ANDRE Agassi bowed out of Wimbledon for the final time yesterday, outslugged in straight sets by Rafael Nadal.
Playing in his 14th Wimbledon before retirement later this year, the 36-year-old American couldn’t keep up with the relentless power hitting of the 20-year-old Spaniard and fell 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, 6-4.
Nadal, the two-time French Open champion, transferred his clay-court baseline game to the grass of Centre Court to reach the fourth round of Wimbledon for the first time.
It marked the changing of the guard, with the popular American leaving the All England Club stage for good and Nadal making his breakthrough on the fast surface. Nadal had just turned six when Agassi won the first of his eight Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon in 1992.
For one last time, Agassi stood in the middle of the court after the match and blew kisses and bowed to all corners of the arena.
Then, in a break with Wimbledon tradition, he addressed the crowd by microphone to say goodbye.
“It’s been a lot of incredible years here,” Agassi said, wiping away tears. “I’ll never be able to repay you for how you’ve embraced me over the years and I thank you for that. You guys are awesome tennis fans, you have shown me so much love.”
Then Agassi took his bag, stopped to sign a few autographs and gave a final wave as he walked off the most famous court in tennis.
The young Spaniard, destined for his own greatness, called victory in just over two hours “my best match on grass”.
“It’s unbelievable for me to play here in Andre’s last match at Wimbledon.
“He’s one of the best players in history, I congratulate him for his career, he’s unbelievable,” said Nadal.
Meanwhile, China’s number three Peng Shuai was beaten in the third round, falling 6-2, 6-3 to Italian 16th seed Flavia Pennetta.
Peng Shuai, who knocked out Israeli 20th seed Shahar Peer in the previous round, was hampered by a knee injury that she sustained in the fourth game of the first set.
Pennetta will now face either Russian fourth seed Maria Sharapova or American Amy Frazier for a place in the quarter-finals.
Peng Shaui’s exit leaves Li Na as the only Chinese left in the women’s singles.
Li Na, the first Chinese woman to reach the last 16 at the All England club, will play Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic tomorrow for a place in the quarter-finals.
In another men’s singles third round match, Mardy Fish retired ill from his match after losing the first set 6-2 against Irakli Labaze.
The 24-year-old American had flu-like symptoms after his second-round win over Melle Van Gemerden of Holland.
Fish upset fellow American and 17th-seeded Robby Ginepri in the first round.
Fish has never made it past the third round in three previous trips to Wimbledon. – Agencies
THIRD ROUND RESULTS
Third round: Tomas Berdych (Cze) bt Tommy Haas (Ger) 2-6, 7-5, 7-6 (9-7), 4-6, 8-6; Radek Stepanek (Cze) bt Juan Carlos Ferrero (Spa) 5-7, 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 6-2, 11-9; Roger Federer (Swi) bt Nicolas Mahut (Fra) 6-3, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4.
Rafael Nadal (Spa) bt Andre Agassi (US) 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, 6-4; Irakli Labadze (Geo) bt Mardy Fish (US) 6-2 (Fish retired).
Third round: Nicole Vaidisova (Cze) bt Karolina Sprem (Cro) 7-5, 7-5; Agnieszka Radwanska (Pol) bt Tamarine Tanasugarn (Tha) 6-3, 6-2; Kim Clijsters (Bel) bt Zheng Jie (Chn) 6-3, 6-2; Ai Sugiyama (Jpn) bt Martina Hingis (Swi) 7-5, 3-6, 6-4; Severine Bremond (Fra) bt Gisela Dulko (Arg) 7-6 (8-6), 5-7, 7-5; Daniela Hantuchova (Svk) bt Katarina Srebotnik (Slo) 6-4, 7-6 (7-2).
Flavia Pennetta (Ita) bt Peng Shuai (Chn) 6-2, 6-3; Ana Ivanovic (Sem) bt Dinara Safina (Rus) 3-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-1; Elena Dementieva (Rus) bt Elena Likhovtseva (Rus) 7-5, 6-3; Shenay Perry (US) bt Sybille Bammer (Aut) 7-5, 6-3; Anastasia Myskina (Rus) bt Anabel Medina (Spa) 6-3, 6-4.