Top-seeded Andre Agassi overwhelmed Australian qualifier Andrew Pai
WIMBLEDON, England (AP) _ Top-seeded Andre Agassi overwhelmed Australian qualifier Andrew Painter in straight sets today to reach the second round at Wimbledon.
Agassi, the 1992 champion, looked sharp as he cruised to a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 victory in just one hour, 17 minutes.
Painter, a 19-year-old Tasmanian with a world ranking of No. 530, was playing his first match in a tour-level event. It showed.
Painter committed 17 double faults to go with his 13 aces. In one game alone, trailing 5-1 in the first set, he served six double faults and had four aces before holding serve. In the second set, he double-faulted on all four of his serves in the seventh game to fall behind 5-2.
Agassi, looking completely recovered from the hip strain he suffered at the French Open earlier this month, was in complete command as he took the ball early and ripped shots cleanly to all corners of the court.
While Painter struggled just to win a game in the third set, Agassi showed no mercy. On match point, with Painter stranded at the net, Agassi moved up on a short ball and drilled a forehand passing shot close to his body.
When it was over, the darling of the Wimbledon crowds bowed and waved to all corners of the Court One stadium.
Agassi, sporting a goatee beard and dangling earrings, unveiled a new all-white outfit: knee-lenghth shorts, baggy shirt and a pirate-style bandada over his closely-cropped head _ emblazoned with his sponsor Nike’s swoosh logo.
Agassi said it was great to be back at Wimbledon.
``I’ve grown to love it here,″ he said. ``I enjoy being a part of history here ... Every time I come back here, the emotion and the excitement seems to bring out some great tennis.″
Agassi was one of seven Wimbledon champions playing today.
Ninth-seeded Michael Stich, the 1991 champion, was ousted in straight sets by Holland’s Jacco Eltingh 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 6-1.
It was the second year in a row that Stich lost his opening match at Wimbledon, and the sixth time in his career he bowed out in the first round of a Grand Slam event.
Stefan Edberg, champion in 1988 and 1990, beat Spain’s Oscar Martinez, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.
``It’s always special to come back to a place where you have won it,″ said Edberg, seeded No. 13. ``It feels you are part of history, part of the tradition, having played here and been a champion.″
In women’s play, defending champion Conchita Martinez, second-seeded In women’s play, defending champion Conchita Martinez, second-seeded Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and No. 5 Mary Pierce all won in straight sets.
Martinez, returning to Centre Court for the first time since she beat Martina Navratilova in last year’s final, crushed Asa Carlsson of Sweden 6-1, 6-1, in just 47 minutes.
Sanchez Vicario, mixing her strong baseline game with occasional forays to the net, needed less than an hour to beat Katarina Studenkiova of Slovakia, 6-2, 6-1.
Pierce, making her Wimbledon debut, took 57 minutes to dispose of Sandra Dopfer 6-1, 6-2.
``I was a little bit nervous,″ Pierce said. ``I didn’t know what to expect, but it was a great feeling playing here for the first time.″
Also winning in straight sets was No. 4 Jana Novotna, who defeated Karin Kschwendt 6-4, 6-4.
Top-seeded Steffi Graf was set to play 14-year-old Swiss phenom Martina Hingis.
Sanchez Vicario, a clay-court specialist who has never advanced beyond the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, said she had worked to adapt her game to the grass surface.
``I went to the net when I had a chance,″ she said. ``I played a little more aggressive than I did in the past. Clay is still my favorite, but I want to prove myself on other surfaces.″
In other early women’s matches today, ninth-seeded Anke Huber rallied for a 6-7 (7-5), 6-1, 6-1, win over Tina Krizan of Slovenia.
Unseeded American Chanda Rubin _ finalist at last week’s Eastbourne tournament _ continued her fine run by beating Ludmila Richterova of Slovakia, 6-1, 6-3.
But Lori McNeil, who eliminated Graf in the first round last year, failed to knock out a seeded player in her opening match this time. Although McNeil was favored because of her grass-court expertise, she lost 4-6, 6-0, 6-3, to 14th-seeded Naoko Sawamatsu of Japan.
In early men’s matches, sixth-seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov overpowered Belgium’s Filip DeWulf in straight sets 6-3, 7-5, 6-3; while Javier Frana of Argentina ended crowd favorite Henri Leconte’s 13th Wimbledon appearance by beating the Frenchman 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.