Agassi ready after rain delay

Andre Agassi will finally begin his quest for a second French Open title on the third day of competition at Roland Garros today.

Andre Agassi will finally begin his quest for a second French Open title on the third day of competition at Roland Garros today.

Agassi’s scheduled first-round match was one of several to fall victim to the weather in Paris with intermittent rain forcing the players off court on several occasions.

The former world number one will now take on French qualifier Eric Prodon, weather permitting, this afternoon, although he will still have to wait for the completion of two more matches before he gets on court.

Second seed Marat Safin was also due to finally start his opening round game against another Frenchman Michael Llodra, the Russian playing the second match on court one just before top seed Lleyton Hewitt is scheduled to play his second-round match against Russian Andrei Stoliarov.

One of the lucky players to dodge the showers yesterday was British number one Tim Henman, who demonstrated his new--found prowess on his least favourite surface, recovering from a 4-1 deficit in the first set to record a 6-4 6-3 7-6 win over Spain’s Galo Blanco, who reached the fourth round here last year and the quarter-finals in 1997.

And he will be favourite to book a place in the last 32 tomorrow by beating Belgium’s Xavier Malisse, who was being coached by Henman’s former coach David Felgate when he beat the British number one in five sets in the third round of last year’s US Open.

‘‘From 4-1 down in the first set it was a good one to get through, especially given the conditions,’’ said Henman, who lost 6-2 6-4 to Blanco in their only previous meeting on clay four years ago.

‘‘I think it does show how far I’ve come on clay.

‘‘Someone of Pete Sampras’ calibre has struggled (he lost in the first round on Monday) and Blanco beat him here 12 months ago. I have a different approach on this surface which has certainly helped me and wins like this have added satisfaction.’’

Switzerland’s Roger Federer was the biggest casualty on day two. Federer, who thrashed Safin for the loss of just eight games to win a clay court tournament in Hamburg nine days ago, lost in straight sets to Morocco’s Hicham Arazi.

The eighth seed, who ended Pete Sampras’ 31-match unbeaten run at Wimbledon last year in the fourth round, went down 6-3 6-2 6-4.

In the women’s singles, Belgium’s Justine Henin was a shock loser, last year’s beaten semi-finalist and Wimbledon finalist losing in three sets to Aniko Kapros.

And compatriot Kim Clijsters, who beat Henin before losing to Jennifer Capriati in last year’s final, herself had to battle hard to beat Tatiana Poutchek of Belarus 8-6 in the third set.

Capriati only got on court at 8:15pm on Tuesday evening and was lucky to be 4-2 up on compatriot Marissa Irvin when the rain fell again and finally ended play for the day.

Irvin had already reached her chair thinking she had broken Capriati’s serve to reduce her deficit to 4-3 when the umpire incorrectly overruled a line call.

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