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Jensen Jolts Agassi in Straight Sets

February 22, 1996

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) _ Andre Agassi’s bid to regain the No. 1 ranking took a sudden nosedive Wednesday night with a 6-2, 6-4 loss to Luke Jensen, the ambidextrous doubles specialist ranked 419th in the world.

Agassi had a chance to regain the top ranking in the Kroger-St. Jude tournament. Instead, he suffered his first loss in a tournament opener in nearly a year and a half.

``I just think it’s a tough arena to play in,″ Agassi said. ``The ball is quick out there. I was coming off the slow court in San Jose, and I certainly wasn’t picking up the ball well at all.″

Agassi lost in the finals to Pete Sampras on Sunday in San Jose, Calif. The result left Sampras with the No. 1 ranking and Agassi at No. 3. No. 2 Thomas Muster is taking the week off.

Jensen and his twin Murphy Jensen bring a circus flair to their doubles matches _ wearing star-spangled shirts, slapping high-fives and trading wisecracks with the crowd.

On Wednesday, in a second-round match, Luke Jensen was more than able to handle himself, enjoying the biggest singles victory of his career.

He jumped ahead 4-2 in the first set and was in control the entire match. In the second set, Jensen led 4-1 when Agassi held serve and broke Jensen to pull within 5-4, but Jensen broke back to win the match.

When asked about his plans, Agassi said he would return to Las Vegas.

``Just go home sounds like a good call,″ he said. ``It’s always nice to get home sometimes during tough weeks.″

Earlier Wednesday, top-seeded Pete Sampras, in his first match since regaining his No. 1 ranking, used his big serve to beat Richey Reneberg 6-3, 7-5 (7-4) in the second round.

Reneberg broke Sampras to go up 4-2 in the second set. He then held serve and led 5-2 before Sampras rocketed two of his 19 aces to hold serve. Sampras broke Reneberg, then used a couple more aces to hold serve and even the set at 5-5.

Sampras fell behind 0-2 in the tiebreaker before pulling out the match with yet another ace.

``I was hitting the spots today,″ Sampras said. ``In San Jose, even though I played well and won, I didn’t serve the way I wanted to.″

Sampras won 85 percent of his first serves, which he said allowed him to use his groundstrokes better. He will meet 16th-seeded Greg Rusedski, a 6-7 (6-4), 7-6 (6-4), 7-5 winner over Michael Tebbutt, on Thursday.

If Sampras slips, the top of the ATP Tour rankings could change for the fourth time in five weeks.

Sampras said he isn’t too worried if he loses the top ranking.

``A lot of things can happen,″ he said. ``It depends on how I do and how Andre does. But I think we both know coming in each week it really just comes down to the end of the year when you round up the points and see the final rankings.

``It could change hands this week, next week. We’ll see what happens. It certainly brings a lot of excitement because everybody’s looking at it.″

Also Wednesday, No. 3 Michael Chang held off Scott Draper 6-3, 5-7, 6-2; No. 6 MaliVai Washington downed Jan Kroslak 7-6 (6-4), 6-3; and No. 8 Marcelo Rios defeated Jason Stoltenberg 6-3, 6-3.

No. 10 Mark Philippoussis topped Chuck Adams 7-5, 6-2; No. 11 Todd Woodbridge downed Grant Stafford 6-4, 6-7 (5-2), 6-1; No. 12 Byron Black edged Nuno Marques 6-3, 6-4; No. 13 Brett Steven beat Lionel Roux 6-3, 5-6, 6-4; and No. 15 Jiri Novak defeated Jim Grabb 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-1.

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