Tennis: Agassi makes forceful return

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The Independent Online
ANDRE AGASSI made a triumphant return to competition after a five-month lay-off when he beat his American compatriot Mark Keil 6-1, 6-2, in the first round of the Arizona men's championships.

Agassi's last competitive match was playing for the United States in the Davis Cup in the Bahamas last September, but he showed no signs of rust after having surgery on his right wrist in late December.

'I sure missed it. It felt absolutely incredible,' he said after his 57-minute victory. 'I missed doing what I love.'

Agassi, the fifth seed whose world ranking has dropped to 32, said that he has gained a new perspective on the game. 'I've been working so hard. I'm in the best shape of my life,' added the 1992 Wimbledon champion who has shed 15 pounds since last year's US Open.

'If all goes well, half a dozen tournaments into the year I'll be playing my best tennis and hopefully ready to go out there and win the French (Open).' Agassi broke service at 1-1 and won 26 of the next 30 points and eight successive games before closing out the match.

Although the injury is behind him, Agassi said he still feels a little bit of pain. 'There is a little pain starting and warming up, but you work through that in just a couple minutes.'

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