Roddick, Agassi win Down Under

Posted: Wednesday, January 21, 2004

MELBOURNE, Australia Top-ranked Andy Roddick and defending champion Andre Agassi breezed into the third round of the Australian Open by winning in straight sets Wednesday over Czech rivals.

Agassi had a 6-0, 6-2, 6-4 win over 18-year-old Tomas Berdych, closing with an ace in 1 hour 22 minutes. Roddick fired 20 aces and didn't lose a point on his first serve in the third set of a 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 win over Bohdan Ulihrach.

Roddick set up triple match point with a curling forehand winner down the line and finished it off in 1:13 with a booming first-serve winner.

Justine Henin-Hardenne, ranked No. 1 and winner at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2003, had a 6-1, 6-4 win over childhood friend Camille Pin of France in her second-round match, and fourth-seeded Amelie Mauresmo advanced in straight sets. Mauresmo has lost only three games in two matches and spent less than 90 minutes on court.

The 33-year-old Agassi, an eight-time Grand Slam winner, hasn't dropped a set in the tournament. He converted six of eight break point chances and didn't concede one.

Agassi took the first set in 18 minutes and Berdych did not win a game for 27 minutes, until he held serve for the first time in five attempts to close the gap to 2-1 in the second set.

''Today felt really good. I think there was a lot of quality ball striking going on, from both sides,'' said Agassi, who has won his last 23 matches at Melbourne Park.

The former No. 1 had never played the young Czech, making it hard to formulate a game plan to counter his youth and speed.

''It's hard,'' he said. ''I prefer playing anybody in their late 20s or on,'' Agassi said.

Berdych had more winners than Agassi, 27-23, and had more aces, 12-7, but was much more inconsistent, committing 35 unforced errors to just 10 for Agassi. Agassi next plays Sweden's Thomas Enqvist, a 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 winner over Slovakian Karol Beck.

Roddick moved into a showdown with fellow American Taylor Dent, seeded 27th, who overcame Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 7-5 in 3:30.

Dent, frustrated after mixing 83 winners with 77 unforced errors, stood behind the baseline and screamed ''Yeah'' to punctuate his win when Chela netted a backhand volley on match point.

''I got by with smoke and mirrors somehow,'' said Dent, whose serve was broken 10 times. ''I'm looking for solutions, I don't have them now.''

He knows he must find something to be competitive against Roddick.

''I hope I don't get broken 10 times, otherwise it's going to be a short match,'' Roddick said.

Roddick said Dent was on the verge of making it in the big time and ''it's a big match for me.''

''He's got everything. He can break serve, he can serve big,'' Roddick said. ''I think it's just a matter of it coming together for him. ''Hopefully he'll delay it for a couple more days.''

Frenchman Nicolas Escude, winner at Doha earlier this month, had a 6-3 7-6 (4), 6-4 win over Robin Soderling to extend his stretch to seven matches without dropping a set since his return this month from a hip problem that had sidelined him since Wimbledon.

In other men's matches, 16th-seeded Sjeng Schalken beat David Ferrer in four sets, Austria's Jurgen Melzer beat Spaniard Galo Blanco in three and American Todd Martin who rallied from two sets down to win in the first round outslugged Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4), 7-6 (7).

Martin withstood 33 aces from the big-serving Croatian in a match where neither player dropped serve.

Sebastien Grosjean, seeded ninth, had a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 win over American Jan-Michael Gambill; James Blake beat Nicolas Lapentti 6-3, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-1; and three-time French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten had a 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-3 win over Ivan Ljubicic. Kuerten hadn't gone beyond the second round in seven previous trips to Melbourne Park.

For Henin-Hardene, the victory wasn't as easy as it appeared.

''I've been sick for two or three days. I was tired and out of energy,'' she said. ''I'm just happy to come through and win this match in two sets. I felt a bit under pressure, but I played my best when I had to.''

Fourth-seeded Amelie Mauresmo beat 64th-ranked Ludmila Cervanova of Slovakia 6-0, 6-2 in 44 minutes, limiting her time on court to 90 minutes while only losing three games.

Mauresmo lost the final of a tuneup tournament to Henin-Hardenne in Sydney last and said she didn't mind cruising for a while.

''I take it as it comes. I played tough matches in Sydney last week,'' Mauresmo said, adding that it was important to keep her level high.

She'll play Anabel Medina Garrigues, ranked 70th, in the next round. The Spaniard defeated Yuliana Fedak of Ukraine, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.

With defending champion Serena Williams and 2001-2002 champion Jennifer Capriati sidelined with injuries and No. 2-ranked Kim Clijsters and No. 3-seeded Venus Williams coming back from injuries, Mauresmo thinks she has a good chance of making a second Grand Slam final.

''Probably there is an opportunity of taking this tournament. Not just because players are absent, but because I'm feeling good,'' said Mauresmo, a finalist at Melbourne Park in 1999.

Seeded women's players moving into the third round were Eleni Daniilidou of Greece (19th) and Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova (30th), who next faces Henin-Hardenne.

Daniilidou beat Zimbabwe's Cara Black 3-6, 6-0, 6-1 and Kuznetsova beat Italian Antonella Serra Zanetti 7-6 (0), 6-4.

Hungarians Petra Mandula and Aniko Kapros also went through. Mandula overcame 24th-seeded Magdalena Maleeva 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-3 and Kapros beat Australian Samantha Stosur 6-3, 6-1.

Elena Bovina, seeded 21st lost 6-4, 6-3 to Claudine Schaul of Luxembourg.



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