Andre Agassi

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Andre Kirk Agassi (born April 29, 1970, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA) is a American professional tennis player (1986-). As of 2004, he has won over $25 million in prize money and achieved a number 1 ranking on the ATP tour.

Agassi, an ethnic Armenian, was born and raised in Las Vegas, and still lives there when not on tour. His father, Emmanuel "Mike" Agassi, was a boxer for Iran in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics before emigrating to the U.S. When he became a citizen, he changed his name from Agassian to Agassi.

Mike Agassi was a tennis fanatic, to put it nicely, determined to turn at least one of his four children into a world-class player. He hung tennis balls over Andre's crib, and gave his son a full-sized racket at age 2. Growing up, young Andre and his siblings had to hit 3,000 balls every day, seven days a week. Mike had Andre practice with Ilie Nastase and Jimmy Connors. Andre's sister, Rita, finally had enough, and moved in with Pancho Gonzalez (their son, Skylar, played on Bishop-Gorman High School's tennis team). When he was 14, Andre was shipped off to teaching guru Nick Bollettieri's Tennis Academy in Florida, and turned pro when he was 16. He surpassed $1 million in career prize money in December 1988 after just 43 tournaments -- the quickest player in history to do so.

Agassi married actress Brooke Shields in a lavish ceremony on April 19, 1997. That February, the couple filed suit against The National Enquirer claiming it printed "false and fabricated" statements: The October 8, 1996 Enquirer claimed Brooke was undergoing counseling, binge-eating and taking pills; the October 29 story claimed Agassi "lashed into" Brooke, Agassi and Brooke's mother, Teri, "tangled like wildcats," Teri demanded a prenup, and Brooke "threatened" to derail the wedding. The case was dismissed, but the headlines were indictive of the union. Although their divorce was granted on April 9, 1999, Agassi co-operated with Shields's quest to obtain an annulment so that she could marry her current husband, Chris Henchy, in the Catholic Church.

By the time the divorce was final, Agassi was dating Steffi Graf. With only their mothers as witnesses, they were married at his Las Vegas home on October 22, 2001. Their son, Jaden Gil, was born 6 weeks prematurely on October 26. Their daughter, Jaz Elle, was born on October 3, 2003.

Few athletes have so completely overhauled their public persona. As a youngster, Agassi embraced a rebel image. He grew his hair to rock-star length, wore colorful shirts that pushed the era's still-strict sartorial boundaries, and sported an earring. He boasted of a cheeseburger-heavy diet and endorsed the Canon Rebel camera. "Image is everything" was the ads's tag line, and it became Agassi's as well. But by November 1997, his ranking had plunged to 141 and his marriage began to crumble. After he and Shields split, Agassi rededicated himself to tennis: he shaved his balding head, began a rigorous conditioning program, and worked his way back to the ATP by playing Challenger Tournaments, a curcuit for professionals ranked 50th and lower. Perhaps most remarkably, he has emerged as a gracious and thoughtful professional athlete, and something of an elder spokesman among the sport's active players. After winning a match, he bows and blows a two-handed kiss to the spectators on each side of the court, a gesture most take as a rather humble acknowledgement of their support for him and for tennis.

Agassi keeps in exceptional physical shape and can outlast many players over the course of a long match. He typically employs a baseline style of play, rarely serving-and-volleying. His serve is average at best among the top players on the men's tour, but his return-of-serve may be the best in tennis. He was the target of the fastest serve recorded at that time, a 149-mph (240 km/h) blast from Andy Roddick—and returned it into play.

Andre Agassi has won eight Grand Slam singles titles:

Wimbledon, 1992
US Open, 1994, 1999
Australian Open, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2003
French Open, 1999

He is one of only five male players to have won all the Grand Slam tournaments in a career, along with Don Budge, Roy Emerson, Rod Laver and Fred Perry. He has also won the Olympic gold medal in singles at Atlanta in 1996. Agassi has represented the USA in Davis Cup play many times, compiling a lifetime record of 30-5 in 21 tries.

Some of Agassi's most famous matches include the following:

  • French Open final 1990: lost to Andrés Gómez, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, in his first Grand Slam final.
  • Wimbledon final 1992: defeated Goran Ivanisevic, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 for his first Grand Slam win and only Wimbledon championship.
  • Wimbledon semi-final 2000: lost to Patrick Rafter, 7-5, 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, in a tense five-set match.
  • French Open final 1999: defeated Andrei Medvedev 1-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4, in a spectacular come-from-behind victory to complete his career Grand Slam.
  • U.S. Open final 1999: defeated Todd Martin 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 6-3, 6-2, in another come-from-behind thriller.
  • Australian Open 2000 Semi-final: defeated Pete Sampras, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-1, en route to his second Australian Open championship.
  • U.S. Open 2001 Quarter-final: lost to Pete Sampras, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6, despite not losing a service game.
  • U.S. Open 2002 Final: lost to Pete Sampras, 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, in what turned out to be Sampras' last competitive match.

In 1992, Andre was awarded the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Overseas Personality Award.

Grand Slam titles

1992   Wimbledon           Goran Ivanisevic            6:7, 6:4, 6:4, 1:6, 6:4
1994   U.S. Open           Michael Stich               6:1, 7:6, 7:5
1995   Australian Open     Pete Sampras                4:6, 6:1, 7:6, 6:4 
1999   French Open         Andrei Medvedev             1:6, 2:6, 6:4, 6:3, 6:4
1999   U.S. Open           Todd Martin                 6:4, 6:7, 6:7, 6:3, 6:2
2000   Australian Open     Yevgeny Kafelnikov          3:6, 6:3, 6:2, 6:4
2001   Australian Open     Arnaud Clement              6:4, 6:2, 6:2
2003   Australian Open     Rainer Schuettler           6:2, 6:2, 6:1

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