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No. 281 Flach Shocks No. 3 Andre Agassi

June 25, 1996

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) _ If anyone had asked Doug Flach six months ago where his career was headed, he could have told them exactly where.

``I would have probably said nowhere,″ Flach said Monday after his four-set victory Monday over third-seeded Andre Agassi in the first round at Wimbledon.

``It’s the highlight of my career.″

Honestly, there haven’t been that many.

The lowlight of Flach’s career came last year when his ranking fell into the 600s. It’s climbed to 281 with recent wins on the satellite tour, the backroads of big-time tennis.

Asked by curious British journalists to click off the out-of-the-way American places he’d played lately, he smiled and sounded off.

``Little Rock ... Mobile ... Mount Pleasant, South Carolina ... Tallahassee. These are small places,″ he said.

Flach is a journeyman’s journeyman. He’d lost the only match he’d played the last two years on the regular ATP tour. He’s never won an ATP singles title, has one doubles title to his name, and won only $2,205 in prize money this year before Wimbledon.

Flach hit a despondent Agassi with 22 aces in his 2-6, 7-6 (7-1), 6-4, 7-6 (7-6) victory. The way he rose from a belly-flop dive to hit a volley winner in the fourth set made it clear who was putting out the effort.

Flach suggested he was sharper than Agassi because he’d played more tennis recently than the 1992 Wimbledon champion, whose career continued its free-fall after a similar second-round loss at the French Open.

``I’ve played a lot of tennis in the past couple of months,″ Flach said. ``I think that probably was part of the reason why I won today. I was really match-tough and Andre had a bit of a break since the French.″

This win will make the headlines, but his victory over Anders Jarryd in the final round of qualifying _ he came back from two sets down _ to reach the main draw was at least as difficult.

It was the first time in 10 tries Flach succeeded in qualifying for a Grand Slam event and only his fourth appearance in a Grand Slam.

``I was really nervous that last round ... because it was such a big match for me,″ said Flach, the younger brother of former doubles specialist Ken Flach.

Having qualified, Flach was asked to draw his place in the first-round draw out of a hat. He hesitated, suggested such a move was ``bad karma,″ and then drew anyway and came up with Agassi.

``There were some better spots for me to go into ... but you know, I looked forward to the excitement of playing Agassi,″ he said. ``So I took it as a positive.″

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