Agassi survives ordeal by aces as Johansson serves record 51

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Size does not matter, as Marat Safin nearly learnt to his cost yesterday, and neither does breaking records, as Joachim Johansson discovered after losing to Andre Agassi despite serving up 51 aces.

Size does not matter, as Marat Safin nearly learnt to his cost yesterday, and neither does breaking records, as Joachim Johansson discovered after losing to Andre Agassi despite serving up 51 aces.

The 6ft 4in Safin dropped the first set and was taken to tie-breaks on the second, third and fourth by Olivier Rochus who - at 11 inches shorter than the Russian - is the smallest man competing here. Safin reverted to his old habits, smashing a racket before eventually prevailing 4-6, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6 over the Belgian.

Johansson, who shot up 101 places in the world rankings last year to No 12 after beating Andy Roddick to reach the semi-finals of the US Open, overwhelmed Agassi with raw power in the first set and forced the next three into tie-breaks. The veteran American, the best returner in the game, looked dazed, even after his 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, 6-4 fourth-round victory.

Receiving the barrage of aces was "not fun", said Agassi, who will play the No 1 seed and reigning champion, Roger Federer, in a dream quarter-final tomorrow. "It's very uncomfortable," he said. "You just have to admire it while you're out there, because there's not a whole lot you can do."

Not only did Johansson surpass the previous record of 49 aces in a match, set by Richard Krajicek at the 1999 US Open, but his second serves were remarkable, too. One crossed the net at 142mph, and he hit a second serve ace at 135mph to take the first set into a tie-break.

As Agassi pointed out, his aces alone gave him the equivalent of almost 13 games. But the perils of that kind of play were evident from the statistics: the Swede hit 96 winners, compared with 35 for the No 8 seed and champion at eight Grand Slam events, but he also made 66 unforced errors, to Agassi's 13.

The 34-year-old Agassi broke the Swede's serve three times, dropping his own serve at the start of the first and fourth sets. At times, he was reduced to walking from one side of court to the other, waiting for the No 11 seed to make an error.

"It was a tough day," he said. "Joachim was hitting the ball so big. What can you do but sort of react? It [his serve] is a phenomenal weapon." Johansson said it was "a nice feeling" to have broken the record, but he was ruing a break point that he failed to convert when 4-3 up in the second set.

In an ominous prediction, the 6ft 6in Swede - who won his first tournament in Memphis last year and added the Australian hardcourt title earlier this month - said: "I think I can still improve my serve a lot."

His defeat was a disappointment for the home crowd, who in view of the dearth of local men's talent - which consists of just Lleyton Hewitt - had adopted him as an honorary Australian. Johansson goes out with Hewitt's sister, Jaslyn. Kim Clijsters, however, is no longer known as "Aussie Kim" in the Australian press, after breaking off her engagement with Hewitt.

The Australian No 3 seed advanced 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 against Juan Ignacio Chela on Saturday in a match that became rather overheated in the fourth set. Yesterday the Argentinian was fined $2,000 (£1,530) for unsportsmanlike conduct after spitting towards Hewitt following a break of serve in the fourth set.

Safin, last year's runner-up at Melbourne Park, will play Dominik Hrbaty, the Slovakian No 20 seed, in the quarter-finals following his volatile meeting with Rochus.

The Russian No 4 seed received a warning in the third set from the chair umpire, Andreas Egli, after hurling his racket twice to the ground, furious at himself for wasting three break point chances. He then belted the broken racket three times on a courtside drink cooler, mangling it comprehensively, on his way to collect a new victim.

Safin converted only one of his 18 break point chances. He said he smashed the racket because he was "a little upset". "He didn't let me play," he said of Rochus. "A lot of people underestimate him, and he can cause you a lot of trouble."

Federer had an easier time against Marcos Baghdatis, a 19-year-old Cypriot qualifier, although he had to recover from 3-0 down in the third set. Baghdatis surprised Federer with some brilliant cross-court forehands before the latter sealed his 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 victory, extending his winning streak to 25 matches.

In the women's draw, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova both needed three sets to reach the quarter-finals, where they will play Amélie Mauresmo and Svetlana Kuznetsova respectively.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN RESULTS

MEN'S SINGLES

THIRD ROUND: G CANAS (Arg) bt R Stepanek (Cz Rep) 6-1 6-2 6-2; G CORIA (Arg) bt J-C FERRERO (Sp) 6-3 6-2 6-1; N DAVYDENKO (Rus) bt T HENMAN (GB) 6-4 6-2 6-2; P Kohlschreiber (Ger) bt J-R Lisnard (Fr) 7-5 6-3 6-2; A RODDICK (US) bt J MELZER (Aut) 6-2 6-2 7-5; D NALBANDIAN (Arg) bt F GONZALEZ (Chile) 6-7 7-5 6-2 6-3; R Nadal (Sp) bt B Reynolds (US) 6-1 6-1 6-3; L HEWITT (Aus) bt J I CHELA (Arg) 6-2 4-6 6-1 6-4. FOURTH ROUND: R FEDERER (Swit) bt M Baghdatis (Cyp) 6-2 6-2 7-6; A AGASSI (US) bt J JOHANSSON (Swe) 6-7 7-6 7-6 6-4; M SAFIN (Rus) bt O Rochus (Bel) 4-6 7-6 7-6 7-6; D HRBATY (Slovak) bt T JOHANSSON (Swe) 7-5 6-3 6-1.

WOMEN'S SINGLES

THIRD ROUND: A MYSKINA (Rus) bt L RAYMOND (US) w/o; K SPREM (Croa) bt E LIKHOVTSEVA (Rus) 6-4 6-3; L DAVENPORT (US) bt N Vaidisova (Cz Rep) 6-2 6-4, V WILLIAMS (US) bt A SMASHNOVA (Isr) 6-3 6-0; A MOLIK (Aus) bt T Panova (Rus) 6-3 6-2; N DECHY (Fr) bt F SCHIAVONE (It) 6-3 6-3; P SCHNYDER (Swit) bt A Spears (US) 7-6 6-3; E DEMENTIEVA (Rus) bt D HANTUCHOVA (Slovak) 7-5 5-7 6-4. FOURTH ROUND: S KUZNETSOVA (Rus) bt V Douchevina (Rus) 6-4 6-2; M SHARAPOVA (Rus) bt S F ELIA (It) 4-6 6-1 6-2; S WILLIAMS (US) bt N PETROVA (Rus) 6-1 3-6 6-3; A MAURESMO (Fr) bt E Linetskaya (Rus) 6-2 6-4.

MEN'S DOUBLES

SECOND ROUND: A Fisher (Aus) and T Parrott (US) bt C Suk and P Vizner (Cz Rep) 7-6 6-4; T Berdych (Cz Rep) and A Pavel (Rom) bt W ARTHURS and P HANLEY (Aus) 7-6 7-5; M LLODRA and F SANTORO (Fr) bt J Kerr (Aus) and J Thomas (US) 6-4 6-4; W Moodie (SA) and N Zimonjic (Serb) bt X MALISSE and O ROCHUS (Bel) 6-3 6-4; K Beck (Slovak) and S Sargsian (Arm) bt K Braasch (Ger) and J Coetzee (SA) 6-4 6-7 7-5; J ERLICH and A RAM (Isr) bt H Taik Lee (S Kor) and J Nieminen (Fin) w/o; B BRYAN and M BRYAN (US) bt R Karanusic (Croa) and U Vico (It) 6-0 6-2.

THIRD ROUND: J Blake (US) and M Fish (US) bt K Beck (Slovak) and S Sargsian (Arm) 6-3 6-4; Bryan and Bryan bt ERLICH and RAM 6-1 4-6 7-6; J Melzer (Aut) and A Waske (Ger) bt Y-H Lu (Taiw) and T Suzuki (Japan) 7-5 7-6; M BHUPATHI (Ind) and T WOODBRIDGE (Aus) bt A Costa (Sp) and R Nadal (Sp) 4-6 7-6 6-4; W BLACK (Zim) and K ULLYETT (Zim) bt A Calatrava (Sp) and D Ferrer (Sp) 7-6 6-2.

WOMEN'S DOUBLES

SECOND ROUND: S ASAGOE (Japan) and K SREBOTNIK (Sloven) bt R D Ilie (Rom) and M Drake (Can) 6-4 3-6 7-5; T LI and T T SUN (Chin) bt D Chladkova (Cz Rep) and L Kurhajcova (Slovak) 3-6 6-0 6-3; J Russell (US) and M Santangelo (It) bt Y Beygelzimer (Ukr) and I Senoglu (Tur) 6-3 6-7 6-3, A Medina Garrigues (Sp) and D Safina (Rus) bt G DULKO (Arg) and M VENTO-KABCHI (Ven) 6-1 6-7 6-4, E Birnerova (Cz Rep) and A Vanc (Rom) bt C BLACK (Zim) and L HUBER (SA) 6-7 7-5 6-3. THIRD ROUND: S KUZNETSOVA (Rus) and A MOLIK (Aus) bt M Sequera (Ven) and M Tu (US) 3-6 6-3 6-3; A MYSKINA (Rus) and V ZVONAREVA (Rus) bt LI and SUN 6-1 7-5; J Russell (US) and M Santangelo (It) bt E DEMENTIEVA (Rus) and A SUGIYAMA (Japan) 6-4 6-4; L DAVENPORT (US) and C MORARIU (US) bt E Birnerova (Cz Rep) and A Vanc (Rom) 6-2 6-2; D Hantuchova (Slovak) and M Navratilova (US) bt ASAGOE and SREBOTNIK 6-4 6-4.

MIXED DOUBLES

FIRST ROUND: D NESTOR (Can) and R Stubbs (Aus) bt P Pala (Cz Rep) and R Vinci (It) 4-6 6-4 7-6; L FRIEDL (Cz Rep) and J HUSAROVA (Slovak) bt G Etlis (Arg) and E Loit (Fr) 7-5 6-3; N ZIMONJIC (Serb-M) and E LIKHOVTSEVA (Rus) bt C Suk (Cz Rep) and L McShea (Aus) 6-3 6-1; B BRYAN (US) and V ZVONAREVA (Rus) bt M Rodriguez (Arg) and E Gagliardi (Swit) 6-2 6-7 7-6; Y-H Lu (Taiw) and N Liu (Chin) bt J Knowle (Aut) and B Schett (Aut) 4-6 6-1 7-6; M MIRNYI (Bela) and M NAVRATILOVA (US) bt T Woodbridge (Aus) and E Daniilidou (Gr) 6-4 6-4; K ULLYETT (Zim) and L HUBER (SA) bt T Perry (Aus) and M Sequera (Ven) 3-6 6-2 7-6; A Ram (Isr) and C Martinez (Sp) bt S Prieto (Arg) and G Dulko (Arg) 5-7 7-6 7-6; W Arthurs (Aus) and T Musgrave (Aus) bt C Haggard (SA) and M Tu (US) 6-4 2-6 7-6; R Leach (US) and V R Pascual (Sp) bt J Erlich (Isr) and T T Sun (Chin) 6-3 7-6; W BLACK (Zim) and C BLACK (Zim) bt P Luczak (Aus) and J Hewitt (Aus) 6-2 6-3; S Draper (Aus) and S Stosur (Aus) bt M Knowles (Bah) and D Hantuchova (Slovak) 6-3 7-6; F Cermak (Cz Rep) and K Srebotnik (Sloven) bt S Aspelin (Swe) and Z Yan (Chin) 6-3 6-4.

seeded players in CAPITALS

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