Work in Sports
First things first
Sampras, Agassi easily dispose of first-round opponent
It's starting to look less like Medical Center and more like Tennis Masters Series-Cincinnati.
The top-seeded Agassi advanced to the second round by beating Wayne Ferreira of South Africa 7-6 (4), 6-1 on Tuesday. Sampras, seeded second, beat Mariano Zabaleta of Argentina 6-4, 6-2.
"I need a few more matches before I feel good about my game," Agassi said.
He was rear-ended in an accident near his home in Las Vegas on July 8. In his first tournament since then, he lost in the first round last week at Toronto.
"I had some muscles that were strained and some that were pulled," Agassi said. "Everything was kind of cramped up, and there were spasms. But it was nothing structural."
In nine matches, Ferreira has never beaten Agassi. After forcing a tiebreaker, Ferreira missed a shot to an open court in the first game of the second set and came unglued.
"It's kind of a laughable situation," Ferreira said. "I seem to do the same thing every time I play him, no matter how hard I try to make it different. It always ends up being the same, so all I can do is keep laughing."
Sampras won the only first-round match he's had to play here in a decade. When the tournament was called the ATP Championship, the top eight seeds drew byes.
"I've never been crazy about a bye because you're playing someone (in the second round) who's used to the court and the balls," Sampras said.
"Your first match out playing someone that's played, I never really liked it. You like it if you win the match. Your body's a little bit fresher."
And Sampras is at the point in his career when he wants to limit his tournaments.
He won a record 13th Grand Slam at Wimbledon despite tendinitis in his left shin, then withdrew from the Davis Cup. This is his second tournament since then, including a loss in the quarterfinals last week at Toronto.
"I'm to the point where I'm obviously at a different place than most guys starting out. So I'm going to give myself the best schedule to do well at the Grand Slams," Sampras said.
Four more seeds lost Tuesday -- six of 16 in the first round -- including No.14 Younes El Aynaoui of Morocco, who withdrew with inflammation in his left foot. He was replaced by qualifier Andrea Gaudenzi of Italy, who upset Albert Costa of Spain 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.
Sixth-seeded Alex Corretja of Spain, who had an 11-match winning streak, was upset by Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden, 6-4, 6-4.
Corretja, who is more comfortable on clay courts, found it difficult to adjust to the hard-court surface.
"As a European, I try to play the first tournament that I can on hard court, but I had to stay in Spain and play in the Davis Cup, so I was on clay a little longer," said Corretja, who hadn't played on a hard-court surface since March.
In other first-round matches, fifth-seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia beat Richard Krajicek of Netherlands 6-3, 1-6, 6-3; No. 7 Thomas Enqvist of Sweden beat Andrei Pavel of Romania 7-5, 2-6, 7-6 (7); No. 8 Marat Safin of Russia, the winner last week at Tennis Masters Series-Canada, beat Neville Godwin of South Africa 7-5, 6-3; and No. 15 Tim Henman of Britain beat Cecil Mamit 6-3, 5-7, 6-2.