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Agassi, Serena advance in Miami

Miami: Second seed Andre Agassi pulled out all the stops to win another classic encounter with Mark Philippoussis at the $3.25 million Nasdaq-100 Open on Tuesday.

Agassi, chasing a record third successive title in Miami, recovered from the loss of the first set to outwit the Australian 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

The victory took the American to a quarter final tie against Moroccan Younes El Aynaoui, another fourth-round winner on a day in which Roger Federer, Carlos Moya, Albert Costa, Todd Martin, Robby Ginepri and Paradorn Srichaphan also advanced.

Agassi was virtually faultless in the last two sets of an entertaining match during which he subdued Philippoussis’ booming serve. The Australian also found the net repeatedly on his way to a second defeat in two months to the ATP Champions’ Race leader.

“I lost my way a bit in the second set and let it get away from me,” Philippoussis said. “I definitely had my chance out there.”

Agassi broke for the first time to lead 5-3 in the second set after missing a break point in the fourth game. In the deciding set, he needed four opportunities to break for 2-1 but thereafter looked in control.

“You’re not going to get too many opportunities against him, and we played a couple of hard games there in the middle of the second. I just felt I converted the right points,” Agassi said.

El Aynaoui beat Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador 6-0, 7-6 in two contrasting sets. The 6-foot-4 Moroccan, who has never previously been past the second round, raced through the first and saved a set point in the second before taking the match with a sizzling forehand winner.

Marcelo Rios of Chile pulled out of the tournament earlier in the day with a back injury, handing Thailand’s Srichaphan, the 13th seed, a quarter final match on Wednesday against American Martin.

It was the second time in two years that injury forced the former world number one to withdraw from the event he won in 1998. Last year Rios pulled out of his semi-final against Agassi with tendinitis in his right knee.

ATP trainer Bill Norris has recommended at least two weeks’ rest for Rios, and he is likely to miss the Masters Series event in Monte Carlo next month. Martin, 32, dominated Czech Radek Stepanek 6-3, 6-2 to reach the last eight in Miami for the first time in eight attempts.

“Historically, I’ve stunk here. I didn’t have much higher hopes this year than in the past but I guess I’m turning the tide on history,” Martin said.

Fourth seed Federer was in a hurry to get to the last eight, dispatching 14th-seeded Dutchman Sjeng Schalken 6-3, 6-2.

The Swiss number one, who lost last year’s final to Agassi in four sets, has dropped only one this year and was too strong for last year’s US Open semi-finalist.

Federer will meet ninth seed Costa in the quarter finals on Thursday after the Spaniard’s 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Guillermo Coria of Argentina.

Fifth seed Moya completed his 6-4, 7-6 victory over Frenchman Nicolas Escude with three aces.

The Spaniard now plays American wild card Ginepri, who beat Lee Hyung-Taik of South Korea 6-3, 6-2.

Clijsters dumps Dokic

Meanwhile, in the women’s section, Kim Clijsters took a step closer to her third final of 2003 and set up another tilt at Serena Williams’ domination of women’s tennis by swatting aside Jelena Dokic 6-0, 6-2 in the quarter finals on Tuesday.

With top seed and defending champion Williams also having brushed past French qualifier Marion Bartoli 6-1 6-2, Thursday’s semi-final will provide both players with their first big test in the $2.96 million hardcourt tournament.

Dokic, the ninth seed from Yugoslavia, could do nothing to counter the Belgian’s power and third seed Clijsters needed just 53 minutes to wrap up her fourth victory in five days.

Clijsters, who has not conceded more than two games in any of the eight sets , said: “These are the matches, when you’re younger, when you’re practising, that you dream of. “I love playing these big matches.”

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