TENNIS: U.S. OPEN

Roddick, Agassi power to tourney's 4th round


Andy Roddick serves to Flavio Saretta on Sunday.

The Associated Press
Published: Monday, September 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 1, 2003 at 12:26 a.m.

NEW YORK - Andy Roddick unfurled his body and unleashed a 140 mph ace that forced a line judge to duck as the ball slammed against the wall with a thud.

It was the loudest display Roddick produced Sunday in a 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Flavio Saretta to reach the U.S. Open's fourth round. Roddick was the picture of calm, without a trace of the antics he used to pull - and which his prior opponent derided.

Instead, it was Saretta who clowned around, staring at a line when he thought a call was incorrect, kicking the ball, flipping his racket in the air or cracking it on the ground. The No. 4-seeded Roddick was all business.

``I've been playing like that the past three months,'' Roddick said. ``I just kind of realized I didn't need to fight a mental battle every day.''

Andre Agassi doesn't abide distractions these days, too concerned with saving every bit of energy and keeping track of each detail. So Agassi wasn't pleased about not being consulted when his third-round match against Yevgeny Kafelnikov was suspended for nearly 24 hours early in the second set Saturday.

Not that it mattered in the end: The top-ranked Agassi wrapped up a 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-4 victory Sunday to set up an Old vs. Young meeting with fellow American Taylor Dent in the round of 16 Monday. Dent upset No. 15 Fernando Gonzalez on Saturday.

``For the match to get called, and to be the only match that didn't finish yesterday, I think was a mistake, an oversight in judgment,'' the 33-year-old Agassi said.

Among his complaints: The Dent-Gonzalez match also should have been delayed a day so that winner wouldn't get more rest.

``It gets harder as you get older for a number of reasons,'' Agassi said. ``Between your body and your mind, your heart, the energy, the focus, the determination, the eagerness, the freshness - all those things get tougher.''

Everything seems to come so effortlessly for Roger Federer, who moved a step closer to becoming the first man since Pete Sampras in 1995 to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in the same year. The No. 2-seeded Federer reached the fourth round with a 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-3 victory over unseeded American James Blake.

The second set was particularly memorable, with a 13-minute third game that featured eight break points and 10 deuces before Blake finally held serve. Federer had a total of 20 break points in the set but converted just one - when Blake dropped behind 3-2 with consecutive double-faults. Blake drew even at 5-5 by breaking back when Federer missed two straight forehands, but the Swiss star was cooler in the tiebreaker.

``They were cheering him on like he won the match when he won his own serve, which is normal,'' Federer said. ``But I always felt in control of the second set.''

Now Federer will face No. 13 David Nalbandian, who's won all four of their matches.

Agassi was down a break in the second set when his match with Kafelnikov resumed. He began Sunday by breaking right back, then held for a 2-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line that drew a thumb's up of approval from two-time major champion Kafelnikov.

Agassi trailed again by a break later in the second set, but got it back in the 10th game, winning four straight points. He was helped by a crosscourt forehand return that caught a line. He again took four consecutive points in the tiebreaker, winning it when Kafelnikov sent a backhand long.

``He played just as good as he did four years ago, maybe even better,'' said Kafelnikov, referring to the last time Agassi won the Open. ``Normally, if you are getting older, you are becoming physically weaker. With him, it's the opposite.''

The only past champion in the women's field, third-seeded Lindsay Davenport, advanced to the quarterfinals by defeating No. 19 Nadia Petrova 6-0, 6-7 (6), 6-2. Davenport will play No. 24 Paola Suarez, who got past Elena Likhovtseva 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.

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