Sat, Jul 30, 2005 - Page 19 News List

Andre Agassi reaches quarterfinals


Andre Agassi blows a kiss to the crowd following his win over Kevin Kim during Day 4 of the Mercedes-Benz Cup at the Los Angeles Tennis Center on Thursday.


Three-time defending champion Andre Agassi advanced to the quarterfinals of the Mercedes-Benz Cup on Thursday with a straight-set win over former practice partner and fellow American Kevin Kim.

Agassi, returning to tournament play for the first time since aggravating a chronic back injury at the French Open, served eight aces and did not face a break point in a 6-2, 7-5 win.

"It's hard to hope for much better," Agassi said of his matches here so far. He beat Jean-Rene Lisnard 6-1, 6-0 on Tuesday.

"The first match, everything was pretty much on my terms," he said. "Today I had to worry about leaving some balls hanging because he was getting pretty aggressive. I felt like when I wanted to keep him from being aggressive I was doing that, I was hitting a little extra on my shots, and the times I left it hanging I felt like I was making him hit two good balls to win the point instead of just one."

In other matches, Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan beat Paul Goldstein of the US 6-1, 6-4, Gilles Muller of Luxembourg stopped Zach Fleishman of the US 6-3, 7-5 and America's Robby Ginepri turned aside countryman James Blake, 6-3, 7-6 (2).

The top-seeded Agassi will face Paradorn next.

Although Agassi took only 75 minutes to dispatch Kim, his opponent didn't sound disappointed. He called it a "unique experience" to play Agassi in front of family and friends.

With No. 2 Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia the only other seeded player still in the running, Agassi would seem in control of the tournament, but he was taking nothing for granted.

Top-seeded Lindsay Davenport retired in the first set of her opening match at the Bank of the West Classic with a lower back strain, the same injury that hampered her in the Wimbledon final earlier this month.

Davenport, ranked No. 1 by the WTA Tour and playing her first match since losing the longest Wimbledon women's final to Venus Williams, trailed 5-0 to Anna-Lena Groenefeld when the trainer came on court to examine her. Davenport shook hands and conceded the match several minutes later.

"I knew it was going to be a tough day," she said.

In Thursday's late match, fourth-seeded Belgian Kim Clijsters defeated Ai Sugiyama of Japan 6-1, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals.

Clijsters, on the same side of the bracket as Davenport, is now the favorite to reach the final.

Earlier Thursday, Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic upset eighth-seeded Italian Francesca Schiavone 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) to reach the quarterfinals, while Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova outlasted Meghann Shaughnessy of the US 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, ending the match with four aces.

Romania's Victor Hanescu upset second-seeded Mariano Puerta of Argentina, eliminating the French Open finalist 6-4, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals.

"I can hardly believe I beat him. It's great to defeat a Roland Garros finalist," the 15th-seeded Hanescu said.

Hanescu next will meet Fernando Verdasco after the unseeded Spaniard ousted local favorite Juergen Melzer, 1-6, 6-2, 6-1.

Fourth-seeded Fernando Gonzalez also was eliminated, succumbing to Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.

Lapentti will face another Chilean in the quarterfinals, defending champion and seventh-seeded Nicolas Massu, who defeated Austria's Stefan Koubek 7-5, 6-2.

Third-seeded Gaston Gaudio cruised past Czech Robin Vik 6-4, 6-2 to secure his spot in the last eight.

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