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November 10, 2009

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Agassi admits to 'tanking' match against Chang

ANDRE Agassi said his book is part of his atonement for saying and doing things he now wishes he hadn't.

It turns out Andre Agassi was lying throughout his career. To fans. To opponents. To tennis authorities. To first wife Brooke Shields. To friends, including Barbra Streisand. To the media. And, he says, to himself.

"I can't live with that anymore," Agassi said. "These lies - some of them came, certainly, out of fear. A lot of them came out of real confusion. A lot of it was thinking out loud. A lot of it was just getting stuff wrong. And a lot of it started with lies to myself," Agassi said. "When I retired from tennis, I had the opportunity, the time, the energy, to turn a real hard lens on myself."

His book "Open" allows Agassi to unburden himself of secrets he's carried for years. He described the memoir as part of his "atonement for where I've been in my life."

Agassi has critical words for rivals such as Pete Sampras, Michael Chang and Boris Becker; and discusses "tanking" matches.

Agassi says Sampras "sounds more robotic than" a parrot. "I envy Pete's dullness. I wish I could emulate his spectacular lack of inspiration, and his peculiar lack of need for inspiration." Agassi tells of betting coach Brad Gilbert about how much Sampras tipped a parking valet; they ask the valet, who says $1; Agassi's conclusion: "We could not be more different, Pete and I."

On Chang: "He thanks God - credits God - for the win, which offends me. That God should take sides in a tennis match, that God should side against me, that God should be in Chang's box, feels ludicrous and insulting. I beat Chang and savor every blasphemous stroke."

Agassi also writes about holding grudges against Becker, who Agassi says blew kisses at Shields during a match. He says he lost on purpose against Chang in the Australian Open semifinals one year so he wouldn't have to face Becker in the final, writing: "It's almost harder than winning. You have to lose in such a way that the crowd can't tell."

He also says of sports writers: "They never get it right. When I tank, they say I'm not good enough; when I'm not good enough, they say I tank."


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