WASHINGTON -- He stared at the ground in disbelief, running his hands through his hair just seconds after a normally easy shot sailed wide.
That missed shot at the end of the third set's first game broke John McEnroe's service -- and seemingly his spirit. He never did recover, making an early exit from the Sovran Bank Classic tennis tournament, as he was defeated by Luis Herrera, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, in the third round.
For Herrera, the No. 110 player in the ATP rankings, it was the biggest win of his career, and he advanced to today's quarterfinal match against Markus Zoeke. In other quarterfinal matches today, No. 3 seed Brad Gilbert will take on No. 12 seed Petr Korda; No. 6 seed Jaime Yzaga plays No. 4 seed Richey Reneberg and top seed Andre Agassi faces unseeded Johan Carlsson.
For McEnroe, it was the second straight disappointing appearance in the Sovran tournament. He also lost in the third round last year to Derrick Rostagno.
"Some days, you just don't have it. I just felt a little bit flat-footed," McEnroe said. "When it came time for the task, I failed. It's a terrible feeling -- beating yourself."
McEnroe appeared on the verge of an easy win after the first set. He was able to break Herrera's serve in the fifth game.
But Herrera broke McEnroe in the first game of the second set. That game began a series of missed, easy shots by McEnroe.
"I made unforced errors, and, suddenly, he gained the confidence to play well," McEnroe said. "I didn't have that natural sort of energy."
But Herrera was very active after shaking off the jitters of the first set. He attacked the net at every chance, which had McEnroe exerting a lot of energy.
"I'm not a powerful player, so I have to get the ball on the rise and go to the net," Herrera said. "I just started a little nervous, because I thought I could beat him. When the match went on, I settled down and felt better."
Herrera's claims to fame before last night were the Mexican national championship title in 1989 and a Davis Cup victory over Jim Courier.
"Yes, this was my biggest win -- he was one of the best players," Herrera said. "I think it's tough for him to come out and play every night very good. Still, it's [a win over] McEnroe."
In the late match, Agassi had very little trouble defeating Chuck Adams, 6-2, 6-2, and appears a sure bet to make his second straight Sovran final.
"It felt good right from the start," Agassi said. "My first service [41 percent] wasn't on, but I made up for it in other areas. I can't play that well unless I feel challenged."
With Carlsson up next, Agassi will go through the quarterfinals without facing a seeded player.
In other matches yesterday, Gilbert advanced with an easy, 6-3, 6-2 win over No. 13 seed Grant Connell.
Starting the year at No. 10 in the ATP rankings, Gilbert has struggled this year and has dropped to No. 20.
"I haven't played as well as I would like to the last four or five years, so it's nice to come to a place where I have played well," said Gilbert, who lost to Jim Grabb in last year's semifinals.
The biggest surprise in the quarterfinals is Zoecke of Germany, who knocked off No. 10 seed Jimmy Arias, 6-3, 6-4, during the afternoon session. It was the second win over a seeded player for Zoecke -- on Wednesday he defeated No. 7 seed Aaron Krickstein.
Zoecke, who never has been ranked in the top 100, said he usually goes into tournaments looking for just a first-round win. But, going into this tournament, he felt he could advance further.
"I saw the draw and saw that Krickstein hadn't played in a while, and I had beaten Arias before," said Zoecke, No. 138 in the ATP rankings. "I thought I had a good chance to reach the quarterfinals."
Arias said Zoecke was lucky to survive temperatures that reached 105 degrees at courtside during the end of the match.
"We played the first set and a half in cloudy conditions," Arias said. "He was dying at the end of the match. Had it been sunny all the way through, I think he would have [faltered]."
Men's singles, third round
Brad Gilbert (3), San Rafael, Calif., def. Grant Connell (13), Canada, 6-3, 6-2; Richey Reneberg (4), Palm Desert, Calif., def. Grant Stafford, South Africa, 7-6 (9-7), 6-0; Jaime Yzaga (6), Peru, def. Malivai Washington (11), Swartz Creek, Mich., 6-4, 6-4; Petr Korda (12), Czechoslovakia, def. Derrick Rostagno (5), Pacific Palisades, Calif., 6-1, 6-3; Markus Zoecke, Germany, def. Jimmy Arias (10), Buffalo, N.Y., 6-3, 6-4; Johan Carlsson, Sweden, def. Shuzo Matsuoka, Japan, 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-1); Luis Herrara, Mexico, def. John McEnroe (2), New York, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2; Andre Agassi (1), Las Vegas, def. Chuck Adams, Pacific Palisades, Calif., 6-2, 6-2.