Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Andre Agassi

Andre Kirk Agassi(born April 29, 1970) is a retired American professional tennis player and former World No. 1. Generally considered by critics and fellow players to be one of the greatest tennis players of all time, Agassi has been called the best service returner in the history of the game. Agassi is the first of two male players (with Rafael Nadal) in history to have achieved a singles Career Golden Slam, and, along with Rod Laver, Don Budge, Fred Perry, Roy Emerson, Roger Federer and Nadal, one of seven men to have achieved a Career Grand Slam—one of four (with Laver, Federer and Nadal) since the beginning of the Open Era. He won eight Grand Slam singles tournaments in fifteen Grand Slam final appearances. He also won seventeen ATP Masters Series tournaments, a record from 2004-2010. He won the 1990 ATP Tour World Championships and was part of a winning Davis Cup team in 1990 and 1992. Agassi is the last American to win the French Open (1999) and the Australian Open (2003). After suffering from sciatica caused by two bulging discs in his back, a spondylolisthesis (vertebral displacement) and a bone spur that interfered with the nerve, Agassi retired from professional tennis on September 3, 2006, after losing in the third round of the US Open. He is the founder of the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, which has raised over $60 million for at-risk children in Southern Nevada. In 2001, the Foundation opened the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas, a K-12 public charter school for at-risk children. Described by the BBC upon his retirement as "perhaps the biggest worldwide star in the sport's history", Agassi's performances, along with his unorthodox apparel and attitude, have seen him cited as one of the most charismatic players in the history of the game, and credited for helping revive the popularity of tennis during the 1990s. He is married to retired professional tennis player Steffi Graf.

Early in his career, Agassi would look to end points quickly, typically by inducing a weak return with a deep, hard shot, and then playing a winner at an extreme angle. His return of serve, baseline game, and keen sense of anticipation were among the best in the game, and helped him win the Wimbledon title in 1992. On the rare occasion that he charged the net, Agassi liked to take the ball in the air and hit a swinging volley for the winner. Agassi continually put pressure on opponents with a preference to taking the ball early and was known for swinging deep angles like a powerful backhand up the line. His strength was in dictating play from the back of the court. While growing up his father and Nick Bollettieri trained him in this way. When in control of a point, Agassi would often pass up an opportunity to attempt a winner and hit a conservative shot to minimize his errors, and to make his opponent run more. Agassi's serve was never the strength of his game, but it improved steadily over the course of his career to being above average. He often used his hard slice serve in the deuce service box to send his opponent off the court, followed by a shot to the opposite corner. Agassi's service speed when hitting a flat first serve would range between 110 and 125 mph (177 and 201 km/h). His second serve was usually heavy kick serve in the mid 80s.

Agassi married actress Brooke Shields on April 19, 1997. In February 1998, they filed suit against The National Enquirer claiming it printed "false and fabricated" statements about the couple, but the case was dismissed. The couple later filed for divorce, which was granted on April 9, 1999. At the 1999 French Open, Agassi and Steffi Graf were the surprise champions, since he had not won a Grand Slam title since 1995 and she since 1996. At the winners' ball, they met each other for the second time. Shortly after, they started dating. Graf retired after they both reached the Wimbledon final in July. They were married on October 22, 2001.[42] Their son, Jaden Gil, was born four days later, October 26. Their daughter, Jaz Elle, was born on October 3, 2003. The couple live in the Las Vegas area and own several vacation homes. Agassi's older sister, Rita, was married to tennis player Pancho Gonzales. In 1995, when Gonzales died in Las Vegas, Andre paid for the funeral. Andre's other sister, Tami, like their mother, Betty, is a breast cancer survivor. Long-time trainer Gil Reyes has been called one of Agassi's closest friends; some have described him as being a "father figure". In December 2008, Agassi's childhood friend and former business manager Perry Rogers sued Graf for $50,000 in management fees he claimed that she owed him. Agassi's autobiography, Open (written with assistance from J. R. Moehringer), was published in November 2009. In it, Agassi admitted that his once distinctive bushy mane was actually a wig, and to using and testing positive for methamphetamine in 1997,. In response to the latter revelation, Roger Federer declared himself shocked and disappointed, while Sergej Bubka declared that Agassi should have been disqualified. In an exclusive interview to CBS Agassi justified himself and asked for understanding, saying that "It was a period in my life where I needed help." He also revealed that he had always hated tennis during his career because of the constant pressure it exerted on him. He also revealed he thought Pete Sampras was "robotic". The book reached #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list and received favorable reviews.

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