Mercedes Benz Cup at UCLA won by Agassi (7/05)

    Tournament Director, Bob Kramer, had his hands full trying to cope with the late withdrawals of #1 seed Andy Roddick, Guillermo Canas (just suspended for 2 years by the ATP for banned substance which he said got into his system purchasing an over the counter cold remedy in Mexico) and both Johanssons from Sweden. Thomas & Joachim (who is having a season ending surgery soon). There are rumors that Mercedes would not come back next year to be the lead Sponsor.  That was confirmed after the tournament and Countrywide looks like it will take over the head role in 2006. 

      At least the great Andre Agassi came and not only played brilliantly to capture his 4th title here in LA, but showed some flashes of speed and talent after coming back from injuries the last couple months.  He is trying to get in shape for the US Open as who knows how much longer he will play.  Agassi also participated in the annual Music Cares opening night festivities raising money for that charity. James Blake also played taking the place of Roddick but Agassi and Jon Lovitz stole the show going head up with each other with tennis and comedy combined.  Kool and the Gang performed some of their past hit songs after the Bryan Brothers Band including Dad, Wayne, started the fabulous evening out. 

      The tournament was lacking other big names and high ranked players.  Other notables that played were defending champion, Tommy Haas;  #2 seed Dominik Hrbaty, who lost in the semis to finalist Gilles Muller of Luxemburg;  Paradorn Srichaphan from Thailand (who lost to Agassi in the Quarterfinals in the most exciting match of the tourney; Mario Ancic, who was part of the Croatian Team that destroyed the American team earlier this year- but he lost in the first round in a tough 3 set match to Srichaphan; Juan Ignacio Chela- the semi hot headed Argentine who has rebounded well after being suspended for drug allegations a couple years ago- he lost in the semis to Agassi in straight sets as he was overpowered; Americans- Robby Ginepri, coming off his 2nd ATP title the week before beating Taylor Dent (#3 American), who had to retire in the finals and consequently, had to pull out of this tourney- Ginepri is coming on strong this year and has moved up to the #5 American Player  despite bowing out to Muller in the quarterfinals.  He did beat Blake the round before in a fun, athletic match to watch; Disappointing Vince Spadea( #4 American) lost in the first round to home grown Zack Fleishman; and Kevin Kim and Paul Goldstein each reached the 2nd round.    

     The players are off to Washington DC for the Legg Mason tourney with the US Open right around the corner.  These tournaments are all part of the US Open Series where the money and stakes go up when they get to Flushing for the last Grand Slam of the year.

      In the Doubles, 40 year old Rick Leach and Brian Macphie beat Erlcih and Ram in the finals.  The Bryan Brothers looked strong and confident but were ousted by Erlich and Ram in the semis.  They are still the #1 ranked doubles team in the world and look to win the US Open after losing the 3 prior Grand Slams in the Finals. In our interview,  they seemed quite poised and upbeat going into the later part of the year.  These guys are true champions on and off the court!  They devote their time to the press/charities/ and have done some great stuff  on "No Strings"  a feature of the Tennis Channel to be aired soon.   Father Wayne is a legend and consummate professional.  He not only does quite a bit of announcing and MC’ing on the tour, but he has brought up these twins to reach their potential.

     More info or tickets for next year, go to  www.mercedes-benzcup.com

Here are some pictures from the Tournamenat courtesy of our tennis staff photographer Harvey Rubin (All individual shots. Order is Grojean; Chela; Srichaphan; Bryan Brothers and Agassi) and popular tennis photographer Cynthia Lum (Last 2 pictures of Agassi-Muller and Awards picture with Mr.Kramer, Agassi and Muller).