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Agassi breaks first-round jinx, advances in RCA Championships

August 12, 1997

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Andre Agassi’s appearance in the RCA Championships a year ago was a short one: He was ejected during his first-round match for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Agassi, seeded 14th, will hang around at least a little longer this year after beating Davide Sanguinetti of Spain 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 Monday night in the first round.

``It’s nice it could happen at an event that got screwed last year,″ Agassi said. ``This is an absolutely great tournament, and I wanted to be here longer last year.″

Coming into the match, Agassi was 6-9 in 1997 and hadn’t won since injuring his wrist in April, including first-round losses in three straight tournaments. His ranking has slipped to 74th.

It looked like Agassi was going to extend his streak of first-round losses to four. He trailed 3-0 in the third set before winning six of the next seven games to win the match against the 93rd-ranked Sanguinetti.

``You have to start somewhere,″ Agassi said. ``It’s nice not to have another setback.″

Earlier Monday, former champion Wayne Ferreira, seeded 10th this year, used his serve to dominate Australian Michael Tebbutt 6-4, 6-3.

Ferreira, who won the tournament in 1994, lost four of his last six opening-round matches after arthroscopic knee surgery, slipping to 30th in the ATP rankings.

``I’m still having a bit of pain,″ Ferreira said. ``I’m not in the shape I’d like to be in.″

But the knee wasn’t a factor Monday in the 69-minute match.

``I’m playing well enough to win matches, that’s for sure, and even well enough to get to the semifinals,″ Ferreira said. ``But I’m not expecting to do that. ... I’m just going to take each day as it comes.″

In other matches, ninth-seeded Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden dispatched Luke Smith of Australia 6-2, 7-6 (7-4); No. 13 Bohdan Ulihrach of the Czech Republic defeated Doug Flach 6-4, 7-5; and No. 16 Magnus Larsson of Sweden advanced with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Daniel Nestor of Canada.

Smith, playing in just his second ATP tournament, won the 1997 NCAA singles and doubles championships for UNLV.

Defending champion Pete Sampras, who turns 26 today, is the top seed and is ranked No. 1 in the world for the 70th consecutive week.

Fresh from his victory in the ATP Championships, Sampras will play later in the week and will be seeking to win the tournament for the fourth time. He’s 25-4 on the Indianapolis hardcourts.

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