NEW YORK — MaliVai Washington will replace the injured Andre Agassi on the United States Davis Cup tennis team for its opening-round tie against Brazil this Friday, captain Tom Gullikson announced Monday.
Agassi, who was scheduled to play at singles along with Jim Courier, suffered a slightly twisted left ankle while practicing in Key Biscayne, Fla., last week. After talking with Gullikson, it was decided he would not be fit to compete this weekend.
“I regret that I will not be able to compete for the United States Davis Cup team in the tie against Brazil,” said Agassi. “Unfortunately I injured myself while practicing and I will not be able to recover in time to compete at the level that will be required.”
After capturing the gold medal at the Atlanta Olympic Games and reaching the semifinals of the U.S. Open last year, Agassi played a total of just six matches the rest of the year. He pulled out of the ATP Tour World Championship after losing his first match due to stomach problems. Shortly thereafter, he announced he was taking a two-month sabbatical from tennis and missed last month’s Australian Open.
Agassi is the second American player to be sidelined with an injury. Todd Martin, who was to compete in doubles with Alex O’Brien, was forced to the sidelines with tibial tendinitis in his right knee. Richey Reneberg, a three-time Davis Cup participant, replaced Martin.
Washington will be making his second straight Davis Cup appearance. He was added to last year’s team after injuries plagued American top guns Pete Sampras, Michael Chang, Agassi and Courier.
“We are very pleased that Mal has stepped up and answered the call for the U.S. Davis Cup team at the last minute,” said Gullikson. “I have full confidence that Mal will get in the Davis Cup mode on short notice and represent us well this weekend.”
The United States is looking to rebound from a second-round loss to the Czech Republic in 1996.
In his three years as captain, Gullikson has compiled a 7-2 record in Davis Cup competition, including the 1995 championship. The U.S. has won a record 31 Davis Cup titles.