Agassi defies sands of time to delight Middle East fans

A packed house welcomed Andre Agassi to the Middle East for the first time last night, and the back-court genius from Las Vegas responded with a win against the Czech Radek Stepanek, 6-4, 7-5, in the opening round of the Dubai Duty Free Open.

Conceding only three points on serve in the opening set, the lively Agassi recovered from a break down in the second set, helped by his opponent's double-faults. He completed the task after an hour and 24 minutes.

Agassi, two months away from his 35th birthday and having to nurse a suspect hip, was asked why, as a man of considerable wealth and accomplishment, he continues to push himself so hard as a player. He has even re-enlisted for the United States Davis Cup team against Croatia next week after an absence of five years. The expression on Agassi's face suggested the question was purely rhetorical: "It's what I do, you know," he said. "It's what I do."

Tennis is what Tim Henman does, too. But, having devoted himself to Britain's Davis Cup cause for the past 10 years without winning a single tie in the World Group - never mind hugging the trophy three times like Agassi - he has retired from the team at 30 to concentrate on tournaments.

Agassi understands Henman's point of view. The American retired from Davis Cup because something had to give as he tried to balance the round of tournaments with bringing up a family and supervising a charitable foundation. It was only when the American captain, Patrick McEnroe, and the players, convinced Agassi that he was welcome back on an ad hoc basis that he changed his mind.

Henman's decision ensured there was more interest than usual yesterday in Britain's squad for the Euro/African Zone tie against Israel in Tel Aviv from 4 to 6 March. The captain, Jeremy Bates, relieved that the 31-year-old Greg Rusedski is willing to play on, named four contenders to share the load: Arvind Parmar, Andrew Murray, David Sherwood and Alex Bogdanovic, in that order.

Sherwood, from Sheffield, the 24-year-old son of the Olympians John and Sheila Sherwood, is the nation's fifth-ranked doubles player and may mark his first appearance in the squad by partnering Rusedski in Henman's absence.

That would leave Parmar, Murray and Bogdanovic to contest the second singles place. Parmar, 26, has Davis Cup experience, but has yet to win a match after five attempts.

Murray, the 17-year-old US Open junior champion from Scotland, is the nation's brightest prospect, but has yet to make an impression on the ATP Tour. Bogdanovic, 20, was considered to be the outstanding talent until Murray's emergence.

New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all