A look at Zeven's very own at the ATP Chennai Open
ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP
Son to an immigrant Iranian boxer and an Olympian, Mike Agassi, who was instrumental in helping Andre find his feet early on. Mike sent his son to the famous Nick Bollettieri Academy in Florida, but could only provide for a three month period due to financial strain that plagued the Agassi family in the early years.
But such was young Andre’s flair, Bolletieri agreed to keep Agassi and train him for free after watching him on the court for just half an hour. The initial three-month payment was duly returned for the investment in the 13-year-old was worth much more!
“Take your cheque back. He's here for free,” were Bolletieri’s prophetic words.
On the Court:
Agassi was known predominantly for his back-of-the-court prowess. Armed with a defensive game, he had the capability to wear his opponents down with pinpoint groundstrokes and had perhaps the best backhand at the time. His two-handed backhand and forehand were equally effective and more than made up for his comparatively weaker serve. A two-time US Open champion, Agassi had a long list of honours in a career spanning almost two decades. His game was supposed to be more suitable to clay courts, but he managed to win titles on all surfaces.
A player with a lengthy list of off-court issues with relationships, subsequent depression and drugs, Agassi managed to get his career back on track every time the critics wrote him off. With a career prize money total of more than $30 million, he is now settled happily with women’s tennis legend Steffi Graf with whom he has two children.
Highlights of his glittering trophy-laden career:
- Won first Grand Slam at Wimbledon 1992, defying the odds.
- First to achieve career ‘Grand Slam’ on three different surfaces – Grass, Clay and Hard.
- First to win ‘Golden Slam’ – All four Grand Slams and Olympic Gold (1996 Atlanta Olympics).
- Longest winning streak at Australian Open – 26 matches.
- Only man to win All Grand Slams + Olympic Gold + ATP World Championships.
- Reached 15 Grand Slam finals, winning eight of them.
- Oldest World No. 2 and also the oldest top 10 player since Jimmy Connors in the ‘80s.
- Has more than 800 career wins, comfortably in the top 10.
- Has won Davis Cup 3 times with USA (1990, 1992 and 1995)
- Biggest rivalry of the time with Pete Sampras. They competed 34 times overall and Agassi won 14 of them.
- His official autobiography ‘Open’ reached number 1 on the New York Times Best Seller list when it was released and was widely appreciated.