Kournikova plays smart

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Anna Kournikova relied on her relative experience to cling to an early lead and beat Cara Black 6-3, 7-6 in the opening round of the Du Maurier Open in Montreal on Monday.

Anna Kournikova relied on her relative experience to cling to an early lead and beat Cara Black 6-3, 7-6 in the opening round of the Du Maurier Open in Montreal on Monday.

The 19-year-old Russian jumped to a 4-0 lead in the first set, holding Black to just two points. But Black rallied to take a 4-3 lead in the second set before falling in the tiebreak. "My game has matured," Kournikova said. "I'm playing a bit smarter, not trying crazy shots like I used to. I wasn't thinking: 'Oh God, I'm going to lose the set, I'm going to lose the match.'

"I kind of lost focus after going up 4-0," she added. "Cara is a smart player. I guess she didn't get into the match right away, but she was fighting."

Three seeds fell on the first day of the men's Legg Mason Classic in Washington on Monday - when Andre Agassi made a rare appearance in a doubles tournament.

Fernando Gonzalez, of Chile, rallied to beat the 13th seed Chris Woodruff 6-4, 1-6, 6-3; Italy's Andrea Gaudenzi upset the 14th seed Rainer Schuttler of Germany 6-4, 6-4 and Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand eliminated the 15th seed Jason Stoltenberg 6-4, 6-4. The top eight seeds received first-round byes.

Andre Agassi, the top seed, again played through an aching back as he prepares to defend his US Open title in two weeks. He played doubles on Monday but won thanks to someone else suffering from a bad back.

Agassi, a five-time winner of the singles tournament, saw his Washington doubles debut cut short when Sweden's Peter Nyborg could not continue after a brief rain delay because of a sore back.

Nyborg and his partner Cyril Suk led 5-4 in the first set against Agassi and Sargis Sargasian when a brief shower sent the players to the locker room.

"I've turned a physical corner this week," said Agassi, who never looked completely comfortable at net. "I feel with Monday's doubles I'm playing half the court and hitting half the shots."

He suffered the injury on 8 July in a car accident in Las Vegas. After withdrawing from the Davis Cup semi-final and a tournament in Los Angeles, he suffered a first-round loss at the Masters Series event two weeks ago in Toronto.

Last week, Agassi won his first-round match at the Masters Series event in Cincinnati, but his back stiffened up during his second-round match and he was forced to retire in the third set.

* Bjorn Borg will play in the Atlanta Champions tournament next month in what could be his final appearance in the United States. Borg, 44, who plans to retire at the end of the year, is expected to play in tournaments in Paris, Singapore, Hong Kong and London.

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