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Tennis: Agassi, Serena Williams Advance

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posted on Jun, 26 2003 @ 02:07 PM
AP Sports Writer

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) -- With an overhead slam on match point, Andre Agassi punctuated a polished performance in the second round at Wimbledon.

Agassi dominated the baseline rallies, lost his serve only once and beat Lars Burgsmuller 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-3 Thursday.

The second-seeded Agassi had 31 winners and just 14 unforced errors. He won 11 of 12 points when he came to the net.

"A good horse is going to jump as high as they need to," three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker said. "Andre is doing that."

Agassi will next play No. 27-seeded Younes El Aynaoui, who beat Nicolas Massu.

Serena Williams, the top-seeded defending women's champion, smacked 22 winners and defeated Els Callens 6-4, 6-4.

Maria Sharapova, a highly touted 16-year-old Russian making her Wimbledon debut, upset No. 21 Elena Bovina 6-3, 6-1. Two-time Grand Slam champion Mary Pierce, who is unseeded, upset No. 14-seeded Eleni Daniilidou 6-4, 6-1.

French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne and Jennifer Capriati also advanced.

Other men's winners included Tim Henman, the lone British player left in the tournament, and three-time quarterfinalist Mark Philippoussis.

Greg Rusedski was fined $2,500 by the tournament for his profane tirade during the final set of his loss Wednesday to Andy Roddick. Tantrum expert John McEnroe found the punishment surprisingly lenient.

"They cannot be serious," McEnroe said. "I'd be in jail for that."

Agassi, who overtook Lleyton Hewitt for the No. 1 ranking earlier this month, improved his record this year to 32-4. The 1992 Wimbledon champion is favored by London oddsmakers to reach the final against Roddick.

Agassi lost his serve in the opening game of the second set against Burgsmuller, then broke back in the eighth game when the German made three unforced errors. Agassi quickly took charge of the tiebreaker and breezed through the final set.

"I'm doing what I need to do," Agassi said. "It's always sort of nice to play those tight sets and play the big points well, and today I did that."

Pierce, ranked 86th and plagued by injuries in recent years, advanced to the third round of a major event for the first time since Wimbledon last year. She lost in the opening round at this year's French Open, and in the second round at the Australian Open.

"I'm just happy to be healthy and competing," she said.

The 28-year-old Pierce has battled back, shoulder, abdominal, ankle and groin injuries.

"There was one time where I was doubtful if I would be able to play again," she said. "I know I'm not at my best form right now. I'd like to be able to give myself probably at least six months."

No. 3-seeded Henin-Hardenne beat Flavia Pennetta 7-6 (2), 6-1. Capriati hit nine aces, including one on match point, to beat Marie-Gaianeh Mikaelian 6-2, 6-1.

"I served well on big points," said Capriati, seeded eighth. "It makes things a little easier when you can come up with big serves."

No. 18 Conchita Martinez, the 1994 champion, swept Barbara Schett 6-2, 6-4. No. 10 Anastasia Myskina beat Russian compatriot Lina Krasnoroutskaya 6-1, 6-4, and No. 11 Jelena Dokic defeated Emmanuelle Gagliardi 6-1, 6-3.

In men's play, No. 26-seeded American James Blake lost to Sargis Sargsian 6-2, 7-6 (3), 6-2.

Henman beat Michael Llodra 6-4, 6-4, 6-3. He'll next play Swedish qualifier Robin Soderling, who eliminated Gilles Elseneer 2-6, 7-6 (8), 6-4, 6-3.

Qualifier Wesley Moodie of South Africa also reached the third round.

Philippoussis, who is unseeded, beat Cyril Saulnier 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (2). El Aynaoui defeated Massu 7-6 (5), 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4.

No. 6 David Nalbandian, the men's runner-up last year, beat fellow South American Andre Sa 6-2, 7-5, 6-2. No. 11 Jiri Novak reached the third round for the first time in eight years at Wimbledon, beating David Ferrer 6-2, 7-5, 6-3.

Considering that Pierce has played only 20 matches this year, she looked remarkably sharp against Daniilidou, committing just five unforced errors. She won the Australian Open in 1995 and the French Open in 2000, but her best showing at Wimbledon was a quarterfinal appearance in 1996.

"She's a delight to watch when she's on her game," said Pam Shriver, a five-time Wimbledon doubles champion and now a BBC commentator. "And I've never seen her apply her skills so well on a grass court. She now becomes a danger figure in her part of the draw."

Pierce faces a potential quarterfinal matchup against Henin-Hardenne.

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