Agassi loses first-round match at French Open

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

PARIS -- With sagging shoulders and head bowed, Andre Agassi left the French Open through a courtside doorway Monday, uncertain if he'll return next year.

Blame his unceremonious departure on Jerome Haehnel, a qualifier from France ranked 271st, who pulled off an upset to rival the biggest in Grand Slam history. Playing his first tour-level match at age 23, Haehnel beat Agassi 6-4, 7-6 (4), 6-3.

A lethargic, tentative Agassi struggled with his service return -- normally his best weapon -- and was outplayed on the biggest points. He was bidding for his 800th match victory, but instead Haehnel improved to 1-0 lifetime.

"I probably got what I deserved," said Agassi, seeded sixth. "I was never comfortable with my shot selection, never comfortable with where I was putting the ball."

The appearance at Roland Garros was the 16th for Agassi. What are the chances he'll return next year?

"Hard to say," said Agassi, who is 34 and won the tournament in 1999. "You want to come back, but you just don't know. I don't know. It's a year away, and that's a long time for me right now. The chances get less every year, that's for sure."

Said Gil Reyes, Agassi's trainer and close friend: "We're in uncharted waters right now. We need to find a reason to wake up tomorrow."

No. 2-seeded Andy Roddick beat fellow American Todd Martin 7-6 (5), 6-4, 7-5. Roddick had lost in the opening round the past two years.

Another American, Vince Spadea, overcame nine match points to beat Florent Serra 7-5, 1-6, 4-6, 7-6 (9), 9-7. Spadea rallied from a 5-1 deficit in the final set of a 4 1/2-hour marathon.

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