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Agassi breezes to quick first round victory

By Larry Fine
August 30, 2005 11:39 IST
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Andre Agassi celebrated his 20th successive appearance at the U.S. Open with a quickfire 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 first round romp over Romanian Razvan Sabau on Monday, while tying Jimmy Connors for most consecutive appearances in New York.

Agassi blasted 34 winners past the hapless Sabau and wrapped up the one hour, nine-minute match by taking the last set in a scant 17 minutes.

A fan yelled out to him "20 more years" during the night match at Arthur Ashe Stadium that closed the opening day of play and the two-time U.S. Open champion later reflected on how he had grown to appreciate the tournament.

"It took me a while to enjoy playing here the first few years," Agassi said of the raucous grand slam event.

"If you don't understand the mentality of the people, if you don't understand the people, you don't appreciate the city, you don't appreciate playing here.

- US Open 2005: Complete coverage

"It took me a while to understand the mentality of a New Yorker. They don't have a lot of time to waste. If they're going to do something, they're going to bring it. They expect the same from you. That's something I've grown to appreciate and embrace."

Agassi, showing no ill signs from a back problem that forced him to miss nine weeks of the season including the Wimbledon championship, was true to his words on the new, blue centre court.

He used his sharp, attacking groundstrokes to rip 34 winners past Sabau and wasted little time at the service line by banging in 87 percent of his first serves and losing just 10 points on serve.

Next up for Agassi will be big serving Croatian Ivo Karlovic.

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"I don't think there's anybody on the tour that enjoys playing Karlovic," Agassi said of the 6ft-10in (2.08m) Croatian, who he has never faced.

"He's unique to the game based on his size and the way he plays. A guy like that is really awkward. It's an odd trajectory that the ball's coming down from," said Agassi, who stands nearly a foot shorter.

"But I think one of the things that makes tennis so unique is it's such a healthy blend of athleticism. You can have it with power, you can have it with speed, you can have it with size. But with every sort of strength you have, there's also the potential weakness."
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Larry Fine
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