exchanged racquets with Clijsters after the Open in recognition of their shared comeback stories, fell to as low as No. 141 in November of 1997. Pierce's ranking plummeted to No. 295 in April of 2002 after shoulder and back injuries.

During a discussion with Mary just after she had lived a dream again of making it to this year’s French Open final, she tried to put into words where she found the strength and energy to believe in herself again after such a dramatic dive in the rankings.

"I believe the most important and powerful force is love," Mary told me. "It has the ability to overcome all, and aid in every circumstance. It is greater than any other power source."

True to her words, Pierce revealed again what inspired her when she found herself down one set in her semifinal match against Elena Dementieva.

"Today after I lost the first set, I kept thinking about a friend of mine back home, Pat, who is sick," Pierce said. "She gave me the power to play today."

Recently, Mary has said that she is no longer motivated as she was in her youth by forces such as fame, money, success. In response to the question, "Can you explain how love helps your game?" Mary replied in an email: "For some there is motivation in anger, aggressiveness, hate…money, fame etc. ….and that’s why I say love, because it is the strongest power of all. It overcomes all adversaries. Any of the other powers can eventually destroy. Unlike love, which always builds."

This message gives a possible clue to the unusual gesture that she makes sometimes three times in a row. Her light tapping of her forearm on her chest over her heart is probably less about the traditional message, "it takes heart" and more about "the power of love". Even though we live in a world that continues to send messages to our youth that says "show me the money", it has been a breath of fresh air to hear Clijsters' attitude about money.

"For me personally, I’m not going to go out there tomorrow thinking, you know, 'I’m playing for 2.2 million,' " Clijsters said. "No, not at all. No, no idea. No. You know, that’s not really on my mind at this moment."

Extraordinary champion role models often have defining moments that are less about the money, less about the trophy and more about a passionate connection to an person or an ideal. Sometimes the defining moment comes out in the form of a few special words while other times it is demonstrated in actions.

Watching Kim and Mary embrace after the finals reminded me first of Andre and James Blake hugging and whispering after their epic match. Perhaps it was a bit of foreshadowing of Clijsters' climb up the railing into the players’ box after her victory in the U.S. Open final. But one of Clijsters' defining moments came seven months ago after she had participated in supporting an exhibition in the Indian Wells stadium, organized for Tsunami relief by UNICEF and Roger Federer.

Long after the other players had left to prepare for the rest of the tournament, Kim climbed high into the bleachers and continued to weave her way around tennis fans collecting donations in a big yellow bucket. In those moments Kim was unsure or her future and unsure if her surgically repaired wrist would withstand the rigors of the WTA Tour. Yet, she was generous to offer her image and time to support a good cause. Little did she know that by the end of the tournament, those very fans would be looking down from where she climbed to cheer her in her accepting the first of what would become seven title trophies this season. This gesture spoke volumes about her as a person and a true champion. In a single minded focus for a passionate cause she was without fear. She has an ability to exist in the moment. She didn’t care what others thought nor did she realize that she was without any security. For the remainder of the tournament and on the road all the way to the U.S. Open, she hit her shots and serve with a similar passion and fearlessness.

Most of us are drawn to the entertainment, the excitement and the beauty of tennis. But when we have true champions out there letting it fly, like this year’s Open finalists Clijsters, Pierce, Federer and Agassi something extra happens. The game becomes bigger and at times truly may become a metaphor for life. Champions inspire each other to greatness, and they inspire us to become more. But most importantly they can give a vision to our youth in their journey for their own dreams.

09-16-2005, 03:48 AM
Great article!

09-19-2005, 05:45 PM
EdiEditorial: Ace of hearts / Americans have to love Andre Agassi
Thursday, September 15, 2005

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The last decade in American sports hasn't exactly been kind to men's tennis. Rather than watch a steady stream of different foreigners dominate the tennis rankings, Americans have turned instead to NASCAR or golf to fill their weekend world of sports.

So it was a nice change of pace to hear people talking about the U.S. Open last weekend. And the source of the chatter was none other than 35-year-old Andre Agassi. Well past the age when many tennis greats retire, Mr. Agassi is in the best shape of his life and was able to compete with -- if not defeat -- one 20-something after another.

In three consecutive five-set victories, Mr. Agassi reached the finals of the U.S. Open. And although he lost the final match to 24-year-old Roger Federer, he conducted himself with extreme grace in both victory and defeat.

With a bald head and two toddlers waiting for him after each match, Mr. Agassi no longer presents the "image of a rebel" from his long-haired days. But he remains a sight far too unusual in American sports: a true statesman.

Although he hopes to continue playing next year, Agassi has been severely hampered by nerve damage in his lower back and relied on cortisone shots to push him through this season. In a hint of possible finality, he addressed the fans after his loss to Federer, saying, "Thank you, New York, for the last 20 years -- it's been a great run." To Mr. Agassi, right back at you.

09-19-2005, 07:39 PM
Of all the athletes in the world, Andre was the only one to make Google's top ten of most-searched-for this past week :banana:

Google Top 10 searches

Below is a summary of the Google Zeitgeist results of gainers on, comparing search queries that have risen by a significant percentage for the week ending Sept. 12, 2005.

1. iPod Nano: Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the newest, thinnest iPod model on Sept. 7.

2. 9/11: Sept. 11 was the fourth anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

3. Bob Denver: Popular "Gilligan's Island" and "Dobie Gillis" sitcom star died at age 70 on Sept. 2.

4. Emily Rose: The new film "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" beat rivals for weekend box office Sept. 9-11.

5. Hurricane Ophelia: Storm that lashed the Carolina coast.

6. Barbara Bush: Former first lady made controversial remarks when visiting Hurricane Katrina survivors in Houston.

7. iPod Mini: Previously the thinnest product in the iPod family to be replaced by the iPod Nano.

8. Twin Towers: The World Trade Center in New York encapsulates much online discussion ranging from politics to architecture on the fourth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

9. Anneliese Michel: This German girl's 1968 exorcism was the basis for the Emily Rose story now told on film.

10. Andre Agassi: Thirty-five-year-old tennis star defies the odds to get to the U.S. Open finals before losing to Roger Federer.

09-21-2005, 09:44 PM
At an EXCELLENT and LONG interview done by Richard Pagliaro with Perry Rogers, Andre's best freind and agent...a lot of GOOD and new info

Don't miss it!!


Click onto Headlines...and scroll down a bit...can't miss it

09-25-2005, 01:10 AM
The Tennis Week Interview: Perry Rogers

Andre Agassi By Richard Pagliaro
They met, appropriately enough, on a tennis court in a momentary post-match clash that would change the course of both of their lives. An 11-year-old Andre Agassi had just lost a junior match and was in no mood for advice when a fellow junior player named Perry Rogers, who happened to have a crush on Agassi's sister, supplied some anyway.

"I said 'Don't worry, you play your game,' " Rogers remembers telling Agassi in that post-match moment nearly 24 years ago.

In those days, the young Agassi had not yet adopted the four-corner bow that has become his customary closing gesture of appreciation to his fans. His response did not exactly endear him to Rogers, who was ready to put down his racquet and start trading shots with the kid whose father had been an Olympic boxer before training his four children to become tennis players.

"He was bothered that he lost and wasn't really kind to me and I said to my doubles partner, 'That's not nice, I'm going to go after him,' " Rogers said. "Then Andre called up and said: 'Hey, let's go to the movies' and from that day on we've been best friends."

Instead of fighting each other, the Las Vegas natives have continually challenged themselves to contribute to others and from that initial feud they've formed a strong friendship and business partnership. Rogers is president of Agassi Enterprises and serves as agent for three of the most popular athletes in the world: Agassi, his wife Steffi Graf and NBA all star Shaquille O'Neal. In addition, Rogers, who heads Premier Integrated Sports Management, recently began representing Australian golfer Adam Scott.

"Andre and I have always enjoyed having discussions that dealt with larger questions than just how much money can you make?" Rogers said. "The question of what defines success? What creates quality of life? How do you have connections with people that are meaningful? Those are issues that from a real young age we were interested in discussing."

Those discussions were the blue print for their business partnership. Rogers, who graduated from Georgetown and the University of Arizona law school, has negotiated endorsement deals with adidas, Head, Schick, Canon, Kia, Aramis, Genworth Financial, 24 Hour Fitness, and Deutsche Telekom that have been Agassi one of the world's highest-paid athletic endorsers. The pair have used Agassi's earning power and global appeal to contribute to charitable causes, children's education and the Las Vegas community through the non-profit Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, which has raised more than $42 million for charity since its inception in 1994 and the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, his charter school that offers education to 250 students.

The 10th annual Andre Agassi Grand Slam For Children featuring Mary J. Blige, Duran Duran, Earth Wind & Fire and George Lopez will be staged on Saturday, October 1st at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. For ticket information, please visit or or phone (800) 929-1111.

The 35-year-old Agassi 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. 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.

"Vegas has been the fastest-growing city in America for more than 30 years," Agassi said. "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."

During his recent run to the U.S. Open final, Agassi revealed another source of inspiration when asked the secret to his success.

"Surround yourself with good people that know how to help you and make good decisions, and train and work hard," Agassi replied.

From support boxes in the most prestigious Grand Slam stadiums in the world to corporate board rooms where he's negotiated multi-million dollar deals to picnic tables at backyard barbecues, Rogers has been in Agassi's corner throughout his career and has been astounded by what the childhood friends have achieved together.

"I can't believe any of this. It's all way beyond what I could have ever dreamed — all of it. I mean, the whole thing is as lucky as you can get," Rogers said. "My childhood best friend, the person that I am more comfortable with that I could have ever imagined being comfortable with anybody is my business partner and my confidante and my mentor and by best friend. The fact that I get to do all of these things while at the same time I get to watch him accomplish such big things on the world stage is beyond what you could have dreamed. I used to hope that one day he could play Wimbledon. So that was my ceiling: "it would be neat if he got to go on the court at Wimbledon." To be the most popular person in the history of tennis, which is the place he occupies is jaw-dropping."

Tennis Week caught up with Rogers recently in the lobby of his midtown Manhattan hotel. In this interview, Rogers discusses the reason Agassi left Nike and signed with adidas, the ongoing expansion of the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, future plans for Agassi and Graf to work together and reveals how Agassi has sustained his long-time relationship with his support team: Rogers, trainer and confidante Gil Reyes and coach Darren Cahill.

Tennis Week: The three of you — Andre, yourself and Gil — have had such a long and productive friendship and working relationship. How have you been able to sustain that relationship all these years and what is the plan for this team beyond tennis?

Perry Rogers: Well, it's a few things. First, friendship has been the most important aspect from the beginning. The business is just an excuse for us to be together as friends. And I think that perspective is what allows everything to be successful, it is that we're always clear on what the priorities are; the priorities are not the business, the priorities are the connections that we have as friends and as people. And I think when you have your priorities clear on that, and they're similarly aligned, from there I think it's pretty easy to accomplish.

Tennis Week: Is it a team effort in the decisions you make in terms of schedule, career, endorsement opportunities? Do you all sit down together and collectively make those decisions?

Perry Rogers: Everyone has their separate roles and those roles have been clearly defined. We're fortunate that we understand those roles and our responsibilities don't seem to creep into each other. The schedule is probably the only area where we need to collectively sit down. When it comes to Andre's fitness, for example, I believe that Andre is the fittest tennis player to ever pick up a racquet. I have nothing to do with that. Gil is all of that working with Andre and that's something I celebrate every day of the year: what an incredible job Gil has done. When it comes to the business, that's my responsibility and when it comes to what takes place between the lines, that's Darren's responsibility. There's probably a lot more collaboration between Darren and Gil than there would be with Darren and Gil and myself.

Tennis Week: I've always heard Andre say that you and he, at a very young age as kids growing up in Vegas, made a sort of vow that you would give something back to the community. I read recently your dad is quite a philanthropist and with that in mind did your upbringing instill that in you or was it more a case of you and Andre formulating that plan to give back to the Vegas community?

Perry Rogers: My dad didn't really start to get involved with philanthropy until I was in law school. The discussions Andre and I had were when we were little kids.

Tennis Week: What prompted that at such a young age? When I was that age, honestly I was thinking of ways to meet a girl, not launching a foundation?

Perry Rogers: I think it was trying to define what success means. Andre and I have always enjoyed having discussions that dealt with larger questions than just how much money can you make? The question of what defines success? What creates quality of life? How do you have connections with people that are meaningful? Those are issues that from a real young age we were interested in discussing.

Tennis Week: As recently as early June I read in Forbes that you guys were leaning toward renewing with Nike. Why didn't that happen? The second part of that question is why did you guys opt to sign with adidas?

Perry Rogers: Well, we've had 19 great years with Nike. They're a fantastic company. But at the end of the day, at the end of the negotiation, we had no problem reaching an agreement with what Andre would be compensated, but we didn't even remotely come close to seeing eye-to-eye in terms of the Foundation. I think the person with whom I was negotiating didn't really understand the importance of Andre's foundation to Andre and the size and scope of it, more generally speaking. So that created a disconnect in the discussions and as much as we tried to bridge that disconnect, we couldn't. And we started to have a discussion with adidas and they were so proactive about getting involved with and understanding the Foundation and they were so great about realizing that the attitude of sports should include this component that it was just a fit right from the beginning. It isn't that Nike did anything wrong it's just that we had a different perspective on this component. And that perspective is really critical to Andre and what he wants to accomplish.

Tennis Week: So did adidas pursue you? Or did you contact adidas and say "Hey, this might not work out with Nike and we may need to explore other avenues."?

Perry Rogers: We realized that we needed to explore other avenues. So we had a discussion with adidas and they were great in saying "OK, let us try to understand the Foundation. Let us see what it is you're trying to accomplish and let us see if we can meet those needs." And they were fantastic about saying "Yeah, this is something we want to pursue."

Tennis Week: When you're negotiating potential partnerships is the Foundation a necessary part of those negotiations and are you up front with potential partners about that?

Perry Rogers: Yes, it is at this point. Yes, at this point in his career and in has been that way for some time. In the last eight or nine years, I can't think of a single deal we've done where we didn't include the Foundation. And so it is a critical component and it's the way that we can really feel good about the partnerships meeting what everyone's needs are.

Tennis Week: How does what you're seeking from a partner differ from let's say for instance Nike came to you and said "We'll give you the money and you do whatever you want with it. Not that we don't want to be involved, but we'll give you the money and you allocate whatever money you want to the Foundation, that's up to you."?

Perry Rogers: In every project it's about people and resources. And money is just one of those resources. So if they were to take the approach "We'll just give you money and you do want you want with it", the problem with that is that it doesn't address the resource of people. Just having Nike's money, in this case you mention it would be Andre's money if they said "we'll give you the money and you do what you want with it." But just getting money, that's not it. We're looking for partners who will commit their time and personnel to accomplishing this for kids.

Tennis Week: I would think that broadens your reach and what you can achieve?

Perry Rogers: Exactly because you now have the resources available. You can call up and say "We'd like to sell a t-shirt to raise awareness for the foundation". Or "Do you have any advertising buys going on and do you think you could work in a 30-second PSA for our Foundation?"

Tennis Week: So adidas' relationship with other partners can lead to relationships for your Foundation?

Perry Rogers: Exactly, exactly. It's viral.

Tennis Week: You represent three of the most popular and recognizable athletes in the world in Andre, Steffi and Shaq and they've all had long and distinguished careers. Where do you go now in terms of planning their careers beyond sports and are you already doing deals now looking three and four years down the road?

Perry Rogers: We've been really fortunate in that we've been able to get involved with business that have worked out well for us. We bought the Golden Nugget, Andre and I, we had partners in it, but we were one of the owners. That investment worked out really well for us. We made a little over 200 percent in just over a year. We own a big chunk of a bank, Nevada First Bank, which we started in Las Vegas and is a bank throughout Nevada now. We were one of the founding partners of that bank. We've very fortunate we have an incredible group of owners and an amazing management team and we've been a very successful bank. We own restaurants and night clubs and we have now gotten into real estate. We own fitness clubs in Las Vegas and we're doing those for Shaquille in Miami now so all those things combined we feel really well positioned and well prepared for the opportunities that are ahead of us.

Tennis Week: Do you see yourself expanding to other clients? Are you looking for other clients?

Perry Rogers: No. I do think that we'll represent a male golfer in the very near future. I'm really, really excited about that opportunity, but I'm not looking to expand the business by creating more clients. What we've done is our business model is simply different. We don't believe you can represent more than one athlete in a sport. Now, I do divide women's and men's sports because they're different circumstances, different management, different sponsors, etc. We've been blessed we represent, I think, the two greatest tennis players of all time in Andre and Stef. We represent the most important basketball player in the league today and the most dominant basketball player in the league today in Shaquille. So what we really try to do is create a few unique and special relationships with just a few athletes. We work hard to avoid conflict of interests and then we try to make sure we develop their business in the way that they see fit.

Tennis Week: When you've done combined deals for Andre and Steffi together how does that work and in general are you pursuing more combined endorsement and marketing opportunities for them?

Perry Rogers: I think you'll see more of that because it's authentic and it's unique. This is a great couple; people like to see them together. They're fantastic people, they are great parents and they put their family first. There's a connection and a relatability that they have that is very unique and that's because they are real as people. They're very unaffected by their life and their accomplishments and that is truly amazing. So I think with all of those elements combined I think you'll see that trend continue of having them work together. The other thing it does is it allows for their business life to not take away from their family life. While it isn't as good as just spending the day on the beach together, it still is them together and that's important for both of them.

Tennis Week: Andre is so influential as an ambassador for tennis. What do you see his role in tennis becoming beyond playing? Could it be as an administrator, commentator, working with one of the governing bodies of the game? What do you think?

Perry Rogers: I'm really not sure. I've been focused so much on his playing career that I couldn't predict what will happen after that. But having said that, I believe that almost any opportunity in tennis will be available to him because he's earned it. He understands the business side of tennis. He works well with players, organizers and sponsors. He has proven himself over and over and over again to be someone that can deal with different elements involved with tennis.

Tennis Week: And he is an established voice in tennis who commands attention.

Perry Rogers: That's correct. He's very reasoned. He's very smart. He understands the nuances and intricacies that surround some complex issues.

Tennis Week: There have been rumors that you might get involved or that you have an interest in getting involved with the ATP and its board. What is your interest in tennis in that area?

Perry Rogers: I happen to be one of those people who love the game. I played it as a junior, I played for one year at Georgetown and I just think it's fantastic. I think it's the greatest sport on the planet. It's a sport about problem solving and problem solving while you have to mix endurance into it and I find that unique because you're on your own and you can't call timeout or pass the ball. You can't take yourself out of the game or substitute in or out. For those reasons, it's a game that I've always been attracted to and if I can help in any way shape or form I would be more than willing to do that.

Tennis Week: What changes do you believe tennis should make or needs to make for both its short-term and long-term growth?

Perry Rogers: Tennis absolutely has to pool its rights. They have got to stop viewing themselves as individual entities.

Tennis Week: Do you mean tournaments? Governing bodies? The men's and women's tours?

Perry Rogers: All of it. They have all got to pool their rights; that doesn't mean that you pool the revenues, it does mean that you've got to come together when it comes to trying to pursue a television rights deal or a sponsorship deal. Right now, we're bargaining and negotiating against ourselves when it comes to those areas.

Tennis Week: Do you ever envision Andre writing his autobiography or doing a video or DVD autobiography. There has been so much written about him, it would seem there's going to come a time when he wants to tell the story himself?

Perry Rogers: It's a great question. It is something that we've thought a lot about and talked a lot about. He's got a great story. Andre's story is unique. I do believe that when he decides the time is right it's a story that should be shared.

Tennis Week: You've been with Andre since the beginning, basically, how have you seen the business side of tennis evolve and how would you assess the health of the sport now compared to when you initially got into it?

Perry Rogers: The business side — for the players, for the tournaments, for everyone — has become more divided between the haves and the have nots. And I think that goes back to my point about how we've been beating each other up. The great players and the great tournaments are doing better than ever. But the mid-level players and tournaments are struggling more than ever. And I think that what great tournaments need to recognize is that unless they get involved they won't have a support system that allows their tournaments to be great. They need to become part of the solution in this problem or it won't be able to be solved.

Tennis Week: Or that gap can conceivably widen to the point...

Perry Rogers: Or it widens to the point where some of these tournaments are no longer economically feasible. And when that happens, you're not able to follow those players. We're losing tournaments and that's not a surprise to anyone.

Tennis Week: Andre was asked after his first-round U.S. Open match his favorite U.S. Open moment and he basically said you can't encapsulate 20 years of tennis in New York to one moment. For you, you've been here so many years is there any one match or moment that really sticks out either at the Open or just here in New York, one that really touched you personally?

Perry Rogers: This is more of a personal one: I enjoyed his win in '99 (when Agassi beat Todd Martin in five sets), but not because of the win because it's never been about that. It's always been about problem solving and a process for all of us in our group. But I enjoyed that win because I got to watch him share that with Stefanie when they were just starting to get together. It was really neat to see a woman who is so accomplished, who has been there so many times herself, she's won this event five times, who's been there and understands it and to watch her happiness for someone she was just starting to date. On a personal note, that by far is my favorite. We all went out to dinner after the match and that dinner was my favorite moment.

Tennis Week: As a group, how do you keep this collective relationship productive and prevent it from becoming stale?

Perry Rogers: We hang out! We're all friends. So we're together having barbecues at each other's homes, your kids are all growing up together. There isn't any important event in our lives where we don't call up and share it with each other. It's like "Oh, do you believe this happened?" And so, business kind of takes place with the personal side. I'll get on the phone and say: "My daughter had her first day of school and it was awesome Andre, and my son was a little nervous but now he's ready. Oh and by the way, Genworth called..." That's kind of how it happens: business kind of gets worked into our personal lives and discussions; it's not the priority it's something that's more organic than that.

Tennis Week: Andre has talked about expanding the Academy. What is the vision for the Academy?

Perry Rogers: We're going to start phase three of construction this month, which is a $21 million expansion of the Academy this month. The goal is to make it K through 12 and right now it's K through 9. So we'll be K through 12 beginning in the fall of 2008. We're starting the construction now and we'll complete the construction next August. We'll be done with the high school next August and we'll be done with the gym next December. But we will have somewhat of any empty building as our kids get older because you have to come through our process. Come 2008, our kids that we had in fifth grade when we opened the school will be seniors. Every year that they get older, we add a grade.

Tennis Week: Will your own kids or Andre's kids attend the school?

Perry Rogers: No. This is primarily for kids who don't have an opportunity so to take a spot would be selfish.

Tennis Week: We spoke earlier about the conversations you and Andre had as kids. When you reflect back on those childhood dreams and goals what surprises you the most about what you've both achieved?

Perry Rogers: I can't believe any of this. It's all way beyond what I could have ever dreamed — all of it. I mean, the whole thing is as lucky as you can get. My childhood best friends, the person that I am more comfortable with that I could have ever imagined being comfortable with anybody is my business partner and my confidante and my mentor and by best friend. The fact that I get to do all of these things while at the same time I get to watch him accomplish such big things on the world stage is beyond what you could have dreamed. I used to hope that one day he could play Wimbledon. So that was my ceiling: "it would be neat if he got to go on the court at Wimbledon." To be the most popular person in the history of tennis, which is the place he occupies is jaw-dropping.

Tennis Week: How did you sustain that friendship when you both took such different paths after your teen years? Andre chose professional tennis and you went to law school? Those are two very different paths.

Perry Rogers: Andre is Harvard smart. He has an incredible understanding of the complexity of issues. He enjoys drilling down issues and working inside the fine details. He's as bright as they come. It wasn't ever planned for us to work together, that kind of just happened. Even before we started to work together if there was a life crisis that I started experiencing he was my first call. It was like: "Hey, give me your take on this. What do you think? How do you think I should solve this problem?" He's always been that person for me.

Tennis Week: Do you think your business relationship started because he knew he could trust you because he knew "Perry's my friend, he's not going to screw me over" or was it a case of him recognizing you had an aptitude for it?

Perry Rogers: I don't think it was so much the trust as he felt I was capable of really growing the business and doing the right work.

Tennis Week: I've always read that you and Andre's initial meeting came about after an argument that almost escalated into a fistfight. Is that true? What do you remember about that initial meeting?

Perry Rogers: That's what happened. I liked his sister and he just lost a match. I said "Don't worry, you play your game." He was bothered that he lost and wasn't really kind to me and I said to my doubles partner, "That's not nice, I'm going to go after him." Then Andre called up and said: "Hey, let's go to the movies" and from that day on we've been best friends.

Tennis Week: Is there anything about Andre that maybe people don't realize or know that you think would be interesting for people to know?

Perry Rogers: What I'd like for people to know is that Andre has the largest athlete's foundation in the world. And he started it at a time when athletes didn't start foundations during their careers. It was really unique that he did that. We took a lot of flak actually at the time from Andre's agency. They felt that he should wait and that we were wrong. They thought it would take away from his ability to perform on the court. In fairness, they came back soon after we started the foundation and once they saw the scope of it, they said: "You know, we were wrong." And I appreciated their honesty about it. Tiger Woods started his foundation, Lance started his and I think all these athletes recognize that the time to create change is always now. I think it's fantastic. I think when you look at all the good Lance Armstrong's foundation is providing around the world, the hope that it provides, the resources that it provides and what Andy (Roddick) is doing with his foundation, you know, talk about something that just instills hope in people, that it really can be this good. Athletes really can be someone you can look up to, not just for their accomplishment inside the lines, but for their accomplishments outside the lines; it's the most rewarding thing that we have.

Tennis Week: Do you ever see yourself or Andre pursuing politics?

Perry Rogers: No. No.

Tennis Week: You would never do that?

Perry Rogers: No, I would never do that. I'm not built that way. That's a skill set that I don't...I'm not sure I could deal with the rigors of a campaign. Andre, it's possible that he runs one day. That would be his call.

Tennis Week: I would think he'd be such a popular prospective candidate. I mean, people must be pulling at him to run at some level, he has a point of view, he's one of the most well-known athletes in the world and so many people who grew up with him or watching him relate to him.

Perry Rogers: He really is. He is clearly someone you can relate to. I shouldn't say it (running for office) is not possible; I should say at this time it's not anywhere near something (being considered).

:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

09-27-2005, 02:56 PM
Press Release Source: Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation

Celebrated Pop Artist Burton Morris Creates Commemorative Artwork for Andre Agassi's Tenth Anniversary Grand Slam for Children Benefit Concert
Thursday September 24, 4:06 pm ET

LAS VEGAS, Sept. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Internationally renowned pop-culture artist Burton Morris has created a commemorative artwork for Andre Agassi's Tenth Anniversary Grand Slam for Children benefit concert to be held in Las Vegas on October 1. In the bold, energetic style for which Morris is known, the artwork entitled "Earth Heart" will become a lasting symbol of the concert event.

The Grand Slam for Children presented by Genworth Financial benefits the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation (AACF), a not-for-profit organization established in 1994 to assist at-risk youth in Las Vegas, Agassi's hometown. More than 68,000 guests have attended nine Grand Slam events, raising more than $42 million for charity.

"With this painting I am able to express a universal message of peace and love," Morris said. "As the Andre Agassi Foundation helps us to learn the importance of love in a child's life, it is my hope that this painting will inspire the youth of today to grow up in a world where peace and love prevail." Morris and Agassi will together unveil the artwork during a special reception at the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy on Friday, September 30. The artwork will also be the centerpiece of a live auction, held just prior to the benefit concert.

Presented by Genworth Financial, the 10th Grand Slam for Children on Saturday, October 1 will feature a superstar line-up of entertainers including Celine Dion, Duran Duran, Earth, Wind & Fire, George Lopez, Glenn Frey, Mary J. Blige, Robin Williams and a special surprise guest who will take the stage to support the Foundation and its beneficiaries.

Morris' creation of the commemorative artwork for this year's Grand Slam is the latest in a long roster of high-profile projects. Most recently, Major League Baseball selected Morris as the "Official Artist for the 2006 MLB All-Star Game." Morris also was selected by the United States Olympic Team as an official artist for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Thirty-five original paintings interpreting the spirit of the Olympic Games created for the International Olympic Museum are currently on tour in the United States.

Morris first gained national attention in the mid-1990s when his artwork was chosen to hang on the set of the NBC hit television series "Friends." Over the years, his artwork has also been selected for the 76th Academy Awards®, the Paris World Cup Soccer Games and the 38th Montreux Jazz Festival. He has created signature artwork for Absolut Vodka, H.J. Heinz Corporation and Perrier among many others. In addition, Morris' artwork has raised millions of dollars for countless charities worldwide.

About the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation

The AACF, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity, was created to provide recreational and educational opportunities for at-risk boys and girls. The Foundation strives to assist those underprivileged, abused and abandoned children who may be deprived of basic options in life. The AACF also offers a combination of emotional, physical and academic programs designed to enhance a child's character, self-esteem and career possibilities.

About Genworth Financial

Genworth (NYSE: GNW - News) is a leading insurance holding company, serving the lifestyle protection, retirement income, investment and mortgage insurance needs of more than 15 million customers, and has operations in 24 countries, including the U.S., Canada, Australia, the U.K. and more than a dozen other European countries. For more information, visit

Source: Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation

:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

09-29-2005, 10:37 AM
Andre and Steffi in high spirits with Jaz Elle and Jaden Gil


Former Wimbledon champion Andre Agassi has swapped the tennis court for the playground. The legendary athlete found a novel way to limber up before his latest clash, by spinning his little girl Jaz Elle over his head.

The two-year-old, with her blonde hair in pigtails, was all giggles as her doting dad tipped her upside-down and then put her safely back on her feet. And her mum Steffi Graf likewise had her hands full, as she helped big brother Jaden get to grips with a large plastic playhouse just a few yards away.

Andre, who has travelled the world over the course of his sporting career, has no doubt accrued plenty of wisdom to share with his children, but the 35-year-old says he learns just as much from them as they do from him. "They taught me to do more listening than talking," he explains. "You can't teach unless you are willing to learn... And there's no space greater than a child's life."

When asked about the early days of his romance with Steffi, the proud father is characteristically self-effacing. "The looks were something I responded to most when I didn't know her - I'm such a caveman!" he confessed. "But then you notice the pillars in her life that are a testament to who a person is. And then I basically stalked her, then got to know her and it has been a joy ever since."

10-02-2005, 12:40 PM
Press Release Source: Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation

Andre Agassi, Barbra Streisand and an All-Star Line-up Help Raise More Than $10.1 Million for Children at Tenth Anniversary Celebrity Gala
Sunday October 2, 3:43 am ET
Agassi and Manager Perry Rogers Make a $2.5 Million Personal Contribution

LAS VEGAS, Oct. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Andre Agassi and a superstar line-up of entertainers took the stage Saturday evening at the Grand Slam for Children presented by Genworth Financial to benefit at-promise youth organizations in Southern Nevada. Surprise guest, legendary performer Barbra Streisand, stunned the crowd when she closed the evening's festivities. The Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation (AACF) raised more than $10.1 million during the gala benefit, which featured a black-tie VIP dinner, live auction and concert held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

More than 8,000 fans and VIP guests packed the arena Saturday night to see performances by Streisand; Celine Dion; Duran Duran; Earth, Wind & Fire; George Lopez, Glenn Frey; Mary J. Blige; Robin Williams and Usher. Grammy Award-winning producer David Foster served as the musical director for the tenth year.

"Every year, I am overwhelmed by the tremendous support the Grand Slam for Children receives from the Las Vegas community, business partners and the entertainment industry," Agassi said. "It is gratifying to know that 100% of the money we raised tonight will directly benefit children who require our assistance."

The VIP sponsors attended a pre-concert reception and dinner followed by a live auction with items including a private tennis clinic with Agassi and Stefanie Graf; a combination package including a 2006 CLS500 Mercedes Benz Coupe and a round of golf with Ray Romano and Brad Garrett; and a private party for 20 at PURE nightclub at Caesars Palace featuring guest DJ Shaquille O'Neal.

In honor of the tenth anniversary event, Agassi and long-time friend, business partner and manager Perry Rogers made a personal contribution of $2.5 million dollars to directly benefit the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy.

The Grand Slam for Children concert fundraiser benefits the AACF, a not-for-profit organization established in 1994 to assist at-risk youth in Las Vegas, Agassi's hometown. More than 85,000 fans and VIP guests have attended 10 Grand Slam events, raising $52.3 million for charity.

Specific charities benefiting from the AACF fundraiser include the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, a model charter school in West Las Vegas; Andre Agassi Boys & Girls Club; Assistance League of Las Vegas' Operation School Bell; Boys Hope/Girls Hope of Nevada; Child Haven; Class! Publications; Cynthia Bunker and Joy McClenahan Memorial Scholarship Fund; I Have A Dream Foundation; Greater Las Vegas After-School All-Stars presented by Inner-City Games; Las Vegas Philharmonic's Youth Concert Series; Las Vegas Sun Summer Camp; YMCA of Southern Nevada.

Since its inception in 1995, the Grand Slam for Children has been distinguished by its roster of cream-of-the-crop entertainers including Sir Elton John, Billy Joel, Rod Stewart, Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder, Faith Hill, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Robin Williams, Carlos Santana, Don Henley, Lionel Richie, Luther Vandross, Ray Romano, Jamie Foxx, Jay Leno, Stevie Nicks, Seal, Tim McGraw, India.Arie, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Dennis Miller, Brian McKnight, Tears for Fears, LeAnn Rimes, Josh Groban and others.

For more information, please contact the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation at (702) 227-5700.
:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

10-02-2005, 02:55 PM
October 01, 2005

Kid at Heart
Agassi's 'Grand Slam for Children' reaches 10th birthday
By Spencer Patterson <>

What: Andre Agassi's "Grand Slam for Children" concert, featuring Celine Dion; Usher; Glenn Frey; Robin Williams; Duran Duran; Earth, Wind & Fire; George Lopez; Mary J. Blige.

When was: 8 p.m. Saturday.

Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Tickets: $100, $150.

Information: (702) 891-7777.

When Andre Agassi hosted his first "Grand Slam for Children" concert, he was 25, single and childless.

None of that stopped the tennis star from formulating a plan to help disadvantaged youths in Southern Nevada.
"I've always had a passion to help children that don't have opportunities or hope in their lives," Agassi said. "Change a child's life, and you change all of our lives."

As Agassi gears up for his charity event's 10th anniversary, his life off the court has changed considerably. He turned 35 in April. He and wife Steffi Graf celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary next month. And the couple are parents to two children: son Jaden, 3, and daughter Jaz, 1.

Agassi says having those kids in his own home has only upped his passion for helping others.

"When you have children of your own, you start to really get a first-hand taste of just what a crime it is for a child not have a fair shot at life," he said. "So it's increased my passion, no question. It's made me even more committed."

Agassi's "Grand Slam for Children" concert returns to the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night. Doors open at 8 p.m. At press time, tickets remained, available in both the $100 and $150 sections.

This year's list of performers: Celine Dion; Usher; the Eagles' Glenn Frey; Duran Duran; Earth, Wind & Fire; Mary J. Blige; and comedians Robin Williams and George Lopez.

Composer David Foster will serve as musical director for the 10th year.

The 2005 bill carries on a strong tradition that has drawn such stars as Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana, Luther Vandross, Elton John, Billy Joel, Rod Stewart, Sheryl Crow, Ray Romano and Jamie Foxx to the event over the years.

"It starts with a dream list ... and this being our 10th, we really pulled in the ones that we were shooting for," Agassi said. "With Duran Duran and Earth, Wind & Fire ... who over the age of 30 isn't a big fan of theirs? And Celine obviously has proven herself to be such a great talent and great attraction here in town."

Additionally, the show will feature a surprise performer, of whom a coy Agassi would reveal little.

"You don't want to miss it. I don't want to say anything else, but it's pretty exciting," he said.

Proceeds from the Grand Slam concert benefit the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, which directs money in several directions, including to the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, the Andre Agassi Boys & Girls Club, Child Haven, the I Have a Dream Foundation, the YMCA of Southern Nevada and the Las Vegas Sun youth camp fund.

Like Agassi, Frey -- a founding member of the Eagles who has also enjoyed a successful solo career -- has dedicated much of his life to providing assistance for children in need.

"I don't talk about my charity work much, but my wife and I have been involved for 15 years in helping at-risk kids," Frey, 56, said. "It just rings out to me, and I find it to be very satisfying."

Frey is father to three children, and said he feels for those who aren't fortunate enough to live in stable family environments.

"So many kids are victims," he said. "Bad marriages, abusive (parents), poverty ... it's all out there. If you're able to provide for your kids and give them your time, you're lucky."

Frey will be performing in his first Grand Slam event, following in the footsteps of fellow Eagle Don Henley, who participated in 2001.

For Frey, the event also represents a chance to give back to a city he says has been very good to him over the years.

"Every time you go to Vegas you're always getting stuff, getting your room comped. Las Vegas knows how to host its guests, especially its entertainment guests," Frey said. "So I think it's nice to be a good citizen and show up for them. I feel like this is sort of a payback, a chance to do my part."

Frey, who will be back at the MGM Grand with the Eagles on Oct. 15, is also looking forward to the chance to team with Agassi's all-star house band, which includes one-time Eric Clapton road mates Nathan East (bass) and Greg Phillinganes (keyboard).

"It's gonna be fun for me to play with some other guys for a change, especially of that caliber," Frey said.

Agassi's nine Grand Slam concerts have raised more than $42 million, highlighted by the 2003 event, which raised $12.6 million after toy mogul Ty Warner matched the $6.3 million tallied that year.

"When I started the foundation, my goal was to get to a $10 million endowment fund, so we could kick $1 million into the community for forever," Agassi said. "But man, it just grew a life of its own. It's taught me not to set goals, because they always limit you."

High on Agassi's to-do list this year is the continued expansion of his Preparatory Academy, which will soon add a high school wing.

"We have up to ninth grade now, and I have to add a grade every year in order to see these children through," Agassi said. "The ninth graders were there with us since third grade, so we need to get it done by next year. That's my responsibility."

As for Agassi's tennis career, talk had run rampant about possible retirement plans after the Las Vegas native missed this year's Wimbledon Championships due to recurring back pain.

But three weeks after his latest run at the U.S. Open -- which saw him advance to the finals before falling to world No. 1 Roger Federer in four sets -- Agassi is feeling healthy, and looking ahead to the 2006 tennis season.

"I felt great. I stayed healthy, was able to be out on the court, letting my game fly, and was very pleased with how my body held up over the course of 3-out-of-5 sets for two weeks," Agassi said. "So I'm committed to playing next year, and then I'll assess it from there."

Besides, Agassi explained, staying on tour might help raise more money for children, an added incentive in his quest to stay near the top of the world rankings.

"I think (my retirement) will have an impact (on the charity), but I think we've built enough momentum that we can survive regardless of tennis," he said. "But it has been part of my motivation to continually work hard and try to play. I think there's a very tangible difference, not just in dollars, but also in awareness (with me out there)."

:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

10-03-2005, 02:01 PM
Former Wimbledon champion Andre Agassi has swapped the tennis court for the playground. The legendary athlete found a novel way to limber up before his latest clash, by spinning his little girl Jaz Elle over his head. The two-year-old, with her blonde hair in pigtails, was all giggles as her doting dad tipped her upside-down and then put her safely back on her feet. And her mum Steffi Graf likewise had her hands full, as she helped big brother Jaden get to grips with a large plastic playhouse just a few yards away. Andre, who has travelled the world over the course of his sporting career, has no doubt accrued plenty of wisdom to share with his children, but the 35-year-old says he learns just as much from them as they do from him. "They taught me to do more listening than talking," he explains. "You can't teach unless you are willing to learn... And there's no space greater than a child's life."When asked about the early days of his romance with Steffi, the proud father is characteristically self-effacing. "The looks were something I responded to most when I didn't know her - I'm such a caveman!" he confessed. "But then you notice the pillars in her life that are a testament to who a person is. And then I basically stalked her, then got to know her and it has been a joy ever since."

Article site

10-04-2005, 02:03 AM
CORRECTON -- 10/3/05
An item in a story about Andre Agassi's Grand Slam for Children in Sunday's Review-Journal was incorrect. Two bidders shared a prize for $180,000 each. The prize involves a trip to Paris with a side trip to a Shakespearean festival, escorted by Robin Williams.

Agassi guest slam dunk

Mystery star rumored to be Barbra Streisand

Andre Agassi talks during a news conference for the Grand Slam for Children at the MGM Grand Garden on Saturday.
Photo by K.M. Cannon.

Members of Earth Wind & Fire perform during Andre Agassi's Grand Slam for Children on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden.
Photo by K.M. Cannon.
His benefit concert is 10 years old, but Andre Agassi is still capable of pulling off a big surprise: topping off his biggest talent lineup yet with a surprise finale from Barbra Streisand.

The singer, who does little public performing, was scheduled to close the three-hour-plus fundraiser at the MGM Grand Garden for Agassi's foundation, featuring a generation-spanning talent roster that ranged from the Eagles' Glenn Frey to R&B star Usher.


Before the concert, the homegrown tennis star added another surprise, saying he and manager Perry Rogers would up the tentative total of money raised from $7.5 million to $10 million.

"Me and Perry are going to round it off," Agassi told the crowd.

The Grand Slam for Children benefit combines table and single-ticket sales with unique auction items, such as tennis lessons with Agassi and wife Steffi Graf. Most of the money raised for his foundation goes to fund his charter school, the Andre Agassi Preparatory Academy.

Touring the academy was such "a life-changing experience" for Earth Wind & Fire singer Philip Bailey that he came up with an impromptu auction item: a "personal" concert by the band anywhere in the world. The concert went for $230,000.

Another big prize involves a trip to Paris with a side trip to a Shakespearean festival, escorted by Robin Williams. Two bidders pushed the prize above $200,000 before deciding to share it for $80,000 each.

Before the concert kicked off with Frey's singing "Take It Easy," Agassi told the crowd, "One thing is clear. We're here for each other, and we will not retreat when the times become hard."

Keeping a secret as big as Streisand's appearance required security enforcement from Williams.

The comedian sustained his knack for stealing the show at the afternoon news conference before the black-tie benefit. When producer David Foster was pumped for the identity of the mystery star, Williams sprang to his defense in a tough-guy voice, yelling for the producer not to crack and to "go into witness protection!"

Saturday's benefit had the biggest musical lineup yet, even without the mystery guest. The massive stage was divided in half to allow one act to be set up while another performed.

So crowded was the news conference that the questions didn't even get around to Mary J. Blige, comedian George Lopez and Frey.

Agassi said the U.S. Open was one kind of challenge -- "The finals (which he lost this year to Roger Federer). Not as good as the semifinals" -- but said he had a different challenge in store with the charter school. "We need a high school up and going by August. That's all," he said.

After adding a ninth grade this year, "we promised those ninth-graders who have been with us since fifth grade that we will add a grade every year so they will graduate," Agassi said. "That's on me. August. Wanna help?

Foster has overseen all nine benefits, which started in 1995 but skipped one year to give the foundation time to catch up on its building projects. The early years were "a little more homegrown," Foster noted, centered around the adult-contemporary artists he worked with at the time. "Now, a lot of these artists I've never met before."

The presence of Usher, who turns 27 this month, may have been the most significant sign that the benefit has become a model for the next wave of entertainers.

"It motivates the kids and it motivates the generation of stars that are up-and-coming," Usher said.

"I told everybody I was not going to sing for the rest of the year," Usher added, but he said he decided to treat the Agassi benefit as a warm-up for his own Project Restart benefit for hurricane victims on Oct. 9 in Atlanta.

"It's great to see that somebody young like Andre can influence somebody younger like Usher," Foster said. "His first event's coming up, and he's thinking, 'In a couple of years I could raise this much money (for his New Look Foundation). I could do it.' "

The benefit also included new guest stars in Duran Duran, Earth Wind & Fire and young singer Alana Grace.

Things have changed for some of his past guest stars, such as Celine Dion, who now is a Las Vegas performer needing the help of a police escort getting from one venue to another.

"Everything you've done before was something, but when you have a child, everything becomes so important. You want to change the world," she said.
:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

10-13-2005, 10:39 AM

All the Best in Music, Movie and Celebrity News - Delivered the moment it happens


Hollywood star DUSTIN HOFFMAN fears he's being snubbed by ANDRE AGASSI after his private clay court brought the tennis ace nothing but bad luck.
Hoffman, an avid tennis fan and player, invited Las Vegas, Nevada-based Agassi to practise for the French Open at his home but now worries that he jinxed his pal's performance.

The actor says, "He got knocked out in the first round and Andre has not spoken to me since."

13/10/2005 09:47

:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

10-15-2005, 07:00 PM
That's Important

Technology Passes Test: ITF Approves Hawk-Eye

C.Lum/ By Richard Pagliaro

Technology is ready to call the the shots in tournament tennis. Electronic line-calling technology that may well revolutionize tennis officiating is officially ready for tournament play.
The British-based Hawk-Eye ball tracking system has made history as the first — and only — electronic line-calling system to meet International Tennis Federation accuracy standards in a series of tests conducted earlier this week at Arthur Ashe Stadium on the grounds of the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows. The ITF announced today it has approved Hawk-Eye for tournament use in reviewing decisions made by on-court officials.

"The latest version of the Hawk-Eye electronic line calling review system has, following a series of tests, met the criteria set by a committee comprising representatives of the ITF, ATP and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour for use in reviewing decisions made by on-court officials," the ITF announced in a statement.

The ITF's announcement means professional tennis tournaments, including Grand Slams, Masters Series events and standard ATP and WTA Tour events, can use Hawk-Eye to review and correct calls made by officials during matches.
:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

10-19-2005, 03:27 PM
Today: October 19, 2005 at 7:17:33 PDT

Columnist Ron Kantowski: Don't turn channel for Andre
Ron Kantowski is a Las Vegas Sun sports writer. Reach him at or (702) 259-4088.

Tennis time

WHAT: The Tennis Channel Open, an ATP tour men's event.

WHEN: The week of Feb. 27; exact schedule to be determined.

WHERE: The newly christened Darling Memorial Memorial Tennis Center on Washington Avenue between Durango and Buffalo drives. The 40-acre complex features 23 courts, including a center court with seating for 2,200 spectators that can be expanded to accommodate 3,500.

FIELD: To be determined. Last year's Tennis Channel Open in Scottsdale, Ariz., included James Blake, Vince Spadea, Mark Philippoussis and Arnaud Clement.

In that we're a country club town and tennis is a country club sport, that the men's pro tennis tour is returning to Las Vegas next spring is probably a good idea.

It would be a lot better idea if Andre Agassi were playing.

Agassi, the tennis and philanthropic giant, will be patrolling the base line and pounding ground strokes in faraway Dubai, United Arab Emirates, when he should be helping to ring in the Tennis Channel Open's move from Scottsdale, Ariz., next February.

It's possible there may be frost on center court during those early morning matches. But the weather won't be as big a factor in the tournament's eventual success (or failure) as Agassi being wined and dined by sheiks in the United Arab Emirates.

There are only 2,200 seats at center court at the just-opened Darling Memorial Tennis Center on Washington Avenue between Buffalo and Durango drives. So even a dubious live sports town such as ours should have little trouble putting enough backsides in them to make the event appear to be a success.

But if Agassi were to play, it would be like Roscoe Tanner's serve. Absolutely huge.

In fact, I'd be willing to wager that more than 2,200 spectators would buy a ticket to watch Agassi and wife Steffi Graf play "Pong" at P.T.'s pub.

It's too bad Agassi or Roger Federer or any other of the men's stars who won't be playing here (such as most of them) couldn't fake a groin injury and pull out of their previous commitments, such as the Duty Free Open in Dubai or a clay court event in Acapulco, Mexico.

But when the Duty Free Open includes a hefty duty free appearance fee, I guess that's not an option.

"This is the first year, and we'd like to have all the great players, but that's not realistic, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman said during a Tuesday teleconference that confirmed the return of the ATP tour to Las Vegas after a 20-year hiatus."What we hope is that we are so darn successful that the (tennis) community is going to embrace it and it (the tournament) is going to get better and better. When we started Las Vegas Speedway, everybody made fun of it and said it wouldn't work. Now we've got 140,000 people out there for a race."

I would point out that's because Las Vegas Motor Speedway has a NASCAR race featuring all of the sport's stars. Conversely, a guy from Down Under named Wayne Arthurs (currently ranked way down under at No. 74 in the ATP computer) won last year's Tennis Channel Open before it went belly-up in the Arizona desert.

And here you thought Wes Short Jr., the winner of last weekend's Michelin Championship at Las Vegas PGA Tour stop, was obscure.

Like most pro sports featuring less than household-name talent, Las Vegas' ability to support pro tennis has been checkered at best. Sometimes, not even marquee talent has impressed the indifferent locals.

In 2000, a Fed Cup (the women's equivalent of the Davis Cup) match between the United States and Spain at Mandalay Bay was a double fault at the box office, despite featuring Billie Jean King as the American captain and aces such as Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport, Jennifer Capriati and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, who played for Spain.

"I'm not naming names, but there are 10 players that are committed to playing, and they are all great players," said Tennis Channel founder Steve Bellamy, whose speciality network will partner with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and Las Vegas Events in marketing the tournament and its companion events.

"It's no secret there is an event in Acapulco and an event in Dubai the same weekend as ours. But the sport has 40-50 stars and you don't need all of them to have a great event."

I would counter by saying all this event really needs to be great is one star. The one who was born here, raised here and still resides here.

But he's not coming.

:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

10-22-2005, 04:24 PM

East Texan Gets Opportunity Of Lifetime
Meeting Andre Agassi

It's a dream of any sports fan to meet your favorite player, and for one East Texas kid, that dream became a reality recently in a big way. 12-year-old Adam Zindler of Tyler loves tennis. He's an up and coming junior player, who's favorite tennis star is Andre Agassi. So Adam and his dad jumped at the chance to go to Las Vegas recently to meet Agassi and his wife Steffi Graf, both friends of a family member. Boy, were they in for a surprise.

"Andre, just out of no where just looked at Adam and said let's go play tennis," said Adam's dad Mark Zindler, "and ended up being a 30 minute lesson with him and then he ended up playing 20 minutes with Steffi, just the two of them.

"I thought I was pretty much going to meet him," said Adam, "not really exactly play with him for awhile."

But play they did. Adam Zindler on one side of the court, and 8-time grand slam winner Andre Agassi on the other side.

"It was so funny because I was shooting some of the video with one of the other cameras" said Mark, "and I couldn't even hold it still because, I think [Adam] was more calm than I was. I looked at it and thought, good grief, this is the number two tennis player in the world! So it was a pretty proud moment I don't mind telling you."

Peter Gordon, one of Adam's coaches at Hollytree Country Club, who also looks up to Agassi, said it was a priceless learning experience.

"The same thing that Andre Agassi mentioned to him is the same thing I mention to him when we are on the tennis court," said Gordon, "so, it's good for him to see it from somebody else, especially from a guy like Andre Agassi or Steffi Graf."

"It was just amazing," beamed Adam. "It's just a once in a lifetime chance that not many people get to do."

Kevin Berns reporting.
:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

11-08-2005, 04:07 PM
Andre Agassi (United States)

A modern day Ken Rosewall, Andre Agassi continued to confound those who think he should retire with a 60th career singles title in Los Angeles and sixth U.S. Open final appearance. The oldest player to qualify for the Masters Cup since American compatriot did so aged 35 in 1987.

ANGRE AGASSI (United States)

Born:Las Vegas, Nevada, on 29 April 1970

Professional:Since 1986

Career Singles Titles:60

Career Prize Money:$30,951,275

Highest World Ranking:No 1 (first attained on 10 April 1995)

2005 Win-Loss:38-11

Career Win-Loss:860-265
And still Andre Agassi continues to battle Father Time. At the age of 35, with sciatic pain in his lower back, Agassi is the oldest player to qualify for the season-ending championships since Jimmy Connors did so at the same age in 1987.

When Agassi takes the court in Shanghai, it will be his 13th appearance at the championships, surpassing Ivan Lendl's record of 12 appearances.

Agassi will finish in world's Top 10 for 16th time in his 20-year career and will become the oldest player since Jimmy Connors was No 7 in 1988.

Reached the quarter-final or better in ten of 12 tournaments played in 2005, capturing his 60th career singles title in Los Angeles.

The American began his season at the Australian Open, home to four of his eight major championships successes losing to world number one Roger Federer 6-3 6-4 6-4 in the quarter-finals.
In March, he made his first Davis Cup appearance for the United States since 2000 and lost to Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic in opening rubber and first round loss.

After losing in the French Open first round to Finland's Jarkko Nieminen 7-5 4-6 6-7 (6-8) 6-1 6-0, missed two months of action due to a chronic back problem, a sciatic nerve injury.
Advanced to his first Canadian final in ten years at Montreal falling to Spain's Rafael Nadal in three sets.

Became the oldest player to advance to U.S. Open final since Ken Rosewall, aged 39, at 1974 New York major championship. Agassi lost to Switzerland's defending champion Roger Federer 6-3 2-6 7-6 (7-1) 6-1. Hasn't played on tour since.
:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

11-10-2005, 12:07 PM
Exhibition is a sellout
Richmond Times-Dispatch
Thursday, November 10, 2005

If you were thinking about buying tickets for the Genworth Children's Advantage Classic featuring Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf at the Siegel Center on Dec. 2, forget it.

The tennis exhibition, which also has Andy Roddick and Anna Kournikova, is sold out. However, anyone interested in getting on a waiting list for unused tickets can call 804-484-7302.

All proceeds from the event will go to Virginia Commonwealth's Lobs and Lessons program for underprivileged youth and the William Byrd Community House. -John Packett

11-12-2005, 06:50 PM
Ankle sprain concern for Agassi

Sat Nov 12,11:37 AM ET

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Former winner Andre Agassi, who has not played since losing to Roger Federer in the U.S. Open final in September, returns to action at this week's Masters Cup troubled by an ankle sprain. .jpg

The 35-year-old American, winner of the season-ending Masters back in 1990, suffered the injury playing racquetball four weeks ago.

"It's not the most ideal preparation but you always want to believe that you've still got it," said Agassi, who is appearing in the tournament for a record 13th time.

"Not playing is not always easy and it's not always a great decision in the short-term but my intention was to get fit for Shanghai and to do this for another year.

"I want another chance, that's the way it is."

Agassi, who has been drawn with Rafael Nadal, Nikolay Davydenko and Gaston Gaudio in the Gold Group at the $4.45 million event, accepts the game has changed a great deal since he beat Sweden's Stefan Edberg in the 1990 final.

"I think we can't ignore how violent the athleticism of the sport has become," said the eight-times grand slam champion.

"Guys are getting bigger, stronger and hitting the ball harder. There's more wear and tear as the sport evolves naturally, into a more powerful athletic game.

"One thing you can't ignore is in order to get to the ball these days, you have to move ballistically.

"Playing a surface like we are here is not easy on the body," added Agassi, who plays his first match against Davydenko on Monday."

The top two in each group advance to the semi-finals at the ATP Tour's season-ending extravaganza which runs from November 13 to 20 at Shanghai's Qi Zhong Stadium.
:wavey: Andre Agassi forever:wavey:

11-12-2005, 06:52 PM
Agassi wants one more year

Sat Nov 12,10:25 AM ET

SHANGHAI (AFP) - Evergreen tennis star Andre Agassi said that his US Open final defeat to Roger Federer had motivated him to play at least one more year on the circuit.

Agassi, 35, who hasn't played since the loss in September but is making his comeback at the Masters Cup here, said he wanted another crack at glory next year.

"I want another chance, that's the way it is. It brings out my motivation to do things I don't even think I'm capable of doing," said the third seed, who will open his campaign against Russia's Nikolay Davydenko on Monday.

"I've been that way for a long time."

Agassi, the oldest player here by eight years, said his two-month lay-off had been designed to keep him fit for the 4.45-million-dollar Masters Cup, and for another season of professional tennis.

"I want to keep doing this so I have to choose my poison. Not playing is not always easy and it's not always a great decision in the short-term but my intention is to do this for another year," he said.

He said he didn't know if he would retire after next season.

Agassi is the oldest player at the season finale since Jimmy Connors in 1987. He has made a record 13 appearances and beat Stefan Edberg for his only title in 1990.

:wavey: Andre Agassi forever:wavey:

11-12-2005, 08:23 PM
SHANGHAI, China (AP) -- The Tennis Masters Cup is wasting no time getting to its headline player -- top-ranked Roger Federer, whose game could be shaky because of a sprained ankle.

Federer, seeking his third consecutive Masters Cup title, begins the eight-day, year-end tournament Sunday against David Nalbandian.

"I definitely need confidence because I haven't played in seven weeks," Federer said Saturday. "My expectations are low. I just hope to play a good match."

The Swiss star hurt his ankle during practice and will be playing an Argentine opponent also not at the top of his game.

"It's not a bad match to play in the first round," Nalbandian said. "I'm not 100 percent to start tomorrow and he's not 100 percent."

In the second match, Guillermo Coria of Argentina plays Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia.

Federer has a 77-3 match record going into this eight-man event. If he wins the title, he will tie John McEnroe's match-winning percentage record (.965) in a calendar year during the men's professional era. A third straight Masters Cup title also would match Ivan Lendl's streak from 1985 through 1987.

Nalbandian holds a 5-3 edge over Federer but has lost the last three, including the 2003 Tennis Masters Cup in Houston. He also lost to Federer in the 2004 Australian Open and the U.S. Open.

Nalbandian wasn't expecting to be in China's financial capital or even playing this late in the season.

"I finished the season and was almost on holiday," he said. "I was ready to go fishing in south Argentina."

Instead he became the third Argentine in the tournament when Andy Roddick pulled out this week with a bad back. Nalbandian replaced his fishing gear with his tennis racket and took a 30-hour flight from Buenos Aires to Shanghai via Paris.

He and Federer are part of a group that includes Coria and Ljubicic.

"Our group is the toughest," Nalbandian said.

The other group begins play at Qi Zhong Stadium on Monday night when 35-year-old Andre Agassi, competing in his 13th Masters Cup, takes on Nikolay Davydenko of Russia and Rafael Nadal of Spain meets Gaston Gaudio of Argentina.

Agassi hasn't played since losing the U.S. Open final to Federer in September. And, like many in the elite field, he's coming off an injury.

"Four weeks ago I took a nasty spill and sprained my ankle," he said. "I've maintained my training as best I could, but I want to find my form soon."

Agassi has yet to win in Shanghai. He was upset in the first round of an ATP tournament in 2001, then lost all three round-robin matches in the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai in 2002.

"Despite losing I've always enjoyed myself here," he said. "I want to play well everywhere I go, but especially here."
Ljubicic needed to play strong tennis to make the field.

"It's an incredible feeling," he said. "Just five weeks ago I was 18th and the pressure was very big. But I like the pressure. I hope I'm going to play good matches here."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
:wavey: Andre Agassi forever:wavey:

11-13-2005, 01:36 AM
Masters as fashion aces
Wu Yinying
2005-11-11 Beijing Time
Mandarin collar three-quarter coat lined with a silk "Dragon"print
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andre Agassi ... — eight of the biggest names in tennis will be hitting up in Shanghai this weekend. Local and international tennis fans are gathering in the city as preparations continue for the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup.

Readying the stadiums, arranging playing schedules and ensuring that the players will enjoy their leisure time in Shanghai are well underway for the climax to the tennis year. Now a global traditional Chinese clothing brand, Shanghai Tang, is adding a local fashion touch to the tennis stars' wardrobes.

It's a tradition of the Masters Cup for the eight finalists to appear at the opening ceremony in local costumes. This year, four costumes designed by Shanghai Tang have been selected by the organizing committee to be worn at the opening ceremony of the Masters Cup.

All four fashion items have been selected from Shanghai Tang's 2005 autumn/winter collection which is themed on the Forbidden City.

Paul Ling, general manager of Shanghai Tang on the Chinese mainland, says that more than 10 suits have been prepared for the eight finalists to match their different heights, body sizes and physiques while more than 20 have been made for the eight pairs of doubles players.

Shanghai Tang was founded in 1994 by Hong Kong businessman, David Tang Wing-Cheung. The name, "Shanghai Tang" evokes the elegance and charm of fashionable Shanghai in the 1930s.

If you want to see which outfit has been selected for players, you'll have to wait until tomorrow night. If the organizers' pick differs from yours, why not try to buy one for yourself?

Tennis Masters Cup

Date: November 13-20

Venue: Shanghai Qizhong Tennis Center, 3028 Kunyang Rd N., Minhang Tickets: 280-1,380 yuan (80-160 yuan for students) Tel: 962-288, 6247-2010

Live on Shanghai Great Sports Channel

Date: 1pm, November 13;

2pm, 7pm, November 14-19;

1pm, 4pm, November 20

T his classic Tang

jacket with frog buttons on the front would be our choice as the winning design. The dark black rayon velvet is in sharp contrast with the bright lining of the jacket which is a copy of a pattern from imperial times. The lining shows a dragon, emperor and empress on a yellow background. With the sleeves rolled up, a colorful dragon immediately lights up the whole jacket.

"This jacket is a little big. It is comfortable to wear and one feels free in it because it's not like a tight-cut suit," says Jennifer Ding, retail manager of Shanghai Tang. "This classic style is exceedingly popular with foreigners (in our shops)."

A typical "East Meets West" style,

the design resembles a Zhongshan suit. It is made from pure cotton which is like moleskin. The silk lining is in Shanghai Tang's exclusive lime green. A patch pocket is stitched on the left upper side in which one may put a chic handkerchief in different colors to enhance the look as a whole.

Jennifer Ding of Shanghai Tang says that a Mandarin collar shirt inside is a perfect match to the suit. "You also can wear collarless shirt inside but not a Western-style shirt collar," she says.

The denim jacket comes in two colors — black or brown.

With the same cut as

the jacket below, this suit, however, is for a slimmer figure. The half cotton lining design makes static electricity problems impossible, something that happens constantly with silk linings when wool is worn inside.

"It's a fabulous thing for parties. The velvet reflects and shines under the lights," says Jennifer Ding of Shanghai Tang. She also recommends the style because it's suitable to be worn on many different occasions and for its easy-to-match style.

It also comes in two colors — black or brown.

This leather coat goes down to the knees. The lime-green lining is embroidered with a signature Chinese dragon. Normally, leather coats are not part of traditional Chinese costumes, but this coat reveals a Chinese touch with its Mandarin collar and has a sexy look with its slim waist.

:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

11-13-2005, 09:40 PM
Agassi throws himself into the fire
On ankle injury: 'I needed to work on my eye-feet coordination a little bit,
because I took a nasty spill'

By Chris Bowers, Special to

FROM THE TENNIS MASTERS CUP SHANGHAI – "You really want to know what happened?" said Andre Agassi, that infectious smile getting broader.

Agassi was in his element. He was entertaining. He was the star of a small gathering of local and international tennis journalists congregated around a ridiculously small round table with 12 chairs somehow supposed to seat 60 people. Before every Tennis Masters Cup the eight players are expected to sit for an hour at the "round tables," making themselves freely available to the media. Agassi didn't quite make the full 60 minutes, but his audience was never below 40 and frequently of mob proportions.

Here he was in Shanghai, due to play his first match since his glorious four-set loss to Roger Federer in the US Open final. The tennis world assumed the back spasms that have dogged him for the majority of the year had accounted for the nine weeks of inactivity. But, no, at least not all of it. Agassi had his story.

"My wife took the kids to Germany," he recounted, "and I was bored one afternoon, so I decided to go play some racquetball, you know, get some exercise, work on my eye-hand coordination a little bit. I needed to work on my eye-feet coordination a little bit, because I took a nasty spill."

That was what made the news. Agassi bored, his wife – that anonymous term which just happens to refer to 22-times Grand Slam singles champion Steffi Graf – out of town and playing an exhibition against Gabriela Sabatini for her charity, turning his left ankle while messing about with some mates. It was a charming image. But something else Agassi said gave a greater insight into his state of mind.

Asked about coming back at a tournament where the lowest-ranked participant is 11th, he said,"Yeah, but it beats the alternative. It's always been something that's difficult to do, and the surface doesn't help. It's a sticky surface, your feet stay and the rest of your body sort of doesn't, so there's probably more wear and tear on these indoor surfaces. But why not throw yourself into the fire? It's only going to make these things easier next year."

Next year. There, in a passing reference, was Agassi's answer to the unasked but ever-present question about whether the end is nigh. Far from believing his loss to Federer in New York was the ultimate signal that he could no longer beat the best, Agassi has chosen to view his exploits as confirmation that, if he can take the best player he's ever faced to four sets on the biggest stages, then there still is a future for him.

And maybe the twisted ankle has done him a small favour. The back injury that reduced him to pulp in the fourth and fifth sets of his first-round loss to Jarkko Nieminen at Roland Garros has clearly benefited from an extra four weeks off. He revealed he has not had to have another cortisone injection since the US Open despite clear signs in the fourth set of the final that the back was tightening up, and that has contributed to any thoughts of retirement being put on hold.

But, while he might have been blessed with an opponent ranked in, let's say, the 70s if he had chosen to return in a regular tour event, on Monday he takes to the court against Nikolay Davydenko, the Russian who's completing the best year of his career and currently stands at No. 7, just two places behind Agassi. Davydenko's weight of shot means Agassi's movement will have to be at its best from the outset.

But then two years ago he didn't play between his semifinal loss to Juan Carlos Ferrero at the US Open and the Tennis Masters Cup (then in Houston), and he promptly reached the final where it took Federer to beat him. You get the feeling he'll be very happy with a repeat performance this time, just to "make things easier next year."

11-14-2005, 12:56 AM
short articles from TENNIS NEWS

Agassi - plays Davydenko on Monday.


Andre Agassi plays his first match in more than two months on Monday when he faces Nikolay Davydenko in a Gold Group round-robin encounter at the Masters Cup.

The third-seeded American has not played since losing to Roger Federer in the US Open final on September 11.

Agassi last won a year-end event in 1990 when it was under the guise of the ATP Tour World Championship, but he has yet to claim it as the Masters Cup, though he reached the final in both 2000 and 2003.

The fifth seed from Russia, Davydenko is playing in this event for the first time.

:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

11-16-2005, 09:22 PM
Give 'em a rest!
Tennis has a problem, and ripping on Agassi isn't fair
Posted: Wednesday November 16, 2005 2:07PM; Updated: Wednesday November 16, 2005 3:09PM
It makes little sense to accuse Andre Agassi, who spent most of 2005 battling a bad back, of pulling out of the Masters Cup on purpose.

Some quick Q&As:

Is it fair for Masters Cup organizers to rip into Andre Agassi for withdrawing from the tournament on short notice? Granted, Agassi has done this before. But he hasn't been a spring chicken in quite some time, and the tennis season can take its toll on an older body. I highly doubt that Agassi wanted to turn around and withdraw so suddenly after flying all the way to Shanghai. Wang Liqun stopped just short of saying that Agassi was faking an injury. Although I can understand his frustration, when will the ATP finally recognize that the sport needs some time off for its players? When one of the sports classiest ambassadors is getting blasted by officials for this kind of thing, it makes me worry.
-- Paul Higdon, Gaithersburg, Md.

Agree, agree, a thousand times agree. Both the Masters Cup and the WTA Championships should be real crescendos to the seasons, year-end extravaganzas that build momentum for 2006 and pierce the public consciousness beyond tennis nerds like us. Instead, they've both been fairly disastrous. Injuries galore. Exhausted players. Underwhelming crowds. Negligible buzz. Players calling out the tours. Promoters calling out the players. And that's just the dirty laundry being aired publicly.

Rest assured, behind closed doors there are some irate sponsors right now. And this isn't just the "tennis wonk" take. On Tuesday morning, when I first sat down to answer my mail, these were the top three tennis headlines on the wire:

• Organizers slam Agassi for withdrawal
• Is a late season schedule a fix?
• Johansson called to Shanghai, just in case.

Nice. Precisely the kind of feel-good p.r. that ropes in the casual fans. As for Agassi, who knows? I'm not in Shanghai -- and how do you blame my editors for declining to fly me halfway across the world to watch Mariano Puerta play? As you note, it hardly makes sense for Agassi to hightail it to Asia (this year or any year) to tank and go home. And anyone who watched the match the other night could see that Agassi was hurting.

On the other hand, you empathize with the organizers. You build a stadium, you lay out millions in prize money and then promote the hell out of a "Fifth Slam," And it ends up playing out like the Sheboygan Open. At least in L.A. they can cut their losses, pass this white elephant over to the hombres in Madrid and worry about the Lakers. In Shanghai, they made a huge investment and could scarcely have had a more inauspicious start.

:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

11-20-2005, 08:21 PM
Nov. 20, 2005


• Andre Agassi
• Tennis


Courier starts senior series


Andre Agassi is still making Grand Slam finals and competing in the year-end championship at age 35, but for the mere mortals in the 30-something generation, Jim Courier has another plan -- senior tennis.

Courier announced Tuesday the introduction of the Champions Cup Series, a four-event series that will make a stop in Naples, March 9-12, 2006. The other venues are Boston, Memphis and Houston.

Courier, 35, stressed that these matches will not be exhibitions, but high-level tennis. Entry is restricted to players over 30 who have reached a Grand Slam singles final, been ranked in the top five in the world or played singles on a winning Davis Cup team.

Players expected to participate include John McEnroe, Mats Wilander, Pat Cash, Boris Becker, Michael Chang, Todd Martin, Goran Ivanisevic, Aaron Krickstein and Thomas Muster.

''Most of us, if not all of us, have been playing worldwide for the past few years, and the opportunities have not been great here in the U.S., so to finally have a cohesive series is something that we are all excited about,'' said Courier, the former world No. 1 who retired at age 29. ``Andre is still doing what he does, and I have great admiration for him, but this is an option for the rest of us.''

One former player Courier has not heard from is Pete Sampras, 34.

''My feeling is Pete will really only play when he's good and ready,'' Courier said. ``Pete's a friend. I don't push him. He's got my phone number.''


The 2005 season comes to a close this week with the WTA Championships in Los Angeles and the Masters Cup in Shanghai.

The women's tour has been balanced at the top, with Lindsay Davenport at No. 1 and four other players winning the Grand Slam events -- Serena Williams (Australian Open), Justine Henin-Hardenne (French Open), Venus Williams (Wimbledon), and Kim Clijsters (U.S. Open).

But the men's tour largely has been a two-man show, starring Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Federer has won 11 titles this year, and so has Nadal. Federer has a 2-1 edge on Grand Slam titles this year and has been ranked No. 1 for 94 consecutive weeks. He has won five Grand Slam events over the past two years and has won 24 consecutive finals.

Nadal, the swashbuckling 19-year-old Spaniard, is the third teen to reach No. 2 in the world, joining Boris Becker and Bjorn Borg.

Andy Roddick (back injury), Lleyton Hewitt (pregnant wife), and Marat Safin (knee injury) all withdrew from Shanghai.

• Donna Fales of Coral Gables, the longtime director of the Greater Miami Tennis Foundation, won the seniors (65s) singles world championship in Turkey, Oct. 23-Oct. 29. Fales, who was unseeded, upset top seed Rosie Darmon of France in a match that lasted 2 ½ hours. Other locals who competed were Louise Russ of Boca Raton (75s) and Gardner Mulloy of Miami (80s).
:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

11-21-2005, 08:10 PM
read what they say:

‘Y' stands for youth
Got a Minute?
I revel at the accomplishments of our young.

When I watch Shirley Chang at the age of 9 playing the Paganinni Violin Concerto with the New York Philharmonic, I am in complete awe. Look at the young in sports - Tiger Woods, the Williams sisters, Andy Roddick and 35-year-old young Andre Agassi!

:wavey: Andre Agassi forever :wavey:

01-29-2006, 02:30 AM
HYDE: Game, set, life, Agassi
Rebel-turned-ambassador just living in the moment.

Published January 28, 2006

Andre Agassi still sees big moments waiting out there for him. That's why he's still playing tennis. It's what keeps him committed.

It's part of why, at 36, off an ankle injury, when people keep asking when he'll act his age, he's coming for the first time to a fun, little tournament in Delray Beach next week. To find a big moment.

Andre Agassi holds his trophy
See larger image
(Getty Images/Clive Brunskill)
Jan 28, 2006

"Of course, for me, a big moment has come to mean so many different things," he said.

And then he's off talking not so much about playing in the U.S. Open final last year, but how showing up on the court can impact kids at his charter school in the inner city of Las Vegas. And how his boy, now 4, can see another angle to him than just dad.

"I see the way it is with my wife," Agassi says of Steffi Graf. "She was one of the best athletes in the world. [Jaden, 4] doesn't even realize that."

Bjorn Borg quit at 26. Ivan Lendl did at 34. Pete Sampras, who was Agassi's contemporary, stopped at 32.

Agassi is still going.

He's still growing, too, in his third decade in the public eye. He's still out there running with the kids and making as much sense with his words as anyone in sports. A big moment? Of course it's changed for him. He's changed. His world has.

"If we're talking about winning a Grand Slam, I'd need a few things to fall my way," he said. "But I consider so many other things big. For me, playing in front of a small group of people, in a tough match, working hard at 36 -- I don't take those times for granted.

"I find myself getting to enjoy the icing on the cake quite often now. I'm at an age I can appreciate what these opportunities mean, and what I can do, and how many people benefit. There's a lot of wins out there for me, personally, regardless of the score."

One of the rewards of watching a player grow up, then age, is watching him or her become a better person. That's it. Just watching. Let's face it, what could Agassi or anyone else talk about at 17 with any sense of perspective? Hair?

Now he says how "I'd like to burn those pictures of me from back then" in the way lots of us would like to burn something from our teenage years. His life has undergone full rewrite that way. He has not just grown up. He's grown introspective.

He has gone full circle from rebel to statesman, from tennis brat to public icon, from heartthrob to a husband and father, as well as a tennis ambassador.

Sampras, for one, always needed a singular mindset to succeed in tennis. Agassi always went the other way. He kept trying on different thoughts at different ages until here, by now, he's a little bit of all of them. And a lot more interesting than most people in the spotlight.

Tiger Woods, at 30, offers little of himself beyond his swing. Michael Jordan never became much of a voice beyond the court.

Agassi can talk of the successes of his charter school, of 10 years of helping underprivileged kids, of how when "you see someone take ownership of their future it's the greatest feeling you can have."

He can talk of a resort he's building in the mountains of Idaho. "I'm looking forward to it as one of the greatest places of the world," he said.

Ultimately, he comes back to tennis, because it still defines him best. He missed the Australian Open because he wasn't ready. An ankle injury playing racquetball set him back. So Delray Beach will be his entry point into the season.

"The biggest question I have to answer at this point in my career is do I have game to compete with the rest of the world on a consistent basis," he said. "I still feel I can answer it, `Yes.' I still enjoy traveling the world and competing."

You don't need a record book to know Agassi. You don't need to know the eight Grand Slam titles, the 60 titles overall or the nearly $31 million in prize money. You just need to know he's 36 and not just still playing. He's still sure a big moment will find him every time out.

Copyright ©

01-29-2006, 09:16 AM
Agassi ready for a new beginning

By Charles Elmore

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Sunday, January 29, 2006

DELRAY BEACH — Andre Agassi wore a sleeveless black shirt and black shorts, sunscreen the only accessory on his bare scalp, and waited for a practice shot to come across the net on stadium court at the Delray Beach Tennis Center.

It clipped the net cord and began to trickle over. Three months from his 36th birthday, Agassi sprinted from the base line and dug it out for a winner. A dozen spectators clapped.

Five months ago, millions of TV viewers witnessed a similar dash. This one did not even involve a shot, yet it encapsulated a career. It came after a changeover in the deciding fifth set in Agassi's quarterfinal match with James Blake at the U.S. Open. Agassi, a 20-year veteran of a sport that has worn down champions such as Bjorn Borg as early as age 26, ran from his chair to the base line. After eight Grand Slam titles and 60 tournament crowns, Agassi was telling Blake and the world it was not over yet.

Agassi began his tennis life under a Florida sun, a mop-haired upstart of 13 under the tutelage of coach Nick Bollettieri in Bradenton.

This week, for the first time, Agassi starts his season in the state that launched his career. He debuts as the top seed in the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships.

"It's full circle for me," Agassi said. "I began my tennis life here and now it has grown into my future as well."

He arrives as a legend with a distinguishable duck walk, the only active player to have won all four Grand Slam tournaments. Last year he tied Jimmy Connors with 16 seasons ranked in the top 10, ending the year at No. 7.

Whether Agassi can become the game's longest-running top-10 hit or will make this his final season is what he has come here to find out.

For Agassi, who lives in Las Vegas, South Florida has become a humid, windy comfort zone, a touchstone in the tropics. Wife Steffi Graf made Boca Raton home base for much of her career, and her mother and brother still live nearby. Agassi has won the Nasdaq-100 Open in Key Biscayne a record six times.

Friendly locals include Heat center Shaquille O'Neal, who has supported Agassi's charity efforts for children with his time and money.

"One year he showed up at my event and bought a very expensive table, and on top of that bought a very expensive auction item," Agassi said. "He donated a chance to have him come and read books to up to 20 children at an FAO Schwartz sleepover. His efforts are tireless for what he believes in."

Agassi said he marvels at Shaq's athleticism.

. "To watch a 7-1, 330-pound guy take the ball up the court coast-to-coast and do something I could only know in my dreams is pretty darn amazing," Agassi said. "I'm thankful he doesn't play tennis, to be honest with you."

In the tennis world, it is the 5-11 Agassi who so often towers over younger and more muscular opponents, many of whom were in day care when he started his career.

Friend and practice partner Sargis Sargsian, who lived in Boca Raton for many years before moving to Las Vegas, has watched Agassi rewrite the rules whenever people start write him off.

"I think it's one of the most impressive things in tennis that's ever been done," Sargsian said. "To be playing 20 years at such a level is astounding in a sport where you're injured so much."

Take the mid-career period when Agassi dropped out of the top 100 in 1997, after marrying actress Brooke Shields. Agassi later said he "did the island/frozen drink thing in '97."

"When he dropped to 120, 141, in the world, we spent a lot of time together that year," Sargsian said. "I remember them interviewing him and him saying wants to come back to No. 1. I remember thinking, 'That's tough.' I didn't think he had a chance. He doesn't just come back to No.1, he dominates."

Sargsian said Agassi's example encouraged him to make a comeback of his own. Sargsian will take a wild-card entry to the ITC as he tries to write a new chapter in a career that saw him ranked as high as No. 38. He finished in the top 100 for the seventh time in eight years in 2004, but told tour officials he was retiring after limited appearances last year.

"The fact he's doing it is inspiring to me," Sargsian said. "I look at him and think, hey, I'm only 32."

Intensive workouts led by trainer Gil Reyes have become the cornerstone of Agassi's regimen. They help offset a growing list of ailments, including a painful sciatic nerve that periodically freezes him in pain from his back to his legs. Agassi barely could move by the end of a first-round loss in the first round of the French Open last year. He receives cortisone shots every few months to help with the nerve.

"I've been training with him a couple of times," Sargsian said. "I've been playing on the tour 10 years, and this is the most pleasure I've gotten out of workouts. You see the results. You're running, and a few days later you're faster. You're lifting, and a few days later you're stronger."

Agassi skipped the Australian Open to rest strained ankle ligaments that he hurt playing racquetball late last year. He showed no obvious signs of gimpy-ness at a practice session in Delray Beach Thursday, twice running full speed after shots that dropped near the net.

Rather than foot-speed, the bigger problem for Agassi may be recovering the timing and accuracy of his serve and groundstrokes after playing very little in more than two months. He berated himself in practice for a slow reaction to a high backhand, saying, "It's up here, and I'm like this... " He imitated a zombie.

"I'm coming in there looking to be at my best, but very realistic that I haven't played competitive matches in a number of months," Agassi said. "When I missed Wimbledon this year and lost first round in the French, I took a lot of time off to prepare, and I came into summer playing three finals in a row with L.A., Montreal and the U.S. Open. I know things can really fall for me quickly, but I also know I have to dig deep and work hard and find my best tennis. I hope it happens inside of this tournament."

Jay Berger, for one, has no doubts Agassi has some big moments left on the court this year. He and Agassi made their Davis Cup debut together nearly two decades ago. Berger, 39, went on to a tennis coaching career with the University of Miami and U.S. Tennis Association national development program.

"He's one of a kind," Berger said. "He's one of my favorite players. He tries to grow constantly as a player and as a person. No question he can do it. From how he did at the U.S. Open, getting to the final, he showed certainly he can raise his game to a tremendous level. His ball-striking is phenomenal."

Berger laughs when he contrasts Agassi now — the marquee name expected to help the Delray Beach tournament set an attendance record above 43,000 — with the young Agassi he knew.

"One time when we were both young, it must have been 1988, we were playing an exhibition together in Abilene, Texas, and the players were auctioned off to play in a pro-am event," Berger said. "He was the last player picked. If those people only knew. Looking back, that's probably the last time that ever happened."

Don't get the idea that Agassi is coming to Florida to plan his retirement, warned outspoken player-blogger Justin Gimelstob, another ITC entrant. He joined Agassi for practice at Miami's Fisher Island after being eliminated from the Australian Open.

"For all those people who are once again writing off Andre Agassi, beware," Gimelstob wrote in his blog.

Gimelstob, who writes a web log for, said he has conferred with coach Darren Cahill and agent Perry Rogers about Agassi's ambitions for the year.

"I'm convinced that Agassi is committed and excited to challenge for the biggest titles in the tennis world for as long as his body enables him to, and I suggest we all embrace him along the way," Gimelstob wrote. "He is the best ambassador this sport will ever have."

In Delray Beach, Agassi won't have to worry about No. 3 Andy Roddick, who considering entering qualifying play before backing off Friday. But he could run into No. 18 Robby Ginepri, who battled him for five sets in the U.S. Open semifinals before succumbing. Also looming in the field are defending champion Xavier Malisse, another five-set victim at Flushing Meadows, and former world No. 2 Tommy Haas, who has beaten Agassi in three of nine meetings.

Former ITC finalist Vince Spadea of Boca Raton is seeded eighth as main-draw play begins Monday. Even Agassi's first-round opponent, Ricardo Mello of Brazil, has won this tournament before. Tournament director Mark Baron announced Saturday that Agassi will play Monday evening on stadium court, not before 7 p.m.

"I guess the biggest question I have to answer at this stage of my career is do I still believe I have the game to compete with the best in the world on a consistent basis," Agassi said. "I feel like I can still answer that, 'Yes.' "

In 2006, Agassi has chosen to start answering that question in a place where he feels at home. Children Jaden, 4, and Jaz, 2, can visit uncle and grandmother and watch Dad go to work again.

"I'm more excited now than I've ever been about tennis, traveling the world and competing," Agassi said. "I have a support system in place that allows me to push myself in that arena. ... I find myself enjoying the icing on the cake quite often now. I'm at an age where I can enjoy what these opportunities mean."