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Agassi Forced to Back Out

He withdraws from Wimbledon for the second year in a row, again because of an inflamed sciatic nerve.

June 15, 2005|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

What was once a rare occurrence is becoming an annual ritual for Andre Agassi.

If it's mid-June, Agassi will be pulling out of Wimbledon.

For the second consecutive year, Agassi withdrew from the venerable grass-court event, the third Grand Slam of the year, increasing the probability that he has played Wimbledon for the last time. The announcement was made Tuesday from the referee's office at Wimbledon, citing an unspecified injury. But it has to do with a continuing battle with an inflamed sciatic nerve.

Agassi, 35, missed Wimbledon last year because of it, though it was then thought to be a hip problem. He lost in the first round last month at the French Open, hobbling through the final two sets against Jarkko Nieminen of Finland.

A cortisone shot had allowed him to get through the winter and most of the spring, and Agassi's agent, Perry Rogers, said in a phone interview that Agassi had received another shot after returning from Paris.

Rogers said that the shot was working but that Agassi withdrew because of the surface -- mostly, dealing with the low bounce on grass and the toll it could take on Agassi's back.

"Sometimes it's smarter to back up ... and get ready for the U.S. Open," Rogers said.

According to Rogers, the withdrawal does not mean Agassi will be cutting back his North American summer hard-court schedule. One beneficiary apparently will be the Mercedes-Benz Cup at UCLA's L.A. Tennis Center, which starts July 25.

Rogers said Agassi intended to add the UCLA tournament to his list of pre-U.S. Open events. Apparently, details are being ironed out. Agassi, who will be joining a field that includes Andy Roddick, played the UCLA tournament last year, losing to eventual winner Tommy Haas in the quarterfinals.

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