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Newz Forum: OTHER: Tennis: Drop stop: Melzer aces Agassi test in San Jose

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posted on Feb, 12 2005 @ 10:29 AM
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Second-seeded Andre Agassi was overcome by an impressive mix of power and finesse from Jurgen Melzer on Friday night in the quarterfinals of the SAP Open.

Seventh-seeded Melzer's drop shots left Agassi flat-footed, and the Austrian's two-handed backhand matched his opponent power for power throughout the match in a 6-3, 6-1 victory.

"He played much better than me. That's what he did both times," a deflated Agassi said after the drubbing. Agassi lost to Melzer last year in Toronto.

Top-seeded Andy Roddick was more fortunate than Agassi, dropping the first set to Thomas Enqvist but recovering to advance with a hard-fought 3-6, 7-6 (6), 7-5 victory.

Roddick had to contend with close line calls and an opponent who drove powerful forehands past him at will for a set and a half. But Roddick's huge serve earned him some free points when he needed them most and Enqvist appeared winded near the end.

"I thought I hit the ball better than I had in the two previous matches. I felt like my movement stepped up," Roddick said. "I served horribly the first two sets and then stepped it up there in the third set. I'm still lucky to be in, but sometimes it's better to be lucky than good."

Roddick will meet third-seeded Tommy Haas in the semifinals Saturday.

"He's tough," Roddick said of Haas. "I got him the last two times but I struggled with him before that. He's just a solid player. He does everything pretty well and he's not going to give an inch so I'm going to have to try to take it to him a little bit."

Haas also bounced back from a first-set loss to remain unbeaten in seven career meetings against No. 8 Max Mirnyi, winning 6-7 (2), 7-6 (3), 6-2.

Melzer next faces Cyril Saulnier in the other semifinal match. Saulnier beat No. 4 Vincent Spadea 6-2, 6-4 Friday.

Melzer stuck with his game plan against Agassi of dictating points with deep, hard groundstrokes and not letting Agassi -- master of the same tactic -- do it first.

Keeping Agassi moving from corner to corner prevented him from "standing in the middle of the court making you run like a dog," Melzer said.

"I had a good game plan and I executed it perfectly," Melzer said. He now owns a 2-1 head-to-head edge over Agassi, ranked 10th in the world.

Agassi had his chance early in the second set to pull even with the hard-hitting Austrian. But Melzer fought off four break points to hold serve and go up 3-1. He cruised from there, breaking Agassi at love in the next game and closing out the final set 6-1.

Agassi said there are more players on tour now willing to go toe-to-toe with him, taking their chances, hitting the ball early and ripping groundstroke winners with a style he knows all too well.

"A lot more guys are capable of it now," Agassi said.

Roddick needed all his powerful serve could deliver on the crucial points. Still, in the first set Enqvist took the American's best shots and turned the rallies in his favor.

In the second set, Roddick grabbed a 6-0 lead in the tiebreaker. Enqvist fought back, running Roddick from corner to corner and leveling it at 6-6. Roddick took the next two points to close out the set.

In the third, Roddick muttered to himself in between points and jawed with the chair umpire on changeovers, making no secret of his displeasure with some earlier line calls.

A few big more serves and fist pumps later, and the defending champ was on to the semis.



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