Agassi, Federer Advance Toward Popcorn Match at ATP Indian Wells

Posted on March 20, 2004

Top-seeded Roger Federer and No. 5 Andre Agassi both showed top form in advancing to the semifinals at the ATP stop in Indian Wells Thursday, setting up a dream match-up between the top-ranked Swiss and the 33-year-old American stalwart.

Federer was the first into the semis with an oppressing 6-2, 6-1 display over No. 32 seed Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina, who has previously dispatched of Lleyton Hewitt and Tommy Haas. Agassi followed with a chess-like dissection of No. 4 seed Guillermo Coria's game, working "El Mago's" backhand to put Argentina at 0-2 on the day.

"I consider him to be one of the best players in the world," said Agassi on El Mago. "With him and (Juan Carlos) Ferrero, they're probably the top two on clay. You have to work hard. You have to get through a lot of matches to get the opportunity to play the best in the world."

Agassi leads his meetings with Federer 3-2, but the Swiss won their last two encounters in 2003.

In doubles quarterfinal action, unseeded Frenchmen Arnaud Clement and Sebastien Grosjean continued their run Thursday, following up their win over the top-seeded Bryan brothers with a straight-set victory over No. 6 bounced Czechs Martin Damm and Cyril Suk. No. 5 Knowles/Nestor beat No. 4-seeded Aussies Arthurs/Hanley, and unseeded Black/Ullyett got by Germans Kiefer/Schuettler.

Friday's scheduled matches are Black/Ullyett vs (2)Bhupathi/Mirnyi, (9)Henman vs. (3)Roddick, Irakli "Freak Show" Labadze vs. Blake, and Clement/Grosjean vs. (5)Knowles/Nestor. Freak Show says the key against Blake will be the serve: "I would say my game is pretty much based on the serve because if I serve well, then even if I don't play baseline, I feel I'm still can win. And I feel I still can improve in the middle of the game. If I don't serve well, automatically my baseline game gets worse because I lose my confidence. Serving last four matches pretty good, so let's not talk about my serve."


Tim Henman (GBR) vs. Andy Roddick (USA)        
Henman Leads 2-1
'03 Washington, Hard, SF, Henman 1-6, 6-3, 7-6(1)
'03 US Open, Hard, R128, Roddick 6-3, 7-6(2), 6-3
'03 MS-Paris, Carpet, SF, Henman, 7-6(4), 7-6(7)
Irakli Labadze (GEO) vs. James Blake (USA)             
Labadze Leads 2-0
'01 Birmingham Challenger (USA), Clay, F, Labadze, 6-2, 6-3
'03 Memphis, Hard, R16, Labadze 7-6(2), 7-5

Again no surprises on the women's side with two quarterfinal matches played Thursday, with top-seeded Justine Henin-Hardenne gaining revenge over No. 12 Svetlana Kuznetsova with a 6-4, 7-5 win, and No. 4 Anastasia Myskina outlasting No. 11 Conchita Martinez 7-6(2), 2-6, 6-3.

"I got a little revenge. It made me a little bit nervous because I know how well she's playing," said Henin-Hardenne, who lost to the beefy Russian a couple weeks back in Qatar. "I was nervous a little bit -- no, a lot -- this morning when I woke up because she's the only player that beat me this year."

In doubles semifinals play, (1)Ruano Pascual/Suarez edged Americans Davenport/Morariu 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

On court Friday are (3)Davenport vs. (19)Dechy (American leads encounters 3-0), (1)Henin-Hardenne vs. (4)Myskina (H-H leads 4-2), and an all-Russian doubles encounter in Myskina/Zvonareva vs. (2)Kuznetsova/Likhovtseva.

Through Thurs., March 18 (players still alive at the MS-Indian Wells in bold):

1. Federer, Roger (SUI) 20-1 .952
2. Hewitt, Lleyton (AUS) 15-2 .882
3. Agassi, Andre (USA) 12-2 .857
4. Roddick, Andy (USA) 20-4 .833
5. Moya, Carlos (ESP) 18-4 .818
6. Hrbaty, Dominik (SLO) 18-5 .783
7. Johansson, Joachim (SWE) 10-3 .769
8. Coria, Guillermo (ARG) 12-4 .750
9. Kuerten, Gustavo (BRA) 14-5 .737
10. Tim Henman (GBR) 11-4 .733

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