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Monday, 11 March, 2002, 01:08 GMT
The trials of Agassi
Andre Agassi is only the eighth player to complete 50 career titles
Andre Agassi celebrates victory in Scottsdale
Andre Agassi became only the ninth man to win 50 career titles with his straight sets win over Spaniard Juan Balcells.

BBC Sport Online's Dan Warren takes a look at his rollercoaster career.

Andre Agassi's achievement in reaching 50 career titles with his win at the Scottsdale Classic, is little short of remarkable.

But perhaps we should not be surprised. After all, this is a man who is no friend of the mundane.

Ever since the long-haired upstart from Las Vegas upset the upper-crust at the All England Club with his reticence in wearing traditional white, Agassi has been one of the most colourful characters in tennis.

His flamboyant tennis, coupled with a string of famous girlfriends, and a run of success matched only by Pete Sampras, has made Agassi a firm favourite with fans across the world.

  Agassi factfule
Born: April, 1970, Las Vegas
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 165 pounds
Turned professional: 1986
Career titles: 50
Grand Slam wins: 7

But his is no straightforward success story. Indeed, Agassi's current rich vein of form seems all the more remarkable considering the astounding slump which appeared to threaten his career.

Rewind to 1997 and the Andre Agassi story has a very different tone.

While his marriage in April to actress Brooke Shields was just the sort of high-profile union which seemed entirely appropriate for Agassi, in truth it was no happy liaison.

By November, Agassi's world ranking sank to 141, as he failed to reach the final of a single tour event and the US Open was the only Grand Slam he played.

Andre Agassi celebrates with father Mike
Agassi celebrates title number 50 with father Mike

At 27, he should have been at the height of his powers. But the glory days, during which he won Wimbledon (in 1992), the US Open (1994) and the Australian Open (1995), seemed behind him.

Yet that was not the end of the Agassi story. He re-discovered his self-belief and began training himself like never before. And the rewards came. In 1999 he won the US Open for a second time and, significantly, captured the French Open, making him the first player since Rod Laver in the 1960s to have won all four majors.

  The half-century club (50+ titles)
Jimmy Connors
Ivan Lendl
John McEnroe
Bjorn Borg
Guillermo Vilas
Ilie Nastase
Boris Becker
Pete Sampras
Andre Agassi

He had also reclaimed his world number one ranking, and victory in the Australian Open in 2000 meant he held three of the four Grand Slam titles simultaneously.

But the success hid personal heartache. In April 1999 Agassi filed for divorce, and during the year he also learned that his mother Elizabeth and sister Tami had both been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Yet resilience is clearly an Agassi trait. Both Elizabeth and Tami saw their health improve, while Andre proceded to capture the 2001 Australian Open crown - his seventh Grand Slam.

And, in a match seemingly made in heaven, Agassi has found love with German star Steffi Graf - one of the few people with more Grand Slam wins than him (she has 22).

Agassi celebrates his 1992 Wimbledon success with Brooke Shields
Agassi celebrates his 1992 Wimbledon success with Brooke Shields

The pair recently celebrated the birth of their first child. And if Agassi's recent success - he reached the San Jose final before winning at Scottsdale - is anything to go by, the pressures of fatherhood are not affecting his game.

If the the new addition to the Agassi clan takes after his father (not to mention mum!), then the Agassi name will appear on tennis titles for many years to come.

Not that the current model is ready to give up quite yet...

See also:

07 Feb 02 |  Tennis
Agassi lines up new coach
25 Mar 02 |  Tennis
Agassi's mental maestro
30 Jan 02 |  Tennis
Agassi splits with coach
14 Jan 02 |  Australian Open
Stars pull out of Aussie Open
Links to more Tennis stories are at the foot of the page.


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