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Men's Tennis (ATP)
Agassi's in a title drought

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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The great Andre Agassi hasn't won a tournament since late April of last year. What gives?

The "A Train" is a respectable 14-4 this season and he's reached at least the semifinals in three of his four events, but something's missing from his game right now. Killer instinct!

Okay, so Andre lost to the resurgent Marat Safin in the Aussie Open semis back in January; he gave way to rising fellow American Mardy Fish in the round of four in San Jose in February; and you almost expected him to lose to Swiss giant Roger Federer in the Indian Wells semis last month; but he was not supposed to lose to Argentine clay-courter Agustin Calleri in straight sets in the fourth round last week on the hardcourts in Miami, where "AA" was the three-time defending champion.

Is it because the legendary star is 33 and on the verge of turning an ancient 34 on the 29th of this month (ancient in terms of playing professional tennis)? Is it because he's happily married to fellow tennis legend Steffi Graf and has two young children at home? It certainly isn't due to a lack of fitness, which has become his trademark.

Andre Agassi
Andre Agassi hasn't hoisted a trophy since titling in Houston 12 months ago.
Maybe, just maybe, it's because the game's brightest young stars are truly taking the game over (as expected). Sure, Andre's currently third in the ATP Champions Race and fifth in the world rankings, but the facts are the facts. He hasn't hoisted hardware of any kind in almost a year. That's gotta be a concern for the 58-time winner on tour. Only six men have won more tournaments than Agassi all-time, but several men have won since the Las Vegas native last ran a table, which he did in April of '03 by besting his compatriot Andy Roddick in a marquee title match in Houston (13 Agassi tournaments ago).

But Andre's only reached one final since then, which, oddly enough, came in Houston back in November, when he was blown out by the mighty Federer in the Masters Cup title bout.

Agassi opened his 2003 campaign by winning four of his first five events, but his start to '04's been a different story...an 0-for-4 story. I guess that's what happens to a tennis player who tries to juggle the demand of sport and parenthood.

Andre still owns eight career Grand Slam titles, but are his "major" victory days now over, with the likes of Federer, Roddick, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Guillermo Coria and Safin in the draws? His only "big" win this year came against the world No. 4 Coria in the quarters at Indian Wells, where he lost to the formidable "Fed" in his next outing.

Note: Since titling in Houston 12 months ago, Agassi is a combined 3-7 against Federer (0-3), Roddick (0-1), Ferrero (1-1), Coria (2-1) and Safin (0-1), the players who accounted for six of the last eight spots in Grand Slam finals.

Agassi's still a threat to win every time he steps onto the court, despite the fact that he's the oldest active player on the circuit, he's just not winning 'em all at one site.

"I don't think it's about the accomplishments that keeps me out here," Agassi said. "It's about pushing myself to get better and still feeling like I can do that, still feeling like I can win if I play my best tennis."

Don't worry folks...Andre will title again.

FYI, Agassi's next victory will mark his 800th on the ATP (799-245) and his career prize money (just prize money) is fast approaching $30 million ($28,580,055).

Ace or double fault? Send your comments to Scott Riley at sriley@sportsnetwork.com.
Scott Riley

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