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Upsetting day: Agassi, then Roddick ousted

Nadal ends veteran's final run at Wimbledon; A-Rod falls to Briton

updated 7:01 p.m. ET July 1, 2006

WIMBLEDON, England - Andre Agassi grabbed his racket bag and headed for the exit. After a few steps, he stopped and turned around, taking time for one last wave to an adoring crowd, one last look at Centre Court.

One final farewell to Wimbledon.

At least Andy Roddick knows he’ll be back.

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Agassi didn’t get the ending he’d hoped for in his last tournament at the All England Club, overwhelmed 7-6 (5), 6-2, 6-4 in the third round by French Open champion Rafael Nadal, and he even had to share the spotlight on a wild Saturday: Two-time finalist Roddick also lost.

“It’s been a privilege to be out there again for one last time,” Agassi said. “I’ll look back at this as one of my most memorable experiences. To say goodbye, for me, this means as much as winning.”

As dusk arrived, No. 3-seeded Roddick joined the procession of stars, losing to Andy Murray of Britain 7-6 (4), 6-4, 6-4 before a partisan Centre Court crowd.

Neither of those results is completely stunning. After all, the 36-year-old Agassi has a bad back and was facing, in Nadal, a man ranked No. 2 and 16 years his junior; and Roddick is going through his worst season in quite some time, not reaching any finals.

Still, it all means that at the end of Week 1, only one U.S. man or woman is left in the singles draws: unseeded Shenay Perry, making her first appearance in the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament. It’s also only the second time since 1922 that zero American men made it to the round of 16 at Wimbledon (2002 was the other).

No U.S. men reached the fourth round at the last major, the French Open, either.

“It’s a lot more surprising-slash-disappointing here,” Roddick said, “a place that we’ve all had a lot of success.”

Agassi won the first of his eight Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon in 1992, a triumph he credits with changing the course of his career. That’s why he worked so hard over the past few months, staying off tour to get healthy and to be able to play again at the grass-court major after missing it with injuries the last two years.

It’s also why he chose to announce at the All England Club, last weekend, that he’ll retire after the U.S. Open.

“It’s just nice to come back here on my terms, to say, ’This is where I want to be.’ I’m regretful of missing the last couple of years. To wait a year to come back here would have been too long,” he said. “I needed to make it right to get here now, and I’m glad I did that.”

End of an era
July 1: Andre Agassi thanks the crowd after playing his final match at Wimbledon.

NBC Sports

He was able to hang with Nadal for one set, taking a 5-2 lead in the tiebreaker. But Nadal won the next five points to take the set, closing it with a running cross-court forehand winner from outside the doubles alley, followed by a 121 mph ace.

“Once that first set was gone,” Agassi said, “sort of the prospects got grimmer for me.”

Nadal never let up, showing the same end-to-end court coverage paired with power — his big forehands look like uppercuts — that carried him to a record 60 consecutive wins on clay and two straight Roland Garros titles.

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“He’s the best mover that’s out there. He just seems to really explode and anticipate and ... do a lot with the ball,” Agassi said. “He makes people have to do something special.”

If the match signaled a changing of the guard, Nadal — 6 months old when Agassi turned pro — dominated every facet.

Agassi is one of the best returners of his, or any other generation, yet he lost 64 of 79 points when Nadal served, never so much as getting to deuce. Agassi is as good as it gets trading blows from the baseline, yet Nadal won 16 of 21 points that lasted at least 10 strokes.

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