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Agassi Is In With Crowd, as Usual, but Rafter Keeps Him Out of Match

Andre Agassi took his leave of the U.S. Open early this morning, reluctant as ever to abandon center stage.

At nearly 1 a.m., an exhausted and crestfallen Agassi watched as 13th-seeded Patrick Rafter of Australia put away a backhand volley and put him out of the tournament, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-3.

“I had my chances,” said Agassi, who was unseeded here. “I didn’t serve well and I didn’t return well. He’s playing too well to allow me to get away with that. Certainly, it’s disappointing. I didn’t start off sharp from the get. I got behind two sets to love--that’s pretty tough to come back from.”

Agassi drew sustenance from the fans during one of New York’s fabled rowdy night matches. Much of the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium had left after the first of the night’s matches, but those who remained were eager to watch tennis.

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Agassi was broken in the second game of the third set and that unleashed a string of four breaks. Rafter had a 4-1 lead in the set but Agassi eventually served for the set at 5-4. A Rafter service return floated long and Agassi took the set.

The crowd exhorted him on, but Agassi’s best wasn’t enough.


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