MELBOURNE: Andre Agassi cranked up the heat on a scorching Melbourne afternoon to pummel Frenchman Sebastien Grosjean 6-2 6-3 and win his third Kooyong Classic title yesterday.
The American’s centre court performance was little short of perfect and the omens look good heading into next week’s Australian Open.
On the two previous occasions Agassi has lifted the Kooyong silverware he has gone on to win the opening grand slam of the season.
With two days to go before the Open kicks off at Melbourne Park, Agassi could hardly have looked sharper.
“I played as well as I could expect,” he said after the 67-minute encounter. “I was hitting the ball very sharply. I feel great about that.”
As the mercury nudged 35 degrees Celsius on Kooyong’s central arena, the pair began trading blows on a strip of Rebound Ace hardcourt laid on the club's scorched grass especially for this tournament.
Leaning into the ball and popping groundstrokes onto the lines and into the corners, Agassi exerted his authority from the off.
Hardly putting a foot wrong, Agassi quickly silenced the clinking glasses and chattering voices of the hospitality boxes with some powerful inch-perfect stroke play.
Fellow professional Jeff Tarango, watching from the stands, whistled between his teeth.
“The man has been practising in the off season,” he told Reuters, grinning. “Watch out.”
“In the past this tournament has proved to be a great preparation for the Australian Open,” said Agassi. “I wish I had come here earlier in my career.
“I am playing a lot better a lot sooner than I could have hoped. I hope it translates into some great tennis next week.”
Sixteen-year-old French youngster Richard Gasquet is also feeling pleased with himself after he notched up another victory in a consolation match later yesterday.
Having beaten Younes El Aynaoui in his opening match earlier in the week, the teenager beat Australia’s Mark Philippoussis 7-5 6-2 in just 56 minutes to take third place in the Open warm-up competition. – Reuters