Show time for Andre: Brooke, win make it so U.S. OPEN

September 04, 1994|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Andre Agassi walked off the court at the U.S. Open yesterday and into the waiting arms of girlfriend Brooke Shields, who immediately planted a victory kiss.

It's New York. It's the Open. It's show time. And Agassi is back in the Sweet 16 here for the first time in three years.

He's also back entertaining.

Is he happy to have Brooke here?

"I like having Brooke, period, at the match or not," Agassi said. "She knows that."

Yesterday, in front of a packed Stadium Court, Agassi charmed the masses with a 7-5, 6-1, 7-5 victory over No. 12 seed Wayne Ferreira and set up a much-anticipated match with No. 6 seed Michael Chang.

Chang advanced to the fourth-round when his opponent, Jim Grabb, retired because of chronic right shoulder pain, while behind in the match, 6-1, 4-1.

"I think it's going to be tough playing Andre," Chang said. "It doesn't matter where we play against each other, doesn't matter what surface, it brings out an extra intensity.

"I think particularly when Jim [Courier], Pete [Sampras], Andre and I meet, there is just something about a pecking order there, and we are just more eager to beat each other when we are around the tennis court."

Todd Martin, the No. 9 seed, also advanced last night by defeating Patrick Rafter, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (7-3), 6-2.

Two nights ago, Agassi was sending out on-court calls for an ambulance to take him to a local hospital "to remove that 90-pound bullfrog" he choked on while trying to close out his match in three sets against Guy Forget.

Eventually, Agassi won, 6-3, 7-5, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, but it took a fourth set and a seance with USA Network commentator John McEnroe.

It seemed like a simple exchange, with Agassi yelling to McEnroe in the broadcast booth for advice and McEnroe yelling back "serve down the middle."

Later, Agassi said he couldn't hear a word McEnroe said.

This season for the first time since 1987, Agassi is unseeded at the Open. It is only the latest indignity to the 24-year-old 1992 Wimbledon winner. After losing in the first round here last year, he finished ranked outside the Top 20, at No. 23, for the first time in six years. Now he is ranked 20th.

"It has always been the biggest struggle for me getting through the first week here," he said, recalling three other first-round losses interspersed with two semifinal and one final appearance.

"Now I'm among the 16, again," he said. "I mean, there is just a lot of personal satisfaction. When you compete at a high level, then you want the players to respect you for what you can do, and you want them to fear having you on their side of the draw. When you go out here and you take guys as good as Wayne and you can beat him handily, it is such a confident feeling for me.

"I think players always knew that I was capable of winning any match, but they also, I think, they've gone through stages where they felt, 'All I have to do is hang in there, and he is going to give it to me.' And, you know, I don't like that much at all."

But as his game has improved, so has his attitude.

"When you don't believe you can do it, you are not going to do it, especially with a player like me," he said. "I tend to be more of an emotional player. When things are feeling good, I play well. But the idea is to play not based on how I'm feeling, and I'm working on that."

But Agassi leaves little doubt he is feeling good here. Shields is "showing me New York in a way I've never seen it before," and when he is on the tennis court, "there is nowhere else I'd rather be."

Last year he declined to say he was a sure thing anywhere. At Wimbledon last month, he said he was feeling better and made the quarterfinal without once saying he believed he'd win a match.

Yesterday, he sounded like a serious contender.

"I am mentally committed as much as I possibly could be," he said. "I'm staying focused; not giving away too many loose points. I am giving myself the best chance to do it. And I feel like I can -- I do feel like I am playing well enough to win it."

Yesterday, against Ferreira he used a variety of shots. And once he got through the first set, he made only eight unforced errors the rest of the way, including a nearly perfect second set.

"I had one unforced error," he said. "I think there are guys who could be perfect. I've never been, but I'm working on it."

MEN

Singles third round

Thomas Muster (13), Austria, def. Thomas Enqvist, Sweden, 6-0, 6-4, 6-2. Sergi Bruguera (3), Spain, def. Marc Goellner, Germany, 1-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (4-7), 6-1. Michael Chang (6), Henderson, Nev., def. Jim Grabb, Tucson, Ariz., 6-1, 4-1, retired. Gianluca Pozzi, Italy, def. Markus Zoecke, Germany, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. Andre Agassi, Las Vegas, def. Wayne Ferreira (12), South Africa, 7-5, 6-1, 7-5. Bernd Karbacher, Germany, def. Marc Rosset (15), Switzerland, 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2. Richey Reneberg, Houston, def. Richard Fromberg, Australia, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2. Todd Martin (9), Palm Coast, Fla., def. Patrick Rafter, Australia, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 6-2.

Doubles second round

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