Paris: Andre Agassi ran out of comebacks on Tuesday and lost in the French Open quarter finals to Guillermo Coria 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
The defeat was the first for Agassi in 12 Grand Slam matches this year. He was bidding for his ninth major title and his second at Roland Garros.
In another quarter final match, debutant Dutchman Martin Verkerk pulled off a 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 4-6, 8-6 victory over Spanish fourth seed Carlos Moya to set up a semi-final clash with Coria.
Agassi, who overcame a two-set deficit in his second- round match, fell behind in every set against the seventh seed Coria. Down 4-1, Agassi won five consecutive games to salvage the opening set, and he twice rallied from a break down in the fourth set.
But while the 1.75-metre Coria played well, Agassi simply wasn’t sharp, especially at the finish. He blew a volley and hit two errant groundstrokes to lose his serve and fall behind 5-4, then sent easy forehands sailing out on the final two points.
In the women’s quarter finals, an uncharacteristically stern Serena Williams took a partisan crowd out of the match and sent Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo out of the tournament with a 6-1, 6-2 victory.
Williams glared at the ball, the lines and even her towel. Only after winning the final point did she crack a smile. With her 33rd consecutive Grand Slam victory, Williams avenged her Rome Mastersloss to Mauresmo.
Coria, the 1999 French Open juniors champion, showed remarkable poise in his first Grand Slam quarter final. He out-hit the Las Vegan from the baseline, kept him off-balance with drop shots and still looked fresh at the finish, even though he was playing for the third day in a row. Agassi committed 72 unforced errors and lost his serve nine times.
In the women’s semi-finals on Thursday, Williams will face the only other player to beat her this year, Justine Henin-Hardenne. The fourth seed Belgian beat American Chanda Rubin, seeded eighth 6-3, 6-2.
Also advancing was Henin-Hardenne’s compatriot, second seed Kim Clijsters, who beat Conchita Martinez 6-2, 6-1.
Her opponent on Thursday will be unseeded Nadia Petrova, the first Russian woman to reach the French Open semi-finals after Olga Morozova in 1975. She beat compatriot Vera Zvonareva 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.
Petrova had the edge in a series of gruelling baseline rallies against Zvonareva, who was coming off an upset of Venus Williams in the fourth round.
Williams’ match was her first since her elder sister lost, preventing a fifth consecutive all-Williams Grand Slam final. Serena is bidding for her fifth major title in a row, a streak that began at last year’s French Open.
The Centre Court crowd was eager to see the fifth-seeded Mauresmo stage an upset, but Williams raced to a 4-0 lead, winning 16 of the first 19 points. After Mauresmo made it 4-1, Williams won six games in a row and again led 4-0.
The rout ended with Mauresmo dumping a backhand into the net on match point.
Mauresmo committed 34 unforced errors, double-faulted six times and hit just five winners to 24 for Williams.
Petrova, who upset Jennifer Capriati in the fourth round, won despite struggling with her serve against Zvonareva. Six consecutive breaks in the final set made the score three-all before Petrova held with an ace. She broke again by winning a 49-stroke rally, which she finished off with a forehand winner to take a 5-3 lead.
Zvonareva, seeded 22nd, extended some rallies by hitting moon balls — a tactic rarely seen in recent years at Roland Garros. She won a 39-stroke exchange to save the first match point, but Petrova then smacked a service winner for the victory.
Clijsters, the runner-up at the 2001 French Open, hit 29 winners against Martinez, who was playing the quarter finals for the 11th time. The Spaniard committed 35 unforced errors and walked to the exit shaking her head.