Agassi displays top form

Oct. 18, 2002 at 5:26 PM
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MADRID, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- Second-seeded Andre Agassi displayed his top form Friday in dispatching No. 5 Juan Carlos Ferrero, 6-3, 6-2, in the quarterfinals of the Tennis Masters Series - Madrid.

Showing off his brilliant groundstrokes, Agassi needed just 74 minutes to usher out the last remaining Spaniard in the draw.

"There are days that go that well, you hit the ball and it falls into place. It has been a great day for me," Agassi said. "I felt I wasn't just playing well, but that everything was going my way. I expected it to be very hard and I have worked hard thinking about it."

The 32-year-old American lost his only previous meeting with Ferrero in the quarterfinals of the French Open in June. But that encounter came on clay, not an indoor hard court like the one at the Rockodromo.

"Maybe this is more my element than Ferrero's. It's a lot different on clay, but Ferrero should take the way I played today as a compliment," Agassi said. "Playing Ferrero in Paris meant I was much better prepared to play him here. Experience has taught me to use my disappointments to get better rather than to get discouraged."

Agassi, who is tied for the ATP lead in titles this year with four, will play seventh seed Sebastien Grosjean of France in the semifinals.

"(Grosjean) is a good counter-puncher with really good firepower," said the U.S. Open runner-up, who has lost two of their three encounters. "He has a great game and is very fast, so I'll have to be aggressive and be in control."

Grosjean stopped Argentine qualifier Agustin Calleri's brilliant run Friday with a 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) victory.

"It was a very hard game, but both of us wanted to reach the semifinals and it's always going to be hard at this stage of any competition," Grosjean said.

The 24-year-old Frenchman finished last year one as of the hottest players on the tour, winning the Tennis Masters Series event in Paris and appearing in the final of the Tennis Masters Cup in Sydney. But he has seen mixed results in 2002.

He still seeks his first trip to a final this year after a semifinal finish in Rotterdam and the TMS Monte Carlo.

Pushing to qualify for the elite eight-man field of the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, No. 11 Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic overcame Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. With the win, he tied Tim Henman and Carlos Moya for sixth place on the ATP Champions Race standings.

"It's not only me, but a lot of players are fighting to go to the Masters," Novak said. "It's great to be in the running, but it's not over yet. I don't want to say Paris will be decisive for Shanghai because there are competitions (next week) in Basel, St. Petersburg and Stockholm, so every match is important for everyone during the next two weeks."

The Czech raised his game to another level in the third set, winning every point on serve and breaking Srichaphan in the fifth game.

"I didn't realize I'd done that," Novak said. "But it's not the most important thing. You still have to make a break or you can slip up in the tiebreak."

On Saturday, Novak will square off against French qualifier Fabrice Santoro, who upended No. 12 Roger Federer, 7-5, 6-3.

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