Top seed Andy Roddick launched his Los Angeles ATP campaign with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Rik De Voest here on Wednesday, to the approval of his new coach Jimmy Connors.
"That's a good start to the week," Connors said after watching Roddick dispose of the South African in 67 minutes from a baseline box at the hot and steamy UCLA Tennis Center.
Roddick made use of a solid serve and formidable forehand, but De Voest wasn't easy to put away.
Roddick claimed the only service break in the seventh game to claim the opening set.
He broke early in the second, but up 5-4 he needed to save five break points in the final game before a rare forehand volley closed out the match.
"It's a nice feeling, that I haven't had for a while, to say I won the match four and four," Roddick said.
Roddick had been without a coach since firing Dean Goldfine in February, and was bounced in the first round of the French Open in May. He failed to make the Wimbledon final for the first time in three years, losing to Scot Andy Murray in the third round.
Following the disappointment at the All England Club, Roddick worked out for a four-day stretch with Connors, who won eight Grand Slam titles.
The move paid early dividends as Roddick reached his first final of the year at Indianapolis on Sunday, losing to James Blake in a third-set tiebreaker.
"I was eager to get out there to work on stuff," Roddick said of his revitalized attitude. "It's exciting, I'm eager.
"I'm hitting the ball better, my intensity and my focus is on the court," he added. "I think there's a long way to go. But just the fact that I'm looking forward to getting out there and playing with a sense of purpose feels good."
While Connors contented himself with his coach's role, another eight-time Grand Slam champion, Andre Agassi, booked a quarter-final berth with a 6-7 (4/7), 6-2, 6-1 victory over Switzerland's George Bastl.
The 36-year-old has said he will retire after the US Open. In the meantime he is seeking to add to the four titles he has won here, including a triumph last year.
"I'm reacting good, moving well," he said. "It's a lot of relief to play at that level. I haven't played at that level since last year."
He next faces third-seeded Fernando Gonzalez of Chile, who advanced with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over two-time Grand Slam champion Marat Safin of Russia.
Sixth-seeded Germany Tommy Haas, who won the title here in 2004, fired 13 aces in a 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 victory over Chile's Paul Capdeville.
Unheralded American Paul Goldstein, who stunned second-seeded Lleyton Hewitt of Australia in the first round, advanced to a meeting with Haas with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Russian Igor Kunitsyn.