Dents and downpours fail to stop Agassi at Open
The world no. 1 struggled with swirling drizzle and Taylor Dent before making the quarters.india Updated: Sep 03, 2003 15:22 IST
Andre Agassi struggled with swirling drizzle and an explosive Taylor Dent serve before moving into the quarter-finals of the US Open when his opponent retired injured on Tuesday.
The victory was a significant one for the top seed as it marked the 200th grand slam match win of his career.
A torn thigh muscle destroyed Dent's chances of upsetting the world number one when their match finally got underway seven hours late because of rain at Flushing Meadows.
Dent retired when, hobbling, he lost the third set to trail 6-7 6-4 7-5.
"It's a shame," 22-year-old Dent said. "But it's nothing serious I am sure ... hopefully I will be out there and kicking some more butts quite soon."
Agassi was pleased to advance but would have preferred a more satisfactory victory.
"You never wish for a retirement," Agassi said.
"It is disappointing for everyone. You know, both players don't like it, the fans don't like it... it doesn't matter if it is my 200th or my first (win)... it's not how you want to see it end.
"It's difficult for everyone," the 33-year-old added, referring to the rain.
"It's not a good situation all round, but you just have to come out here and find a way to play better than the other guy.
"I've been doing this a long time but it is still difficult."
From the start the match was a classic contrast of styles. Agassi scampered around the court, taking little steps, and tearing into the ball from the baseline, pummelling forehands and backhands into the corners.
Dent, by contrast, thundered over the surface, slamming serves, chipping returns and lunging this way and that to volley the top seed's efforts at passing shots.
Starting their rain-delayed match seven hours late, little could separate the pair in a disjointed first set.
Neck-and-neck in early stages, Agassi finally broke through and had been poised to serve for the first set while leading 5-4 when play was halted for the first time by tournament referee Brian Earley.
The players were left waiting 35 minutes for the weather to clear and, when they returned, Dent hit back and won the opener on a tiebreak as the delay seemed to affect Agassi and his measured baseline style more than his chip-and-charging compatriot.
After Dent won the tiebreak, Earley called the pair off court once more as drizzle swirled around the arena.
After another half-hour delay, they returned and this time Agassi hit back.
He broke twice to Dent's single break to take the set 6-4 and level the match.
Still, however, Agassi was not entirely comfortable with Dent's barnstorming style as the younger of the two Americans smashed high-risk shots from the back of the court, came to the net behind his own returns and serve-volleyed at every opportunity.
Dent began to struggle with his right thigh injury, however, and his movement became hampered as the match wore on. An ATP trainer strapped it for him and he soldiered on.
The pair shared two breaks apiece as they locked at 3-3 before Agassi held to nose ahead 4-3 with some aggressive net play of his own on the two-hour mark.
Dent pegged him back, levelling for 4-4 with a high forehand volley.
Neck-and-neck the pair forged forward. Agassi nudging into the lead, Dent pegging him back until at 5-6 he netted a backhand volley to hand Agassi a two-set-to-one lead.
Dent immediately hobbled to the net and retired.
First Published: Sep 03, 2003 09:54 IST