Tennis: The rebirth of Andre Agassi

Last year Andre Agassi became the first player in the history of ATP rankings (since 1973) to go from outside the year-end top 100 and finish in the top 10. He climbed from No 141 in November 1997 (No 122 in December) to No 4 in November 1998, and finished the season at No 6.

Remarkably, Agassi managed to accomplish that without advancing beyond the fourth round at any of the four Grand Slams - he lost in the first round at the French Open and in the second round at Wimbledon - and also without winning any of the ATP Tour's elite Super 9 tournaments (he was a finalist at the Lipton Championships).

HIGHLIGHTS OF AGASSI'S RISE FROM THE DEPTHS

No 141: Took a wild card into the Las Vegas Challenger in November, 1997, losing to Germany's Christian Vink in the final.

No 50: Major step forward after defeating Pete Sampras, the world No 1, in straight sets in the the final at San Jose on 15 February 1998.

No 40: Wins in Scottsdale, defeating Australia's Jason Stoltenberg in the final on 8 March.

No 22: Finalist at the Lipton Championships on 29 March, losing to Marcelo Rios, of Chile, who becomes world No 1.

No 19: Finalist in Munich on 3 May, losing to Sweden's Thomas Enqvist.

No 13: Wins tournament in Washington on 26 July, defeating Australia's Scott Draper in the final.

No 11: Wins tournament in Los Angeles on 2 August, defeating Britain's Tim Henman in the final.

No 9: Semi-finalist at the Canadian Open in Toronto on 8 August, losing to Richard Krajicek of the Netherlands.

No 8: Finalist in Indianapolis on 23 August, losing to the Spaniard, Alex Corretja.

No 6: Finalist at the Swiss Indoor tournament in Basle on 11 October, losing to Henman in the final.

No 4: Achieves his highest ranking of the year on 16 November after winning his fifth title, the Czech Indoor, in Ostrava on 25 October, defeating Jan Kroslak, of Slovakia, in the final, and reaching the quarter-finals of the Paris Indoor on 6 November.

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