Awful Agassi set for a fall

Andre Agassi's unhappy year continued at the ATP Championship in Ohio when he was thrashed by the French Open champion, Gustavo Kuerten. The former world No 1, twice a winner of the tournament, was beaten 6-3, 6- 1 in the first round, the seventh successive time he has lost at that stage this year.

Tuesday's defeat ensures that the American's ATP ranking will plummet. He went into the tournament ranked No 33, but will drop to somewhere in the mid-70s when the next set of rankings are issued on Monday - his lowest position since 1986, when he finished his first year as a professional 91st in the world.

"I've got to get my court sense back," Agassi said. "I cannot feel my game and impose it. I'm just surviving shots, trying to get to the ball and not make an error. I feel like a different player out there and that's not good."

Kuerten built up the pressure as he overwhelmed Agassi in less than an hour to reach the second round. The Brazilian 10th seed took the first set in 24 minutes, swept to a 5-0 lead in the second in 16 more minutes, and wrapped up victory two games later after just 45 minutes on court. "I have so much confidence," Kuerten said. "I felt great on court, I just want to keep playing like that. I feel very solid in my game."

The German Anke Huber avenged her Wimbledon defeat by Anna Kournikova when she humbled the Russian teenager 6-0, 6-1 in the first round of the Acura Classic in California. Huber, the sixth seed, handed Kournikova the worst defeat of her professional career - surpassing her 6-2, 6-1 loss to Steffi Graf at last year's US Open.

"Well I lost to her in Wimbledon, so sure I'm a little bit surprised that it was so easy," Huber said. "She started a little bit nervous, she missed a lot of easy balls. And I didn't let her into the match. I made her run a lot, which she doesn't like."

Huber's powerful groundstrokes were decisive, and Kournikova won only one point on her own serve in the first set, which lasted 16 minutes. Kournikova, who is limited to 13 tournaments this year because she is 16, was playing her first tournament since she reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon.

"It's very hard to prepare without playing any tournament matches," Kournikova said. "I want to play more, but obviously I can't."

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