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Adieu, Andre: Agassi's career ends with 3rd-round loss at Open


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Adieu, Andre: Agassi's career ends with 3rd-round loss at Open



September 3, 2006


AP - Sep 3, 9:27 pm EDT

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Crouched alone in the silence of the locker room, a pro tennis player no more, a red-eyed Andre Agassi twisted his torso in an attempt to conquer the seemingly mundane task of pulling a white shirt over his head.


Never more than at that moment did Agassi seem so vulnerable, looking far older than his 36 years, wrestling not simply with his bad back but also with two overwhelming and conflicting emotions.


There was the concrete sense of departure, of knowing his career came to an end Sunday with a 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-5 loss to 112th-ranked Benjamin Becker in the third round at the U.S. Open. And there was the liberating sense of excitement, of knowing he has more time to devote to his wife, Steffi Graf, and their two children; of knowing there are no more flights to catch, no more practice sessions, no more injections to dull the searing pain of an irritated sciatic nerve.


That's why, for Agassi himself and the 20,000 or so fans who honored him with a raucous, four-minute standing ovation in Arthur Ashe Stadium after the match, it truly did not matter all that much what Sunday's outcome was. This day and this tournament were all about saying goodbye to an eight-time Grand Slam champion who grew up in front of the world, from cocky kid with the shoulder-length hair and denim shorts to the thoughtful guy with the shaved pate and proper tennis whites.


"The scoreboard said I lost today, but what the scoreboard doesn't say is what it is I've found," Agassi told the crowd, tears streaming down his cheeks, his voice cracking with emotion. "Over the last 21 years, I've found loyalty. You have pulled for me on the court and also in life. I have found inspiration. You have willed me to succeed sometimes even in my lowest moments."




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