Sunday, August 10, 2003

You won't see Agassi


No. 1 seed withdraws from Masters

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MASON - Andre Agassi, the world's No. 1 tennis player, made a surprise withdrawal Saturday from the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters.

While 23 of the top 25 ranked players remain in the field for the event, which begins Monday, Agassi's absence will be glaring. He has graced the tournament's billboards and advertisements all year. It's the first time since the tourney began seeding players in 1927 that the top seed has withdrawn.

"It's very disappointing, because he's the biggest name in tennis," tournament director Bruce Flory said.

Agassi lost a three-set match Friday night in Montreal. Though he received treatment last week on his hip and thigh, he denied this withdrawal was injury-related.

"While I clearly anticipated playing Cincinnati, at this stage of my career I have to be selective about the weeks I can compete," he said in a statement. "I look forward to returning to Cincinnati next year."

Agassi, 33, is the oldest man ever to hold the No. 1 ranking.

"It's all dependent on what his schedule has been, how much tennis he has been playing," said Perry Rogers, Agassi's business manager. "He wants to be ready for the (U.S.) Open."

Agassi had already been scheduled to take off the week after Cincinnati, so this gives him two weeks to rest before the Open.

Agassi will lose his No. 1 ranking if Roger Federer, who becomes No. 2 in the new rankings Monday, wins one match in this tournament.

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E-mail nschmidt@enquirer.com




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