Agassi falls to world's No 462

Tennis

Andre Agassi, the world No 3, suffered a surprise second-round defeat by Luke Jensen, the world No 462, in the Kroger St Jude tournament in Memphis yesterday.

Agassi, seeded second behind Pete Sampras, lost 6-2, 6-4 after spraying serves and groundstrokes all over the court against Jensen, who is better known as a doubles specialist.

"My timing was all off," explained a subdued Agassi. "It's as simple as that." Asked about his desire, he said: "You always want to win but sometimes you're not thinking as sharp or as clearly as others."

Agassi did not seem particularly upset by his loss, which the crowd reacted to with booing. "I'm not used to it, but it feels good not to go late in every tournament," he said, adding that he plans to go home to Las Vegas.

Jensen joked that the win would be "great for my teaching-pro job", adding more seriously: "I can play good tennis. I know it's kind of weird to think that, but I can."

All the other seeded players won their matches with Sampras using his serve to beat Richey Reneberg 6-3, 7-6 while Michael Chang was extended to three sets before overcoming the Australian Scott Draper 6-3, 5-7 6-2.

But Agassi's swift exit was the talk of the tournament. He lost the first set in just over 20 minutes and was down 4-1, 0-40 in the second set 40 minutes into the match before staging his only rally.

Helped by several unforced errors by Jensen, Agassi recovered to 4-5 on his own serve but then played another listless game, ending the match by hitting an easy volley into the net. Agassi's defeat ruined an anticipated re-match with Sampras to determine the world's No 1 player.

n The top seed, Boris Becker, was pushed to three sets yesterday before beating the Russian qualifier Andrei Olhovskiy 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 to reach the quarter-finals of the European Community Championships in Antwerp. Becker, who now faces Spain's Francisco Clavet, said: "I need all the match practice I can get." Becker is returning to the circuit after a back injury, which has kept him out of tournaments since his victory at the Australian Open.

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