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French Open: Federer out, Agassi in second round


May 27, 2003 10:35 IST

Switzerland's Roger Federer was knocked out of the French Open, but Andre Agassi defied age, as the Roland Garros burst into action on Monday.

Fifth seed Federer fell to Peru's Luis Horna 7-6, 6-2, 7-6 in the biggest shock so far at this year's claycourt grand slam while Agassi thumped Slovak Karol Beck 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 in his first round match.

Indeed Beck was barely allowed to soak up the rarified atmosphere of the imposing Roland Garros centre court before he was bustled off in just 95 minutes by the 33-year-old master.

"I feel a lot younger on the court than I do off it," Agassi smiled afterwards. "When I'm on the court I feel good but when I'm off it and carrying my baby around he's pulling the hair out of my ears, I feel a lot older."

Serena Williams was also in jovial mood after she had huffed and puffed her way past Germany's Barbara Rittner 6-2, 6-1.

"I'm going to buy shampoo and conditioner," she said when asked how she would be spending her time between matches.

Morocco's Younes El Aynaoui also plucked some bizarre wisdom out of the Parisian sky when he was asked why he walloped himself round the head with his racket during his 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over Anthony Dupuis.

"If I break the racket I'm going to have to pay for it, so why not just hit my head? That doesn't cost anything," the 23rd seed said.

COUNTING COST

Federer, though, will be counting the cost of another painful defeat on the big stage as questions continue to haunt him about his big-match temperament.

One of the most talented players to pick up a racket in recent years he is still without a breakthrough in a Grand Slam.

The wait must continue after a shallow performance against a man making his French Open debut.

Touted as a pre-tournament favourite, Federer's defeat meant a first round exit for the third time in five years here.

"Disappointing today...definitely," the Swiss acknowledged afterwards. "He didn't play a bad match and I didn't play a good match...the one definitely helps the other, you know?"

Horna was elated. "This is the best feeling I have had in my whole life," said the Peruvian who last month became a father for the first time.

"I was a bit anxious playing here for the first time but my coach said 'go out there and don't waste the opportunity -- it might not come again'.

"So I played just the way my coach told me to play and it was perfect."

Serena was far from perfect in her women's first round match but such is the gulf in power, if not class, between herself and also-rans she rarely needs to attain perfection.

ACCURATE REFLECTION

Monday's one-sided scoreline proved an accurate reflection of the pattern of play, but it was only the top seed's overwhelming strength of shot which gave her such simple passage in 53 minutes.

Rittner's guile and finesse had kept her in the contest for the first four games, which the pair shared, but when the muscle-bound champion turned up the power there was no contest.

"It was really fun to be out there...fun to be back where all the magic began for me," the top seed, who currently holds all four grand slams, said.

"I definitely felt pretty good. Usually when I go into the first round of a grand slam I'm a little bit nervous -- I mean, no-one wants to lose the first round.

"But here I am definitely where I want to be."

Fourth seed Justine Henin-Hardenne strolled into the second round, beating Patricia Wartusch 6-3, 7-5. She was joined by French fifth seed Amelie Mauresmo who overcame nerves, an expectant public and compatriot Virginie Razzano to progress 6-3, 7-5.

Former champions Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Carlos Moya also cantered through. Russian Kafelnikov, '96 champion, beat France's Julien Boutter 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 while '98 winner Moya, of Spain, beat Italy's Filippo Volandri in tighter circumstances 7-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Former women's champion Mary Pierce made a sad exit, however. Three years after landing the women's singles for France, Pierce lost to Argentine Clarisa Fernandez 6-2, 6-3.


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