Injury Fells Agassi Tuesday at French Open

Posted on May 25, 2005

Former No. 1 and Roland Garros champ Andre Agassi was enjoying a two sets to one lead over Finnish qualifier Jarkko Nieminen Tuesday at the French Open when a recurring back injury struck the American, who eventually fell to a 7-5, 4-6, 6-7(6), 6-1, 6-0 painful defeat.

"In the middle to late part of the third set, the sciatic nerve in my back started to get inflamed and it sent pain down my right leg and it got worse by the minute," said Agassi who appeared in tears near the end of the match, and totally dejected in his post-match conference. "It's a concern that needs to be addressed because it hurts. I had the (cortisone) injection and it worked for a while...I was close to shaking hands at the end of the third set, but I didn't want to walk off, I didn't want to finish that way."

Agassi said he will likely need additional shots to finish out his season, and likely his career, at the final slams at Wimbledon and the US Open.

"It's bad," Agassi said. "It's something that needs to be addressed because I can't be out there like that. I literally hurt...I don't enjoy being on the court like that. There were a lot of things about today that were difficult. But something tells me I'm at a stage of my career where I'm going to be living with these injections because this is unplayable when it feels like this."

Agassi said he will play until the end of the year before considering retirement.

"(Tennis is) what I do until I don't do it any more and it's given me a lot," Agassi said. "I'll assess the necessary components at the end of the year," Agassi said. "But I can't afford to pollute the potential of my winning matches or tournaments with sitting on the fence, with where I am, what I'm doing, why I'm doing it...I choose to put my head down and work and look at it at the end of the year."

In addition to the former American champ, three other seeds made exits Tuesday in (13) Ivan Ljubicic (l. to Puerta), (22) Nicolas Massu (l. to (Q) Wawrinka in four), and (24) Feliciano Lopez (l. to Mathieu in four).

Seeds safely into the second round were (2) Andy Roddick (d. (WC) Tsonga), (3) Marat Safin (d. Sluiter in four), (8) Guillermo Coria (d. Carlsen), (9) Guillermo Canas (d. (WC) Monfils, bagel in the third), (12) Nikolay Davydenko (d. (Q) Tuksar), (15) Tommy Robredo (d. (WC) Luczak after dropping the first), (19) Thomas Johansson (d. Draper in five), (21) Tommy Haas (d. Mayer), (27) Filippo Volandri (d. Saulnier, losing only three games), (28) Nicolas Kiefer (d. Karlovic), (29) Mikhail Youzhny (d. Muller, bagel in the third), and (32) Juan Carlos Ferrero (d. Beck).

"I've been playing well this season," Ferrero said. "If I'm not considered a favorite, well, that's all right. I think if I keep playing well, I might become a favorite."

Qualifiers were on fire Tuesday, with five into the second round in Czech Lukas Dlouhy (d. Enqvist), Belgian Kristof Vliegen (d. (Q) Dupuis), Aussie Chris Guccione (d. Ventura in five), Serb Novak Djokovic (d. Ginepri, dishing out two bagels), and resurgent American James Blake (d. Tenconi).

Two lucky losers also continued their lucky streaks in Belgian Dick Norman (d. Lisnard) and Brazil's Flavio Saretta (d. Rusedski).

Other unseeded winners on the day were Russian Igor Andreev (d. Bjorkman after dropping the first), Czech Jan Hernych (d. Santoro in five), Spaniards David Sanchez (d. Kuerten in four) and Al Montanes (d. Sargsian, bagel in the third), French wildcard Arnaud Clement (d. Popp in four), Austrian Jurgen Melzer (d. Arthurs), Belgian Olivier Rochus (d. Garcia-Lopez in four), Korean Hyung-Taik Lee (d. Calatrava in five), Argentine Jose Acasuso (d. Mirnyi), and American Vince Spadea who straight-setted former Roland Garros champ Albert Costa.

On court Wednesday for the men are (30) Gasquet vs. Peter "Nuclear" Wessels, (4) Rafael "The Prodigy" Nadal vs. Xavier "X-Man" Malisse, (23) Grosjean vs. Sanguinetti, (1) Federer vs. Almagro, (7) Henman vs. Luis "Me So" Horna, (20) Ferrer vs. Olivier "All We Need is Just a Little" Patience, (5) Gaudio vs. Tursunov, (16) Stepanek vs. Serra, (26) Novak vs. Mantilla, Tipsarevic vs. Vicente, (31) Juan Ignacio "The Spitting Snake" Chela vs. Hanescu, (25) Gonzalez vs. Behrend, (10) Nalbandian vs. Berdych, (14) Moya vs. Vik, (18) Mario "Baby Goran" Ancic vs. O.Hernandez, and (33) Soderling vs. H.-T. Lee.