Sat, Mar 20, 2004 - Page 18 News List

Agassi bulldozes way into Pacific Life semifinals


Fifth seed Andre Agassi produced a superb display of all round tennis to beat Guillermo Coria 6-4, 7-5 at the Pacific Life Open on Thursday and set up a semifinal with top seed Roger Federer.

World No. 1 Federer eased passed Argentina's Juan-Ignacio Chela 6-2 6-1 in the first of the men's quarterfinal matches.

Belgian Justine Henin-Hardenne needed to call upon all her reserves to edge past Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4 7-5 in the women's quarterfinals.

Agassi's willingness to charge to the net earned him the win over 21-year-old Coria, who matched the American groundstroke for groundstroke during most of the contest.

"With someone that quick it's pretty tough to let him back into points too many times," said Agassi, who won 18 of 25 net approaches.

With fourth seed Coria serving at 5-4 down in the first set, Agassi wowed the a record night crowd of 13,395 when he pulled the Argentine up to net with a perfectly placed drop shot and then lifted a deft topspin lob over his opponent's head. Agassi then won the set when he forced Coria into a forehand error.

The 2001 champion broke Coria to 6-5 in the second set and won the contest with an ace.

Agassi and Federer have played five times, with the American winning their first three contests and Federer winning their last two, both at the Tennis Masters Cup Houston, which he went on to win.

"The last two years, I've really enjoyed playing Agassi because I can finally compete with him. Before, he was just too good," Federer said.

Looking forward to today's semifinal clash, Agassi said. "His game has a lot of weapons. I'm going to have to hit my shots. I look forward to the challenge of playing the guy who's by far playing the best this year."

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