Fri, Aug 22, 2003 - Page 23 News List

Roddick may face Agassi

US OPEN A final match between new-kid-on-the-block Andy Roddick and the world's No. 1 tennis player, Andre Agassi, has become more likely after Wednesday's draw

AP , NEW YORK

Andy Roddick reacts after he defeated Mardy Fish, 4-6, 7-6, 7-6, to win the Tennis Masters Cincinnati tournament, in Mason, Ohio, Sunday.

PHOTO: AP

If Andy Roddick was hoping to ease into the US Open, he won't get that chance.

A final between Roddick and No. 1 Andre Agassi is possible thanks to Wednesday's draw, but first things first. Roddick will start off with a tough match against Tim Henman -- the only player who beat him during the summer hard-court season.

"If Roddick gets through the first round," US Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe said at the draw ceremony at UN headquarters, "he should be in very good shape to get through to the semis."

Roddick leads the calendar-year ATP Champions Race and, with three titles in the past month, heads the list of men's favorites at the season's last Grand Slam tournament, which starts Monday.

He's 20-1 on the hard-court circuit, winning titles at Indianapolis, Montreal and Cincinnati. The lone loss was against four-time Wimbledon semifinalist Henman at Washington.

Henman won that event and is currently ranked 33rd. The top 32 players were seeded, so he is the top player Roddick possibly could have met in the first round.

Overall, Roddick is 30-2 with four titles and a semifinal appearance at Wimbledon since pairing with coach Brad Gilbert after a first-round loss at the French Open.

"I feel good right now," Roddick said at last week's Cincinnati Masters. "I don't think I'd be winning as many matches if I wasn't confident."

Eventually, he could meet Australian Open runner-up Rainer Schuettler in the quarterfinals, where other possible matchups are: eight-time major champion Agassi vs. No. 5 Guillermo Coria, 2001 winner Lleyton Hewitt vs. French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero, and Wimbledon champ Roger Federer vs. No. 7 Carlos Moya.

Coria knocked off Agassi in the French Open quarterfinals.

Agassi, at 33 the oldest No. 1 in ATP Tour computer ranking history, won the US Open in 1994 and 1999. He lost last year's final to Pete Sampras.

With Sampras all but officially retired, and Serena Williams sidelined by left knee surgery, it's the first time since 1971 that neither defending champion is participating.

"It will be wonderful to see such an open event -- literally -- on both the women's and men's sides," former pro and UN Messenger of Peace Vijay Amritraj said Wednesday.

The most intriguing potential women's quarterfinal pits Williams' older sister, 2000-2001 champion Venus, against three-time major winner Jennifer Capriati.

The other possible women's final-eight matchups: No. 1 Kim Clijsters versus No. 5 Amelie Mauresmo, 1998 champion Lindsay Davenport versus No. 8 Chanda Rubin, and French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne versus No. 7 Anastasia Myskina.

Henin-Hardenne never has been past the fourth round at the US Open; Clijsters never has been beyond the quarterfinals. Venus Williams faces a qualifier in the first round at the National Tennis Center.

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