The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Steffi reluctant to return

Experience taught Andre Agassi to stay out of the water this time — no more Grand Slam dunks in the dirty river.

As it turned out, the same Yarra River got Agassi reminiscing during the Australian Open. He and his coach, Darren Cahill, were driving past it, and Agassi spoke about his plunge when he won this title in 2001, paying off a promise. Cahill started thinking about some new wagers.

“He said, ‘This year, I’ll shave my head if you win and we’ll get Stef out of retirement to play mixed doubles’,” Agassi said. “So I ran with it. She was reluctant, to say the least. It’s news to her.”

Agassi was asked what his wife, Steffi Graf, had to say at first about this family outing to the French Open in Paris. Was it printable in a family newspaper'

“It was more of a look,” he said, smiling. “Looks can speak volumes.”

The spur-of-the-moment gesture landed Agassi in some hot water at home, as the news spread world-wide.

“I would love the feeling of being out on the court with my wife and doing something we’ve done our whole lives,” said Agassi, who said he has never played mixed doubles. “She’s at a different phase in her life than I am. So I can understand her hesitation with it.”

Each Grand Slam title seems to bring forth a new Agassi. Number eight — his fourth Australian Open title — is the first for Andre the family man. It’s his first Grand Slam championship since becoming a husband and father in October 2001.

Agassi, in a quiet post-match mode sitting with a couple of reporters after his 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 victory over Germany’s Rainer Schuettler on Sunday, looked content when it was mentioned that this was the first since the birth of Jaden Gil.

“It feels good, it does, because I want him to feel he came along and made everyone better,” he said. “I find how he’s helped me is when I’m away from the game. I’m completely away from it. So it keeps me from spending useless energy thinking, whether it’s nerves or disappointment. Just a smile from him, doesn’t matter whether you’ve had a good day or a bad day.”

“He loves fruit and vegetables over sweets and grease,” Agassi said. “I try to encourage it. I take him to all sorts of things, McDonald’s. Enjoy. You’re only a kid once.”

Agassi abandoned fast-food nation long ago. He turns 33 in April, and spoke of making new concessions to advancing age.

“Things don’t respond as quickly,” Agassi said. “They hurt a little longer. I’ve been pretty blessed with my body. I don’t feel any nagging sort of injury. But I’ve got to be on top of it As you get older, it all sort of happens in your lower body.”

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