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Agassi wins battle of veterans

Last updated on: February 28, 2006 10:10 IST

Andre Agassi held off a strong first set challenge from Greg Rusedski on Monday to earn a 7-6, 6-0 victory in the first round of the Dubai Open, only the American's second event since the US Open.

The fourth seed struggled early on against a British opponent who served well and played solidly from the baseline and at the net. However, once the tiebreak had been won 7-4, Agassi ran away with the second set.

Rusedski earned only five points in the first five games before Agassi closed out the match on his fourth match point.

"I made a few good shots at the right time early in the second set, I relaxed and maybe the edge came off his game too," said Agassi, 35, after his fourth match of 2006.

"Obviously, when you can get up a break it helps you relax a little more. And he didn't serve as high a percentage of first serves and I was returning pretty well."

David Ferrer was the first seed to fall. The fifth-seeded Spaniard was beaten 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 by Rainer Schuettler of Germany.

After splitting the first two sets, Schuettler broke twice in the third to lead 4-1.

Ferrer fought back and led 5-4, only to hit two double-faults as he dropped his serve to love at 5-5.

Tim Henman came through a tough match with former finalist Feliciano Lopez to reach the second round 6-2, 7-6.

NUMBER ONE

Henman lost his position as British number one after the latest rankings were released on Monday. Scottish teenager Andrew Murray is now ranked 42, seven places higher than Henman.

His Spanish opponent virtually handed the opening set to Henman with a sluggish performance and numerous unforced errors. But the second set was more of a struggle.

Lopez fought off three break points that would have given Henman the momentum of a 2-0 lead and then broke to lead 2-1 when the Briton failed to pick up a low forehand.

Henman also had to fend off two break points in the seventh game before Lopez, leading 5-4, double-faulted on break point.

Henman held a match point at 6-5, which Lopez saved with a forehand volley, and recovered from 0-3 in the tiebreak, claiming it 8-6 on his fifth match point.

"The first set I played very solidly but he was making so many unforced errors," said Henman.

"Then I played one or two loose points on the 1-1 game in the second set and that gave him a lot of confidence. It was amazing how much better he played from then, from playing ordinary to playing some pretty good stuff."

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