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Tennis stars arrive in Taiwan for exhibition matches

2012/05/24 22:29:53

Taipei, May 24 (CNA) Eight-time Grand Slam singles champion Andre Agassi and his wife Steffi Graf, holder of 22 Grand Slam singles titles, arrived in Taiwan Thursday evening for a series of exhibition matches.

The tennis aces were welcomed by more than 150 fans at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

"It's a great feeling. Last time I came it was such a warm reception. This time it's even more, so it's very nice to be here again," Agassi said.

Speaking of the matches, Graf said "I really hope we will have a good time and enjoy." She also said she looked forward to tasting Taiwanese cuisine.

It was the second time for Agassi to visit Taiwan. He promised local fans last year that he would convince his wife to come with him to Taiwan this time.

Earlier on the same day, retired Croatian tennis star Goran Ivanisevic, who in 2001 became the first wild-card entry to win a Wimbledon singles title, also arrived in Taiwan and was received by a huge crowd of fans.

Meanwhile, Martina Hingis of Switzerland, former women's No. 1, is scheduled to arrive in Taiwan early Friday.

The four players will coach a group of teenage players at Taipei Arena and attend a welcome banquet later that day.

On the following day, Agassi and Ivanisevic will play one of the two highly anticipated singles matches while Graf and Hingis will play the other. The four will also play a mixed doubles match.

Agassi defeated Ivanisevic in the 1992 Wimbledon final. In 1999, Hingis, then 19, lost to Graf in the French Open final.

Agassi was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in July last year, while Graf received the honor in 2004.

(By Bien Chen-fang and Jamie Wang)