Rafter upsets top seed Agassi in D. C. Australian blasts 21 aces to drub defending champ

July 18, 1996|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON -- Andre Agassi, who said, "I felt like I played well," after an opening victory in the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, found out just how faulty first impressions can be last night.

After Agassi won a first-set tiebreaker against 15th seed Patrick Rafter of Australia, his game was last seen departing Rock Creek Park at about 8: 30 p.m.

Nine straight games the No. 3-ranked player in the world lost, first being shut out in the second set, 6-0, then being cuffed around again in the third, 6-2.

Then, in an even bigger upset, South African qualifer Neville Godwin continued his giant-killer number, defeating third seed Jim Courier, 6-4, 6-4, in the nightcap.

His confidence obviously shattered after the loss, his fourth in seven matches since late March, Agassi said, "Tonight's a reflection of my lack of match play. I got frustrated and just wasn't able to turn it around."

Agassi didn't schedule anything after the French Open and Wimbledon, preferring to direct his efforts toward the Olympics starting this weekend in Atlanta.

"I came here to prepare for the Olympics [after embarrassing first-round losses in Paris and London] and, as far as I'm concerned, it was all to the good here. I got two matches in," he said.

There are many who won't agree with him and, like after his European misadventure, Agassi's desire was questioned.

"It's there," he said. "It's not as easy to live up to the lofty expectations people have for you at this level of tennis. I don't care what anyone thinks. I know what the real concerns are. I'll just keep practicing. I think it will be all right."

Before Rafter, the 61st-ranked player on the ATP computer list who smacked 21 aces and made it look easy last night, Agassi lost to Chris Woodruff, No. 73 and, at Wimbledon, Doug Flach, No. 281.

Earlier, Michael Chang, complaining, "I haven't played a lot of matches the last couple of months," certainly didn't look underplayed as he buzzed past Geoff Grant, 6-1, 6-3.

It was hot but he was loving it, a departure from the way some top players react when asked to play afternoon matches here. "Just stick me out on a court somewhere any time you want," is what Chang said about the situation.

Singles, third round

Patrick Rafter, Australia, d. Andre Agassi (1), Las Vegas, 6-7 (7-2), 6-0, 6-2.

Singles, second round

Neville Godwin, South Africa, def. Jim Courier (3), Miami, 6-4, 6-4; Karol Kucera, Slovakia, d. Byron Black (9), Zimbabwe, 6-2, 6-0; Renzo Furlan (8), Italy, d. Sargis Sargsian, Armenia, 6-3, 7-5; Wayne Ferreira (4), South Africa, d. Oleg Ogorodov, Uzbekistan, 6-2, 6-0; Chris Woodruff (14), Knoxville, Tenn., d. Jan Kroslak, Slovakia, 6-4, 6-3; Alberto Costa (5), Spain, d. Steve Campbell, Detroit, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4; Sebastien Lareau, Canada, d. Ken Carlsen, Denmark, 6-3, 6-3.

Hicham Arazi, Morocco, d. David Prinosil (13), Germany, 7-6 (8-6), 3-6, 6-4; Lionel Roux, France, d. Nicolas Pereira, Venezuela, 7-6 (7-1), 7-6 (10-8); Richey Reneberg (6), Minneapolis, d. Marcos Ondruska, S. Africa, 6-4, 6-3; Mauricio Hadad, Colombia, d. Wade McGuire, Tampa, 6-3, 6-4; Vince Spadea (16), Boca Raton, Fla., d. Bryan Shelton, Atlanta, 6-4, 6-1; Michael Chang (2), Henderson, Nev., d. Geoff Grant, Princeton, N.J., 6-1, 6-3; Paul Haarhuis (7), Netherlands, d. Michael Joyce, Los Angeles, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Pub Date: 7/18/96

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