Andre Agassi benefits opening match of the year at Delray

Andre Agassi won his opening match of the year 6-4, 6-4 over Ricardo Mello of Brazil on Monday at the International Tennis Championships. Agassi had played only one match since reaching the U.S. Open final last September. He sprained his left ankle playing racquetball Oct. 12 and aggravated the injury during the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, where he was upset by Nicolay Davydenko in the first round.

The top-seeded Agassi started Monday's match in impressive form, opening his first service game with three aces and an overhead smash. He finished with 10 aces and never faced a break point in 10 service games.

"I didn't know what I got into there," said Agassi, of smacking three aces in a row in the second game of the match. "I guess I was excited to get out there."

The ninth-ranked Agassi went up 5-4 in the second set, breaking serve on his second break point of the ninth game.

Mello, ranked No. 147, was able to take Agassi to deuce for the first time in the match in the final game, but Agassi won the next two points with a forehand and backhand crosscourt winner.

"I anticipated it would be very difficult," Agassi said of his start to the season. "The last couple of weeks in practice, I had random moments of frustration getting familiar with the court again.

"You never know how it's going to be in your first match. Tonight I was expecting it to be uncomfortable but it was better than that."

Two former greats from the women's game Agassi's wife, Steffi Graf, and Chris Evert, who lives in nearby Boca Raton were among the 5,247 fans watching Agassi in his first career appearance at the Delray Beach tournament.

Mardy Fish, returning to the tour following two operations on his left wrist last season, suffered a frustrating 6-3, 6-3 loss to Simon Greul of Germany.

"It wasn't the wrist. I think it was the rust," said Fish, who hadn't played a match since losing in the first round of the 2005 U.S. Open, reports the AP.


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