Agassi powers into semi-finals

Andre Agassi marched into the Stockholm Open semi-finals yesterday, subduing the Spanish eighth seed, Fernando Verdasco, 7-6, 6-2, in his toughest match of the tournament.

The 19-year-old Verdasco, untroubled by the crowd's support for the American, matched Agassi in the opening set as both dominated with service. Verdasco needed to fight off one break point on the way to the tie-break, but failed to sustain the excellence of his game as Agassi, the top seed, broke him in the tie-break to take a 5-4 lead before serving out the set. In the second set, Agassi started to read Verdasco's serve, breaking the Spaniard to 2-0 and again to 6-2 to seal the match.

In the semi-finals the Las Vegan faces the German fourth seed, Tommy Haas, who defeated the Belgian Olivier Rochus 6-3, 7-6 earlier in the day. Both Haas and Agassi have yet to lose a set.

In Russia, the top seed, Marat Safin, was knocked out of the St Petersburg Open, losing 6-4, 6-1 to Michael Llodra in the quarter-finals. After an impressive victory at last week's Madrid Masters, Safin stumbled after encountering stiff resistance from the seventh-seeded Frenchman. Llodra broke the Russian's serve in the 10th game to claim the opening set. After losing a break in the fourth game of the second set, Safin surrendered tamely.

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