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CNN Larry King Live

Interview With Andre Agassi

Aired September 07, 2006 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, exclusive, tennis great Andre Agassi in his first interview since that unforgettable, emotional farewell on Sunday.

ANDRE AGASSI, TENNIS GREAT: And I will take you and the memory of you with me for the rest of my life.

KING: What was he thinking during that incredible moment? And, what would you like to ask one of the world's most famous athletes ever? Andre Agassi will take your calls.

And then stunning, horrifying video, a local newsman viciously attacked on camera. The reporter himself tells us what happened next on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: Good evening.

What a great pleasure to have Andre Agassi with us, the tennis superstar, winner of eight grand slam titles, 60 career singles titles, retired from the game last Sunday with an emotional farewell at the U.S. Open in New York ending an extraordinary 21-year career. So many people moved by that emotional career ending goodbye, four minute standing ovation. Let's watch a little.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) has spanned 36 years of tennis with his dad striking a ball in the crib before he was one year old, so there's a lot of emotion to pour out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The U.S. team wanted to do something special for Andre Agassi at this his final U.S. Open and he said no but you try to tell these fans not to give him thanks.


KING: What was going through your mind right there?

AGASSI: The mind was very confused. The heart was feeling and that was a lot of years coming to that one moment there.

KING: As a competitor were you first down over losing the match?

AGASSI: No, no. I've been criticized for not having perspective in the past and I thought that of myself many times but not there.

KING: So you accepted that?

AGASSI: Oh, yes, that was -- it wasn't about tennis. That wasn't about tennis for me. I had to, you know, it was coming to that moment there that was worth -- that was worth the difficulties of the last few hours.

KING: Were you at all surprised by what took place?

AGASSI: Very much so. You know over the last few months since I announced that the U.S. Open was going to be my last tournament I've been very unprepared sort of emotionally and, you know, for the feeling that I would have to deal with, you know, when it would hit me, how it would hit me, the tears, the many tears. I mean it all sort of ended here and this was just crazy. I mean they just...

KING: You certainly must have realized how popular a tennis player you were. I mean you're intelligent. You obviously had to know that.

AGASSI: Well, you know, I've bonded with a lot of people over the years, you know. We played the same tournaments year after year and we go back to the same place and many times the seats have been full and that has meant the world to me for sure.

KING: And having your wife and the kids there that had to be special.

AGASSI: Yes, yes, you know, my son is now old enough where he'll hopefully remember seeing me play and, you know, that meant a lot to me to have him there and, you know, to share that moment with your future is...

KING: Is it a plus to have a family where both parents play the same sport?

AGASSI: It's not necessary for a great relationship but it sure is a luxury because I think one of the things that happens over the years is not all the things you end up saying to each other but all the things you don't have to say to each other and all the things that are sort of understood, the times of preparation, the times of focus and also the times of rest. It's the times of quiet, the times of need or well understood.

KING: Andre gave some very moving moments at center court right after the match. Watch what he said.


AGASSI: The scoreboard said I lost today but what the scoreboard doesn't say is what it is I have found. And, over the last 21 years I have found loyalty. You have pulled for me on the court and also in life. I found inspiration.

You have willed me to succeed sometimes even in my lowest moments. And I found generosity. You have given me your shoulders to stand on to reach for my dreams, dreams I could have never reached without you. Over the last 21 years I have found you and I will take you and the memory of you with me for the rest of my life. Thank you.


KING: Obviously not a prepared text.

AGASSI: You know it's been 21 years of preparation. You know, you sort of come to know people and what they mean to you over all the years through the ups and downs and there was a lot of things I wanted to say, a lot of things, you know. Those are the -- sort of the things that -- that came from my belly and...

KING: Was it hard?

AGASSI: It was really hard. It was really hard, you know. How do you -- how do you sort of ever prepare for that? That's, you know, but you know the people got me through it like they did so many other times on the tennis court.

KING: Before we go back to that incredible Sunday you were born and raised and live in Las Vegas, right?

AGASSI: That's right.

KING: That would hardly seem the place to play tennis being the climate is rather difficult.

AGASSI: My father actually moved out from Chicago just so he could play tennis 365 days a year, so it was -- it was a place we played every day. We played before school. We played after school. We woke up. We played tennis. We brushed our teeth in that order.

KING: You were a natural?


KING: I mean you (INAUDIBLE).

AGASSI: I don't have a memory in life without -- without tennis, not a memory.

KING: You played before school and after school?

AGASSI: Yes, yes, before school, after school and, you know, twice on the weekend.

KING: When -- at what point in your young life did you know you were good?

AGASSI: I was...

KING: Chris Evert knew it at 12 I think she told me 12, 11, 12 she thought "I'm going to be a tennis player."

AGASSI: It's the only thing I ever thought I was going to do and I don't know how much of that was sort of -- what was ingrained in me. You know my dad pushed me to believe that I was going to be the best. I just never thought of life without tennis, even looking forward.

But, I would say when I was four years old and I was at the Alan King Tennis Tournament and I was hitting with all the pros that would come to town. They would get me on the court or take notice and that stayed with me.

KING: What part of the game was the most difficult for you?

AGASSI: I would say, you know, living out the -- the -- I would say get out there in between the lines sometimes and competing. I always felt like there's a lot of landmines out there. Tennis was always sort of a -- a learning. It was a vehicle for me to discover a lot about myself. And the things that I sort of discovered at times I not only didn't want to see it for myself but I certainly didn't want millions of people to see it.

KING: You mean temper?

AGASSI: Not just temper but, you know, also fears and doubts and all that good stuff.

KING: How much -- how much of it is mental?

AGASSI: Gees, I would say most of it is -- is mental. The physical demand is -- is -- you can quantify what you need to have prepared.

KING: So, among all the good players they can all play well and all do the right things?


KING: If I can out think you...

AGASSI: That's right and sometimes it requires you to not think so it requires to react and let it -- let it happen and other times it requires you to -- to control, you know, what it is you're feeling. But you have to figure it out between your ears.

KING: Our guest is the great Andre Agassi. When we come back what Andre's opponent in that final match had to say about his retirement, also take some phone calls and some e-mails as well. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Andre Agassi. And here is his opponent Benjamin Becker, who was quite gracious in his comments. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you put into words what playing Andre in his final match was like?

BENJAMIN BECKER: No, I mean it all seemed like a movie for me today playing Andre, you know. He was my idol growing up, you know. I followed his whole career. He is...


BECKER: He's definitely one of a kind, you know. He brought so much to tennis, you know. He's such a gentleman, you know. I got to know him a little bit, you know. For me it was a great honor to play him. Obviously, it's a great moment for him now so everything should be for him the crowd, you know. But whatever he did for him he deserves it, you know, whatever he did.


KING: That was very gracious.

AGASSI: Well, you know, it's the greatest applause you ever receive in your life is that from your peers, you know. It's not that we're just out there working together, you know. We're out there actually competing against each other and sometimes one success comes at the price of somebody else's demise. And to have him sort of, you know, celebrate your career does mean a lot.

KING: How good is Becker?

AGASSI: Which one, the one I played or the...

KING: I remember the other one wasn't that good.

AGASSI: Yes. You know, it was a -- he's definitely talented, definitely worthy of beating me that day no question. But, you know, I couldn't assess the standard of play, you know. I was fighting so many physical issues that day.

KING: What was wrong?

AGASSI: Oh, where do you want to start? Two bulged discs in my back, a Spondylolisthesis, which is a shifting of the vertebrae, plus a bone spur that ends up interfering with the nerve where the nerve runs. I mean it's a long -- it's a laundry list of accumulation.

KING: Can we say if that wasn't your last Open you wouldn't have played?

AGASSI: Oh, yes, absolutely.

KING: Because of the injuries.

AGASSI: I probably wouldn't have been playing for the whole year but for me the whole year became about saying goodbye and saying goodbye there was -- was clearly what I wanted to do.

KING: What's it like to play in pain? Can you not think about it? AGASSI: No, it's hard to because you're always negotiating and cutting corners to give yourself the best look. It's an ongoing negotiation when things aren't right physically and it's difficult. You know, the whole year struggling with injuries, a difficult part, just playing with pain is -- it's not as, I mean you just put your head down. But sort of two steps forward, three steps back sometimes is a hard way to go.

KING: We have an e-mail, this from Chintu in New York. "What happened to your hair, long to bald, no in between? Always been curious."

AGASSI: Well, I actually tell my son that I don't have any hair because he asked me the same question that I gave it to him when he was born, so he actually still believes that. He's five years old.

KING: What did you do with your hair?

AGASSI: I don't -- sometimes it's better not to have an option, Larry. I mean I had options a while back.

KING: You mean you're bald?

AGASSI: Yes, I had options back then and look what I did with it. It's not a good thing, so it's a good thing I lost it.

KING: So, you lost it you didn't shave it?

AGASSI: Yes, it was...

KING: Because it was looks great. I mean a lot of people...

AGASSI: I'm flattered that you -- that you think that that could be not the case but it is the case now that my hair is -- I couldn't grow it if I wanted to.

KING: Were you an arguer? Were you a critic of the linesman?

AGASSI: I had my moments, you know. I had my moments for sure but I wasn't confrontational. And sometimes you get on the court and you'd find yourself very confrontational. It was all a discovery.

KING: You ever had a forfeit?

AGASSI: I've had two. I've had two and, you know, it was some of my -- my worst moments for sure but, you know, you can't -- you can't have the good stuff without going through it.

KING: How good was your dad?

AGASSI: At tennis?

KING: Yes.

AGASSI: Hot tennis, hit the ball well. He thought he played really well. KING: Thought?

AGASSI: He thought he played real good, you know, pick up the game at about 25 years old, so he was -- he hit the ball all right but nowhere near, you know.

KING: How did you and Ms. Graf get together?

AGASSI: I stalked her was basically, yes.

KING: You liked her from afar?

AGASSI: Yes, for a long time but I admired her and respected everything that I could sort of see in her from a distance, the pillars of her life, the loyalties, the relationships. It all got my interest and also the looks.

KING: Not bad. Let's watch when -- in fact, we'll take a break. When we come back we'll be including phone calls.

And when we come back, we'll pick up the rackets in that final walk to the locker room that when we return, also your phone calls. Andre Agassi our special guest.

One week from tonight, Sean Penn; Monday night, Rudy Giuliani; we'll be right back.


KING: We're back with Pancho Gonzales. Let's watch this clip with picking up the rackets and that long walk to the locker room for the last time. Watch.


KING: We're back with Andre Agassi, who tells me, I didn't know that your sister was married to the late Pancho Gonzales.

AGASSI: Yes, that's right, yes (INAUDIBLE) my nephew Skylar (ph).

KING: How is she doing your sister? Does she play?

AGASSI: She's played her whole life, still teaches a little bit and is doing great.

KING: The name Agassi is what derivation?

AGASSI: Armenian, so my father was from Armenia and his parents sort of settled in Tehran.

KING: We go to Houston, Texas, hello.

CALLER FROM HOUSTON, TEXAS: Hi. Andre, I have to say one of the best times I ever had was watching you play at the Master's Cup here back in 2003. I know you were very influential in making that tournament a success here. And I'm just wondering how you're going to continue to be involved in tennis and would you maybe consider coming back to coach one day like Jimmy Connors is doing for Andy Roddick?

AGASSI: Oh, wow, thanks for that. That was a good memory for me being there playing. You know, for me it's I love the sport of tennis. It would be hard to not be involved to be quite honest. I mean I would look to find a way to stay involved. How I do it and sort of when that all I sort of still would have to figure out.

And, I don't know about coaching, you know. There's still a lot that goes into coaching from a traveling standpoint and the price you have to pay is every bit the same, except you're just not out there physically, you know. So it's, you know, I'll make all these decisions with my family for sure.

KING: Anything in mind do you think or leaning somewhere?

AGASSI: Well, you know, for me the greatest part about what I did was the chance to impact somebody's life for a few hours. I mean that's really what you could do. That was the best part. They come and watch you play for two hours. I mean my hope is that somewhere along the line I can impact people for longer than that and I don't know how that's going to be.

KING: Stephanie going to keep on playing?

AGASSI: No, she hasn't played in seven years now.

KING: She won't play again at all?

AGASSI: Well...

KING: She played for the last time.

AGASSI: And she also -- we also play for charity, you know. We also go and try to, you know, have fun playing some mixed doubles and, you know, raise some awareness.

KING: You're very philanthropic.

AGASSI: I've had my foundation for about 13 years now.

KING: Which does what?

AGASSI: It gives children with no opportunities in life a little hope and we do that through education mostly. We clothe over 3,000 children a year but sort of dealing with all the needs of children we realize we're sticking Band-aids on the real issues.

The issue that exists is you have to give a child a chance to make better choices for themselves. So, we built a school that is bringing these children up to speed inside a year in the most poverty sort of economically challenged part of Las Vegas.

KING: Tennis for well off kids only? AGASSI: Unfortunately that's the case. I think the sport needs to find a way to get the grassroots level and you need to get the rackets in the hands of children that don't -- don't have that chance. That's where -- that's where you're going to find tennis changing lives.

KING: How many blacks playing now?

AGASSI: Professionally less than a handful.

KING: Kind of shame isn't it?

AGASSI: It's a shame for anybody not to have the opportunity to play the sport. It's a great game that teaches you a lot about life. There are a lot of parallels about it and I would love to see it.

KING: Arthur Ashe wouldn't have played if not for that wealthy doctor that helped support him and then the army. He became a captain.

AGASSI: Yes, he was a great ambassador for the sport. It shows you just give people a chance.

KING: To San Bernardino, California, hello.

CALLER FROM SAN BERNARDINO, CALIFORNIA: Hello, Andre. I'd like to thank you as a fan for your completely wonderful words on Sunday. I've never heard anyone be more sensitive to the fans.

My question is on Sunday someone mentioned the tennis commissioner and they mentioned your name in conjunction with tennis commissioner. And, after what you just said about being effective and wanting to assist children that don't have this opportunity, is there a tennis commissioner, is this a possibility? I, for one, think you would be a wonderful candidate. Thank you again.

AGASSI: Thank you.

KING: Thank you.

AGASSI: Thank you. Well those are big words and a big compliment. I mean there's no official position that is called the sort of tennis commissioner. I think that would be great for the sport. I think the sport could use somebody that has the platform to move it as a unit, as a whole sort of entirety, you know, and that would be good for our sport.

I would be interested to help this game anyway I could. Certainly the more I could help the more I would be excited about it but I wouldn't be interested in a token situation. We need a system that really allows for us to move together and I think that would be a great thing.

KING: You were in a high profile marriage to Brooke Shields.

AGASSI: Yes. KING: In fact I ran into you a few times.


KING: Are you friendly still? Was that a friendly ending?

AGASSI: Oh, certainly it was very, very mutual. I mean we saw eye to eye. But, you know, I haven't spoken to her in a number of years, you know. I haven't. I think sometimes when you take steps closer to your dreams and your -- and your goals sometimes that means you take steps away from each other.

KING: Yes. She's a good girl though. No comment?

AGASSI: Oh, I didn't know you -- yes, absolutely.

KING: St. Petersburg, Florida, hello.

AGASSI: Hi. Thank you, Andre, for many, many, many years of wonderful tennis. You are such a source of inspiration not only to me but to all the fans that have watched you over the years. I play a sport called handball and my inspiration comes from watching my dad and my mom play for many, many, many years and my dad winning a trophy in doubles.

What is your source of inspiration for every time that you get on that court and you put your heart and your soul into every game? Where does it come from other than, you know, the rush of the fans and the adrenalin itself? Where does your inspiration come from?

AGASSI: Well it's not just actually out there on the court when you're competing in front of the -- in front of all the -- the fans. It actually comes every day, you know. It's not just traveling to one city and getting on the court and magic happens.

You literally have to prepare every day and you have to be clear on what your -- what your goals are and why you're going after them. And for me it's about getting one day better. Tennis was a vehicle for that.

It was one avenue in my life that I could really push myself in and one that I'll be forever grateful for. But you need to find inspiration in getting a day better, using it as an opportunity for that and don't settle for less.

KING: Just ahead, who wins when he and Stephanie battle on the court, the answer coming up.



KING: Back with Andre Agassi who wears a rather special neck -- what do we call that? A necklace around the neck. What does it say, a little blotch that spells out what?

AGASSI: My son made it for me. It says daddy rocks, that's what he wanted to say.

KING: Daddy rocks?

AGASSI: Daddy rocks, words I aspire to.

KING: He made it for you?

AGASSI: He did.

KING: You wear it when you play?

AGASSI: I do. I haven't taken it off since he gave it to me.

KING: We have another e-mail from Donna in Boca Raton, Florida. It is, how often do you play tennis with Steffi and how many times has she beaten you?

AGASSI: Well, we play tennis.

KING: Doubles, against each other?

AGASSI: You can hit against each other. We're going to play a lot more than we have been able to. Most of the time I'm the one still sort of working and she's sort of done with that stage. But she beats me every time because the key to tennis is you've got to watch the ball, and I'm not watching the ball, let's just call it like it is.

KING: How good is she?

AGASSI: She's great. Arguably the greatest athlete of the last 100 years. She's an amazing athlete.

KING: What does she do? What is, what makes her so special at tennis?

AGASSI: Well, she was a phenomenal athlete. Her speed and court coverage was amazing. Her forehand and determination was unmatched, and the backhand slice stayed underneath people's socks. I mean it was like you had to get a shovel to get underneath that thing.

KING: We have another e-mail from Salima, Calgary, Canada. If your father never pushed you into tennis, what year would you have chosen?

AGASSI: You know, I looked at tennis through his eyes for such a good chunk of my life and then it grew into the only thing that I sort of knew. I don't know. I would first of all have finished school and not left it, you know, in eighth grade. Which would have given me a chance.

KING: You left in eighth grade?

AGASSI: Yes, don't tell anybody that, though.

KING: Never finished? AGASSI: Well, I sort of did through correspondence.

KING: Got a high school degree?

AGASSI: That's right. It's sort of on the road.

KING: You left in eighth grade because of tennis?

AGASSI: Yes. I turned pro when I was 16, you know, so it was, in order to turn pro I had to sort of prepare myself for that and started to really do it all day.

KING: Was that OK with your dad?

AGASSI: Was that OK? He was ecstatic.

KING: That you left eighth grade?


KING: He was pushy? Is he still living?

AGASSI: He's passionate, you know.

KING: Is he still living?

AGASSI: He is, 76 years old.

KING: Your mom too?

AGASSI: And my mom, too. Still plays an hour of tennis a day. When I look out that window and I see him down there on the tennis court and I see him out there in the hot Vegas sun hitting tennis balls I realize that he's not pushy. He's a man with a passion that beats every bit as strong today as it ever has.

KING: Does it still come with you, like when you get on the court, you're just knocking the ball around and then you start to play a game. For laughs, at home, are you still driven to win?

AGASSI: By him or by --

KING: By you?

AGASSI: Absolutely. You know, I'm driven to push myself. That's the only thing I know. It's really, it's not for the W. It's not for the win. I never functioned that way. I never said this is a tournament that I'm going to win. I always went out there and only saw the next step that was in front of me. That step was plenty big enough for me most of the time.

KING: So always one at a time?

AGASSI: Always one at a time. It's amazing how much momentum you manage to build in your life with that.

KING: Even when you're in the semis, you're not looking forward to the final, if you're playing in the semis?

AGASSI: There are times you're aware of what's going on and you need to be. You need to know who you opposition is and what your in for and sometimes you can get ahead of yourself, but most of the time that I got ahead of myself I never had to worry about playing in the finals because I lost. So it was sort of, you know, a lot of trial. You know, I learned the hard way not to do that.

KING: To Sun Lake, Arizona, hello.

CALLER: Hello Larry, another great show.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: Andre, I have a question for you. In case you're wondering about my accent, I was also born in Tehran. My question is, one, have you had an offer from the networks to be a commentator so far and secondly, and more importantly, how does one get a hold of your charity party in Las Vegas to attend?

AGASSI: Well first of all, I haven't been sort of formerly approached. It's only been a week removed from retirement and so I haven't. I love talking about the game but I'm not sure that I would do that. I just haven't really thought a whole lot about it yet.

KING: You don't think would you be good at it?

AGASSI: No, I enjoy talking about the game. I enjoy it a lot. I think there is a lot to be learn and there's a lot of insight to be had. There's ways you can make this game very identifiable to many people. Make it interesting.

KING: So you might entertain an offer?

AGASSI: Oh, yes. I don't have any sort of preconceived idea that I wouldn't do it, but I definitely feel like I want to take some time and make the decisions that best fit what my goals are.

KING: How about attending your charity?

AGASSI: Attending the charity, October 7, MGM Grand Gardens, Ticket Master or you can call my foundation, Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation in Las Vegas and thank you for that.

KING: How many do you expect?

AGASSI: Well, you know, we've had it for 11 years now and last year we raised $10 million net profit in one evening.

KING: You have entertainment?

AGASSI: We do. We have the whole spectrum. Last year we had, you know, from Glen Fry to Usher to Celine Dion, Barbara Streisand, Robin Williams.

KING: Yes, but who big? AGASSI: You know, this year, we have some real great, great entertainers coming, too, so it's always a fun thing to do but we raise money. I get the whole event underwritten and so every dime makes it to the children, and, you know, we raise a crazy amount of money.

KING: Always at the MGM?

AGASSI: Always there. They have been very, very supportive.

KING: A great group. When we come back, a few final questions for Andre, including his predictions, who might win next year's Open. Don't go away.


AGASSI: You've given me your shoulders to stand on, to reach for my dreams, dreams I could never have reached without you. Over the last 21 years, I have found you and I will take you and the memory of you with me for the rest of my life. Thank you.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Andre, say cheese.

AGASSI: Is this dull or what?


Express yourself.


AGASSI: And that's why I got rid of my hair.

KING: How long did that take to do?

AGASSI: That took a full day, one full day.

KING: That's all?

AGASSI: That's it. No, there was a lot of tennis, but there was -- a lot of tennis.

KING: Who is going to win this weekend?

AGASSI: Let's see, it is going to either be one of two guys. Federer or the guy that beats him.

KING: That's it?

AGASSI: Yes. KING: He's the top player?

AGASSI: He's separated -- in a time when there is an incredible amount of depth in the game, he's separated himself.

KING: Who is the next great player after him? Who is a young player we should watch?

AGASSI: Well, you know, from America, we have this young kid Sam Querrey, who's about 6'6, and still can learn how to play so much cleaner and better. I mean, you know, we're leaving the game in the hands of Andy Roddick and James Blake. I mean, you know, James is one of the greatest people you ever...

KING: Great guy?

AGASSI: Oh, he's somebody you want your son to grow up to be.

KING: Pretty good player, too.

AGASSI: Great athlete.

KING: Atlanta, Illinois. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry, thanks for taking my call.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: Andre, I just want to know how you feel about when you were during the '80, during your wild and crazy rebel years, if you regret not playing Wimbledon more?

AGASSI: I do. I regret it. One of my bigger regrets. You know, I missed Wimbledon for the first few years. I played the first year and then didn't play for about three years. You know, it's one of the reasons why I went back this year. I knew my body wouldn't sort of hold up under the demands of the grass, but I took off the clay this year to get myself as right as possible, to go properly say goodbye to what is, you know, the Masters of our sport. It's the place. I do regret that very much.

KING: Why didn't you play it?

AGASSI: You know, to be honest, I didn't think I had a chance to win, and I wanted the time off. I did well in Paris those years. I was playing well on the clay, and it was so close back-to-back, that I said, you know, I'm going home. I've had a good year and I'm going to go home and I'll get ready for the Open.

KING: What essentially is the big difference between grass and clay?

AGASSI: It's the way the ball moves. I mean, on grass, the ball slides through and bounces almost quicker from ground to racket as it does from your racket to the ground, and clay is completely the opposite. It bounces very high and the ball slows up tremendously, and movement is a big issue. When you're running on clay and you run wide to go hit ball, what people don't realize is, you know, as you're hitting the ball, you actually have to get back this way, and so on clay you hit it and you continually slide out of court. So the better you get at sort of sliding into your shots, the movement is a big advantage. It's like you're playing on ice skates if you don't know what you're doing.

KING: Are most players better at one than the other?

AGASSI: Clay is a very specialized surface. There is no question about it. Hard court tends to allow for everybody to be physical with their movement, because you stop when you want to stop and you can play a long ways back because the courts are slow enough these days, the balls are slow enough, or you can come forward and get to net. But clay is a different animal. It's like you can't win that tournament without being -- without being specialized.

KING: How did you do on clay?

AGASSI: I did good enough. I managed to win on it, so that was great.

KING: And grass, of course, too?


KING: So would you say, when you approach something, it really was six of one, half dozen of another?

AGASSI: There was years when, before, you know, I've been around for sort of a few generations. So when I first came onto the clay, I hit the ball bigger than everybody, and so I didn't have to do much defense. So movement wasn't as much of an issue for me on the clay, because I would sort of dictate the play. But then guys got bigger, guys got stronger, guys got better, and I had to start moving and I stopped liking it so much.

KING: Finally, Andre, how do you feel about all of this, the way you went out, the whole schtick?

AGASSI: You know, I suppose you can only hope, it's unique to everybody how they choose to leave something they care about and say goodbye, and I was just -- my only hope is that it would be reflective of what it meant to me along the way, and it was. It was never about the result. It was about that. And to be quite honest, Larry, I would go through another 21 years to have that moment.

KING: Love you, Andre. Thank you.

AGASSI: Thanks.

KING: Andre Agassi, what can you say?

I'll do the next best thing and go to John Roberts in New York sitting in for Anderson Cooper. He'll host "AC 360." John, what's up tonight? JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, I played tennis in high school, but nothing on that level. But his farewell at the Open, fantastic. My wife and her best friend played it for me again and again and again. So my best to Andre as well.

Larry, tonight on "360," a new tape from al Qaeda. This one was shot before 9/11. It shows Osama bin Laden and some of the other planners of the 9/11 attacks. Why would al Qaeda send out such old footage near the five-year anniversary of 9/11? What kind of message is it trying to send?

All the angles tonight with reports from Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan tonight on "360," Larry.

KING: Thanks, John. Just ahead, the TV journalist who tackled an investigative story and got tackled on camera. The amazing story and video is next.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Call the police.



KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE from San Diego, John Mattes, investigative television reporter for Fox 8 -- or Fox 6, rather, News in San Diego. He was attacked and beaten while covering a story Tuesday. The attack captured on tape. We'll show it to you in a moment. What were you covering, John?

JOHN MATTES, FOX 6 NEWS: I was covering actually how a man had been terrorizing a neighborhood, and I was talking to victims of his verbal and physical abuse. And I was hoping just to do a normal interview with some victims, people who felt that they had been threatened by the man. And lo and behold, the man showed up, ambushed us, bushwhacked us. And the rest is all on tape and it wasn't pretty.

KING: Us being who?

MATTES: Myself and my photojournalist.

KING: Did he wind up being arrested?

MATTES: Oh, yes. But he's been bailed out. And -- as his wife is bailed out. And they are sitting in their mansion in La Jolla looking at the ocean right now.

KING: They live in a mansion and they terrorize people?

MATTES: Yes, that's what they do. They built a real estate empire that we've investigated. And according to the allegations, they've been taking people's identities, buying properties and running them into the ground and taking the rent from them. KING: All right, let's watch the tape first, and then we'll go back and show it again with having you explain it to us. But here's the story. Go.


ROSA SULEIMAN, ATTACKED REPORTER: You didn't have enough with what you aired? Stop that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) camera right (EXPLETIVE DELETED) now. Yes, I will.

MATTES: Don't batter me.

SULEIMAN: Why are you doing this? You didn't have enough with what you aired?

MATTES: That's not appropriate.

SULEIMAN: I don't give a (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Stop your behavior. Do you like (INAUDIBLE)? Which one do you like better, huh? I'm going to (EXPLETIVE DELETED) on the other side of the country

MATTES: Ma'am that is really pathetic.

SULEIMAN: I don't care. Stop this. Stop this right now.

MATTES: Have a nice day. Have a nice day.


MATTES: Thank you, bye bye.

SULEIMAN: Son of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Stop it. I'll break the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) camera.

MATTES: Call the police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Officer he's been wounded.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Turn around. Turn around.

SULEIMAN: Get that camera off me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the ground. Get on the ground. Get on the ground.


KING: Are you OK, John? MATTES: I'm pretty beat up, Larry, to be honest with you.

KING: Totally unprovoked, right?

MATTES: Totally unprovoked. We didn't anticipate seeing them. We had avoided them for weeks, even though he had been threatening me. He had been threatening a number of the people that we were interviewing. And that's the story that we were doing, was on how many threats he had leveled against people in the San Diego community, based on his business practices and based on the fact that I had done a series of stories. He was very upset with me. But that's my job. I'm an investigative journalist.

KING: We're going to take a break, come back, go over it again and I'll talk to John as it plays, and get his thoughts as he remembers what happened. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with more of reporter John Mattes. By the way, I have the full length video of the attack on my website, if you want to check it out. So John, walk us through what happened.

MATTES: Well, we were there talking to two people who had restraining orders against Mr. Suleiman and his wife, who had been threatened by Mr. Suleiman, who had been verbally abused by Mr. Suleiman and we had finished an interview with an architect who had been threatened and told he would have his legs broken because Mr. Slueiman didn't like the man's billing practices.

So this was the context of the event, the moment we were there. We had just talked to a man who owned Crepe shop, who had encountered Mr. Suleiman and Mr. Suleiman had attacked him and bitten a chunk out of his chest. And so I'm listening, hearing that someone's, and he's showing me the wound, where he's gotten his Tetanus shots, and he said yes and then the man tried to do a fish hook and rip my cheek apart. Ten seconds go by and all of a sudden we hear the screech of the tires and you see the wife roar up in her car and then she comes charging at us, screaming that I ruined their life.

Well I'm an investigative journalist. I follow the evidence. I follow the story. And I followed their activities over last three months and broadcast it. And they believed that I had ruined their life. Well, they have done to themselves what they have done. I haven't done anything but hold a mirror up. So she came up, screaming with a water bottle and started throwing water on us, which, OK, she's throwing water on us. The next thing I know, she slaps me. And I said, we're here because, you now, we're questioning why your husband is battering people and the next thing I knew, she smashes my face with a bottle across my face and I try and stay conscious and I'm dizzy, and then I hear another car screech up, and all of a sudden, now there are two of them.

We're on private property and he's running up and I'm thinking in the back of my mind, well, he's going to stop and curse me out before he hits me, didn't happen. He just ran up and launched his fist into my face. I just reeled back and in a split second, in a split second, a victim of his abuse, jumped in, to save my life. I mean, I can't say enough.

KING: Do you think you would have been killed?

MATTES: They intended to kill me. She was looking for a gun. She said, honey, I'm running for the gun. She went to the car and she couldn't find the gun, as he has me on the ground to kill me. That was the plan.

KING: Do you have any thoughts in the future about maybe not going up to someone with a camera?

MATTES: Well, that's what we do, Larry. We confront people. We confront corruption. We confront fraud. We're here to stand on behalf of people, consumers, the people of San Diego, and we use that camera as a mirror on the world, to show the world what's going on. Without the camera, the world is never going to know. The world is never going to know the kind of people that we encountered that day, and some people say, why didn't the cameraman put the camera down, and why didn't you just all duke it out? Well, the world wouldn't know how he's treated people in his business practices. Now the world knows.

KING: They are out on bail?

MATTES: They are, sadly. I mean I'm angry. I'm broken, I'm beat up, but I'm going to mend. I'm going to keep on with this story. I'm going to keep on trying to uncover what's going on with them.

KING: So you have no thoughts of wanting a desk job?

MATTES: No. I'm going to go at this more aggressively. I'm not going to given. They win by ripping my face apart. They win by sending a message to witnesses that it's OK to rip a journalist up, and then intimidate the other witnesses.

KING: Hey John, thanks for cooperating, good luck, man.

MATTES: Thank you, sir.

KING: John Mattes, and again you can see that on our website, that whole incredible incident.

Tomorrow night Kristen Breitweiser, one of the most recognizable of the 9/11 widows and a reminder as well that on Monday, CNN Pipeline will repeat our network's coverage of 9//11/2001 in real-time. It begins at 8:30 a.m. Eastern, just minutes before the first plane hit the World Trade Center. Just log on to on Monday morning. Monday night we'll be at the World Trade Center, the remains of the World Trade Center, for a special program.

It's always a special program when John Roberts hosts "AC 360." He will do that right now out of New York, John.