Thursday, August 5, 2004

Veterans are moving along

Roddick, Agassi top round of 16

By Neil Schmidt
Enquirer staff writer

Andre Agassi blasts a forehand Wednesday during his second-round match against Thomas Johansson.
MASON - Maybe veterans do rain delays better.

Between the storm clouds that came and went Wednesday during the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters, some of tennis' old faithful put on sunny showings reminiscent of their heydays.

Yes, 21-year-old star Andy Roddick got through the second round, using the day's most sensational shot to fuel a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Nicolas Kiefer.

But alongside him in the round of 16 are 30-somethings Andre Agassi, Greg Rusedski, Jonas Bjorkman, Fabrice Santoro and Wayne Arthurs.

Joining them are tortured souls Marat Safin and Lleyton Hewitt, both former No. 1s. And Tommy Haas, who like Rusedski is getting in gear after a long layoff.

Eight seeds advanced through the second round, which was five more than did last year. There are five Grand Slam winners still alive: Agassi, Roddick, Safin, Hewitt and Carlos Moya.

There were numerous rain delays Wednesday, including one of four hours before the first matches started. Agassi weathered three delays during his 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Thomas Johansson.

The day's best match was probably its last. Fifth-seeded Tim Henman beat Hicham Arazi 4-6, 6-3, 7-5; it ended at 1 a.m. today.

Hewitt, seeded 10th, gave the day's most impressive performance in a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Gustavo Kuerten, the 2001 W&S Masters champion.

Roddick, the second seed, will face No. 15 seed Paradorn Srichaphan in the third match of the day session today. He leads Srichaphan 4-1 in career meetings.

The other matchup of seeds is 11th seed Agassi vs. No. 17 seed Juan Ignacio Chela at 7:30 p.m. Agassi won his only prior meeting with Chela two years ago.

Henman's matchup with Hewitt ranks as perhaps the day's best, though Hewitt has won all seven meetings in that rivalry.

Another highlight will the powerful Safin against big-serving Ivo Karlovic.

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