Agassi keeps his cool

Tennis

Andre Agassi came through two tie-breaks to earn a place in the fourth round of the Newsweek Champions Cup at Indian Wells in California.

The American third seed looked to be heading for defeat in Thursday's match as his compatriot, Todd Martin, built up a 6-3 tie-break lead in the first set - but Agassi came back to win it 11-9.

Martin again had Agassi on the back foot when he took the second set 6-3, but Agassi held his nerve to take the decider, overwhelming his opponent 7-1 in another shoot-out.

"Todd really played great all the way around. I felt like he served extremely well,'' Agassi said. "Any time a guy who can hit that big is hitting that big up the line, you've got your hands full."

The defending champion, Pete Sampras, had an easier time, defeating Michael Joyce 6-3, 6-4. The match was Sampras's first of the tournament - he had a first-round bye before his second-round opponent, Spain's Alex Corretja, forfeited with a sprained ankle.

With Thomas Muster losing on Wednesday, Sampras can regain the No 1 ranking by winning his quarter-final match against Paul Haarhuis later today.

Jim Courier, the winner in 1991 and 1993, was knocked out by South Africa's Wayne Ferreira 6-4, 6-4, while Michael Chang beat France's Arnaud Boetsch 6-1, 6-3.

In the State Farm Evert Cup, which is running concurrently with the men's tournament at the Hyatt Grand Champions resort, Steffi Graf moved into the final by overcoming Lindsay Davenport, the No 7 seed, 6-7, 7-6, 6- 4.

n Britain's Tim Henman reached the semi-finals of an ATP tournament for the second consecutive month yesterday when he beat Germany's Martin Sinner 7-5, 6-1 in the event in Copenhagen.

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