Sat, Sep 11, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Agassi and Roddick get sent packing

US OPEN Joachim Johansson of Sweden stunned the top-ranked American just after Roger Federer finished off aging tennis star and crowd favorite Andre Agassi


Johansson inherited some of his abilities: His father, Leif, was Bjorn Borg's teammate on Sweden's 1974 Davis Cup team. And little Joachim -- surely, he was little at one time -- got to practice with Borg as a tyke.

Well, he's all grown up now. Roddick came into the match having been broken just once in 50 service games during the Open. It took less than 20 minutes for Johansson to do it.

In the second set, Roddick had Johansson at love-40 in the second game, but the Swede saved the break points with a 132mph ace, a 110mph ace and a 133mph service winner. In the next game, Roddick took a 40-love lead on his serve and lost the next five points, with Johansson seizing a 2-1 edge with a forehand.

Serving for the second set, Johansson fell behind love-40 again -- and got out of it again, this time finishing with the flourish of a 136 mph service winner. The match was 75 minutes old, and already Roddick had lost two sets (two more than he had all tournament before Thursday), had been broken twice and had gone 0-for-7 on his break chances.

Roddick walked to his chair, slammed his racket down and looked up at Gilbert, who was biting his nails, while the partisan fans sat in stunned silence.

Johansson couldn't possibly keep playing this well, could he?

And then, 56 minutes later, it was two sets all. From that second break, Roddick went on a roll where he won 44 of 46 points on his serve, including 29 straight. He also, finally, began to get somewhere on Johansson's serve, breaking him for a 2-0 edge in the third set by closing an 18-stroke point with a volley winner.

He rocked back on his heels, pumping both arms and screaming, as much to the fairly subdued crowd as to himself: "Come on! Let's go!"

Hours earlier, Agassi sat alone, starting blankly at an Arthur Ashe Stadium doorway, the silence punctured by the rustling leaves on nearby trees.

Soon, he'd walk through that exit, his US Open done. In those idle moments on a lobby bench, there was plenty for the 34-year-old Agassi to contemplate.

"My game plan is to play until I can't do it," Agassi said. "I certainly want to be able to assess my level of play, and at some point my level of play will dictate my decisions. But as of right now, I'm trying to win tournaments, and I believe that with that focus, I can still do that."

Martina Navratilova's run at this US Open ended when she lost in the mixed doubles semifinals on Thursday. Whether she'll return to Flushing Meadows or retire, that decision will come later.

"This might be my last US Open or it might not," she said. "I'm not definite, one way or another."

At 47, Navratilova was hoping to add to her total of 58 Grand Slam championships. But she lost with Lisa Raymond in doubles in the quarterfinals, and was eliminated with Leander Paes of India 10-3 in a third-set super-tiebreaker by Australians Alicia Molik and Todd Woodbridge.

"We outplayed them for the match, and we lose. It's pretty much what happened in our doubles as well. Pretty frustrating for me," she said.

Navratilova has won 167 titles in singles and 174 in doubles. Only one of those victories came this year, in a doubles tournament in Vienna. She lost at the Olympics in the quarterfinals.

"I'm playing better tennis than I did last year. The game is better, but the results are worse," she said. "Very consistent, but not enough wins certainly."

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