Andre Agassi has a chance to join some of tennis's giants, but first he will have to defeat the man who has already vanquished two of the French Open's Goliaths.
Dominik Hrbaty, a Slovak who eliminated No. 1 seed Yevgeny Kafelnikov and No. 9 Marcelo Rios, is hoping to derail Agassi in the semifinals of the French Open on Friday and keep him from competing for the one Grand Slam title he doesn't own. If Agassi can get through Hrbaty and the winner of Friday's other semifinal, which pits Andrei Medvedev against Fernando Meligeni, he will become the first men's player to win all four tournaments since Rod Laver accomplished the feat in 1969. Don Budge (1938), Fred Perry (1933-36) and Roy Emerson (1961-67) also won all four Slams.
Laver twice won all four in one year -- in 1962 and 1969 -- but because the U.S. Open and Australian Open were played on grass then, a win here this year would make Agassi the first man to win all four Slam events on three different surfaces. Several women have completed the Grand Slam; Steffi Graf won all four tournaments in 1988.
"I have the opportunity to do something I haven't done yet, which is always special," Agassi said. "But even beyond that, I think to accomplish getting to the semifinals now on a surface that has presented many obstacles for me in recent years, I feel like this has been nothing short of a great chapter in my career. To come back around now and actually have a sniff at it, it feels real good."
Agassi won Wimbledon in 1992, the U.S. Open in 1994 and the Australian Open in 1995. He has been a runner-up here twice, in 1990 and 1991, giving him an enormous experience edge over Hrbaty, who has never gotten this far in a Grand Slam tournament.
Novotna Eyes Wimbledon
Jana Novotna said today that she is still hoping to defend her title at Wimbledon, despite spraining her ankle and tearing some ligaments in a collision with doubles partner Natasha Zvereva on Wednesday.
"I'm very optimistic and I'm hoping that I will be ready to play," she said. Wimbledon begins June 21.