Agassi beats Tabara; Roddick, Haas advance

Associated Press

Houston, April 20:

Andre Agassi received a court violation for smashing his racket and then rallied in a second-set tiebreaker to beat Michal Tabara of the Czech Republic 6-2, 7-6 in the first-round of the US Men’s Clay Court Championships.

The top three seeds in the tournament advanced as No 1 Andy Roddick beat qualifier Matias Boeker 6-2, 6-3, and defending champion and third-seeded Tommy Haas of Germany eliminated Belgium’s Kristof Vliegen 6-3, 7-5.

The second-seeded Agassi broke his racket after the first point of the tiebreaker when Tabara hit a forehand winner. “It was probably a healthy combination of reasons,” Agassi said. “I was really frustrated through most of the middle of the second set. I had some 0-30 chances and never felt I stepped up.” After breaking his racket, Agassi gave it to a young fan.

Agassi fell behind 1-4 in tiebreaker and made it 5-5 with a service winner. He gained match point on Tabara’s forehand error and Tabara’s backhand sailed wide to end the match. Agassi struggled most of the match, coming up with crowd-pleasing shots and then hitting unforced errors.

In the sixth game of the second set, Agassi had four double-faults, faced two break points and hit a perfect lob and a pinpoint drop shot in finally holding serve. No 5 seed Taylor Dent withdrew because of ankle injury.

Open Seat Godo

BARCELONA: Third-seeded Carlos Moya of Spain advanced to the third round of the Open Seat Godo beating Jarkko Nieminen of Finland 7-5, 5-7, 6-2. Moya is making his 10th straight appearance in the clay-court tournament at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona. He won the title in 2003.

Nieminen, who blew a 4-2 lead in the first set, took advantage of the quickening clay surface in the second as the wind removed the upper layer of dust. But Moya saved his best tennis for the final set, which he won easily.

Ninth-seeded Thomas Johansson of Sweden also advanced to the third round, beating Xavier Malisse of Belgium 7-5, 7-5. Also, Juan Carlos Ferrero struggled to defeat Alberto Montanes 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in the first round, and 13th-seeded David Ferrer beat Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-4.

In other matches, Radek Stepanek beat Irakli Labadze 4-6, 6-2, 7-5, and Juan Ignacio Chela topped Albert Portas of Spain 6-4, 7-6. Other winners included Alberto Martin, Agustin Calleri, Santiago Ventura, Gilles Muller, Jan Hernych and Wayne Arthurs.