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Goodbye Andre: Agassi will retire after US Open

June 25, 2006 11:10 AM

Beloved American goes from rebel to champion to ambassador to elder statesman

By TennisReporters.net writers

Photos: Susan Mullane/Camerawork USA, Cynthia Lum/WireImage.com; Design: Ron Cioffi/TR
Reality has finally hit home for the eternal optimist.

Finally doing the expected, Andre Agassi, the most popular US player of all time and arguably the most visible international player in tennis history, has decided to call it quits after this year’s US Open.

"It's all a bit surreal," the eight-time Grand Slam titlist once said of his success. "I get out there and I try to work. I come off the court and many times in my career I just feel like it's been a dream. It's all surprising to me."

The 36-year-old American announced his plans Saturday at Wimbledon, where he is seeded 25th and will compete for the last time. Agassi has been struggled with a deteriorating sciatic nerve injury over the past two years and after only being able to play sparingly in 2006, he finally saw the writing on the wall.

"It's been a lot of sacrifices the last few months, trying to get myself right to come back here and enjoy this tournament for the last time," said Agassi. "It's been a long road this year for me, and for a lot of reasons. It's great to be here. This Wimbledon will be my last, and the U.S. Open will be my last tournament."

The Las Vegan – who somehow managed to reach the US Open final last year despite a bad back and hip that required three cortisone shots – will play Wimbledon, four hard court tournaments (including L.A., which he won last year) and New York.

"There's still a lot of fight left in me from here through the Open," Agassi said. "There's been a lot of challenges, but it's been 20, 21 years of incredible, incredible memories"

While he won't go down as the best player of all time, Agassi has done what no other man has been able to accomplish – win Grand Slam titles on three different surfaces (four if you differentiate between the US and Australian Opens’ hard courts).

He won his Slam crown at Wimbledon in 1992, grabbed two at the US Open and a remarkable four at the Australian Open. But it was his run to the Roland Garros crown in 1999 when he came back from two sets down against Andrei Medvedev in the final that remains the most thrilling. It was also during that fortnight that he finally earned the affections of his now wife, Steffi Graf.

"The day I won in Paris was the day I knew I would never have another regret the rest of my career," said Agassi, who married Graf in 2001.

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