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Russian trio, Serena move into 4th round



Published: Fri, January 21, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



French Open champ Myskina won when injury forced Raymond to retire.

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- French Open champion Anastasia Myskina joined Russia's two other Grand Slam title holders in the fourth round when American Lisa Raymond withdrew from their match today at the Australian Open.

Raymond injured abdominal muscles on her left side in the first game of a second-round doubles match on Friday and her status was in doubt for the third-round singles.

"I felt a little tightness in my back in my warmup before my doubles match. I received some treatment before the match and thought I was going to be OK, but in the first game of the match I hit a forehand and felt a sharp pain in my left oblique," Raymond said.

"I'm extremely disappointed because I couldn't have asked to play better in my first two matches," she added. "I was really looking forward to playing Myskina, and of course it's a real shame about having to retire in the doubles."

Raymond said she'd been advised to rest for four to six weeks and hoped to be back for the Indian Wells tournament in California starting March 9.

Russians Maria Sharapova, the Wimbledon champion who is seeded fourth here, and U.S. Open titlist Svetlana Kuznetsova, seeded fifth, won their third-round matches Friday, advancing along with No. 7 Serena Williams and second-seeded Amelie Mauresmo.

Mauresmo beat Serbian teenager Ana Ivanovic 6-2, 7-5 and Williams, without a Grand Slam title last year, ended her 6-1, 6-4 win over India's wild-card entry Sania Mirza with an ace.

Top-ranked Lindsay Davenport and No. 8 Venus Williams were to play their fourth-round matches later Saturday.

Agassi sloppy in win

Andre Agassi, a four-time Australian Open winner, was down 4-1 in the first set against serve-and-volleyer Taylor Dent before he rallied for a 7-5, 7-6 (3), 6-1 victory Friday.

Dent, sweat spilling off him, made 39 unforced errors, and his 51 percent of winning net approaches dropped to about one-third in the third set.

Agassi committed a miserly six -- none in the third set -- and pounded Dent with an arsenal of groundstrokes.

The 34-year-old Agassi admired Dent's gallant charges, but had no compunctions about using his fellow American for target practice.

"Listen, I was settling in for whatever it was going to take," Agassi said. "The guy's really talented, can make a lot of shots that you just don't expect him to be able to pull off. If you're not on your game, he's one of the worst guys to play."

After trading breaks in the second set, Agassi had five chances to break Dent in the 11th game and then serve for the set. But Dent scrambled and won that game, then had three set points of his own before Agassi got rolling. Agassi dominated the tiebreaker, earning a 5-2 cushion when his forehand crosscourt ricocheted off the net and over Dent.

Agassi came into the tournament with a slight tear in a tendon in his right hip. He showed no signs that it would slow him.

"I felt good and I felt healthy," he said. "No problems."

It was a day of tumbles and torn muscles.

Fourth-seeded Marat Safin, the runner-up last year, twisted his right ankle and fell on his face in the fourth set against 28th-seeded Mario Ancic. He got up, put more tape on his ankle and beat Ancic 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

"When I twisted my ankle, I just kind of stopped a little bit thinking about the way I was playing," Safin said. "And I played quite a good game afterwards."

Federer extends streak

Defending champion Roger Federer led Jarkko Nieminen 6-3, 5-2 when the Finnish player retired with a torn abdominal muscle, giving the top-ranked Swiss his career-best 24th consecutive win.

Agassi hasn't lost to an American at the Australian Open since falling to Vincent Spadea in the fourth round in 1999. He's lost only once at Melbourne Park since, when Safin ended his 26-match winning streak in last year's semifinals.

Federer faces Marcos Baghdatis, a Cypriot qualifier, in the next round. Baghdatis upset 13th-seeded Tommy Robredo 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-1.

Federer, after dominating 2004 with 11 titles, including three majors, realizes he's everyone's biggest target. When he lost his opening service to Nieminen, spectators were aghast.

"Now I feel when I get broken, people are surprised," Federer said. "So I don't want to know how it is when I lose a set. I think they're so used to me winning, people don't understand when I'm losing. It's not that simple."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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