Tennis: Pessimistic Agassi

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The Independent Online
ANDRE AGASSI is pessimistic about the prospects of defending his Wimbledon title in a fortnight's time, writes John Roberts from Paris.

'There is a possibility I may not play,' he said when interviewed by NBC television last night. 'I want to go to Wimbledon but I may have to have surgery.'

Tendinitis of the right wrist has kept Agassi off the tour since his defeat by Sergi Bruguera in Barcelona in April. He missed the Australian Open in January because of bronchitis. Since then he was won two tournaments, in San Francisco and Scottsdale, and has played a total of 20 matches, winning 16.

Agassi is due to play in the new grass-court tournament at Halle, Germany, the week before Wimbledon. He would receive an estimated pounds 350,000 in appearance money and the organisers have promised to lay on a private jet aircraft should he wish to fly to London to practise.

Wimbledon has already lost one of the sport's leading personalities due to the stabbing of Monica Seles. Agassi, who defeated Goran Ivanisevic in an exciting final last year, said after the triumph that he wished he had shown more respect towards the All England earlier in his career. He was defeated by Henri Leconte in the first round on his first visit in 1987 and did not return until 1991, when he reached the quarter-finals.

Having failed to justify their rankings against the baseline specialists in the French Open, Pete Sampras, Stefan Edberg, Boris Becker, Goran Ivanisevic and Michael Stich bring their serve and volley talents to the greener pastures of Queen's Club this week. They launch their Wimbledon preparations in earnest in the Stella Artois Championships, filling five of the top six seedings. Jeremy Bates heads the British challenge with a first-round match against Germany's Patrick Kuhnen.