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Andre Agassi - New Coach, New Triumphs

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In the summer of 1994, Agassi hired former player Brad Gilbert to be his new coach, citing Gilbert's reputation for winning matches he was expected to lose. Gilbert convinced him to focus on winning smarter, and outthinking his opponents. The new strategy paid off when he won the 1994 U.S. Open, his second Grand Slam win. "Agassi is suddenly the biggest thing in tennis because he proved himself serious at last, and an Agassi with purpose is simply gigantic," wrote a Sports Illustrated reporter. Agassi was back in the top ranks, this time at number two in the rankings. Perhaps to mark this new seriousness, he shaved off his trademark long hair shortly before the Australian Open, where he reached the finals without losing a match and then defeated old rival Pete Sampras to take the title. It was a delicious revenge, and the sweeter because it made Andre Agassi the number one men's tennis player for the first time in his life.

Chronology

1970 Born April 29 in Las Vegas, Nevada
1974 Exhibits tennis skills at Alan King Tennis Tournament
1983 Enters Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Florida
1986 Turns pro, signs endorsement contract with Nike
1988 Ranked number 3, with 63-11 record; reaches semifinals at U.S. and French Opens
1988 Passes $1 million mark in prize winnings, becoming second youngest player to do so
1990 Helps U.S. team win Davis Cup; reaches finals in U.S. and French Opens
1992 Wins Wimbledon, first "Grand Slam" victory
1993 Coach and mentor, Nick Bollettieri, announces he is leaving Agassi team
1994 Hires Brad Gilbert as coach
1994 Wins U.S. Open; ranked number 2
1995 Wins Australian Open; ranked number 1 men's tennis player in world
1995 Founds Andre Agassi Foundation to help at-risk children
1996 Wins gold medal, 1996 Summer Olympics
1997 Marries actress Brooke Shields, April 19
1997 Falls to number 101 in tennis rankings
1999 Divorces Brooke Shields
1999 Wins French Open
1999 Learns that both sister Tami and mother have breast cancer
1999 Begins dating Steffi Graf
2000 Wins Australian Open
2001 Wins Australian Open (first back-to-back Grand Slam victory)
2001 Marries Steffi Graf, October 22; four days later she gives birth to their son, Jaden Gil

Born to Serve

Really now. Can Andre Agassi, whose self-contradictions force tennis observers to question whether he's the game's new savior or just another infantile twerp, actually be unique?…

Bottom line: Agassi … is still a teenager. End of puzzle. See ya when you're 20 and back from the ozone, dude. He's got rock 'n' roll hair. Big deal. The last close-clipped, white American idol …may have been Pat Boone. But just because Agassi is No. 4 in the world; just because he has the speed, eyes and hands of a tennis genius; just because he hits the ball on the rise as well and as true and as hard as any human could possibly hit it—whew, man, and much harder than you would ever suspect a 5 ft. 11 in., 155-pound, spare-looking spider boy could—doesn't mean we should rush him into understanding geography, or acting less like a showboating nincompoop on the court or …or playing Wimbledon or something.

So, could Agassi, with his sidewinding howitzer forehand, his exotic, Middle Eastern surf-rat looks and that come-hither grin that melts all the girls, truly be the swirl of fresh air that tennis has been longing for? Or is he merely a chic bundle of cynical contrivances, a marketeer's dream package with a streak of show-biz evangelism, a veritable "Wayne Newton in denim"…?

Source: Curry Kirkpatrick, Sports Illustrated, March 13, 1989, p. 64.

Agassi would not remain number one for long. He lost at Wimbledon to Boris Becker and then to Sampras at the U.S. Open. By November of 1995, Sampras was back at number one, and in 1996, Agassi lost early rounds at the Australian and French Opens and at Wimbledon. He did win a gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics, but there was not much to celebrate the next year.

The next few years were a rollercoaster. He won no tournaments in 1997, and by the end of that year he was ranked a dismal 122. Off the court, his personal life was also trying. In May of 1997 he married his long-time fiancée, actress Brooke Shields, but by April 1999, they were divorced. By that time, he had begun yet another comeback. In 1998 he won five tournaments, and reaching the finals in five others. He ended the year ranked number six. Then he won the U.S. Open and the French Open in 1999. He had now won each of the Grand Slam tournaments. To top it off, he won the Australian Open again in early 2000, and once again in 2001—his first back-to-back victories in a Grand Slam tournament.

Awards and Accomplishments

1988 Named Association of Tennis Professionals' "Most Improved Player of the Year"
1990 Wins first ever Tennis Professionals World Tour Championship
1990 Reaches finals, French Open and U.S. Open
1990 On victorious U.S. team, Davis Cup (vs. Australia)
1991 Reaches finals, French Open
1992 Wins Wimbledon, first "Grand Slam" victory
1992 On victorious U.S. team, Davis Cup (vs. Switzerland)
1994 First place, U.S. Open; ranked number 2
1995 First place, Australian Open; ranked number 1 men's tennis player in world
1996 Gold medal, 1996 Summer Olympics
1999 First place, French Open
2000 First place, Australian Open
2001 First place, Australian Open (first back-to-back Grand Slam victory)
2001 Second place, U.S. Open

Agassi ended 2002 with a ranking of second and a record of 53-12. In October of 2001 he married fellow tennis great Steffi Graf, whom he started dating when both won the French Open in 1999, shortly after his divorce from Shields. Four days after their marriage, Graf gave birth to a baby boy, named Jaden Gil. From teenage hipster to family man, Andre Agassi had come a long way, and through it all he has retained a wicked tennis arm that attracted spectators when he was four, and continues to surprise opponents long after he has been counted out from serious competition.

Andre Agassi - Chronology [next] [back] Andre Agassi - A Rebirth

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almost 10 years ago

I would like to know what was the name of the famous hollywood 'life coach' that revolutionized Agassi's mind game?

Thank you
Vanesh Chetty