Andre Agassi

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Andre Agassi
Andre Agassi Indian Wells 2006.jpg
Full name Andre Kirk Agassi
Country United States
Residence Las Vegas, Nevada
Born (1970-04-29) April 29, 1970 (age 44)
Las Vegas, Nevada
Height 5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Turned pro 1986
Retired September 3, 2006
Plays Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Coach(es) Emmanuel Agassi (1970–1983)
Nick Bollettieri (1983–1993)[1]
Brad Gilbert (1994–2002)
Darren Cahill (2002–2006)
Prize money

$31,152,975

Int. Tennis HOF 2011 (member page)
Singles
Career record 870–274 (76.05% on the Grand Prix tour, ATP Tour, in Grand Slams and Davis Cup)
Career titles 60 (in Grand Prix and ATP Tour play and 68 in total)
Highest ranking No. 1 (April 10, 1995)
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian Open W (1995, 2000, 2001, 2003)
French Open W (1999)
Wimbledon W (1992)
US Open W (1994, 1999)
Other tournaments
Tour Finals W (1990)
Olympic Games Gold medal.svg Gold Medal (1996)
Doubles
Career record 40-42 (on the Grand Prix tour, ATP Tour, in Grand Slams and Davis Cup)
Career titles 1
Highest ranking No. 123 (August 17, 1992)
Grand Slam Doubles results
French Open QF (1992)
US Open 1R (1987)
Team competitions
Davis Cup W (1990, 1992, 1995)
Olympic medal record
Men's tennis
Competitor for  United States
Gold 1996 Atlanta Singles

Andre Kirk Agassi (/ˈɑːndr ˈæɡəsi/; born April 29, 1970) is an American retired professional tennis player and former World No. 1, who was one of the game's most dominant players from the early 1990s to the mid-2000s.[2] Generally considered by critics and fellow players to be one of the greatest tennis players of all time,[3][4][5][6][7] Agassi had been called the best service returner in the history of the game.[5][8][9][10] Described by the BBC upon his retirement as "perhaps the biggest worldwide star in the sport's history",[7] Agassi compiled performances that, along with his unorthodox apparel and attitude, saw him cited as one of the most charismatic players in the history of the game. As a result, he is credited for helping to revive the popularity of tennis during the 1990s.[5][7][11]

In singles tennis, Agassi is an eight-time Grand Slam champion and a 1996 Olympic gold medalist, as well as finishing runner-up in seven other Grand Slam tournaments. His four Australian Open titles are an Open Era record (shared with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer). He is one of four male singles players to achieve the Career Grand Slam (all four Grand Slam championships) in the Open Era and one of seven in history,[12][13] the first of two to achieve the Career Golden Slam (Career Grand Slam and Olympic gold medal), and the only man to win the Career Golden Slam and the ATP Tour World Championships (won in 1990): a distinction dubbed as a "Career Super Slam" by Sports Illustrated.[3]

Agassi was the first male player to win all four Grand Slam tournaments on three different surfaces (hard, clay and grass), and the last American male to win the French Open (1999)[14] and the Australian Open (2003).[15] He also won 17 ATP Masters Series titles and was part of a winning Davis Cup team in 1990, 1992 and 1995.[4] Agassi was troubled by personal issues during the mid-to-late 1990s and sank to World No. 141 in 1997, prompting many to believe that his career was over.[16] Agassi returned to World No. 1 in 1999 and enjoyed the most successful run of his career over the next four years. During his 20-plus year tour career, Agassi was known by the nickname "The Punisher".[17][18][19][20]

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 to Benjamin Becker. He is the founder of the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation,[21] which has raised over $60 million for at-risk children in Southern Nevada.[22] In 2001, the Foundation opened the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas, a K-12 public charter school for at-risk children.[23] He has been married to fellow tennis player Steffi Graf since 2001.

1970–1985: Early life[edit]

Andre Agassi was born in Las Vegas, Nevada to Emmanuel "Mike" Agassi and Elizabeth "Betty" Agassi (née Dudley).[2][24] His father, a former Olympic boxer for Iran, is of Armenian and Assyrian descent.[25][26][27][28][29] Andre Agassi's mother, Betty, is a breast cancer survivor. He has three older siblings – Rita (last wife to Pancho Gonzales), Philip and Tami.[30][31] One of his ancestors changed his surname from Agassian to Agassi to avoid persecution.[32]

In a passage from the book Open, Agassi details how his father made him play a match for money with football legend Jim Brown, in 1979, when Agassi was 9 years old. Brown was at a Vegas tennis club complaining to the owner about a money match that was canceled. Agassi's father stepped in and told Brown that he could play his son and he would put up his house for the wager. Brown countered with a $10,000 bet, but after he was warned by the club owner not to take the bet because he would lose and be embarrassed, Brown agreed with Mike Agassi that they would set the amount after he and Andre played two sets. Brown lost those sets, 3–6, 3–6, declined the 10K wager, and offered to play the third set for $500. He lost 2–6.[33]

At age 13, Andre was sent to Nick Bollettieri's Tennis Academy in Florida.[16] He was meant to stay for only 3 months because that was all his father could afford. After thirty minutes of watching Agassi play, Bollettieri called Mike and said: "Take your check back. He's here for free," claiming that Agassi had more natural talent than anyone else he had seen.[34] Agassi dropped out of school in the ninth grade.[35]

International tennis career biography[edit]

1986–1993: Breakthrough and the first major title[edit]

He turned professional at the age of 16 and competed in his first tournament at La Quinta, California. He won his first match against John Austin, but then lost his second match to Mats Wilander. By the end of the year, Agassi was ranked world no. 91.[36] He won his first top-level singles title in 1987 at the Sul American Open in Itaparica[16] and ended the year ranked world no. 25.[16] He won six additional tournaments in 1988 (Memphis, U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships, Forest Hills WCT, Stuttgart Outdoor, Volvo International and Livingston Open),[16] and, by December of that year, he had surpassed US$1 million in career prize money after playing in just 43 tournaments—the fastest anyone in history had reached that level.[37] During the year, he set the open-era record for most consecutive victories by a male teenager, a record that stood for 17 years until Rafael Nadal broke it in 2005.[38] His year-end ranking was world no. 3, behind second-ranked Ivan Lendl and top-ranked Mats Wilander. Both the Association of Tennis Professionals and Tennis magazine named Agassi the Most Improved Player of the Year for 1988.[16]

In addition to not playing the Australian Open (which later became his best Grand Slam event) for the first eight years of his career, Agassi chose not to play at Wimbledon from 1988 through 1990 and publicly stated that he did not wish to play there because of the event's traditionalism, particularly its "predominantly white" dress code to which players at the event are required to conform.

Strong performances on the tour meant that Agassi was quickly tipped as a future Grand Slam champion. While still a teenager, he reached the semifinals of both the French Open and the US Open in 1988 and made the US Open semifinals in 1989. He began the 1990s with a series of near-misses. He reached his first Grand Slam final in 1990 at the French Open, where he was favored before losing in four sets to Andrés Gómez, which he attributes to worrying about his wig falling off.[39] He reached his second Grand Slam final of the year at the US Open, defeating defending champion Boris Becker in the semifinals. His opponent in the final was Pete Sampras; a year earlier, Agassi had crushed Sampras, after which he told his coach that he felt bad for Sampras because he was never going to make it as a pro. Agassi lost the US Open final to Sampras in three sets.[16] The rivalry between these two American players became the dominant rivalry in tennis over the rest of the decade. Also in 1990, Agassi helped the United States win its first Davis Cup in 8 years and won his only Tennis Masters Cup, beating reigning Wimbledon champion Stefan Edberg in the final.

In 1991, Agassi reached his second consecutive French Open final, where he faced fellow Bollettieri Academy alumnus Jim Courier. Courier emerged the victor in a five-set final. Agassi decided to play at Wimbledon in 1991, leading to weeks of speculation in the media about the clothes he would wear. He eventually emerged for the first round in a completely white outfit.[40] He reached the quarterfinals on that occasion, losing in five sets to David Wheaton.

Agassi's Grand Slam tournament breakthrough came at Wimbledon, not at the French Open or the US Open, where he had previously enjoyed success. In 1992, he defeated Goran Ivanišević in a five-set final.[16][41] Along the way, Agassi overcame two former Wimbledon champions: Boris Becker and John McEnroe. No other baseliner would triumph at Wimbledon until Lleyton Hewitt ten years later. Agassi was named the BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year in 1992. Agassi once again played on the United States' Davis Cup winning team in 1992. It was their second Davis cup title in three years.

1993 saw Agassi win the only doubles title of his career, at the Cincinnati Masters, partnered with Petr Korda. Agassi missed much of the early part of that year with injuries. Although he made the quarterfinals in his Wimbledon title defense, he lost to eventual champion and world no. 1 Pete Sampras in five sets. Agassi lost in the first round at the US Open to Thomas Enqvist and required wrist surgery late in the year.

1994–1997: Rise to the top, Olympic Gold and the fall[edit]

With new coach Brad Gilbert on board, Agassi began to employ more of a tactical, consistent approach, which fueled his resurgence. He started slowly in 1994, losing in the first week at the French Open and Wimbledon. Nevertheless, he emerged during the hard-court season, winning the Canadian Open. His comeback culminated at the 1994 US Open with a five-set fourth-round victory against compatriot Michael Chang. He then became the first man to capture the US Open as an unseeded player, beating Michael Stich in the final.[16] Along the way, he beat 5 seeded players.

In 1995, Agassi shaved his balding head, breaking with his old "image is everything" style. He competed in the 1995 Australian Open (his first appearance at the event) and won, beating Sampras in a four-set final.[16] Agassi and Sampras met in five tournament finals in 1995, all on hardcourt, with Agassi winning three. Agassi won three Masters Series events in 1995 (Cincinnati, Key Biscayne, and the Canadian Open) and seven titles total.[16] He compiled a career-best 26-match winning streak during the summer hard-court circuit, which ended when he lost the US Open final to Sampras.

Agassi reached the world no. 1 ranking for the first time in April 1995. He held that ranking until November, for a total of 30 weeks. Agassi skipped most of the fall indoor season which allowed Sampras to surpass him and finish ranked no. 1 at the year-ending ranking. In terms of win/loss record, 1995 was Agassi's best year. He won 73 matches while losing 9 and was also once again a key player on the United States' Davis Cup winning team—the third and final Davis Cup title of Agassi's career.

1996 was a less successful year for Agassi, as he failed to reach any Grand Slam final. He suffered two early-round losses at the hands of compatriots Chris Woodruff and Doug Flach at the French Open and Wimbledon, respectively, and lost to Chang in straight sets in the Australian and US Open semifinals. At the time, Agassi blamed the Australian Open loss on the windy conditions, but later said in his biography that he had lost the match on purpose, as he did not want to play Boris Becker, whom he would have faced in that final. The high point for Agassi was winning the men's singles gold medal at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, beating Sergi Bruguera of Spain in the final.[16] Agassi also successfully defended his singles titles in Cincinnati and Key Biscayne.

1997 was the low point of Agassi's career. His wrist injury resurfaced, and he played only 24 matches during the year. He later confessed that he started using crystal methamphetamine at that time, allegedly on the urging of a friend.[42] He failed an ATP drug test, but wrote a letter claiming the same friend had spiked a drink. The ATP dropped the failed drug test as a warning. In his autobiography, Agassi admitted that the letter was a lie.[43] He quit the drug soon after. At this time Agassi was also in a failing marriage with actress Brooke Shields and had lost interest in the game.[44] He won no top-level titles, and his ranking sank to world no. 141 on November 10, 1997, prompting many to believe that his run as one of the sport's premier competitors was over and that he would never again win any significant championships.[16]

1998–2003: Return to glory and Career Golden Slam[edit]

Agassi serving

In 1998, Agassi began a rigorous conditioning program and worked his way back up the rankings by playing in Challenger Series tournaments, a circuit for pro players ranked outside the world's top 50. After returning to top physical and mental shape, Agassi recorded the most successful period of his tennis career and also played classic matches in that period against Pete Sampras and Patrick Rafter.

In 1998, Agassi won five titles and leapt from world no. 110 to no. 6, the highest jump into the top 10 made by any player during a calendar year.[45] At Wimbledon, he had an early loss in the second round to Tommy Haas. He won five titles in ten finals and was runner-up at the Masters Series tournament in Key Biscayne, losing to Marcelo Ríos, who became world no. 1 as a result. At the year end he was awarded the ATP Most Improved Player of the Year for the second time in his career (the first being 10 years earlier in 1988).

Agassi entered the history books in 1999 when he came back from two sets to love down to beat Andrei Medvedev in a five-set French Open final, becoming, at the time, only the fifth male player (joining Rod Laver, Fred Perry, Roy Emerson and Don Budge—these have since been joined by a sixth, Roger Federer and a seventh, Rafael Nadal) to win all four Grand Slam singles titles during his career. Only Laver, Agassi, Federer and Nadal have achieved this feat during the open era. This win also made him the first (of only three, the second and third being Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal respectively) male player in history to have won all four Grand Slam titles on three different surfaces (clay, grass and hard courts), a tribute to his adaptability, as the other four men won their Grand Slam titles on clay and grass courts. Agassi also became the first (of only two, the second being Rafael Nadal) male player to win the Career Golden Slam, consisting of all four Grand Slam tournaments plus an Olympic gold medal in singles.

Agassi followed his 1999 French Open victory by reaching the Wimbledon final, where he lost to Sampras in straight sets.[16] He rebounded from his Wimbledon defeat by winning the US Open, beating Todd Martin in five sets (rallying from a two sets to one deficit) in the final. Overall during the year Agassi won 5 titles including two majors and the ATP Masters Series in Paris, where he beat Marat Safin. Agassi ended 1999 as the world no. 1, ending Sampras's record of six consecutive year-ending top rankings (1993–1998).[16] This was the only time Agassi ended the year at no. 1.

He began the next year by capturing his second Australian Open title, beating Sampras in a five-set semifinal and Yevgeny Kafelnikov in a four-set final.[16] He was the first male player to have reached four consecutive Grand Slam finals since Rod Laver achieved the Grand Slam in 1969.[a] At the time, Agassi was also only the fourth player since Laver to be the reigning champion of three of four Grand Slam events, missing only the Wimbledon title.[b]. 2000 also saw Agassi reach the semifinals at Wimbledon, where he lost in five sets to Rafter in a match considered by many to be one of the best ever at Wimbledon.[46] At the inaugural Tennis Masters Cup in Lisbon, Agassi reached the final after defeating Marat Safin in the semifinals to end the Russian's hopes to become the youngest world no. 1 in the history of tennis. Agassi then lost to Gustavo Kuerten in the final, allowing Kuerten to be crowned year-end world no. 1.

Agassi opened 2001 by successfully defending his Australian Open title with a straight-sets final win over Arnaud Clément.[16] En route, he beat a cramping Rafter in five sets in front of a sell-out crowd in what turned out to be the Aussie's last Australian Open. At Wimbledon, they met again in the semifinals, where Agassi lost another close match to Rafter, 8–6 in the fifth set. In the quarterfinals at the US Open, Agassi lost a 3 hour, 33 minute epic match[47] with Sampras, 7–6, 6–7, 6–7, 6–7,[48] with no breaks of serve during the 52-game match. Despite the setback, Agassi finished 2001 ranked world no. 3, becoming the only male tennis player to finish a year ranked in the top 3 in three different decades[49] (1980s, 1990s, 2000s). He also was the oldest player (age 31) to finish in the top three since 32-year old Connors finished at world no. 2 in 1984.[45]

2002 opened with disappointment for Agassi, as injury forced him to skip the Australian Open, where he was a two-time defending champion. Agassi recovered from the injury and later that year defended his Key Biscayne title beating then rising Roger Federer in a four-set final. The last duel between Agassi and Sampras came in the final of the US Open, which Sampras won in four sets and left Sampras with a 20–14 edge in their 34 career meetings. The match was the last of Sampras's career. Agassi's US Open finish, along with his Masters Series victories in Key Biscayne, Rome and Madrid, helped him finish 2002 as the oldest year-end world no. 2 at 32 years and 8 months.[45]

In 2003, Agassi won the eighth (and final) Grand Slam title of his career at the Australian Open, where he beat Rainer Schüttler in straight sets in the final. In March, he won his sixth career and third consecutive Key Biscayne title, in the process surpassing his wife, Steffi Graf, who was a five-time winner of the event. The final was his 18th straight win in that tournament, which broke the previous record of 17 set by Sampras from 1993–1995. (Agassi's winning streak continued to 20 after winning his first two matches at the 2004 edition of that tournament before bowing to Agustín Calleri.) With the victory, Agassi became the youngest (19 years old) and oldest (32) winner of the Key Biscayne tournament.

On April 28, 2003, he recaptured the world no. 1 ranking after a quarterfinal victory over Xavier Malisse at the Queen's Club Championships to become the oldest top-ranked male player since the ATP rankings began at 33 years and 13 days. He had held the world no. 1 ranking for two weeks, when Lleyton Hewitt took it back on May 12, 2003. Agassi then recaptured the world no. 1 ranking once again on June 16, 2003, which he held for 12 weeks until September 7, 2003. During his career, Agassi held the world no. 1 ranking for a total of 101 weeks.[50] Agassi's ranking slipped when injuries forced him to withdraw from many events. He did manage to reach the US Open semifinals, where he lost to Juan Carlos Ferrero and surrendered his world no. 1 ranking to Ferrero. At the year-end Tennis Masters Cup, Agassi lost in the final to Federer and finished the year ranked world no. 4. At age 33, he was the oldest player to rank in the top 5 since Connors, at age 35, was world no. 4 in 1987.[45]

2004–2006: Final years[edit]

In 2004, Agassi began the year with a five-set loss in the semifinals of the Australian Open to Marat Safin; the loss ended Agassi's 26-match winning streak at the event, a record that still stands. He won the Masters series event in Cincinnati to bring his career total to 59 top-level singles titles and a record 17 ATP Masters Series titles, having already won seven of the nine ATP Masters tournament—all except the tournaments in Monte Carlo and Hamburg. At 34, he became the second-oldest singles champion in Cincinnati tournament history (the tournament began in 1899), surpassed only by Ken Rosewall, who won the title in 1970 at age 35. He finished the year ranked world no. 8, the oldest player to finish in the top 10 since the 36-year-old Connors was world no. 7 in 1988.[45] Agassi also became only the sixth male player during the open era to reach 800 career wins with his first-round victory over Alex Bogomolov in Countrywide Classic in Los Angeles.

Agassi's 2005 began with a quarterfinal loss to Federer at the Australian Open. Agassi had several other deep runs at tournaments, but had to withdraw from several events due to injury. He lost to Jarkko Nieminen in the first round of the French Open. He won his fourth title in Los Angeles and reached the final of the Rogers Cup, before falling to world no. 2 Rafael Nadal.

Agassi's 2005 was defined by an improbable run to the US Open final. After beating Răzvan Sabău and Ivo Karlović in straight sets and Tomáš Berdych in four sets, Agassi won three consecutive five-set matches to advance to the final. The most notable of these matches was his quarterfinal victory over James Blake, where he rallied from two sets down to win 7–6 in the fifth set. His other five-set victims were Xavier Malisse in the fourth round and Robby Ginepri in the semifinals. In the final, Agassi faced Federer, who was seeking his second consecutive US Open title and his sixth Grand Slam title in two years. Federer defeated Agassi in four sets. Agassi finished 2005 ranked world no. 7, his 16th time in the year-end top-10 rankings, which tied Connors for the most times ranked in the top 10 at year's end.

Agassi had a poor start to 2006. He was still recovering from an ankle injury and also suffering from back and leg pain and lack of match play. Agassi withdrew from the Australian Open because of the ankle injury, and his back injury and other pains forced him to withdraw from several other events, eventually skipping the entire clay-court season, including the French Open. This caused his ranking to drop out of the top 10 for the last time. Agassi returned for the grass-court season, playing a tune-up, and then Wimbledon. He was defeated in the third round by world no. 2 (and eventual runner-up) Rafael Nadal. Against conventions, Agassi, the losing player, was interviewed on court after the match.[51] At Wimbledon, Agassi announced his plans to retire following the US Open. Agassi played only two events during the summer hard-court season, with his best result being a quarterfinal loss at the Countrywide Classic in Los Angeles to Fernando González of Chile. As a result, he was unseeded at the US Open.

Agassi had a short, but dramatic, run in his final US Open. Because of extreme back pain, Agassi was forced to receive anti-inflammatory injections after every match. After a tough four-set win against Andrei Pavel, Agassi faced eighth-seeded Marcos Baghdatis in the second round, who had earlier advanced to the 2006 Australian Open final and Wimbledon semifinals. Agassi won in five tough sets as the younger Baghdatis succumbed to muscle cramping in the final set. In his last match, Agassi fell to 112th-ranked big-serving Benjamin Becker of Germany in four sets. Agassi received a four-minute standing ovation from the crowd after the match and delivered a retirement speech.

Earnings[edit]

Agassi earned more than US$30 million in prize-money during his career, fifth only to Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Sampras to date. He also earned more than US$25 million a year through endorsements during his career, fourth in all sports at the time.[52]

Post-retirement[edit]

Since retiring after the 2006 US Open, Agassi has participated in a series of charity tournaments and continues his work with his own charity. On September 5, 2007, he was a surprise guest commentator for the Andy Roddick/Roger Federer US Open quarter-final. He played an exhibition match at Wimbledon, teaming with his wife, Steffi Graf, to play with Tim Henman and Kim Clijsters. He played World Team Tennis for the Philadelphia Freedoms in the summer of 2009.[53] At the 2009 French Open, Agassi was on hand to present Roger Federer, who completed his Career Grand Slam by winning the tournament and joined Agassi as one of six men to complete the Career Grand Slam, with the trophy.[54]

Also in 2009 Agassi played at the Outback Champions Series event for the first time. He played the Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Championships at Surprise, Arizona, where he reached the final before bowing to eventual champion Todd Martin.[55] He also announced that he will not be playing the tour on a full-time basis, and played the tournament as a favor to long-time friend Jim Courier.[56] Agassi returned to the tour renamed for the PowerShares Series in 2011 and participated in a total of seven events while winning two. Agassi beat Courier in the final of the Staples Champions Cup in Boston[57] and later defeated Sampras at the CTCA Championships at his hometown Las Vegas.[58]

In 2012 Agassi took part in five tournaments, winning three of those. In November, at first he won BILT Champions Showdown in San Jose, beating John McEnroe in the final.[59] The following day, he defended his title of the CTCA Championships, while defeating Courier in the decisive match.[60] In the series season finale, he beat Michael Chang for the Acura Champions Cup.[61] The series and Agassi came back to action in 2014. Agassi won both tournaments he participated in. At the Camden Wealth Advisors Cup's final in Houston, Agassi beat James Blake for a rematch of their 2005 US Open quarterfinal.[62] He defeated Blake again in Portland to win the title of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America Championships.[63]

In 2009 in Macau Agassi and Sampras met for the first time on court since the 2002 US Open final. Sampras won the exhibition in three sets.[64] The rivalry between the former champions headlined sports media again in March 2010 after the two participated in the "Hit for Haiti" charity event organized to raise money for the victims of the earthquake. Partnered with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the old rivals began making jokes on each other what ended up with Sampras intentionally striking a serve at Agassi's body. After the event Agassi admitted that he had crossed the line with his jokes and publicly apologized to Sampras.[65] Agassi and Sampras met again one year later for an exhibition match at Madison Square Garden in New York in front of 19 000 spectators as Sampras defeated Agassi in two sets.[66] On March 3, 2014 Agassi and Sampras squared off for an exhibition in London for the annual World Tennis Day. This time it was Agassi who came out on top in two straight sets.[67]

Playing style[edit]

Early in his career, Agassi would look to end points quickly by playing first strike tennis, typically by inducing a weak return with a deep, hard shot, and then playing a winner at an extreme angle. His groundstrokes, return of serve, baseline game, phenomenal hand-eye coordination and keen sense of anticipation were always among the best in the game. 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. His favored groundstroke was his flat, laser-accurate two-handed backhand, hit well cross-court but in particular down the line. His slightly spinnier forehand was nearly as strong, in particular his inside-out forehand to the ad court.[68]

Agassi's strength was in dictating play from the back of the court. While he was growing up, his father and Nick Bollettieri trained him in this way.[69] 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. This change to more methodical, less aggressive baseline play was largely initiated by his longtime coach, Brad Gilbert, in their first year together in 1994. Gilbert encouraged Agassi to wear out opponents with his deep, flat groundstrokes and to use his fitness to win attrition wars, and noted Agassi's two-handed backhand down the line as his very best shot.[69]

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 to 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 usually was a heavy "kick" serve in the mid-80s range.[according to whom?][citation needed]

Agassi was raised on hardcourts, but found much of his early major-tournament success on the red clay of Roland Garros, reaching two consecutive finals there early in his career. His first major win, was at the slick grass of Wimbledon in 1992, a tournament that he professed to hating at the time.[69] His strongest surface over the course of his career, was indeed hardcourt, where he won six of his eight majors.

Business ventures[edit]

Agassi established a limited liability company named Andre Agassi Ventures (formerly named Agassi Enterprises).[70] Agassi, along with five athlete partners (including Wayne Gretzky, Joe Montana, Shaquille O'Neal, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Monica Seles) opened a chain of sports-themed restaurant named Official All Star Café in April 1996. The restaurant closed down in 2001.[71] In 1999, he paid $1 million for a 10 percent stake in Nevada First Bank and made a $10 million profit when it was sold to Western Alliance Bancorp in 2006.[72] In 2002, he joined the Tennis Channel to promote the channel to consumers and cable and satellite industry, and made an equity investment in the network.[73] After meeting chef Michael Mina at one of his restaurants in San Francisco, Agassi partnered with him in 2002 to start Mina Group Inc. and opened 18 concept restaurants in San Francisco, San Jose, Dana Point, Atlantic City and Las Vegas.[74][75] Agassi was an equity investor of a group that acquired Golden Nugget Las Vegas and Golden Nugget Laughlin from MGM Mirage for $215 million in 2004.[72][76] One year later, the group sold the hotel-casino to Landry's, Inc. for $163 million in cash and $182 million in assumed debt.[72][77] In 2007, he sat on the board of Meadows Bank, an independent bank in Nevada.[78] He has invested in start-up companies backed by Allen & Company.[79]

Agassi and Graf formed a company called Agassi Graf Holdings. They invested in PURE, a nightclub at Caesars Palace, which opened in 2004,[72] and sold it to Angel Management Group in 2010.[80] In August 2006, Agassi and Graf developed a joint venture with high-end furniture maker Kreiss Enterprises.[72] They launched a furniture line called Agassi Graf Collection.[81][82] In September, Agassi and Graf, through their company Agassi Graf Development LLC, along with Bayview Financial LP, finalized an agreement to develop a condominium hotel, Fairmont Tamarack, at Tamarack Resort in Donnelly, Idaho.[72][83] Due to difficult market conditions and delays, they withdrew from the project in 2009.[84][85] The group still own three small chunks of land.[86] In September, they collaborated with Steve Case's Exclusive Resorts to co-develop luxury resorts and design Agassi-Graf Tennis and Fitness Centers.[87]

They also invested in online ticket reseller viagogo in 2009 and both serve as board members and advisors of the company.[88][89]

In October 2012, Village Roadshow and investors including Agassi and Graf announced plans to build new water park called Wet'n'Wild Las Vegas in Las Vegas. Village Roadshow has a 51% stake in the park while Agassi, Graf, and other private investors hold the remaining 49%.[90][91] The park opened in May 2013.[92]

IMG managed Agassi from the time he turned pro in 1986 through January 2000, before switching to SFX Sports Group.[93][94] His business manager, lawyer, and agent was childhood friend Perry Rogers, but they have been estranged since 2008.[95][96] In 2009, he and Graf signed with CAA.[97]

Equipment and endorsements[edit]

Agassi used Prince Graphite racket early in his career.[98][99] He signed a $7 million endorsement contract with Belgian tennis racquet makers Donnay.[100] He later switched to Head Ti Radical racket[101] and Head's LiquidMetal Radical racket, having signed a multi-million dollar endorsement deal with Head in 1993.[102][103] He renewed his contract in 1999 and in November 2003, he signed a lifetime agreement with Head.[102][104] He also endorses Penn tennis balls. On July 25, 2005 Agassi left Nike after 17 years and signed an endorsement deal with Adidas.[105] A major reason for Agassi leaving Nike was because Nike refused to donate to Agassi's charities, and Adidas was more than happy to do so. On May 13, 2013 Agassi rejoined Nike.[106][107][108]

Agassi was sponsored by DuPont,[109][110] Ebel,[100] Mountain Dew in 1993,[111] Mazda in 1997,[112] Kia Motors in 2002,[104][112] American Express[113] and Deutsche Bank in 2003.[114] In 1990, he appeared in a television commercial for Canon Inc., promoting the Canon EOS Rebel camera.[115] Between 1999 and 2000, he signed a multimillion-dollar, multiyear endorsement deal with Schick and became the worldwide spokesman for the company.[116] Agassi signed a multiyear contract with Twinlab and promoted the company's nutritional supplements.[117] In mid-2003, he was named the spokesman of Aramis Life, a fragrance by Aramis and signed a five-year deal with the company.[118][119] In March 2004, he signed a ten-year agreement worth $1.5 million a year with 24 Hour Fitness, which will open five Andre Agassi fitness centers by year-end.[104] Prior to the 2012 Australian Open, Agassi and Australian winemaker Jacobs Creek announced a three year partnership and created the Open Film Series to "[share] personal stories about the life defining moments that shaped his character on and off the court."[120] In 2007, watchmaker Longines named Agassi as their brand ambassador.[121][122]

Agassi and his mother appeared in a Got Milk? advertisement in 2002.

Agassi has appeared in many advertisements and television commercials with Graf. They both endorsed Deutsche Telekom in 2002,[123] Genworth Financial[124] and Canon Inc.[115] in 2004, LVMH Moët Hennessy in 2007,[125] and Nintendo Wii[126] and Wii Fit U[127] and Longines in 2013.[128]

Personal life[edit]

Relationships and family[edit]

In the early 90s Agassi dated American entertainer Barbra Streisand. Writing about the relationship in his 2009 autobiography, he said, "We agree that we're good for each other, and so what if she's twenty-eight years older? We're simpatico, and the public outcry only adds spice to our connection. It makes our friendship feel forbidden, taboo – another piece of my overall rebellion. Dating Barbra Streisand is like wearing Hot Lava."

Agassi was married to Brooke Shields from 1997 to 1999.[129]

He married Steffi Graf on October 22, 2001 at their Las Vegas home, Graf being advanced in her pregnancy. They have two children: son Jaden Gil (born October 26, 2001) and daughter Jaz Elle (born October 3, 2003).[130] Agassi has said that he and Graf are not pushing their children toward becoming tennis players.[131] The Graf-Agassi family resides in Summerlin, a community in the Las Vegas Valley.[132]

Long-time trainer Gil Reyes has been called one of Agassi's closest friends; some have described him as being a "father figure" to Agassi.[133][134] In 2012, Agassi and Reyes introduced their own line of fitness equipment, BILT By Agassi and Reyes.[135]

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.[136][137]

Autobiography[edit]

Agassi's autobiography, Open (written with assistance from J. R. Moehringer[138]), was published in November 2009. In it, Agassi admitted that he used and tested positive for methamphetamine in 1997.[42][139][140] In response to this revelation, Roger Federer declared himself shocked and disappointed, while Marat Safin argued that Agassi should return his prize money and be stripped of his titles.[141][142] In an exclusive interview with CBS, Agassi justified himself and asked for understanding, saying that "It was a period in my life where I needed help."[143] 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 wore a hairpiece earlier in his career and thought Pete Sampras was "robotic".[144] The book reached No. 1 on the New York Times Best Seller list[145] and received favorable reviews.[146] It won the Autobiography category of the 2010 British Sports Book Awards.[147]

Politics[edit]

Agassi has donated more than $100,000 to Democratic candidates.[148] On September 1, 2010, when he appeared on daily WNYC public radio program "The Brian Lehrer Show," he stated that he is a registered Independent.[149]

Philanthropy[edit]

Agassi founded the Andre Agassi Charitable Association in 1994, which assists Las Vegas' young people. He was awarded the ATP Arthur Ashe Humanitarian award in 1995 for his efforts to help disadvantaged youth. He is regularly cited as the most charitable and socially involved player in professional tennis. It has also been claimed that he may be the most charitable athlete of his generation.[150]

Agassi's charities help in assisting children reach their athletic potential. His Boys & Girls Club sees 2,000 children throughout the year and boasts a world-class junior tennis team. It also has a basketball program (the Agassi Stars) and a rigorous system that encourages a mix of academics and athletics.

In 2001, Agassi opened the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy[151] in Las Vegas, a tuition-free charter school for at-risk children in the area. He personally donated $35 million to the school.[152] In 2009, the graduating class had 100 percent graduation rate and expected a 100 percent college acceptance rate.[153] Among other child-related programs that Agassi supports through his Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation is Clark County's only residential facility for abused and neglected children, Child Haven. In 1997, Agassi donated funding to Child Haven for a six-room classroom building now named the Agassi Center for Education. His foundation also provided $720,000 to assist in the building of the Andre Agassi Cottage for Medically Fragile Children. This 20-bed facility opened in December 2001, and accommodates developmentally delayed or handicapped children and children quarantined for infectious diseases.[154]

In 2007, Agassi, Muhammad Ali, Lance Armstrong, Warrick Dunn, Jeff Gordon, Mia Hamm, Tony Hawk, Andrea Jaeger, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Mario Lemieux, Alonzo Mourning and Cal Ripken, Jr. founded the charity Athletes for Hope, which helps professional athletes get involved in charitable causes and aims to inspire all people to volunteer and support their communities.[155]

Agassi created the Canyon-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund. The Fund is an investment initiative for social change, focusing on the "nationwide effort to move charters from stopgap buildings into permanent campuses." It funded the Southwest Detroit Lighthouse Charter Academy, which opened in September 2013.

In September 2013, the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education formed a partnership V20 Foods to launch Box Budd!es, a line of kids' healthy snacks. All proceeds go to the Foundation.[156][157]

In February 2014, Agassi remodeled the vacant University of Phoenix building as a new school called the Doral Academy West through the Canyon-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund. Doral Academy opened in August 2014.[158] The Fund purchased a 4.6-acre plot in Henderson, Nevada to house the Somerset Academy of Las Vegas, which will relocate from its campus inside a church.[159]

Career statistics[edit]

Singles timeline overview[edit]

Tournament 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 SR W–L
Grand Slams
Australian Open NH W SF 4R 4R W W W SF QF 4 / 9 48–5
French Open 2R SF 3R F F SF 2R QF 2R 1R W 2R QF QF QF 1R 1R 1 / 17 51–16
Wimbledon 1R QF W QF 4R SF 1R 2R F SF SF 2R 4R 3R 1 / 14 46–13
US Open 1R 1R SF SF F 1R QF 1R W F SF 4R 4R W 2R QF F SF QF F 3R 2 / 21 79–19
Year-End Championship
Masters Cup RR RR W SF SF RR RR F F RR RR F RR 1 / 13 22–20
Overall
Win–Loss 5–6 26–17 63–11 41–19 45–12 39–17 42–15 33–11 52–14 73–9 38–14 12–12 68–18 63–14 40–15 46–15 53–12 47–10 37–13 38–12 10–8 870–274
Titles 0 1 6 1 4 2 3 2 5 7 3 0 5 5 1 4 5 4 1 1 0 60 / 343
Ranking 91 25 3 7 4 10 9 24 2 2 8 110 6 1 6 3 2 4 8 7 150 $ 31,152,975

Records[edit]

Professional awards[edit]

Recognition[edit]

Video[edit]

  • Wimbledon 2000 Semi-Final – Agassi vs. Rafter (2003) Starring: Andre Agassi, Patrick Rafter; Standing Room Only, DVD Release Date: August 16, 2005, Run Time: 213 minutes, OCLC 61774054.
  • Charlie Rose with Andre Agassi (May 7, 2001) Charlie Rose, Inc., DVD Release Date: August 15, 2006, Run Time: 57 minutes.
  • Wimbledon: The Record Breakers (2005) Starring: Andre Agassi, Boris Becker; Standing Room Only, DVD Release Date: August 16, 2005, Run Time: 52 minutes, OCLC 61658553.

Video games[edit]

Main article: Andre Agassi Tennis

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Roger Federer has since surpassed this feat, reaching ten consecutive Grand Slam finals from 2005–2007.
  2. ^ Pete Sampras held the 1993 Wimbledon, 1993 US Open and 1994 Australian Open titles simultaneously. Jimmy Connors (1974), Roger Federer (2004, 2006 and 2007) and Novak Djokovic (2011) won those three Majors in the same year, although Connors' Grand Slam titles were all played on grass courts. Mats Wilander won all but Wimbledon in 1988 during his similar rise to the year-end world no. 1. Rafael Nadal won the French Open and Wimbledon "Channel Slam" (2008) and 2009 Australian Open, before replicating the Channel Slam alongside winning the US Open in 2010.
  3. ^ Abbreviation for "Year-End Championship".
  4. ^ A "Career Super Slam" entails winning all 4 Majors, the Year-End Championship and the Olympic gold medal in singles.
  5. ^ Known as "Masters Grand Prix" (1970–1989), "ATP Tour World Championships" (1990–1999) and "Tennis Masters Cup" (2000–2008).

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Further reading[edit]

  • Agassi, Mike; Cobello, Dominic; Welsh, Kate (2004). The Agassi Story. Toronto: ECW Press. ISBN 978-1-55022-656-0. 
  • Andre Agassi (2010). Open: An Autobiography (Vintage). London: Vintage. ISBN 0-307-38840-9. 

External links[edit]