Agassi puts in model performance

Andre Agassi had to cope with the power, accuracy and consistency of Max Mirnyi's serve and the novelty of models acting as ball-girls in his opening match at the Madrid Masters here last night.

Andre Agassi had to cope with the power, accuracy and consistency of Max Mirnyi's serve and the novelty of models acting as ball-girls in his opening match at the Madrid Masters here last night.

Mirnyi, of Belarus, provided a greater challenge, and was unlucky to lose the opening set as the 34-year-old American edged to a 7-6, 6-3 win. It was Agassi's first match since losing to Roger Federer in the US Open quarter-finals on 9 September, and he had difficulty controlling his shots because of the balls' speed at altitude.

Agassi, the No 2 seed, had to save three break points in the seventh game of the opening set, in which Mirnyi won 16 straight service points, dropped only two, and then lost the tie-break, 7-5.

As for the models, Agassi had to advise one of them in the second game of the second set that she was standing in the wrong place in the corner and should have been beside the net. His overall impression? "It was difficult, to say the least, to concentrate on the ball," he said. "At least I had an advantage from playing with my wife.

"I suppose I need them to let [ideas absorb]. I'm not quite convinced it's part of our product. The skirts seem to be difficult for them to run in. They should be shortened, maybe."

Tim Henman will not have models doing the fetching and carrying during his opening match against Albert Costa, of Spain, who said he had not been distracted by the girls from the catwalk in his first-round match against Irakli Labadze on Monday. The models are only on duty for the televised opening match of each night session. Henman is due on second during the day.

Henman, given a bye in the first round, was in good spirits as he prepared to go into a Masters Series event as the No 1 seed for the first time in his career. His greeting was accompanied by a smile. "I think you should probably bow now," he said.

Elevated in the absence of the world's top four players, Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt and Guillermo Coria, Henman needs to be more than a king for a day if he is to strengthen his prospects of qualifying for the Masters Cup in Houston next month.

Costa, the 2002 French Open champion, may be ranked No 54 but he has the groundstrokes to worry Henman if the British No 1's attacking style misses a beat.

This will be their 10th meeting. Henman leads the series, 6-3, but lost their last two matches, in 2002 and 2001. "We've had some tough matches in the past, some strange results," Costa said. "He's beaten me on clay, and I've beaten him on hard court. I'm going to try and return from inside the baseline and try and make him play. If he can deal with that, then that's too good, but I think I can trouble him."

Henman, who believes he is ready to meet the challenge, having taken a short break to ease aching lower back and shoulder muscles, was keen to keep his lofty seeding in perspective.

"What does being a top seed mean? Well," he said, "it means I'm at the top of the draw. But there are still so many good players. [Juan Carlos] Ferrero won last year, and Agassi's playing, and you've got [Marat] Safin and [David] Nalbandian, and others, and you've got to be ready to go.

"I've won tournaments as top seed, and I've lost pretty early. I really don't think it means a great deal. It means you avoid the other top players in the early rounds. We've got byes this tournament, and that can be a good thing or a bad thing, because the other players have got a match under their belt."

BUY WIMBLEDON TICKETS

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map