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."

ATP FRIDAY QUARTERFINAL HEAD-TO-HEADS

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

WTA REVIEW/PREVIEW
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.

ATP TOP 10 WIN PERCENTAGE
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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NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
The New York Post reports that Andy Roddick has ditched actress Mandy Moore because, "his pals tell Us Weekly, 'He's sick of the Hollywood thing.'" Right. Moore's agent denied the break-up...What's up with James Blake rocking the bald head with the white fuzzy headband? That look doesn't work in the NBA either, that's the won't-get-asked-for-anymore-modeling-spreads look. The cool-ass-dreads look was much preferred to the see-my-premature-balding cut...Andy Roddick said there are no more pure serve-and-volleyers anymore, to which countryman Taylor Dent replied: "I don't know. I don't serve and stay back too often. I don't know what else I'd be considered...I think if you ask every other player on tour, they'd pretty much say I'm a serve-and-volleyer. I didn't hear or read his comments. If he said that, I don't know, that's pretty surprising." Yo Andy, pay attention...Sure Tim Henman is skinny and pasty, but he'll kick your ass: "I think I've always been fit, but I think I'm much stronger. You know, I look back, I certainly would have wished to avoid having the shoulder trouble that I've had. But certainly I think that process I've gone through and now, you know, lifting a lot more weights away from tournaments, doing those types of things, I think it benefits me now because I do feel, you know, much, much stronger." Like to see Henman and Petr Korda in a cage match, who would come out of that one?...Aussie Wayne Arthurs is next week playing the Tasmanian Challenger, and the week after the Canberra Challenger in an effort to get his No. 100+ ranking up so he can be a direct entry into Wimbledon...Brazilian tennis head Nelson Nastas has stepped down as a result of the Davis Cup boycott by Gustavo Kuerten and his fellow Brazilian players. "I hope now the players will reconsider their intention to boycott the Davis Cup," the CBT president said. He said the Brazilian players can now choose the coaching staff for the Davis Cup second round tie, with the furor originating with the firing of former coach Ricardo Acioly without the knowledge of the players...Justine Henin-Hardenne was angry after being given a warning during her match Thursday for on-court coaching, offering up some gems of contradiction in her defense: "I think everyone is doing it. It doesn't have an effect on the game and I was a little upset (by the warning). (My coach) told me be aggressive...go to the net. You can tell it's coaching. I know what I have to do, but sometimes it's hard for me when I'm on court, in the match, to do what you know you have to do." So it doesn't have an effect on the match, but it is coaching, reminding you to be aggressive, then you play more aggressively? Who says tennis players don't miss anything by going to college? Or high school?...Nice to see the crowd shot of brother Phil during Andre Agassi's match, no longer wearing the bad rug...Roger Federer says he is having a swell time in Indian Wells: "It's just waking up in the morning and seeing the blue skies every time. It's really, really nice here. Like I've said many times, the heat doesn't affect me here. I've got a convertible, I'm driving around in that all day long. That's for me unbelievable. I really enjoy it. We've been shopping a little bit, you know, nice dinners. Just spending time with my girlfriend. It's nice."...Along with Justine Henin-Hardenne, Lindsay Davenport is also planning on skipping Miami...Turns out Kim Clijsters has not yet pulled out of Miami, and will test the wrist beforehand: "Every day I'm taking anti-inflammatory pills. They should take care of getting the fluids out of my wrist. I can't even wash my hair, so Lleyton has to lend a hand," she wrote on her website. Does Lleyton blow-dry and style it too? Does he scream "C'mon!" if he does a good job? Does he refuse to do a post-match interview afterwards?...Cochita Martinez is through to her eighth Indian Wells quarterfinal without winning the title.


Rankings
ATP - Nov 17 WTA - Nov 17
1 Novak Djokovic1 Serena Williams
2 Roger Federer2 Maria Sharapova
3 Rafael Nadal3 Simona Halep
4 Stan Wawrinka4 Petra Kvitova
5 Kei Nishikori5 Ana Ivanovic
6 Andy Murray6 Agnieszka Radwanska
7 Tomas Berdych7 Eugenie Bouchard
8 Milos Raonic8 Caroline Wozniacki
9 Marin Cilic9 Angelique Kerber
10 David Ferrer10 Dominika Cibulkova
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