Rusedski's power overcomes Lapentti

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The Independent Online

The top seed, Andre Agassi, needed just 56 minutes here to beat Fernando Vicente, of Spain, 6-2, 6-2 and advance to the quarter-finals of the Washington Classic.

He was due to meet the British No 2, Greg Rusedski, who eased to a straight-sets win over Ecuador's Nicolas Lapentti.

The left-handed Rusedski, seeded 12th, powered to a 7-6, 6-3 victory over the seventh-seeded Lapentti, who had won three of their previous five meetings on the ATP Tour. The last time Rusedski and Agassi met, at the Mercedes-Benz Cup in Los Angeles earlier in the summer, Rusedski took the American, who went on to win the title, to three sets before succumbing ''It will be fun," said Rusedski of the meeting. ''I think Andre is very motivated to play well here and establish himself as a contender for the US Open.''

Agassi has been struggling with his form over the last two weeks and lost in the first round of the Masters Series events in Cincinnati and Montreal.

For that he blamed the "light" Penn balls, but said he was happier with the Wilson balls used here and at the US Open. "To me, the balls are even more important than the surface,'' said Agassi. ''The way the ball is coming off the racket affects your game.

'''I just felt really good out there," Agassi said of his victory over Vicente. ''He's a good opponent for me. He forces me to hit my targets well and I was just picking up the ball early and hitting it really clean.''

In arguably the tie of the round, the ninth-seeded Andy Roddick, of the United States, defeated the fifth-seeded Slovakian Dominik Hrbaty by 6-2, 7-5. Roddick now faces Chile's Marcelo Rios, who upset the second seed, Alex Corretja, of Spain, 7-6, 6-3 in the last eight.

The No 10 seed, Sjeng Schalken, of the Netherlands, also advanced to the quarter-finals after the American Jan-Michael Gambill withdrew with a shoulder injury.

The No 4 seed, Fabrice Santoro, of France, beat Paraguay's Ramon Delgado 6-3 7-5, while the third-seeded Tommy Haas surprisingly fell to the 16th-seeded Frenchman, Jerome Golmard, 6-4, 6-4.

Guillermo Canas, of Argentina, was beaten by American Michael Chang, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.