Fri, Aug 06, 2004 - Page 24 News List

Agassi continues his winning ways

REUTERS AND AP , CINCINNATI AND MONTREAL

Andre Agassi of the US reaches for a shot from Thomas Johansson of Sweden.

PHOTO: AFP

Andre Agassi continued to confound those who believe his 18-year career is almost over, by beating former Australian Open champion Thomas Johansson to reach the last 16 of the Masters Series on Wednesday.

The American showed a fair deal of patience to register a 6-1 3-6 6-1 success in a match completed close to midnight after an hour-long rain delay during the knock-up and two further interruptions once the contest was underway.

"You get more experienced at not getting overly concerned about things you can't control," the 34-year-old said. "The good news is that both guys have to deal with it."

The 11th seed dealt with it better because he had more control of his groundstrokes in the cool and the wind, although that was partly due to his opponent's persistence with a very ambitious attacking strategy in variable conditions.

It was only the second time that Agassi had won two successive matches since March and it earned him a third round match against Juan Ignacio Chela, the 17th seed from Argentina.

"Two matches in a row is good for me. It's not good that it's good for me," Agassi said. "But it does feel good. Hopefully I am not too far away from feeling really good."

In the same half of the draw, defending champion Andy Roddick beat Germany's Nicolas Kiefer for the third time in ten days.

Halfway through the second set of his 6-4 6-4 defeat, Kiefer launched a vicious slash at the net with his racket that gave Roddick a psychological boost.

"I was feeling a little bit sluggish today but when I saw he was a edgy it made me try more and bear down on him," Roddick said.

The second-seeded American next plays Paradorn Srichaphan, the 15th seed from Thailand, a 6-3 6-4 winner over Sjeng Schalken.

Earlier, Lleyton Hewitt signalled his belief that he is building up for his most convincing grand slam challenge for a couple of years when he enjoyed an emphatic win in a battle of former world number ones against Gustavo Kuerten.

The battling Australian's 6-3 6-4 victory over the popular Brazilian carried him into the last 16 and suggested that he has a good chance to push on to his first Masters Series final for 17 months.In other matches, Britain's Greg Rusedski rallied to defeat French Open champion Gaston Gaudio 4-6 7-6 6-4, Marat Safin eased past Jeff Morrison 6-4 6-4, and Spaniard Tommy Robredo upset his seventh seeded compatriot Juan Carlos Ferrero 7-6 4-6 6-4.

In the final match of the day, fifth-seeded Briton Tim Henman rallied past Moroccan Hicham Arazi 4-6 6-3 7-5 to advance in a contest that ended in the early hours of the morning.

WTA Rogers Cup

Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova overcame some spotty serving and beat Kristina Brandi of Puerto Rico 6-1, 6-4 in her opening match at the Rogers Cup.

The sixth-seeded Sharapova advanced to a third-round meeting yesterday with another of the many Russian players making their mark on the WTA Tour these days -- Vera Zvonareva, a straight-sets winner over Bethanie Mattek.

French Open champion and third-seeded Anastasia Myskina, playing with a sore leg, advanced with a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Arantxa Parra Santonja.

Fourth-seeded Elena Dementieva was upset 6-1, 6-4 by Gisela Dulko of Argentina while eighth-seeded Nadia Petrova was beaten 6-4, 6-7 (6-8) 7-5 by Russian compatriot Elena Likhovtseva.

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