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AFTER THIS WIN, AGASSI HEADED BACK TO START

Andre Agassi came full circle in the Volvo International. Now he's going back to the place where his rise to the top of the tennis world began.

Agassi beat Richard Krajicek 3-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-3 in Sunday's final at the Connecticut Tennis Center, closing out a remarkable year of tennis that started when he won the U.S. Open last year.Since dropping his opening match in last year's Volvo, Agassi has reached the quarterfinals in 19 straight tournaments, a streak that started with the Open. He had a match record of 86-9 during the stretch.

Sunday's victory gave the world's top-ranked player his fourth straight title and career-best seventh of the year. The $150,000 prize pushed his 1995 earnings to $1,992,946.

The victory improved Agassi's record on hardcourts to 46-2 and came eight days before the start of the U.S. Open, in which he'll defend his title in the year's final Grand Slam tournament. He has reached the final in every hardcourt event he's played this year and hasn't lost a match on the surface this summer.

"These weeks have given me a lot of confidence," Agassi said. "My mind's in shape, my body's in shape, my game's in shape. Now, all I have to do is (go to the Open) and take care of business."

Agassi wasn't seeded going into last year's Open, which he won by defeating five seeded players, including Michael Stich in the final.

Agassi said the seedings don't matter to him and that the most important thing is that he peaks during the second week of the Open.

He wasn't at his peak in the early going Sunday against Krajicek. Agassi had to fend off two match points, something he said he doesn't remember ever having to do during a final.

Agassi said his confidence, which has been building all year, was boosted even more after he survived that scare.

"To get through today and not feel I played necessarily great does more for me than the thought of `Where was my game?' I don't ever question my game. If I question it now, I'll never stop," he said.

Agassi, who played nearly flawless tennis in his matches leading up to the final, was not as sharp throughout most of the first two sets. He partly blamed the midday sun that seemed to interfere with both players' serve.