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RadekStepanekTheKing
07-14-2006, 01:35 AM
Agassi Set to Wish Washington Farewell
Before Retiring, He'll Return Once More

By Melanie Ho
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 14, 2006; Page E03

There was a time when Andre Agassi couldn't figure out why he kept coming back to the Legg Mason Tennis Classic.

In 1995, when Agassi won his third of five Legg Mason championships (the others were in 1990, 1991, 1998 and 1999), the court was 118 degrees and the eight-time Grand Slam champion became nauseous. He threw up in a courtside flowerpot before beating Stefan Edberg, 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, in the final.

When the match was over, Agassi told The Washington Post: "I haven't experienced this kind of heat. It's crazy. I don't know why I keep coming back."

But Agassi kept coming back and when this year's Legg Mason Tennis Classic begins on July 29, Agassi will make one final appearance.

In June, Agassi, who has played the Washington tournament 16 times, announced his retirement after the U.S. Open, which starts late next month. The Legg Mason is one of 10 U.S. Open Series events played in the United States and Canada, all of which lead up to the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.

"Andre just has the unique ability to raise an event to the highest level," Legg Mason tournament director Jeff Newman said. "Without question it will be a special occasion -- it's a complement to a great player field. Andre will be the icing on the cake."

Tournament chairman Donald Dell said it makes sense for Agassi to select the Legg Mason as one of his lead-ups to his final Grand Slam event.

"When you are a player and you win a tournament several times, you get a good feeling, you get comfortable with the crowds, the fans. He feels very comfortable in the environment," Dell said.

Not only has Agassi found success in tournament play but he is popular among the tournament's spectators. Dell remembers one year, in 1999, when Agassi and Pete Sampras were both slated to play the Legg Mason. Even though Sampras was the world's top-ranked player, Agassi, who was then ranked third, was the more popular of the two.

"The phone calls were five to one for Agassi," Dell said.

Eager fans made inquiries to find the precise day Agassi would be playing -- he was, after all, the player they all wanted to see.

Seven years later not much has changed. Agassi will be the favorite, among fans, to win the tournament. Not only does Agassi hold a record five Legg Mason titles, but the 36-year-old Las Vegas native has endeared himself to fans on and off the court. His signature post-match kisses to the fans were accompanied by tears in his eyes after his final Wimbledon match, which he lost, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, 6-4, to Rafael Nadal in the third round. Off the court, his charitable foundation has raised more than $60 million to help underprivileged children.

"He's a showman," Dell said. "He's a very intellectual, articulate guy and he really has a relationship with the crowd."

Should Agassi reach the semifinals or the final of the tournament, Dell estimates that 90 percent of the fans will be calling Agassi's name.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/13/AR2006071301715.html

superman1
07-14-2006, 01:39 AM
It's funny because these days Agassi loves the heat.

Max G.
07-14-2006, 11:52 AM
Hm. I was planning on going to Legg Mason - not sure yet how this changes my plans, whether it makes me more or less likely to go on the days that he's playing...

gts072
07-14-2006, 11:54 AM
Hope he lasts longer than this year’s Wimbledon....

Dan007
07-14-2006, 12:46 PM
I live in Baltimore County of MD and it's 1 hr 30 min drive from here to D.C. I went to Legg Mason Tennis Classic final last year and wasn't planning to this year, but I've changed my mind. I have to get Andre's autograph before he retires!!!!

Max G.
07-14-2006, 02:45 PM
I live in Baltimore County of MD and it's 1 hr 30 min drive from here to D.C. I went to Legg Mason Tennis Classic final last year and wasn't planning to this year, but I've changed my mind. I have to get Andre's autograph before he retires!!!!

Hehe. I live in Montgomery County. I went to the first and second rounds last year; the year before, I went to the quarterfinals.

I'm definitely hoping that sometime that week I'll be able to get off work, so I don't have to wait until the weekend (when there are only a couple of matches played per day)