Agassi out of Paris Open

24th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 24 (AFP) - Former champion Andre Agassi tumbled out of the French Open on Tuesday losing in a shock 7-5, 4-6, 6-7 (6/8), 6-1, 6-0 first round reversal to Finnish qualifier Jarkko Nieminen.

PARIS, May 24 (AFP) - Former champion Andre Agassi tumbled out of the French Open on Tuesday losing in a shock 7-5, 4-6, 6-7 (6/8), 6-1, 6-0 first round reversal to Finnish qualifier Jarkko Nieminen.  

Agassi, the champion here in 1999 and just one of five men to have won all four Grand Slam titles, was bidding at 35 years to become the oldest champion during his record 58th Grand Slam appearance.  

But despite battling back against 23-year-old Nieminen to lead two sets to one, by the end of the three hour match, Agassi was clearly struggling with an apparent right knee problem.  

Nieminen admitted that it was his biggest victory after winning just two games in his previous meeting two years ago against the American, who was playing in his 17th Roland Garros.  

"I played him before and he destroyed me, but I had nothing to lose. I noticed that he didn't move as well as before," said 95th-ranked Nieminen.  

"I had 5-0 in the final set but it's not easy to play mentally against Agassi. But his career has been unbelieveable. He won tournaments in the early 90s," he added of Agassi who has won 59 titles.  

Earlier reigning Australian Open men's champion Marat Safin and women's second seed Maria Sharapova ensured that Russia will be well represented in the second round by winning their opening round matches.  

Safin, the third seed, won 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 in just under 2hrs against Dutchman Raemon Sluiter and next faces Czech qualifier Lukas Dlouhy, a surprise straight sets winner over Swede Thomas Enqvist.  

Wimbledon champion Sharapova came through 6-7 (3/7), 6-2, 6-4 after 2hr 25min against fellow Russian teenager Evgenia Linetskaya.  

She next meets winner of the all French tie between wildcards Camille Pin and Aravane Rezai.  

Eighteen-year-old Linetskaya, making her debut in the Paris event, and competing in just her third Grand Slam after reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open, pushed her compatriot hard.  

But Sharapova, a quarter-finalist here last year, fought back from a set down and trailing 1-3 in the final set to take the tie on her first match point.  

Safin did not have it all his own way against Sluiter, stumbling at a set a 3-1 up.  

But after a series of disappointments at Roland Garros over the years, Safin has high hopes of winning his second Grand Slam of the year.  

"I'm happy just to get past the first round," said Safin.  

"It's tough in the first round, getting used to the balls and the courts and not having won many matches on clay this season," said the 25-year-old former US Open champion.  

Meanwhile former champions Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium and Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain also put their nightmare losses last year behind them by winning their opening matches.  

Both suffered the ignominy of equalling the worst ever records by defending champions when they fell in their second round matches last year.  

Henin-Hardenne, the 2003 women's champion, needed three sets to see off Spanish veteran Conchita Martinez 6-0, 4-6, 6-4 in 2hr 16min, while Ferrero, eased past Slovak Karol Beck 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 in 1hr 53min.  

Beck, seeking his first win in Roland Garros was no match for Ferrero, seeded 32nd, who now faces either Jan Hernych of the Czech Republic for a place in the third round.  

"I felt very good on court. This was a match for which I really needed to be very strong in my game because he's a good player," said Ferrero.  

Henin-Hardenne, among the favourites for the Roland Garros title this year after putting her seven-month absence behind her to win three claycourt titles, achieved her seventh win in as many meetings with the 33-year-old former Wimbledon champion Martinez.  

She next meets either Spaniard Virginia Ruano Pascual or Belarus qualifier Anastasiya Yakimova.  

Russian sixth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova had an easy 6-1, 6-1 win over French wildcard Mathilde Johansson, while seventh seed Nadia Petrova of Russia beat Mashona Washington of the United States 6-4, 6-2.  

Another early Russian winner was 12th seed Nikolay Davydenko, who saw off Sasa Tuksar of Croatia 6-2, 6-4 6-3.



Subject: French News

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