Tennis: Sargsian vs. Agassi

* Agassi smothers Sarge to set up quarter-final with Federer
* Sargsian outlasts Mathieu (folo);
* Agassi discards `Mr Nice Guy’ image
* Agassi Handles Friend; Now Faces Tougher Foe
* Federer, Henman walk it
* Agassi ousts good friend
* Armenian supremacy for Agassi
* Agassi ousts Sargsian, faces Federer in Open quarterfinals;

Agassi smothers Sarge to set up quarter-final with Federer
By Bill Scott, dpa

Deutsche Presse-Agentur
September 6, 2004, Monday

New York

Andre Agassi pounced on the game of good friend Sargis Sargsian,
slamming the Armenian 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 Monday to set up a dream
quarter-final at the 17.75-million-dollar U.S. Open. Victory by the
34-year-old Agassi in his 19th appearance at his home major brings on
a showdown Wednesday for the eight-time Grand Slam champion against
world number 1 Roger Federer. Agassi improved to 6-0 in the series
between two players of Armenian origin. “I never expected to win
easily,” said Agassi, 71-16 lifetime with two U.S. Open titles. “I
wanted to take care of business in tough conditions. “It’s not quite
as comfortable playing against a friend,” admitted the veteran. “You
have to have a lot of respect for each other personally and
professionally. To maintain that, both guys have to go out there, lay
it on the line and give a hug afterwards.” The loss keeps the
30-year-old Sargsian at 3-29 over his career against top-10 players.
His performance was understandable after requiring 10 hours to
complete his previous two matches, both five- setters. Agassi swept
up the opening set on a break in 31 minutes, and was never threatened
on his way to victory in less than 90 minutes. The sixth seed came
through on his second match point, a driving forehand inside-out.
Earlier, top seed Federer produced his best result in New York by
default, advancing in a walkover against injured Romanian Andrei
Pavel, who withdrew hours before their evening fourth-round contest
with a herniated disc in his lower back. Federer, holder of
Australian Open and Wimbledon trophies this year, has had his past
troubles in New York, exiting in the fourth round at the past three
editions. His only loss this season in a major came against Gustavo
Kuerten in Paris. The Swiss world number 1 has now won eight straight
matches against Pavel after losing to him in their first meeting in
2000. Pavel said that his back began to bother him in the fifth set
of a third-round win over Korea’s Hyung-taik Lee. “They said it’s a
disc problem, but I’m not interested in surgery. I’d rather be
playing tennis,” said a player who missed months in 2003 with a
similar problem. “I took a scan this morning and found out what it
was. The doctors say that the pain should go. But it would have been
a big risk to play in pain. That could make it much much worse and
hurt my career. I don’t want to do that.” Briton Tim Henman
celebrated his 30th birthday by winning an aborted duel lasting three
and a half hours with Nicolas Kiefer. The German was forced to retire
trailing 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-1, 6-7 (4-7), 3-0 after injuring his right
wrist. The match had begun with a health watch on Henman, who has
been bothered by a bad back during the fortnight. Kiefer also
suffered with his wrist in 2000 when he stood in the top 10. Behind
0-3, the German called for the trainer, and finally threw in the
towel after an examination. A crowd of New Yorkers jeered as he left
the court. “I felt I played some good tennis, although it was
disappointing to win this way,” said Henman. “My game plan was pretty
much spot on today. I dominated in the second and third sets and was
trying to take advantage of that momentum.” Slovak Dominik Hrbaty
ended the miracle run of Belgian little man Olivier Rochus, coming
from two sets to love down for a 2-6, 3-6, 6- 3, 6-4, 6-0
fourth-round result. dpa bs ff

Sargsian outlasts Mathieu (folo);
Pierce rises to beat an unsteady Sharapova ;
by Chris Broussard

The International Herald Tribune
September 6, 2004 Monday

Chris Broussard of The New York Times also reported:

Sargis Sargsian covered his eyes and rolled flat onto his back. If he
had stayed in that position and taken a nap, no one at the National
Tennis Center would have blamed him.

A true ironman, the 31-year-old Sargsian had just completed two of
the longest consecutive rounds of tennis ever played during the Open

Two days after winning a second-round match that lasted 5 hours 9
minutes, Sargsian, an Armenian, outlasted Paul-Henri Mathieu of
France, 4-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4), in a 4-hour-44-minute marathon
on Saturday night.

“It’s like you’re in a different world when you win these matches,”
Sargsian said.

“Like right now, I’m talking, I feel like it’s not me talking,” he
added. “It’s just the words coming out of my mouth. It’s a weird

The victory moved Sargsian into the Round of 16 in a Grand Slam event
for only the second time. In eight trips to the U.S. Open, this is
the furthest he has advanced.

The fifth-seeded Tim Henman of England also advanced to the fourth
round, rallying to win the final two sets for a 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4,
6-3 victory over Michal Tabara of the Czech Republic. In the late
women’s match, Venus Williams defeated Chanda Rubin, 7-6, 6-3, to
move on to face Lindsay Davenport.

The unseeded Sargsian will meet a good buddy, sixth-seeded Andre
Agassi, in the next round. Sargsian and Agassi, who met about seven
years ago at a tournament in California, have often trained together
in Las Vegas, and Agassi helped Sargsian recover after his five-hour
match Thursday.

“He’s like a big brother to me,” Sargsian said.

Agassi, a straight-sets winner over Jiri Novak, has beaten Sargsian
five times and will have many advantages in their face-off, the most
prominent one being rest. While Agassi has been on the court for 5
hours and 6 minutes through the first three rounds, Sargsian has
toiled for 12 hours and 5 minutes.

“It’s like a dream to play against such a legend on such a court in
such a big tournament,” Sargsian said of meeting Agassi for the first
time in a Grand Slam. “Hopefully, I play good. Hopefully, we have a
good match. Hopefully, he doesn’t kill me.”

Sargsian’s second-round victory over 10th-seeded Nicolas Massu was
the second-longest match in U.S. history, falling 17 minutes shy of
matching the record set when Stefan Edberg defeated Michael Chang in
the 1992 semifinals. After that one, Sargsian thought things would
get easier, or at least shorter.

“I didn’t think it would be a match like this,” he said. “It’s hard
to beat Massu’s match. We probably did today.”

Asked how he has managed to stay on his feet, Sargsian first credited
his serve, then realized that there was no easy explanation.

“I’ve been serving good,” he said. “It prevents me from running side
to side a lot. I don’t know how I did it.”

The unexpected epic Saturday night put the unseeded survivors,
Sargsian and Mathieu, in the spotlight for one of the few times in
their careers.

Sargsian admitted to being sore and tight entering the match, and he
certainly looked it as Mathieu, 22, took the first two sets.

But finding a second wind somewhere, Sargsian rallied to win the next
two sets. Then things really got interesting.

Sargsian took command by breaking Mathieu’s serve to go ahead, 3-2,
but he was immediately broken moments later. Both men visibly
exhausted, they played even through 10 games, tied at 5-5. The next
game, with Mathieu serving, seemingly went on forever, as the two
played to eight deuces before Mathieu eventually prevailed.

Sargsian, physically and mentally spent, thought he was finished.

“After losing that game, I wasn’t very confident to be honest,” he
said. “But I told myself just to keep fighting.”

Fight he did, and after falling behind 30-0, he managed to take the
set, then the tie-breaker and the match.

Agassi discards `Mr Nice Guy’ image
By Alix Ramsay in New York
(Filed: 07/09/2004)

The Daily Telegraph, UK
Sept 7 2004

Ask anyone who knows Andre Agassi and they will tell you that the
bald but brilliant former champion is an awfully nice chap. But there
are times when Agassi can be positively nasty; cruel even. Yesterday
was one of those days as he crushed one of his best friends on the
tour, Sargis Sargsian 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

Sargsian and Agassi have been best chums since 1997. As Agassi began
his long haul back up the rankings from 141 at the end of that
miserable year, he asked Sargsian to help him.

Offering his new hitting partner a lift to the west coast in his
private jet, the two men discovered they had much in common.

Agassi’s family are originally from Armenia, arriving in the US by
way of Iran. Sargsian had made the same journey 13 years ago when, as
a member of the Armenia team, he came to America for a college tour.
He was given digs in Connecticut and never went home.

Sargsian spent a lot of time with Agassi over the course of his slide
and subsequent comeback and the more he learned about the great man,
the more he liked him. “He has always helped me,” Sargsian said. “He
tells me everything. He is an amazing person.

“I remember his plan to come back to No 1 and, I admit this, it is
one of the few times in my life I’ve doubted him. He didn’t only come
back, he dominated. He’s a great player, a great person. He means so
much to me.”

Sargsian holds Agassi in such respect and awe that he has been
terrified to take more than two sets from him in five meetings. As
Agassi eased through to the quarter-finals, he hardly broke a sweat.
Sargsian knew his place and gave his friend just enough of a workout
to keep him ticking over while leaving Agassi’s reserves untouched
for the trials ahead, namely Roger Federer in the next round.

Federer advanced to the last eight without lifting a racquet when
Andrei Pavel was forced to withdraw with a herniated disc.

Agassi Handles Friend; Now Faces Tougher Foe

New York Times, NY
Sept 7 2004

Before facing an opponent, particularly a top-flight one, Sargis
Sargsian sometimes receives advice from Andre Agassi. In a telephone
conversation the night before the match, Agassi will break down the
opponent’s game and give Sargsian a blueprint for victory.

Sunday night, however, the two friends did not speak.

Sargsian’s opponent in the fourth round of the United States Open
yesterday was Agassi himself, a two-time Open champion who did not
want to take any chances.

The sixth-seeded Agassi came away with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory,
advancing to the quarterfinals in Flushing Meadows for the 12th time
in his 19 trips and setting up a high-profile match tomorrow with
top-seeded Roger Federer.

“I’ll go out there with the intention of having to play my best
tennis,” said Agassi, whose last match against Federer was a 6-4,
3-6, 4-6 loss at Indian Wells in March. “That’s the good news playing
him, if that is good news. There’s not a whole lot of thinking. You
better shoot for your best stuff right away, not take your foot off
the pedal.

“But if I can hit my shots aggressively and play to the standard I
know I can, I have every intention of winning the match.”

Federer, who is from Switzerland, could be a bit rusty. He received a
walkover yesterday when his fourth-round opponent, Andrei Pavel,
withdrew because of a herniated disk in his lower back.

“I think not playing in four days is not ideal for him,” Agassi said.
“I think that going out there in a big environment is something that
he has proven to be the best at this year. I’m going to try to give
something for the crowd to cheer about.”

The crowd may be behind the 34-year-old Agassi, who is winding down a
brilliant career.

Fifth-seeded Tim Henman also advanced to the quarterfinals after
19th-seeded Nicolas Kiefer retired three games into the fifth set
with a wrist injury. Henman won, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-1, 6-7 (4), 3-0.

Sargsian, 31, who was in the fourth round of a Grand Slam event
yesterday for only the second time in his career, simply could not
figure out – or carry out – a plan of attack.

“For me, it’s strange to play Andre, to be honest,” said Sargsian,
who is 0-6 against Agassi. “I really hope this is the last time I
play him. I don’t feel like I have a game plan against him, like I
don’t know how to win the points.

“You cannot serve and volley, you cannot play him from the back, you
cannot hustle because you know he’s not going to miss. He’s going to
make you run until tomorrow morning.”

Sargsian had seemingly been running all tournament long, logging 12
hours 5 minutes of court time – seven hours more than Agassi had
played – through the first three rounds. His second-round victory
over 10th-seeded Nicolas Massu lasted 5:09 and was the second-longest
match in United States Open history. Two days later, he edged
Paul-Henri Mathieu of France, 4-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (4), in a match
that lasted 4:44.

Sargsian, who is Armenian, and Agassi met seven years ago in
California. Agassi said he was a bundle of nerves while watching
Sargsian’s match with Mathieu on television.

“I’ve never been so nervous in my life,” he said. “It’s a lot easier
playing than watching when you really care about it. I was pulling
for him. It was a great display of tennis and heart, by both

Against Agassi, Sargsian could not display the same level of tennis
acumen. He committed 43 unforced errors, more than double the amount
Agassi committed.

Although perhaps not at the top of his game, Agassi was sharp.
Playing at his typically torrid pace, he seemed to have Sargsian off
balance. Despite his feelings for Sargsian, he held nothing back.

“I don’t think it’s quite as comfortable playing against somebody
that you root for,” Agassi said. “I mean, if I were to lose, I
probably wouldn’t want to lose to anybody more than him, if that
makes any sense at all.

“But you have a lot of respect for each other personally –
professionally, too. In order to maintain that respect, both guys
have to go out there and lay it on the line and give a hug

But no advice before.

Federer, Henman walk it

Fox Sports

>>From correspondents in New York
September 7, 2004

TOP SEED Roger Federer and British No.1 Tim Henman advanced to their
first US Open quarter-finals on today after a bruising day that kept
the tournament’s infirmary on the go.

Federer and Henman were handed gift victories as injuries cut down
their fourth-round opponents.

“It doesn’t happen very often so this is a strange situation for me,”
said world No.1 Federer, who won in a walkover after Andrei Pavel
pulled out with a back injury. “It is an awkward feeling winning
a walkover.”

Federer moves on to the quarter-finals for the first time at the US
Open in five appearances where he will face eight-time Grand Slam champ
Andre Agassi, who easily beat Armenia’s Sargis Sargsian 6-3 6-2 6-2.

Birthday boy Henman received the sweetest present of all when
German Nicolas Kiefer withdrew in the fifth set of their marathon
match, allowing the Brit to reach his first quarter-final here in
10 appearances.

Sargsian (knee), Olivier Rochus (leg cramps) and Mary Pierce (groin)
also sought medical treatment as injuries contributed to their exits.

The 23-year-old Federer has won three of the past five Grand Slams
but this is the one Major that has given him the most trouble as he
had lost in the fourth round each of the past three years.

The Wimbledon and Australian Open champion has continued his domination
of men’s tennis here and enters the quarters having dropped just one
game in the tournament.

“I don’t call this a win,” he said. “There’s nothing I can do about
it. I feel bad for Pavel.”

A creature of habit, Federer said it is a little unsettling when his
tournament routine is disrupted.

He found out about the schedule change in his hotel about five hours
before the start of the match and came to the National Tennis Centre
to beat some balls instead of beating up on his opponents for a change.

“I was preparing for a match today, not to come here and just
practice,” said Federer. “Practice was not enjoyable. But then when
I go to bed tonight I am happy because I am in the quarter-finals.”

Doctors diagnosed Pavel’s injury as a herniated disc in his lower
back and advised him he could risk further injury if he kept playing.

“It was a very big risk if I play tonight. It could be much, much
worse you know, a danger for my career,” he said.

Henman, 30 today, hammered 13 aces and put 65 per cent of his first
serves in play. He lost the first four games of the match but battled
back to 5-5 before eventually losing a first-set tiebreaker.

“I am making some pretty slow starts in my 30s, that’s for sure,”
Henman joked following his marathon 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-1 6-7 (4-7)
3-0 victory over Germany’s Kiefer.

Kiefer retired after re-injuring his right wrist while reaching for
a low volley in the 3hr 45min match.

Henman used some psychological tricks to get back in the right frame
of mind after dropping the first set.

“It was disappointing to get back into the first set to lose it,” said
Henman. “But in my own mind I told myself I had won 6-3 because not a
lot happened in those first four games. And then I just stuck with it.”

Henman, who is a product of the grass courts, is enjoying his greatest
success on the Flushing Meadows’ hardcourts. His best previous result
at the Open was a fourth-round finish in 1996 and 1998.

He came into the tournament with back problems – the result of too
much golfing after Wimbledon, Henman revealed.

“It seems in simple terms the more relaxed I can be, the better my
performance,” said Henman. “It is not the less I try, but I think
when I go the other way and it is almost like I’m trying too hard
then that affects my performance in a negative way.”

Asked if he still had enough puff left to blow out 30 candles at
dinner tonight, Henman replied, “I hope so.”

The Englishman now has a last-eight clash with Slovakia’s Dominik
Hrbaty, who rallied to beat Rochus of Belgium 2-6 3-6 6-3 6-4 6-0.

Rochus was up two sets to none but cramping got the better of him
and he lost 11 consecutive games to end the match.

Agence France-Presse

Agassi ousts good friend
Tuesday, September 7, 2004

September 7, 2004

Having beaten a friend, Andre Agassi now faces a foe.

Having defeated Sargis Sargsian in the round of 16 of the U.S. Open,
Agassi now gets Roger Federer in the quarterfinals.

Having gotten through the dicey part, now comes the fun.

It was all that Agassi could do to watch Sargsian beat Paul-Henri
Mathieu in five sets Saturday night, a victory that set up their
match in Arthur Ashe Stadium Monday.

“I’ve never been so nervous in my whole life,” Agassi said of watching
Sargsian’s match on television. “It’s a lot easier playing than
watching when you really care about it. I was pulling for him. It
was great display of tennis and heart, by both players.”

Sargsian brought his heart to his match with Agassi, but there just
wasn’t enough talent to compete. Agassi won 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 over the
54th ranked player in the world, an easy tuneup for his meeting
with Federer, the world No. 1. But it wasn’t quite as comfortable as
most straight set matches would be, not when he was playing against
someone so personally close. Sargsian, 31, is Armenian and Agassi,
34, has Armenian roots. They have been fast friends ever since they
were introduced in 1996.

“I don’t think it’s quite as comfortable playing against somebody you
root for,” Agassi said. “If I were to lose, I probably wouldn’t want
to lose to anybody more than him, if that makes any sense at all. But
you have a lot of respect for each other personally, professionally,
too. In order to maintain that respect, both guys have to go out
there and lay it on the line, give a hug afterwards. That’s what we
both expect.”

It wasn’t easy for Sargsian, coming off consecutive five-set matches
that lasted a total of nine hours and 53 minutes, an Open record. He
couldn’t have started Monday’s match with a full tank, but he would
not use excessive court time as an excuse.

“Definitely, it didn’t help,” he said. “But I was pretty fresh today
for some reason. I was fine. Just my knee broke down a little bit in
the second set. Like my muscles, everything else, I felt my speed,
I was fine.”

While Agassi felt uncomfortable playing a friend, Sargsian felt
uncomfortable playing someone he can’t figure out, not even after
years of practicing together. “It’s strange to play Andre, to be
honest,” Sargsian said. “I really hope this is the last time I play
him. I don’t feel like I have a game plan against him. Like I don’t
know how to win points . . . With Andre you cannot serve and volley,
you cannot play him from the back because you know he’s not going to
miss, he’s going to make you run until tomorrow morning.”

Agassi can be grateful that he didn’t have to run late into Monday
night. A quick match serves his 34-year-old legs well in advance of his
meeting with Federer. Federer advanced Monday night without playing a
shot when his opponent, Andrei Pavel, early in the day announced that
because of a herniated disc in his back he was unable to play. Federer
has played only 10 sets in the tournament. Agassi has played 13 sets
in four matches, and his third-round match with Florian Mayer ended one
game into the fourth set when Mayer was forced to retire with injury.

Federer’s lack of activity, which included only three matches in
August before the Open, could be to Agassi’s advantage. At least,
he chose to see it that way.

“I think not playing in four days is not ideal for him,” said
Agassi. “I think that going out there in a big environment is something
that he has proven to be the best at this year. I’m going to try to
give something for the crowd to cheer about.”

“For me, it doesn’t really matter,” said Federer of winning in
a walkover. “I’m happy to be in the quarterfinals. I’ve had
enough days off to be 100 percent physically and that has to be
an advantage. It will be a tough match, everybody knows that —
me as well.” Copyright © 2004, Newsday, Inc.

Armenian supremacy for Agassi
By Bud Collins, Globe Correspondent

Boston Globe
Sept 7 2004

NEW YORK — They played for the championship of Armenia yesterday
at Flushing Meadow, where a collateral event, the US Open, was also
in progress.

Maybe Watertown, Mass., would have been a more suitable location. But
the two Armenian-blooded contenders — Andre Agassi and Sargis
Sargsian — happened to be in town on tennis business, and squared
off for the seventh time, this their most significant encounter.

Of the record afternoon assemblage of 35,190, about 20,000 surrounded
the adversaries in sunny Ashe Stadium. A young woman name Anahid
Youssoufian, a few rows from the court, flapped a red-blue-and-orange
striped Armenian flag throughout the 90-minute clash, proclaiming,
“We can’t lose! Armenia can’t lose!”

And Armenia didn’t, although Agassi, the 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victor, does
hold a US passport. Andre’s old man, tough little Mike Agassi, had
the ambition, grit, and determination to make his way to the United
States, and give his kids a far better home and life in Las Vegas
than he had in Iran.

Although Agassi could claim the Armenian title, this match, the
initial meeting of these close friends in a major, was the platform
from which he sprang into the Open’s quarterfinals against No. 1
Roger Federer. For Sargsian, a difficult, battling foe despite the
appearance of the score, escape from the troubled former Soviet
republic was through a tennis scholarship at Arizona State. There
this All-Armenian boy, a resident of Boca Raton, Fla., became an
All-American by winning the NCAA singles title in 1995. He continues to
lend his strong right arm and powerful legs to the Armenian Davis Cup
team. Ranking No. 54, he brought a losing record to Flushing (15-21)
but became the Open’s first-week poster boy of never-say-die in a pair
of stirring triumphs. In the second round, he bounded back through a
match point to stun Olympic gold medalist Nicolas Massu, 6-7 (6-8),
6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4, in 5 hours 9 minutes, the second-longest
ordeal in the tourney’s annals. Next, he fought past two match points
and 4:44 to floor Paul-Henri Mathieu, 4-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4).

Agassi, who viewed the Mathieu struggle on TV, said, “I’d never been so
nervous in my life. It’s a lot easier playing than watching when you
really care about it. I was pulling for him. It was a great display
of tennis and heart by both of them.”

By the time the pals resumed their professional rivalry, which stood
at 6-0 for Agassi, Sargsian had spent 12:05 on court, Andre 5:02.

“It didn’t help,” Sargsian said, “but I was pretty fresh today for
some reason. I was fine. It’s been amazing, the way I’ve struggled
this year — and to pull out those matches . . . unbelievable.”

In this game, friends sometimes butt heads.

“It’s not quite as comfortable playing against somebody you root for,”
said Agassi. “But you have a lot of respect for each other, personally
and professionally. In order to maintain that respect, both guys have
to go out there and lay it on the line, give a big hug afterwards.”

Sargsian was grateful to be advised by Agassi on how to take care
of himself, how much water to drink, nutrients to take, after the
draining Massu and Mathieu matches. What a rare and admirable blend
of sportsmanship and friendship. Agassi wanted to make sure Sarg was
at his best when they collided.

But, he said, “I really hope this is the last time I play him. I don’t
have a game plan against him. I don’t like playing him, don’t know
how to win the points. He plays so fast, he rushes you. He’s going
to make you run until tomorrow morning.”

Agassi, enjoying his 19th Open, making the quarters for an 11th time
is “somewhat puzzled” about his hit-or-miss season. Scarred by some
awful losses, it was brightened by one title, Cincinnati, where he
beat Carlos Moya, Andy Roddick, and Lleyton Hewitt in succession.

“Confidence has come and gone,” he said. Of bumping into Federer:
“There’s nothing more you ask for than to play a big event against
the best player. It’s time to bring the best tennis.”

It was good enough yesterday to win the championship of Armenia.
“Well,” he laughed, “I’m only half-Armenian.”

The better half, Papa Agassi might say, though praising his American
wife, Betty. What Mike Agassi overcame, as described in his new book,
“The Agassi Story,” may explain the gumption he passed on to Andre.

“I know how it is to be an outsider,” he writes (with ghostly help
from Dominic Cobello and Kate Welsh). “I was born in Iran in 1930 to
Armenian parents, a Christian in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. I
remained an outsider [for a time] in America where I emigrated at
21 with almost no money, and even less English. In Tehran I lived,
ate and slept with my mother, father, three brothers and a sister in a
room 15-by-20 feet. This was part of a compound lived in with 35 other
people. No electricity, running water. We shared a single toilet.”

Mike doesn’t gloss over the mistakes he made, the animosity he reaped
in pushing his children into tennis. But the ending of the book is
reasonably happy, as was the conclusion of yesterday’s labors that
brought a sort of Armenian championship to the 74-year-old Armenian’s

Agassi ousts Sargsian, faces Federer in Open quarterfinals;
Davenport outlasts Venus

The Associated Press
09/06/04 19:46 EDT

NEW YORK (AP) – Andre Agassi made short work of marathon man Sargis
Sargsian on Labor Day and moved on to an incredibly attractive
matchup at the U.S. Open: Next up, top-seeded Roger Federer in the

Lindsay Davenport won in straight sets, too, needing five match points
in the final game to turn back Venus Williams 7-5, 6-4. It was the
25th time the former Open winners met – Davenport leads 13-12, and
they’ve split eight Grand Slam matches.

“She appears to be struggling a bit for confidence,” Davenport said.

Agassi swept out his longtime friend and occasional practice partner
6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in just 90 minutes. Sargsian’s last two matches totaled
nearly 10 hours, though he said he felt fresh instead of fatigued.

“I never expect to win easily, and I think matches have the potential
of looking that way more than feeling that way,” Agassi said.

Tim Henman and Dominik Hrbaty also advanced on the men’s side.
Shinobu Asagoe moved into women’s quarters against Davenport, while
No. 1 Justine Henin-Hardenne played at night.

Federer reached the Open quarterfinals for the first time, and did
so in easy fashion. No. 16 Andrei Pavel withdrew with a herniated
disc in his lower back long before their match started – he missed
six months last year with a bad back and wrist.

Playing on his 30th birthday, Henman gave himself a neat present:
his first trip to the Open quarters in his 10th visit to Flushing
Meadows. He led a testy Nicolas Kiefer 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-1, 6-7 (4),
3-0 when the German pulled out with an injured right hand.

“I’m slowing up already,” Henman kidded.

Hrbaty rallied to oust Olivier Rochus 2-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-0.
Hrbaty overcame 77 unforced errors to make it to a major quarterfinal
for the first time.

Asagoe upset No. 29 Eleni Daniilidou 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-3, making her
the lowest-ranked U.S. Open quarterfinalist since Williams in 1997.

Asagoe is ranked 62nd; Williams was 66th when she reached the final
in her Open debut.

The sixth-seeded Agassi kept up his drive for a third Open championship
and never let Sargsian get into a rhythm. Agassi broke him in his
first service game of each set.

“I don’t think it’s quite as comfortable playing against somebody that
you root for,” Agassi said. “I mean, if I were to lose, I probably
wouldn’t want to lose to anybody more than him, if that makes any
sense at all.”

Sargsian played the two longest matches of the tournament, needing 5
hours, 9 minutes to beat Nicolas Massu in the second round and then
taking 4:44 to defeat Paul-Henri Mathieu.

Agassi saw that last match on television.

“Never been so nervous in my life,” Agassi said. “It’s a lot easier
playing than watching when you really care about it. I was pulling
for him. It was a great display of tennis and heart, by both players.”

Sargsian’s knee wobbled in the second set, though he was able to
continue. At 31, he’s three years younger than Agassi.

“It’s strange to play Andre, to be honest,” he said. “I really hope
this is the last time I play him. I don’t feel like I have a game
plan against him. Like I don’t know how to win the points.”

Federer is trying to become the first man since 1988 to win three
Grand Slam championships in a season. He lost in the fourth round
the last three years.

“He does a lot of things really well. He does a few things really
great. That makes him quite a tough player,” Agassi said. “Most of
the time, he’s making it look too easy to enjoy.”

Kiefer was up 3-1 in the second set before Henman came back to win 10
straight games. In the fourth set, Kiefer’s temper got the best of him.

Kiefer began barking after being called for a foot fault. He later
netted an easy forehand volley, and reacted by taking a big forehand
swing and knocking a ball into the upper deck – he was penalized a
point for the outburst.

Moments later, he took issue with two calls on the lines – TV replays
showed he was wrong both times. But that did not stop him for arguing,
and he approached the chair umpire after an overrule and shouted
“What is this?”

Kiefer was leading 30-love in the fourth game when he began flexing his
hand before a serve. A trainer was called and after about 10 minutes,
Kiefer was done. He walked up to Henman and extended his left hand
for a shake.

“I couldn’t hold my racket,” Kiefer said. “That was a tough decision. I
wanted to finish it.”

This compilation was contributed to by:
Katia Peltekian
Sebouh Tasjian
Ruben Sulahian