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Agassi meth bombshell should help sell some books

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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It seemed like we knew just about everything we needed to know about one Andre Kirk Agassi, but his upcoming tell-all book will probably leave us scratching our heads.

Excerpts from his new book "Open: An Autobiography" contain depictions of crystal meth use, and how he lied to the ATP about it after failing a drug test back in 1997.

Hmm.

The 39-year-old icon also reveals that he hated tennis "with a dark and secret passion" because of his taskmaster father, Mike.

A teenaged Agassi joined the circuit as a brash, cocky phenom back in the mid-1980s and wound up exiting the sport as one of its greatest ambassadors some 20 years later. He seemingly went full circle, taking the tour by storm early on; hitting rock bottom, professionally, at one point; and then enjoying a resurgence, one of the greatest ones in the history of the sport.

The once flamboyant Agassi pictured here in 1991.
Who could forget that "Image is Everything" campaign for Canon? Those neon shirts. The denim shorts. The long hair, etc., etc. Personally, I got a kick out of "pirate" Andre, when he sported the bandana, hoop earrings and moustache/small-beard combo.

And how about the tabloid-fodder relationship with superstar Barbra Streisand, who was 28 years his senior, and that ill-fated two-year marriage to actress Brooke Shields, who tied the knot with Andre in April of '97.

Agassi had already been a three-time Grand Slam champion, reached four other major finals, achieved No. 1 status and collected an Olympic gold medal before experiencing a nosedive of all nosedives in 1997, the year he reportedly starting using meth "a lot." He had finished inside the Top 10 eight times before that forgettable '97 campaign.

But after falling all the way back down to the Challenger circuit (tennis' minor leagues), Andre mounted a comeback in 1998, reaching the fourth round at the Australian and U.S. Opens that year. By 1999, he'd returned to the big winners' circle with championships at the French and U.S. Opens and also played in a Wimbledon final, as the speedy return-of-serve artist reached three of the four Grand Slam finals that season, one in which he wound up finishing as the year-end No. 1 for the first, and only, time in his illustrious career.

Note: Agassi also achieved No. 1 status at the age of 33 in 2003, as he became the oldest-ever player to do so, but did not finish the year on top.

Before his Hall-of-Fame career ended in 2006, "The Punisher" was an eight-time major champion, after competing in 15 Grand Slam finals, and one of only five men (at the time) to capture the coveted career Grand Slam.

Andre basically became the face of the tour, and was also very influential off the court, raising millions of dollars for at-risk youths in his hometown of Las Vegas, where he would also open up a preparatory academy for such children.

He also got remarried, to fellow multiple Grand Slam star Steffi Graf, and has two children with the German legend.

Sounds like the good life.

Agassi married fellow tennis great Steffi Graf in 2001.
But right now, people don't want to hear about all of his accomplishments, they probably want to know why he started using drugs in the prime of his life and then lied about it to the governing body of our great sport, saying he accidentally drank from a soda that had been spiked with meth, by a friend.

I'm guessing maybe he feels better about getting all this stuff off his chest. But that still makes him a liar...or at least it did 12 years ago.

"If his admission would go together with the message to young athletes that it should not be repeated, then that would be useful," said International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge.

After losing to his former long-time rival Pete Sampras in an exhibition match in Macau last week, Agassi spoke about the book.

"There was a lot that even surprised me," he said. "So to think that one won't be surprised by it, it would be an understatement. Whatever revelations exist, you'll get to see in full glory."

Agassi will also make an appearance on "60 Minutes" this Sunday, the day before his book is scheduled to hit the shelves, or anything else that books hit these days.

I also think it's safe to say that the already very wealthy Agassi is going to get even wealthier as a result of this publication, which has an initial print run of a half-million copies.

The A-Train reportedly received at least $5 million to do it.

Ace or double fault? Send your comments to Scott Riley at sriley@sportsnetwork.com.
Scott Riley


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