Sparkling Agassi sends Corretja packing

TOP seed and two-time champion Andre Agassi crushed Spain’s Alex Corretja 6-1 6-2 6-2 in the opening round of the US Open at Flushing Meadows.

He was in brilliant form against Corretja, needing only 86 minutes to snap a three-match losing streak against the former top-five player.

Agassi hit 36 winners against 19 unforced errors and never lost his serve while breaking Corretja six times.

Another of Agassi's contemporaries, Michael Chang, won a standing ovation after he played the final match of his professional career a 6-3 7-5 5-7 6-4 loss to 15th seed Fernando Gonzalez of Chile.

But a member of the younger generation, Andy Roddick, staked his claim for the title with a crushing victory over Tim Henman.

Roddick began his bid for a first Grand Slam winning 6-3 7-6 (7/2) 6-3 against the Briton to avenge his loss in the summer hardcourt season.

Meanwhile, eighth seed Rainer Schuettler and number 11 Paradorn Srichaphan both struggled before advancing to the second round.

Schuettler was forced to battle before finally beating hard-serving Australian Wayne Arthurs 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-4.

Srichaphan defeated Frenchman Cyril Saulnier 2-6 6-2 6-3 7-6 (7/4) after appearing to suffer a respiratory problem that required several visits from the trainer.

But 12th seed Sjeng Schalken of the Netherlands, a semi-finalist here last year, had few problems as he cruised past France's Julien Boutter 6-2 6-3 6-2.

The night session did produce a shock result however when former world number one Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil, the 14th seed, was outbattled by Russian Dmitry Tursunov 5-7 6-2 6-2 4-6 7-6 (7/1).

Meanwhile sixth seed Jennifer Capriati, who has emerged as one of the favourites in the absence of injured sisters Serena and Venus Williams, cruised into the second round with a 35-minute destruction of Spain's Cristina Torrens Valero, 6-0 6-1.

The American was delighted with her form after recovering from a shoulder injury.

"It's amazing how things turn around in my game when I'm feeling physically and mentally good," said Capriati.

French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne had a tougher match before finally beating Hungarian qualifier Aniko Kapros 7-5 6-3. The 21-year-old Belgian, who won her first career Grand Slam at Roland Garros in June, said: "The first match is always tough, especially in Grand Slams.

"A first round is never easy, especially against a qualifier who played three matches before playing the first round in the main draw."

Bulgaria's Magdalena Maleeva, the 10th seed, was knocked out by Shinobu Asagoe 6-4 6-3.

The Japanese avenged a loss earlier this year at Birmingham, where Maleeva went on to win the event, and avoided a three-match losing streak at the US Open.

Ai Sugiyama, seeded 15, joined her fellow countrywoman in the second round after thrashing Spain's Conchita Martinez Granados 6-1 6-0 in just 44 minutes.

And 22nd seed Jelena Dokic, from Yugoslavia, recorded a 6-4 6-2 triumph over Switzerland's Emmanuelle Gagliardi.

A pair of seeded Russians also booked their places in the second round seventh seed Anastasia Myskina posted a 6-2 3-6 6-1 victory over Henrieta Nagyova of Slovakia and 11th seed Elena Dementieva defeated Czech qualifier Alena Vaskova 6-2 6-3.

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