Wimbledon-Agassi soldiers on to third round
LONDON, June 29 (Reuters) Fourteen years after his solitary Wimbledon triumph, Andre Agassi showed again today that he was in no hurry to start writing his championship memoirs.
Days after announcing that he would retire after this year's US Open, the 36-year-old American beat Italy's Andreas Seppi 6-4 7-6 6-4 to reach the third round and a possible clash with world number two Rafael Nadal.
That mouthwatering match-up was in serious jeopardy, however, with the world number two struggling against American qualifier Robert Kendrick. He trailed two sets to love before levelling the match on Centre Court.
''It's been a long time since I felt good but today I was a lot closer to finding my game,'' said Agassi, who had played just four tournaments coming into this year's Wimbledon because of a debilitating back injury.
''I was in a better rhythm and was able to dictate.'' The eight-times grand slam champion showed all his experience at the vital moments against Seppi, a lanky Italian who initially made life difficult for the Las Vegan before succumbing in two hours and 23 minutes.
Russian fourth seed Maria Sharapova, looking for a sequel to her 2004 triumph here, also progresed to the third round when she survived a rare outing on court two, dubbed the graveyard of champions.
The 19-year-old overpowered American Ashley Harkleroad 6-2 6-2, although she said playing away from the two main Wimbledon showcourts had been a different experience.
''It was a different atmosphere, there's a lot more going on on the other courts, you hear a lot more things,'' she said.
''But I think it's good, the fans can get to see you close up and personal.'' Elsewhere in early second round play Finland's Jarkko Nieminen, seeded 22, beat Briton Martin Lee 6-4 6-0 6-3 while Australian Open runner-up Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus played just three games against Andrei Pavel who retired with an injury.
Former French Open champion Anastasia Myskina joined compatriot Sharapova in the third round, the feisty ninth seed beating German's Martina Mueller 6-2 6-1.
REUTERS DH RAI2141