Tennis: Agassi gives Chang the old treatment

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The Independent Online
IN A match reminiscent of their glory days, Andre Agassi beat Michael Chang 6-4, 7-6 in an emotional, hard fought semi-final on Saturday at the Sybase Open.

Agassi, who advanced to his first ATP final since August of 1996, was due to meet Pete Sampras in last night's final, their first meeting since Sampras humiliated Agassi 6-2, 6-1 at the 1996 ATP Championships. Sampras defeated John Van Lottum, the young Dutch qualifier, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 in an earlier semi-final.

Chang has been in a serious slump since the US Open last September and Agassi has not won a title in 18 months, but the two brought out the best in each other.

Agassi, ranked only 71 in the world, but showing signs of regaining his form, took control of the big points of the match showing great timing on service winners and backhands down the lines.

Against the 21-year-old Van Lottum, Sampras recovered from a lapse of concentration in the second set and used his familiar potion of serve- and-volley tennis and stinging forehands to win the match.

At the St Petersburg Open Richard Krajicek was too good for Switzerland's Marc Rosset, winning 6-4, 7-6 in the final. The victory in an hour and a half came despite a tough first set in which the top-seeded Dutchman was on the brink of going two breaks down.

Three chances to take a 5-2 lead came Rosset's way in a tense seventh game, but he failed to capitalise in what would prove to be the match's turning point.

Steffi Graf, the former world No 1, has decided to go ahead with her long-awaited comeback to tournament tennis in Hanover this week. A WTA spokesperson confirmed that the 28-year-old Graf, who has not played since having a knee operation shortly after last year's French Open, had been able to practice last week and would be in the Hanover draw. She had hoped to return at last week's Paris Indoor Open, but retired at the 11th hour after sustaining a calf strain in training.