WASHINGTON - No. 16 seed and local favorite Paul Goldstein of Rockville never really had a chance last night against No. 1 Andre Agassi in the round of 16 at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic.
The match was over in 1 hour, 15 minutes, with Agassi winning, 6-3, 6-2. But even at that, it was the most work Agassi has gotten in this tournament - and today he plays in the quarterfinals.
This, in fact, was his 12th straight match victory here dating to 1998.
To Agassi, winning in Washington is habit. If he wins this championship, it will be his sixth title here in 11 years.
"It felt like a real good battle, a lot closer than the score," Agassi said. "But I like the way I felt. My back feels good and [today] will be good for me, to play a second match in two days. If I can do that, a lot of my concerns will be eased."
Agassi has been hampered by a back strain for nearly seven weeks that has forced him to withdraw from two events and retire after playing a match last week in Cincinnati. But, so far here, he has not been troubled.
Next on his plate will be talented rookie pro Andy Roddick. The 17-year-old upset No. 9 seed Karol Kucera, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1, yesterday to advance to his first professional quarterfinal.
No. 2 seed Alex Corretja also advanced with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Paradorn Srichaphan. He will now face veteran Wayne Arthurs, a 6-3, 6-2 winner over Frenchman Jerome Golmard.
Also in today's quarterfinals are No. 3 seed Nicholas Kiefer (who won, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, over Lorenzo Manta), No. 6 seed Byron Black (a 6-1, 6-3 winner over Ivan Ljubicic and No. 5 seed Jan-Michael Gambill, who demolished Christophe Rochus, 6-0, 6-1, in 36 minutes last night.
Roddick, unseeded, is being touted as possibly this country's next great player. This will be his first quarterfinal.
"I'm not thinking about the quarterfinals or the semifinals," said Roddick. "I'm just playing each match as it comes. But it's been a pretty good day for me. I learned just before my match that I'll be playing in the main draw at the U.S. Open [as a wild-card entry]."
Roccick made his pro debut in February and a month later managed his first career win by beating Fernando Vicente in the first round at the Ericsson Open in Miami. He played Agassi in the next round there and found himself a little overwhelmed by the situation and the six-time Grand Slam winner, 6-2, 6-3.
"I was calmer in my match against Kucera and I kept myself mentally together in the tiebreak," Roddick said. "In a tough breaker, that's the first time I held it together. It felt good.
"I don't think I'll be as intimidated as much by Andre as I was when I played him the first time. I got to know him a little bit on the Davis Cup team. ... But, he's still the top one, two or three players of all time so ..."
Agassi and Goldstein were greeted warmly by the crowd that cheered hard for the home-grown player, but still managed cheers for Agassi.
"It touched my heart, all the support that was there even though I was playing a guy with six Grand Slams," said Goldstein, 24. "Andre deserves to be cheered wherever he goes."
The two played on serve through the first six games before the pressure of Agassi's pounding strokes began to take their toll.
It was in the seventh game that Agassi got the first break of the match.
"Once I get momentum, I start getting a little tougher," Agassi said. "But I have a lot of respect for Goldie, the way he competes, the way he plays. The only thing you can't coach is the one thing he has - that fighting spirit. He makes people beat him."(Results, 4D)