Agassi, Gaudio advance in Cincinnati ATP Masters

August 2, 2004 09:51 PM

MASON, Ohio (Ticker) - Andre Agassi and French Open champion Gaston Gaudio won their opening round matches in the Western and Southern Financial Group Masters on Monday.

Agassi, the champion here in 1995 and 1996, advanced when fellow American Mardy Fish retired in the third set due to a back injury. Agassi was leading the match, 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 4-1 when Fish retired.

It has been a rough year for Agassi, who has slipped from No. 1 in the world to No. 11 in the last 12 months. At one point this summer, he lost four straight matches and missed Wimbledon because of an ailing hip.

"I have high expectations for myself, especially heading into the (U.S.) Open," Agassi said. "But there's no question that I need to string together some good matches to gain confidence. Today was a good start against a real good player."

Fish, the runner-up here, had won the only previous meeting, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 in February in the San Jose hardcourt semifinals.

The ninth-seeded Gaudio of Argentina rolled to a 6-4, 6-2 win over American Jan-Michael Gambill, who had won the previous two meetings.

Fourth-seeded Carlos Moya of Spain, the 2002 champion, advanced but No. 8 Rainer Schuettler was knocked out. Moya rallied to beat Arvind Parma, 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 and Tommy Haas upset fellow German Schuettler, 6-3, 1-6, 6-4. Schuettler had won the previous four meetings.

World No. 1 Roger Federer of Switzerland will play his first-round match Tuesday against Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia. Federer has won 31 of his last 32 matches and his last three tournaments on three different surfaces - grass at Wimbledon, clay at Gstaad and hard at Toronto. He has eight tournament victories and owns a record of 57-4 this year.

Defending champion Andy Roddick, who lost to Federer in the finals at Wimbledon and Toronto, faces Max Mirnyi Tuesday in a rematch of a semifinal match here last year. Roddick is looking to become just the third player to successfully defend his title here, following Michael Chang in 1994 and Agassi in 1996.

Third-seeded Guillermo Coria withdrew due to a shoulder injury.