Capriati, Agassi move into third round

May 30, 2002 at 4:43 PM
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PARIS, May 30 (UPI) -- Defending champion Jennifer Capriati, No. 3 Serena Williams and former champion Andre Agassi did not need to show their best form Thursday, but easily advanced to the third round at the French Open.

It was a different story for second-seeded Marat Safin of Russia, who battled a sore back and rallied for a 4-6, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Olivier Rochus of Belgium.

The top-seeded Capriati persevered against fellow American Amy Frazier, 6-4, 6-3, despite numerous errors. Capriati held serve just four times, committed seven double faults and made 46 unforced errors. She still managed to defeat Frazier for the fourth time in as many meetings.

"My serve sometimes is not consistent," the two-time reigning Australian Open champion said after the 69-minute match. "Overall, I think it's been OK. Maybe it's just not getting a lot of match practice time and I just kind of don't have a rhythm. I think it will get better."

However, Frazier won only one service game, also made seven double faults and had 58 unforced errors.

"It was making me a little bit mad that I couldn't hold my serve," Capriati said. "She's a great returner, so I think that's the strongest part. But it was just going back and forth in the first set.

"I don't know, maybe it was just just the conditions. Maybe it was a little bit windy, a little bit cold, so it was hard to get a rhythm. In the second set, I was able to hold my serve a little bit more."

Williams beat qualifier Dally Randriantefy of Madagascar, 6-2, 6-3.

"I expect everyone to come out there and play the game of their life against me," Williams said. "I don't think it was tough or less tough than expected."

Williams has won three titles this season, including her first claycourt crown two weeks ago at the Italian Open. She also was runner-up at the claycourt event in Berlin.

The 20-year-old American is playing in her first Grand Slam event since battling her sister Venus in the final at the U.S. Open last year. She missed the Australian Open in January due to a sprained right ankle.

Agassi rallied to a 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 lead against David Sanchez, before the Spaniard retired with a sprained right ankle.

"Three sets is three sets," Agassi said. "It is not the full test, but I felt

pretty good out there. I felt in a better position than my opponent was, which is good. I felt I was getting better as the match went on. That's always a great sign for me."

The 32-year-old American became one of only five male players to complete a career Grand Slam with a triumph here in 1999, yet is still eager to add to his haul of seven.

"I think the same things motivate me, just for different reasons," said Agassi, who won his last warmup event in Rome. "It's still very challenging. It's always been challenging for different reasons. Now every year it gets harder. So I'm motivated to push myself and I still have more to play.

"There's still more tennis in me and feel like I can get better. Those elements are crucial in my determination to continue playing. I have to feel like I can be better and I still have to feel like there's a challenge in there for me."

Third seed Tommy Haas of Germany, who lost to Agassi in the final at Rome three weeks ago, dispatched Feliciano Lopez of Spain, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, to advance to the third round for the third time at Roland Garros. However, the 24-year-old German has yet to reach the fourth round in four prevous visits here.

Belgium's Xavier Malisse ousted sixth-seeded Tim Henman of Britain, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3. It is the second time Malisse bounced Henman from a Grand Slam. He defeated the Englishman in five sets last year at the U.S. Open.

"Tim hits a lot of first serves in, but they're not the fastest. I have a feeling I can always somehow get it back and make him volley," said Malisse, who is into the third round here for the second time in a row. "After that, I think it's just 50-50. I like playing against Tim because when he serves I have a feeling I can break. From the back I felt pretty comfortable, especially on clay. On hard it's a different story."

Henman continued his futility at Roland Garros, where he has never advanced past the third round in seven years.

"He's a tough player and you have to give him credit for that," said Henman. "I felt like he dealt with a lot of my aspects well. From the baseline he's consistent and capable of producing a lot of big shots. Add to that that when he does come to net, that's he every capable. So he's a very good player."

No. 10 Sebastien Grosjean of France beat American James Blake, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 and will meet another American Vince Spadea in the third round.

Seventh seed Jelena Dokic of Yugoslavia rallied past Conchita Martinez of Spain, 3-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-2, to duplicate her best effort here.

Known mostly as a fastcourt player, the 19-year-old Dokic has played well on the dirt this season, winning at Sarasota and reaching the final last week at Strasbourg.

Martinez was runner-up here in 2000, but has been ousted in the early rounds here for the second straight year.

Silvia Farina Elia defeated Dokic in the final at Strasbourg on Sunday and posted a 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 victory over Tina Pisnik of Slovakia.

Former champion Mary Pierce of France dispatched No. 32 Cristina Torrens Valero of Spain, 6-3, 6-1. Pierce captured her second career Grand Slam crown here two years ago, but was unable to defend here title last year due to a chronic inflammation of the lumbar spine. She missed most of 2001 with the back injury and had an abdominal strain earlier this season.

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