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Andre Agassi retired from tennis after being knocked out of the US Open by Benjamin Becker, on this day in 2006.
It brought a career which lasted two decades and yielded eight grand-slam titles to an end – but only after an applause which reduced the American to tears on multiple occasions.
The two-time winner at Flushing Meadows had announced the tournament in New York would be his last following his Wimbledon exit in June, with extreme back pain causing the former world number one intense discomfort whenever he was on the court.
Agassi managed to make it through to the third round after gruelling victories over Andrei Pavel and Marcos Baghdatis before big-serving Becker brought his career to an end with a 7-5 6-7 (4) 6-4 7-5 win.
What followed from the spectators inside Arthur Ashe Stadium was a lengthy standing ovation for the home favourite before he wiped away the tears to deliver an emotional retirement speech.
“The scoreboard said I lost today, but what the scoreboard doesn’t say is what I found,” Agassi said in his on-court interview to the crowd.
“Over the last 21 years I have found loyalty. You have pulled me through on the court and also in life. I have found inspiration, you have willed me to exceed and sometimes in my lowest moments.
“And I have found generosity. You have given me your shoulders to stand on to reach for my dreams – dreams I could have never reached without you.
“Over the last 21 years I have found you and I will thank you and take the memory of you with me for the rest of my life.”
Agassi bowed out of the sport 10 years after he claimed Olympic gold at Atlanta 1996, another honour on his CV along with his eight major titles.
The first occurred at Wimbledon in 1992, two years after he had started to fulfil his potential with success at the end-of-season Masters Cup, before a maiden US Open title followed in 1994.
Agassi sealed the first of four Australian Open triumphs in 1995 and clinched a career Grand Slam when he completed a remarkable comeback to win at Roland Garros in 1999, having dropped to 141 in the rankings 18 months earlier due to factors including a failed drugs test and a problematic ankle injury.
Following his retirement, Agassi has raised money for children in Southern Nevada through his foundation, while residing in the state with wife Steffi Graf – who won 22 grand slams – and their children Jaden and Jaz.
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