Top seed Blake advances

August 1, 2006 11:33 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Andre Agassi was upset by Italian Andrea Stoppini 6-4, 6-3 as three of the top nine seeds at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic fell in the second round Tuesday.

Sixth-seeded Sebastien Grosjean of France also had an early exit, falling to South African Wesley Moodie 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Kenneth Carlsen of Denmark defeated ninth-seeded Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-3.

Top seed James Blake avoided the upset bug, advancing past fellow American Kevin Kim 7-5, 3-6, 6-2.

Unable to break Stoppini's serve, the fourth-seeded Agassi lost in his opening match for just the fourth time in 17 appearances in the Washington event, which he's won five times. The eight-time Grand Slam winner had advanced to at least the semifinals in each of his previous seven appearances.

Agassi smashed his racket to the ground after falling behind 3-0 in the second set. Stoppini, who earned his first career tour victory over American Paul Goldstein on Monday and entered the tournament ranked 246th, benefited from seven double-faults by Agassi and won 85 percent of his first-serve points.

"Breaking a racket for me has always been a sign of caring about something that you can't quite get over the hump with," Agassi said. "I was very frustrated. I wanted very bad to get out there and be comfortable and hit my shots. But I felt like with every point, the court got smaller and smaller and I had a hard time keeping the ball on the court.

"I never found my rhythm, and I'm very disappointed by that."

Now in the final month of his 20-year career, Agassi said he hopes to find that rhythm before bidding farewell to the tour after the U.S. Open, which begins at the end of the month.

"I hope when I get back to the familiar sights and sounds of Arthur Ashe Stadium that something takes over, but I don't know what to expect," Agassi said. "That's the part of it that's pretty hard to get my arms around."

Stoppini finds himself in the round of 16 just two days after he was playing in the qualifying draw.

"It was already very good for me just to be in the main draw, and to beat Agassi is just a dream," Stoppini said. "When entering the court, it was an unbelievable atmosphere. The first two or three strokes, I didn't hit it in the center of the racket.

"But after that, I felt better."

In other second round action, 14th-seeded Tim Henman of England struggled to beat unheralded American Phillip King 6-7 (3), 6-3, 7-5, winning 85 percent of his first-serve points over the final two sets to recover after dropping the initial set.

King had picked up his first career tour victory in three sets over American Bobby Reynolds on Monday.

Also, Marat Safin of Russia beat 15th-seeded Nicolas Mahut of France, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, and 11th-seeded Arnaud Clement of France defeated American Ryan Sweeting, 6-2, 6-1.

In first-round action earlier Tuesday, Ramon Delgado of Paraguay defeated Peter Luczak of Australia, 6-4, 6-4; Teimuraz Gabashvili of Russia defeated France's Jean-Christophe Faurel, 6-3, 6-3; and American Vincent Spadea beat Roko Karanusic of Croatia, who retired following the first game of their second set.