Agassi Knocked Out of U.S. Open

Friday, September 1st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) — Andre Agassi minced no words in talking about his performance.

``It was just a brutal day,'' he said after falling in the second round to Frenchman Arnaud Clement and ending his bid to retain his U.S. Open title.

``I tried to figure out how to get to him, but I couldn't do it,'' said Agassi, who ended his summer of sadness with his earliest departure from America's premier tennis event since dropping a first-round match in 1993. ``I just got outplayed.''

In 1999, Agassi was magnificent, and when he won the Australian Open this past January, it meant he had reached the title match in four consecutive Grand Slam tournaments, the first man to accomplish that since Rod Laver in 1969.

Since Australia, however, Agassi has traveled a rocky road, failing to win a title on the ATP Tour, falling in the second round in the French and losing in the semifinals at Wimbledon. Then he hurt his back in a car accident and learned his mother and sister had breast cancer.

On Thursday, Clement walked off the hardcourt in the Arthur Ashe Stadium a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 winner.

Agassi wasn't alone on the sidelines.

Hyung-Taik Lee of Korea, a qualifier, beat No. 13 Franco Squillari of Argentina, Jerome Golmard of France ousted No. 16 Nicolas Lapentti 7-6 (3), 6-0, 2-6, 4-6, 7-6 (5), and in a women's second-round match, Lilia Osterloh of Canal Winchester, Ohio, advanced when No. 14 Dominique Van Roost retired while tied 7-6 (7), 4-6.

Seeded men moving into the third round were No. 5 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, No. 7 Thomas Enqvist, No. 9 Lleyton Hewitt and No. 11 Tim Henman.

Advancing in the women's singles were No. 2 Lindsay Davenport, No. 4 Mary Pierce, No. 5 Serena Williams, No. 7 Conchita Martinez, No. 10 Anke Huber and No. 12 Anna Kournikova.

``It's unbelievable,'' Clement said of his win, ``because it's on an unbelievable court. Maybe, I don't know, it was not full, maybe 15,000 persons. Everybody is for him.

``To beat him in a Grand Slam, it's another thing. It's different I think to beat him in a small tournament than in a Grand Slam. It's my best victory of my career.''

Agassi didn't even come close to imposing his game on the 37th-ranked Clement, who lost to him in the French and U.S. Opens last year in their only previous meetings.

While Clement whacked 36 winners to Agassi's 19, Agassi's feet barely moved, his usually quick hands moved slowly, and his shots lacked pace, depth and accuracy.

They each made 27 unforced errors, but Clement's usually came when he went for winners, Agassi's when he missed easy shots.

``It's finding the balance between hitting offensively enough to control the point, but not playing too big,'' Agassi said. ``I struggle with that. Sometimes I played too big and occasionally I just took a little bit off of it. I never found my quality pace shot that allowed me to dictate without taking too many chances. It was a little breezy down there, tough conditions.

``Once you start second-guessing your shots, your feet don't respond as well. When the ball's moving around and your feet aren't adjusting, mistakes are going to happen.''

Serena Williams also had trouble on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court, but you couldn't tell it by the score. She beat Nadejda Petrova of Russia 6-3, 6-2, but the match was much closer than that.

While she had 17 winners, including six aces, Williams made 23 unforced errors, enough to give Petrova hope. But every time the Russian appeared ready to make a move, the defending women's champion raised her game and fought off the challenge.

``I'm going to serve better in the next round because I know I'm going to serve better,'' Williams said. ``I feel that I'm going to serve better.''