Mon, Aug 23, 2004 - Page 18 News List

Unseeded Muller stuns Agassi; Hewitt in final


Luxembourg's Gilles Muller stunned top-seeded Andre Agassi 6-4 7-5 to reach the final of the Washington Classic on Saturday, depriving the American veteran an opportunity of picking up a sixth victory at this event.

In yesterday's final, the unseeded Muller will face second-seeded Australian Lleyton Hewitt, who overcame America's Robby Ginepri 6-3 6-4 earlier in the day.

Both Muller and Agassi showed glimpses of their top form in their first ever meeting, but the top seed admitted that his tall, left-handed opponent was just too good on the day.

"It's always tough when you've never played someone before," Agassi said. "You have to stay solid to see how his game develops."

The 6ft-5in Muller took advantage of cracks in his opponent's play, taking all four of his break opportunities while Agassi could only convert on two out of the 10 he created.

The sets moved quickly with both players mixing up their play with serves of varying speeds, drop shots and winners down the line.

Muller, who came into the tournament as a relative unknown with a world ranking of 124, said he was not intimidated by the thought of stepping onto the court against Agassi.

"When I entered the court, I entered to win," Muller said. "I didn't miss so many balls and at the break points, I played very good."

Hewitt said he would spend the night studying the 21-year-old's game, while Muller admitted he had an advantage, having had years to observe the Australian's style of play.

However, Muller said beating Agassi was more of an accomplishment for him than reaching the finals.

"To go to the finals is not so important to me," he said. "Agassi is for everyone an idol."

The first semifinal was delayed for more than four hours because of rain, but Hewitt seemed to maintain his composure as his opponent struggled and committed a string of unforced errors.

Hewitt capitalized on Ginepri's slack play and broke serve in the fourth game of the first set which he closed out 6-3, much to the American's frustration who threw down his racquet.

Ginepri started well in the second set with three aces in the first game, but quickly dissolved into inconsistent play, occasionally landing winners at the baseline but generally throwing his hands up and his racquet down in frustration.

Hewitt broke Ginepri in the ninth game of the set when his opponent hit a forehand into the net and the Australian quickly wrapped up the victory.

Cincinnati Open

American Lindsay Davenport advanced to the final of the WTA Cincinnati Open on Saturday after France's Marion Bartoli pulled out with a blister on her right hand.

The semifinal "walkover" put Davenport in yesterday's championship match and gave her a shot at her fourth title of the season.

Davenport cruised to a 6-2, 6-2 victory over seventh-seeded Italian Flavia Pennetta on Friday to improve her winning streak to 16 matches and boost her record to 47-6 this year.

In the other semifinal, Vera Zvonareva, of Russia, rallied to beat No. 3 Amy Frazier of the US 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-1.

Zvonareva, the ninth ranked player in the world, had to overcome a slow start and saved two match points in the second set before she finally saw off the determined American.

Second seeded Zvonareva breezed to a 6-2, 6-2 rout of Chinese qualifier Shuai Penga in the quarterfinals.

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