London: Andre Agassi is back at No. 1.
The American defeated Xavier Malisse 6-3, 7-5 at Queen’s Club on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the grasscourt warm-up for Wimbledon.
The victory — coupled with Lleyton Hewitt’s 6-3, 6-4 loss to Sebastian Grosjean — means Agassi will move up one spot to No. 1 in next week’s ATP rankings. Hewitt will slip to No. 2.
“I wasn’t aware of that,” Agassi said. “It feels amazing to accomplish it at this stage of my career, but I’d rather be No. 1 in my match tomorrow. One at a time.”
Agassi is now in line to be seeded No. 1 for Wimbledon, which begins June 23. The seeds will be announced on Monday.
The Wimbledon seeding committee, which does not necessarily follow the world rankings, could also make defending champion Hewitt No. 1.
Agassi, 33, became the oldest man ever to hold the No. 1 ranking when he moved into the top spot in April. But he lost the No. 1 spot the very next week after losing in the first round to David Ferrer at the Italian Open.
Agassi survived 16 aces from Malisse — including four in a row in one game — to reach the semi-finals in his first appearance here in three years.
“He served well,” Agassi said. “He has a real deceptive serve. He’s a fast arm and it’s a real slappy serve, so when he gets a rhythm on it, it’s pretty hard to read. I hung in the second set. I didn’t come anywhere near his serve, but it can only go downhill (for him) after four aces.”
Agassi took the first set when Malisse double-faulted to drop his serve in the third game. Agassi then withstood a barrage of aces from the Belgian, who hit four in a row to lead 5-4 in the second set. Malisse netted a forehand at 5-5 to give Agassi the only break and the chance to serve out for a comfortable victory.
“There’s a lot of different ways to hold serve,” Agassi said about Malisse’s four-ace game. “Hitting four aces is definitely one of them.”
Hewitt lost for the first time in 18 matches at Queen’s since his semi-final defeat to Pete Sampras in 1999. Ten days before he starts his defence at Wimbledon, Hewitt failed to impose himself on the match. (AP)