Agassi, Nadal advance in Rogers Cup

August 11, 2005 11:31 PM
MONTREAL (AP) -- Andre Agassi had little trouble with error-prone Nicolas Kiefer on Thursday night, routing the German 6-4, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals of the Montreal Masters.

They were tied 4-4 in the first set when Kiefer botched an easy drop shot and slammed the net with his racket in frustration. Kiefer then double-faulted to lose that game and never threatened again.

The 35-year-old Agassi, seeded No. 4, will face sixth-seeded Gaston Gaudio of Argentina on Friday.

"I've played No. 1 in the world tennis before and there wasn't a time when I ever felt like a favorite,'' Agassi said. "It was always a match at a time for me.

"During all the years with Pete (Sampras), everybody would talk about the finals. I think Pete and I were the only two guys not thinking about that.''

Also advancing to the quarterfinals was French Open champion Rafael Nadal, who overpowered Sebastien Grosjean 6-4, 6-4.

The grunting, fist-pumping Nadal is seeking his first hardcourt victory after posting eight wins on slower clay courts this year.

Nadal was clearly the crowd favorite and fans gave the top seed a rousing ovation as he clinched the match and hit a ball into the upper reaches of the stadium.

The 19-year-old Nadal will face eighth-seeded Mariano Puerta in the quarterfinals. Puerta beat Xavier Malisse 6-2, 6-4.

"I'm in fourth round -- there's a long way to go,'' Nadal said. "For me to play the final here would be unbelievable and if I play Andre Agassi it would be unbelievable, too. I want to play against him because he's a legend of tennis and I never played him. For me to play him would be a new experience. I hope to play him before he retires. But I don't know when he'll retire because he's unbelievable.''

Agassi quickly retorted, "I'd like to play him before HE retires.''

Nadal -- the top seed -- wouldn't have to face Agassi until the final.

"I am No. 1 in the tournament, but the No. 1 doesn't always win,'' Nadal said. "I'm not the favorite. Agassi is the most favorite, I think. He won a tournament two weeks ago (in Los Angeles) and he's playing good on these courts, so he's the favorite. I hope to play him and if I make (it past) the semifinals, there's a chance.''

Other quarterfinal matches will pit Montreal-born Greg Rusedski of Britain against Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia, and Karol Beck of Slovakia against Paul-Henri Mathieu of France.

Gaudio beat 11th-seeded Tommy Robredo to set up his match with Agassi.

Rusedski made the most of his big serve and defeated Mario Ancic 6-2, 3-6, 6-2; and Mathieu, who upset 2003 champion Andy Roddick on Tuesday, beat Olivier Rochus 6-1, 6-2.

Rusedski, born in Montreal, decided to play for Britain in 1995 and used to be booed by Canadian fans. But only cheers greeted his victory over the 6-foot-5 Croat, who served 11 aces but was broken twice in the last set.

"I've always wanted to play well in Montreal,'' said Rusedski, the hard-serving left-hander who has 15 career ATP tournament wins. "It's really nice to be in the quarterfinals and hopefully it can continue.