Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Agitated Agassi Continues to Lose

WASHINGTON -- Just days before his Olympic debut, Andre Agassi is a nervous wreck, his game and confidence completely shot.


After another embarrassing performance, Agassi chewed his nails and answered questions with vacant eyes as he tried to explain the latest episode in a 3 1/2-month freefall -- a 6-7 (7-2), 6-0, 6-2 loss to 15th-seeded Patrick Rafter on Wednesday night in the Legg Mason Classic.


"He picked it up, and I didn't answer," said the top seed and defending champion.


Playing in only his seventh match since the beginning of April, including a miserable first-round loss to qualifier Doug Flach at Wimbledon, Agassi actually began the match in classic form. He hit two return winners and broke the Australian in the opening game.


But it was downhill from there. Agassi hit four unforced errors to let Rafter break back in the eighth game. When Agassi was broken to start the second set, he tossed his racket 5 meters into the air and seemed to give up.


"I just made some errors, a kind of donation service game. That was the third time in a row that I'd lost my serve, and I never quite recovered from that," Agassi said. "I wasn't able to turn it around before it got worse."


After that, Agassi's game lost all intensity. He barely moved his legs in his efforts to get to Rafter's string of aces and service winners. Agassi hit three more unforced errors as he was broken at love to start the third set. Rafter, who hadn't beaten Agassi in four previous meetings, served the last of his 21 aces to seal the match.


Another American enduring lean times is Jim Courier, who followed a first-round Wimbledon loss with a 6-4, 6-4 defeat to South African qualifier Neville Godwin in a second-round match Wednesday night.


If he had won, Agassi had planned to play his quarterfinal match Friday afternoon, then fly his private jet to Atlanta for the opening ceremony of the Olympics. He would have returned to Washington on Saturday for the semis. Now, he won't have to rush.


"Tonight was a reflection of [lack of] match play more than anything," Agassi said. "That's why I came here, to get the match play, so something like this hopefully won't happen at the Olympics. And it was good, I got two matches in. And it's all to the good as far as I'm concerned as far as my preparation."


Agassi didn't sound convincing, especially when asked the question that has haunted him throughout his slump: Is the desire still there?


"I can only tell you that it is," he said. "It's not quite as easy as everybody wants to make it seem to live up to an incredible level of tennis week after week, all year 'round. You try to get things turned around again, and it's not easy. I've done it before and I'll do it again, and it doesn't matter what anybody else thinks."


n


Defending champion and top-seeded Thomas Muster struggled through two tiebreakers to defeat little-known Spanish player Marcos Gorriz at the Mercedes Cup tennis tournament.


Muster needed 2 hours and 7 minutes Wednesday to overcome Gorriz 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-2). He had to fight off three set points in the first set to win.


The 28-year-old Austrian, who won 12 titles in 14 finals in 1995 -- 11 on clay, made numerous unforced errors.


"When you don't do anything for a couple of weeks you just get a little rusty," Muster said.