Andre Agassi - New Coach, New Triumphs
New Triumphs New Coach
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.
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.
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.