Agassi’s match postponed as rain halts U.S. Open

Published 12:15 am Sunday, September 3, 2006

Andre Agassi received another anti-inflammatory injection Saturday and got an extra day to rest before playing in the third round of the U.S. Open, his match postponed because of intermittent rain.

“I’ll be all right. I don’t need sympathy. I’ll be OK,” Agassi said with a smile as he walked toward an exit, his racket bag slung over a shoulder.

With the rain growing stronger in the early evening, the day and night sessions were both called off. Agassi’s match against German qualifier Benjamin Becker — slated to be third in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday — was rescheduled for 11 a.m. Sunday.

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Matches involving Andy Roddick and Maria Sharapova also were pushed back to Sunday.

The 36-year-old Agassi, playing in the final tournament of his career and fighting a bad back, has been on court for more than seven hours already, including his five-set thriller against eighth-seeded Marcos Baghdatis that began Thursday night and finished in the wee hours of Friday.

“I prefer not to have a drama-filled one tomorrow,” said Agassi, whose eight Grand Slam titles include two from the U.S. Open.

The benefit of having time to rest his bothersome back could also result in having to play on consecutive days down the line: If Agassi beats Becker on Sunday, he would be scheduled to play in the fourth round on Monday, possibly against 2003 U.S. Open champion Roddick.

The delay also gave Becker more time to ponder what it might be like to face Agassi, a player he grew up admiring and emulating.

“The most difficult (part) is he’s going to have to be able to erase in his mind that he’s playing Andre,” said Becker’s coach, Tarik Benhabiles, who used to work with Roddick.

Agassi went to a hospital to have a cortisone shot Tuesday after his first-round victory over Andrei Pavel; Agassi’s trainer, Gil Reyes, estimated he’s had eight to 10 such injections over the past four years. Then, his back too painful for a car ride after the Baghdatis match,