Originally created 02/25/02

What's new with Andre? Plenty

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- He's got a new coach, a newborn son and a recovering wrist, the sort of upheaval that might fluster an athlete. Andre Agassi is looking forward to a great year.

"If history is any measuring stick, I'm in a perfect position to play my best tennis - coming off a wrist injury, losing my coach and having a child," he said with a laugh.

After several weeks off to rehab his wrist, Agassi returns to competition this week in the Siebel Open, the Northern California tour stop he has won four times. Accompanying him will be his coach of fewer than two weeks, Darren Cahill.

"It always has been the time when I, in a sense, shine the most - when things seem to kind of be working against me," Agassi said.

In 1994, Agassi came back from wrist surgery to win the U.S. Open, becoming the first unseeded player to claim the title. It was the same year he took on former player Brad Gilbert as his coach and climbed to No. 2 in the rankings.

Starting late last year, things started to shift again. Agassi married former tennis star Steffi Graf, and they welcomed a son, Jaden Gil, in October.

Last month, Agassi pulled out of the Australian Open at the last minute after reaggravating his old wrist injury in an exhibition warmup against Pete Sampras.

Agassi was vying to become the first man since Roy Emerson to win the Australian Open in three straight years, but the injury concerned him.

"I'm worried about the state of it and what it might mean," Agassi said at the time. "The pain was bad and fairly familiar."

Soon thereafter, Agassi parted ways with Gilbert.

Agassi adjusted. To fatherhood. To rehabilitation. To tennis without Gilbert.

"I'm going to work hard at making the last years that I have, how ever many they may be, the best," he said. "I believe I still have a lot of great tennis ahead of me, certainly a lot of great memories still ahead of me on the tennis court."

The first step was rehab. His doctor, hand specialist Leonard Gordon, described the problem as a "hyperextension injury with swelling in the tendons at the back of the wrist."

Gordon only recently cleared Agassi to play in the tournament, after he displayed a full range of motion in the wrist.

Agassi's next move was to replace Gilbert, his close friend. The split was amicable.

"It's been eight incredible years, and neither one of us wants to run the risk of our coach-student relationship becoming stale," Agassi said.

Cahill parted with the current No. 1 player, Lleyton Hewitt, in December. Hewitt is seeded first in the Siebel Open, played at the Compaq Center in San Jose.

"We just sort of came to an end. Darren let me know he was resigning and I didn't have a problem with that," Hewitt explained. "I felt like we've had a great partnership over the last three or four years that we've been together."

Agassi is seeded second in the tournament. He and Hewitt are in separate brackets, meaning the two can only meet in the final. Defending champion Greg Rusedski, who beat Agassi in the final last year, also is scheduled to play this week.

Above all else, Agassi gives his new family credit for keeping him grounded.

"Anybody who is a parent knows what a treasure it is. It's a miracle every day," he said. "It's like Christmas every day - the perspective and the clarity and the way you see the priorities in your life."


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