Awesome Agassi issues warning

MELBOURNE: Andre Agassi swept into the Australian Open third round here yesterday as Venus Williams donned her best jewellery to produce a sparkling victory. 

Agassi, seeded two, needed just 80 minutes to blast aside South Korean challenger Lee Hyung-Taik with a 6-1, 6-0, 6-0 win. 

The seven-time Grand Slam winner will play French Davis Cup star and 29th seed Nicolas Escude in the next round and is brimful of confidence after awarding himself top marks for his display. 

“How can you not (rate it 10 out of 10) when you play a guy of Lee’s quality, playing as well as he’s been playing, to go out there and have a score line like that doesn’t happen too often,” Agassi said. 

Agassi is bidding to become only the fourth man to win four Australian Open titles, behind Roy Emerson (6), Jack Crawford (4) and Ken Rosewall (4). 

Agassi’s counterpart in the women’s tournament, the second seeded Williams, came up with a vastly improved display as she beat lowly-ranked American Ansley Cargill 6-3, 6-0. 

“I definitely think it was much better, definitely a lot less errors,” a relaxed-looking Venus said afterwards.  

“I was playing a lot of good points in a row, and made some good shots,” said Williams, who had meant to wear her jewellery in the first round only to leave it in her hotel room. 

“I was a little upset because it was part of my whole outfit that I put together before I left home,” Williams smiled. 

While Venus and Agassi sailed into the third round there was a high-profile casualty in the men’s tournament, with Spanish fifth seed Carlos Moya unhinged by world number 77 Mardy Fish of the United States. 

Fish reeled in his opponent 3-6, 7-6 (10-8), 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 to score a double over Moya after beating him in Sydney last week. 

There was a further upset in the men’s tournament with Olympic champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov suffering a five-set loss to Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen. 

Nieminen sent the Russian 22nd seed and former winner packing with a 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1 victory.  

There was an upset of sorts in the late match when Thailand’s Paradorn Srichaphan, seeded 11, was beaten by Mark Philippoussis in a five-set battle, the Australian sealing a 3-6, 6-1, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 win with an ace. 

Two other prominent seeds both made it through safely, with No.4 Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain and compatriot Albert Costa, seeded eight, advancing. 

Ferrero downed Jean-Rene Lisnard of France 6-0, 6-4, 6-2, while Costa needed four sets before quelling Aussie hope Scott Draper 6-4, 6-7 (9-11), 6-2, 6-3. 

In the women’s event, there was an early exit for Russian glamour girl Anna Kournikova, who was thrashed 6-0, 6-1 by Belgium’s Justin Henin-Hardenne, seeded five. 

Seventh-seed Daniela Hantuchova's looks, meanwhile, have seen her get the ‘Kournikova treatment’ from the international media during her time on the tour. 

But the Slovakian seventh seed showed nerves of steel to come through in three sets against Italy’s Adriana Serra Zanetti, winning 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-3). 

Lindsay Davenport breathed a sigh of relief after scrambling past Uzbekistan’s Iroda Tulyaganova 6-7 (7-9) 6-4, 7-5.  

“This time last year were some of the hardest weeks of my life, just trying to learn to walk on crutches, being in a hospital,” said the ninth-seeded Californian, who won the last of her three Grand Slam titles here in 2000. – AFP 

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