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Agassi: Our Rebel Is Back

He is dressing more conservatively. The hair, bandana, and acid-wash denim shorts are all gone. And while the attitude may have cooled down, the swing is back.

Since 1995 tennis has been missing something. Maybe you couldn't put your finger on it, but the air had been let out of men's tennis. Now there is a buzz in the summer air, and that buzz is the return of the once and future tennis "Rebel" Andre Agassi.

Agassi has made a 180-degree turn for the better and the fans of men's tennis can thank their lucky stars. Pete Sampras, without question the strongest player to come on the tour in years, couldn't hold the world's attention by himself. While a gracious champion, Sampras lacks the brash personality that creates a certain excitement on the court. As Borg needed McEnroe and Connors, Sampras needs Agassi.

Prior to winning the 1999 French Open Agassi had not taken a Grand Slam since the Australian in 1995. In 1997 his ATP ranking fell to an embarrassing 141. Finally, in 1998, a new Agassi peaked out of his shell, and he reached the top five once again. But nothing compares to the Agassi of 1999.

What has caused this drastic change of events? Could it be the recent breakup with his TV star wife Brooke Shields or is it that Agassi just wants to win again?

It's obvious that since his split with Shields, Agassi has been focused purely on tennis. His backcourt game is as strong as ever and his aggressive net play is more prominent. Sure, he will continue to have his problems with superstar Sampras. But even Michael Jordan was contained occasionally on the basketball court, and Jim Brown was tackled behind the line of scrimmage. The U.S. Open is upon us and Andre may just get his day in the sun. The rankings are set and the only way the two will face is in the finals - Agassi at No. 2 and Sampras at No. 1.

For the first time in many years the world seems very anxious for Men's tennis. With John McEnroe at the microphone...a red-hot Agassi causing a commotion...Pete Sampras trying to pass Roy Emerson's 12 Grand Slams...and Australian Patrick Rafter going for the three-peat, the final Grand Slam of the Century should be a very special one.

Let's face it, men's tennis needs personality and the 1999 U.S. Open has it! With the top players playing at the peak of their game, this Grand Slam event is up for grabs and the fans are behind the man with the Babe Ruth backhand.

Good luck, Andre. Tennis needs you to stay in the game, and maybe that "Rebel" in you needs to show his face again?

Written by's Larry Roth

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