Agassi may not play at Wimbledon again

Andre Agassi, sending his regrets to Wimbledon yesterday that a hip injury will prevent him from competing in The Championships, which start next Monday, signed off with the optimistic line: "My hope and plans are to see you next year."

Andre Agassi, sending his regrets to Wimbledon yesterday that a hip injury will prevent him from competing in The Championships, which start next Monday, signed off with the optimistic line: "My hope and plans are to see you next year."

Frankly, it will surprise many observers if the 1992 champion returns to play on the lawns.

Agassi will be 35 years old next April. If his results continue to decline, it seems doubtful that he will be keen to extend a career in which he has won every honour: the four Grand Slam singles championships, Davis Cup triumph, an Olympic Games singles gold medal, and a world No 1 ranking.

When Pete Sampras announced his retirement last year, aged 32, joining his fellow American former champions Jim Courier and Michael Chang in the players' lounge, Agassi said wryly: "I thought we were all supposed to leave the dance together." It may be that Agassi, like Sampras, will have his last hurrah at the US Open.

The feeling that 2004 is going to be Agassi's final year as a top class competitor intensified at the recent French Open. In losing in straight sets to Jerome Haehnel, a 23-year-old French qualifier, ranked 271, Agassi's failure to offer even a passable imitation of himself seemed to worry him as much as his adoring public. The most magnetic player in the sport struggled to execute the most fundamental shots in his armoury. In winning his first mainstream match, Haehnel denied Agassi the 800th of his career.

A semi-finalist in his defence of the Australian Open in January, Agassi lost to Marat Safin, of Russia. He was also a semi-finalist in San Jose, losing to his compatriot Mardy Fish, and at Indian Wells, where he was defeated by Roger Federer, the Wimbledon and Australian Open champion and world No 1.

Agassi simply did not prepare for the rigours of exchanging shots on the slow red clay at the French Open. His only match on European clay prior to Paris resulted in a first round defeat by Nedad Zimonjic, the Serbian journeyman who partnered Henman to the doubles title at the Monte Carlo Masters.

"I took off the clay season," Agassi said, "because I've always believed that clay takes more out of some people than others. And for me it's always been that way. At this stage of my career, I can't go around grinding, trying to get into matches, at the risk of expending the energies I do have."

Agassi's seventh tournament of the year was the Stella Artois Championships at Queen's Club last week. The world No 9 lost his opening match against Igor Andreev, a sturdy, confident, 20-year-old Russian who recovered after losing the opening set and won successive tie-breaks for a 4-6, 7-6, 7-6 victory.

Having arranged to play doubles at Queen's with his American compatriot Andy Roddick, the US Open champion, Agassi's additional match practice lasted for two rounds. He then returned to Las Vegas.

Yesterday, in a message to Alan Mills, the Wimbledon referee, Agassi said: "I have been struggling with a hip injury for a couple of months and in my preparation for Wimbledon realised the injury was worsened by the nature of the surface and would prevent me competing."

Agassi, whose wife, Steffi Graf, won the Wimbledon women's singles title seven times, came to regret using the Wimbledon fortnight as a rest period after losing in the first round to the Frenchman Henri Leconte in 1987. Absent for the next three years, he has since missed only one of the past 13 tournaments.

BUY WIMBLEDON TICKETS

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works