Agassi Reaches Paris Open Finals
PARIS (AP) _ Andre Agassi overcame some sparkling early play from Nicolas Lapentti on Saturday and eased to a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win in the semifinals of the Paris Open.
Agassi got stronger as the match went on while the 23-year-old Ecuadorian wilted in the face of some clinical play from the world’s top-ranked player.
The French and U.S. Open champion started seemingly intent on repeating his 65-minute quarterfinal demolition of Mark Philippoussis, charging to a 3-1 lead in just 12 minutes.
But Agassi, the champion here five years ago, wasn’t able to impose his game on Lapentti for long.
He made a couple of uncharacteristic unforced errors to let Lapentti back into the set at 3-3, and was broken at 3-4 when he hit into the net.
Agassi was more patient in the second set and mistakes began to creep into Lapentti’s play.
A break of service in the eighth game was decisive as the American won the second set.
In the third, Agassi cracked a series of service returns that proved too hot for Lapentti, who seemed to sense that his chance of his biggest win of the year had gone.
Agassi plays either Michael Chang or Marat Safin in the final.
Lapentti would have earned a place in the end of season World Championships with a win, but the Ecuadorian at least knows that he will be in the top ten for the first time in his career when the new world rankings are published on Monday.
Ranked 91st at the start of the year, his career has taken off in 1999 after a fine run to the Australian Open semifinals last January.