SPORT

Agassi has it easy

AT FULL STRETCH: Kim Clijsters reaches to return a serve during her quarterfinal match against Conchita Martinez at the Pacific Life Open. — AP

AT FULL STRETCH: Kim Clijsters reaches to return a serve during her quarterfinal match against Conchita Martinez at the Pacific Life Open. — AP  

INDIAN WELLS, MARCH 17. Nearing 35, Andre Agassi still has plenty of bounce in his step — and his game.

Agassi rolled to a 6-4, 6-1 victory on Wednesday over Guillermo Coria in the Pacific Life Open, both frustrating and amusing his Argentine opponent with some circus-like shots.

In a night match, No. 1 Roger Federer beat Ivan Ljubicic for the fourth time in as many matches this year, winning 7-6(3), 7-6(4). The Swiss star's other three wins over the Croatian all came in finals.

Agassi, on the way to winning the first set against Coria, sprinted from the net to the backcourt to successfully return a lob, hitting the ball between his knees with his back to the net.

In the second set, Agassi ranged far to his left to chase down a hard, deep shot. He managed not only to get his racquet on the ball, but powered a backhand that landed about an inch inside the lines in the rear right corner on Coria's side.

Coria rolled his eyes and looked skyward in disbelief as the crowd roared.

During a later rally, Agassi was facing to his right at the net, did a quick 180-degree spin toward the backcourt and, almost without looking, volleyed the ball back on his way to winning the point. Coria smiled and shook his head.

Usual consistency

Federer displayed his usual consistency — and variety of effective shots — in his victory over Ljubicic.

The 23-year-old Federer, the tournament's defending champion, was able to get four points on Ljubicic's serve in both tiebreakers.

In another fourth round match, Roddick, knocked out of the Olympics the last time he faced Fernando Gonzalez, returned the favour.

Serving 10 aces, Roddick defeated the Chilean 6-4, 6-3 to move into the quarterfinals.

Roddick broke Gonzalez's serve in the ninth game of the opening set. He broke through again when Gonzalez hit a forehand into the net to end the eighth game of the second set.

Roddick thrust his right arm into the air and shrugged as if to say, ``Yes,'' feeling he had the match. After holding serve, he did have it, knocking a ball into the stands in a small gesture of celebration.

Paes-Zimonjic duo in last eight

Leander Paes and Nenad Zimonjic registered a comfortable win to move into the quarterfinals of the men's double event.

Paes and Zimonjic of Serbia-Montenegro defeated Xavier Malisse and Olivier Rochus of Belgium 6-2, 7-6(5) in the second round. The duo next takes on top seeds Mark Knowles of Bahamas and Daniel Nestor of Canada.

Knowles and Nestor defeated French pair Sebastian Grosjean and Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-1.

Clijsters advances

Belgian Kim Clijsters, the 2003 champion coming back from a wrist injury sustained at the tournament last year, advanced with a 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 victory over Conchita Martinez of Spain.

In other men's matches, two-time Indian Wells finalist Tim Henman of Britain defeated Spaniard Tommy Robredo 6-4, 2-6, 6-2; and American Taylor Dent pulled out of his match against Argentine Guillermo Canas because of flu like symptoms. Dent upset Marat Safin a day earlier.

The results: Men: Fourth round: Nicolas Kiefer bt David Nalbandian 6-1, 6-3; Tim Henman bt Tommy Robredo 6-4, 2-6, 6-2; Carlos Moya bt Fabrice Santoro 7-5, 6-2; Lleyton Hewitt bt Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-1, 6-0; Andy Roddick bt Fernando Gonzalez 6-4, 6-3; Guillermo Canas bt Taylor Dent 6-3, retired; Andre Agassi bt Guillermo Coria 6-4, 6-1; Roger Federer bt Ivan Ljubicic 7-6(3), 7-6(4).

Doubles: Second round: Leander Paes/Nenad Zimonjic bt Xavier Malisse/Olivier Rochus 6-2, 7-6(5).

Women: Quarterfinals: Elena Dementieva bt Svetlana Kuznetsova 3-6, 6-3, 7-5; Kim Clijsters bt Conchita Martinez 6-1, 3-6, 6-2. — Agencies

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