Serious Agassi breezes into round of 16 as other top seeds fall


WASHINGTON -- Last year, Andre Agassi strolled into the Legg Mason Tennis Classic with his usual loose style and a No. 20 ranking. He went on to lose in the third round.

This year, Agassi is all business as the world's top-ranked player dismissed Roldolphe Gilbert, 6-2, 6-2, in 58 minutes before a sellout crowd of 7,500 at the William H. G. FitzGerald Tennis Center.

It was evident that Agassi was strictly business when he walked on to the court for the second-round match with no musical introduction. This week, every player who plays on stadium court during the evening sessions comes out to a song of their choice to liven up the atmosphere.

There was almost a sense of urgency for the predominantly black-cladded Agassi. He came into net often.

"I took advantage of any short balls," Agassi said. "I was dominating him from the ground. I was just throwing a different sight at him. If I can get you on the defensive right from the get, you're fighting an uphill battle."

The 140th-ranked Frenchman was competitive early, holding his first two service games. When Agassi got a break-point opportunity in the fifth game, he took full advantage of it with a screaming crosscourt forehand return winner. Agassi went on to break Gilbert again in the seventh game to take the set rather handily.

Agassi opened the second set with another quick break and a hold. Behind a slew of Agassi's trademark forehand passing shots, the top seed was off and running, taking the second set and the match.

Agassi, who is making his seventh appearance in Washington, last won the Classic in 1991 when he repeated as champ. Since then, he lost in the second round in '92, and the third round the past two years.

After his third-round loss last year, Agassi has compiled a 74-11 record.

Searching for answers to an early '94 slump, Agassi split off with longtime coach Nick Bollettieri and paired up with veteran player Brad Gilbert.

hTC "He's given me purpose," Agassi said. "He's given me something to focus on. I've always felt like on every ball I've had three or four options. That's quite a responsibility if you are not too disciplined. . . . That's one of my strengths in my game . . . the versatility of options that I use from the ground. I don't think I ever utilized it quite like I do now with Brad."

Five seeds toppled

Five out of nine seeded players in action yesterday afternoon lost.

Aaron Krickstein, who made his 10th appearance in Washington this year, was upset by Mauricio Hadad, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4. The ninth seed lost a 4-0 lead in the third set.

Richey Reneberg, the No. 8 seed and ranked No. 40, lost to No. 432 Grant Stafford, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Seventh seed Olivier Delaitre lost to Mark Philippoussis, 6-3, 6-2. No. 12 Martin Damm fell to Gianluca Pozzi, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, and 16th seed Adrian Voinea lost to Paul Wekesa, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4).

Last year's finalist and this year's fifth seed, Jason Stoltenberg, dispatched Derrick Rostagno, 6-2, 6-4.

Todd Martin (No. 4), Patrick Rafter (No. 13) and Byron Black (No. 14) were the other seeds to move on.

Edberg falls in doubles

Stefan Edberg and Thomas Enqvist packed the grandstand court in their second-round doubles loss to David Adams and Damm, 6-3, 7-6 (11-9).

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