Agassi beats Chang at Key Biscayne

Andre Agassi of the United States opens his bid for a sixth title at Key Biscayne by beating countryman Michael Chang 6-4 6-2 at the Nasdaq-100 Open.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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Key Biscayne:

Andre Agassi of the United States opened his bid for a sixth title at Key Biscayne by beating countryman Michael Chang 6-4 6-2 at the Nasdaq-100 Open yesterday. Showing no signs of the sore shoulder that forced him to skip Indian Wells earlier this month, Agassi smacked six aces and lost only 16 service points. When Chang hit an errant forehand on match point, the two Americans removed their caps and shook hands at the net, perhaps for the final time. Chang plans to retire after the US Open. In other men's matches, Davide Sanguinetti of Italy upset seventh-seeded Marat Safin of Russia 7-6 (9-7) 7-5, No. 4 Roger Federer, who lost to Agassi in last year's final, beat Luis Horna 6-2 7-5 and 14th-seeded Sjeng Schalken of the Netherlands downed Jean-Rene Lisnard of France 6-3 6-4. Second-seeded Venus Williams, the champion in 1998 and 1999, beat Shinobu Asagoe of Japan 6-3 6-1 and sixth-seeded Jennifer Capriati started slowly but topped Anastassia Rodionova of Russia 7-6 (7-3) 6-2. "The conditions are a little tough," Capriati said. "It's a little hot out there. I felt a little sluggish out there in the beginning. I don't think I played like my greatest tennis. I mean, I didn't have to, luckily." Chang, who hasn't won a set against Agassi since 1996, couldn't muster the firepower to pull off an upset this time. The only service break of the opening set came in the seventh game, when Chang lost his serve with four backhand errors. Agassi broke twice more in the second set and never lost his serve. Even two brief rain delays couldn't halt his momentum. The second-seeded Agassi improved to 15-7 in the rivalry. He became the favourite to win his third consecutive Key Biscayne title when No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt of Australia was upset in his opening match on Friday night by Francisco Clavet. In women's play, fourth-seeded Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium downed Vera Douchevina of Russia 6-3 6-2, 17th-seeded Ai Sugiyama of Japan beat Dinara Safina of Russia 3-6 7-5 6-2 and Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand, seeded 30th, topped Denisa Chladkova of the Czech Republic 6-2 6-2. (AP)