US OPEN 2006: Federer on course, Henin through

New York, September 2:

Top seed and defending champion Roger Federer dismissed British veteran Tim Henman 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 in early action before the storm clouds moved in to scupper the scheduled evening session. Next up is American journeyman Vince Spadea.

Federer admitted to being caught up in the frenzy of following Andre Agassi’s last stand before he retires from the sport. Federer said he had stayed up late to marvel at Agassi’s thrilling five sets win over Marcos Baghdatis. “I get nervous myself watching this stuff, like a fan,” he said.

There was better news for the British camp later in the day as the new kid on the block Andy Murray blasted through to the third round in three impressive sets against Italy’s Alessio di Mauro 6-0, 6-1, 6-1. Next up for the Scot though is a tough assignment against hard-hitting 10th seed Fernando Gonzalez of Chile.

There were wins also for four other seeds — James Blake (5) and Robby Ginepri (18) both of the United States, Tommy Haas (14) of Germany and Thomas Berdych (12) of the Czech Republic.

In the women’s draw, Belgian second seed Justine Henin-Hardenne came through 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 against Ai Sugiyama of Japan. The French Open champion next plays Shahar Peer of Israel who hit back from 5-2 down in the deciding set to oust Italy’s Francesca Schiavone 6-3, 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/3) in the best match of an otherwise drab day.

The two finalists of two years ago, Russians Svetlana Kuznetsova and Elena Dementieva also reached the last 16 in straight sets against compatriots Anastassia Rodionova and Vera Zvonareva.

Agassi takes injection again

NEW YORK: Andre Agassi needed another injection on Friday to deal with back pain so intense he couldn’t even ride in a car to the hospital.

He didn’t practice at all the day ahead of his third-round match against German Benjamin Becker. The Open is the last tournament of eight-time major champion Agassi’s pro career. Agassi was examined by the US Open’s chief medical officer, Brian Hainline, after his theatrical five-set, second-round win over Marcos Baghdatis, a match that stretched from Thursday night into Friday. —AP