Tennis: Agassi continues his revival but Rusedski loses again

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Andre Agassi, the former world No 1, boosted his confidence ahead of the Australian Open with a three-set victory over Goran Ivanisevic in Melbourne yesterday, while Greg Rusedski put a brave face on another defeat, this time by Pete Sampras.

Agassi, who is clawing his way back up the rankings after slipping to No 110 last year, beat the Croatian 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 in the Kooyong Classic, and, after his victory over Austria's Thomas Muster on Wednesday, that put him in the final.

"I'm hitting the ball really well, moving well, serving well, volleying well," Agassi said after the match. "I really feel like my game is coming around every time I'm out there, which is a great sign."

He will play the winner of today's match between Australia's Mark Philippoussis, who beat Rusedski on Wednesday, and the French Open champion, Gustavo Kuerten.

Sampras put on a stronger performance in the losers' round of the exhibition tournament than he had in losing to Kuerten on Wednesday, and cruised past Rusedski 7-5, 6-1.

Rusedski, the world No 6, insisted he was not downhearted after this and his earlier defeat by Philippoussis, saying he just needed to "sharpen" his game before the Open starts on Monday.

He said he had again found Sampras in a particularly determined mood. "What usually happens is that when he has a defeat he comes back sharp the next day," Rusedski said. "Usually when I get to play him he has just had some terrible loss so he is extra motivated. When he comes to see me, its like a wake-up when he has had one of his worst matches."

Jim Courier, the winner in 1992 and 1993, has withdrawn from next week's Australian Open because of a shoulder injury. The American joins a list of absentees that includes Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Monica Seles, Steffi Graf and Jana Novotna.