|Andre Agassi follows through on a return against Kevin Kim during Day 4 of the Mercedes-Benz© Matthew Stockman/Getty Images|
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Three-time champion Andre Agassi advanced to the quarterfinals of the Mercedes-Benz Cup on Thursday with a straight-sets win over former practice partner Kevin Kim.
Agassi, returning to tournament play for the first time since aggravating a chronic back injury at the French Open, served eight aces and did not face a break point in a 6-2, 7-5 win.
"It's hard to hope for much better,'' Agassi said of his matches here so far. He beat Jean-Rene Lisnard 6-1, 6-0 on Tuesday.
"The first match, everything was pretty much on my terms,'' he said. "Today I had to worry about leaving some balls hanging because he was getting pretty aggressive. I felt like when I wanted to keep him from being aggressive I was doing that, I was hitting a little extra on my shots, and the times I left it hanging I felt like I was making him hit two good balls to win the point instead of just one.''
In other matches, Paradorn Srichaphan beat Paul Goldstein 6-1, 6-4, Gilles Muller stopped Zach Fleishman 6-3, 7-5 and Robby Ginepri turned aside James Blake, 6-3, 7-6 (2).
The top-seeded Agassi will face Srichaphan next.
Although Agassi took only 75 minutes to dispatch Kim, his opponent didn't sound disappointed. He called it a ``unique experience'' to play Agassi in front of family and friends.
"It's a pretty big rush. I wish it would have went longer,'' he said. "It was a very pleasurable match to play.''
With No. 2 Dominik Hrbaty the only other seeded player still in the running, Agassi would seem in control of the tournament, but he was taking nothing for granted.
"I play Paradorn next and I've got a lot of issues there,'' he said. "This guy hits the ball pretty big.''
Srichaphan has issues of his own. Ranked ninth in the world two years ago, he is No. 44 this week and has struggled to a 16-20 record this season.
"I lost some confidence,'' he said. "That's what happens when you lose. You're always questioning yourself; am I good enough? I'm hoping to pick up my game. I have to play like I have nothing to lose, like I used to.''