London: World No. 1 Andre Agassi overcame a tenacious Lars Burgsmueller 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 on Thursday to set up an intriguing third-round Wimbledon showdown with Morocco’s Younes El Aynaoui.
Firmly burying the memories of his shock three-set defeat by Paradorn Srichaphan at the same stage exactly a year ago, Agassi overcame a hiccup in the second set to tame his 88th-ranked opponent.
“I’m doing what I need to do,” the second seed said. “As the tournament goes on everybody needs to pick it up. You’ve gotta make sure you have your best game when you need it most and you never know when that will be.”
Tim Henman carried British hopes into Round III, beating French qualifier Michael Llodra 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.
After British No. 2 Greg Rusedski went out under a cloud on Centre Court on Wednesday, an excited crowd breathed a collective sigh of relief then cheered wildly when Henman, 28, wrapped up the match with a smash after one hour 54 minutes.
The 10th seed and the last home player left in the draw, looked edgy on his serve during the first two sets but played the big points well, unlike Llodra who capitulated twice while serving to stay in the set.
Henman, dubbed the nearly-man after reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals four times in the last five years, grew in confidence as the match progressed.
His injured shoulder which needed surgery last November appeared to be holding out well, though his serve lacked the power of previous years.
James Blake of the US failed to make a lasting impression going down 2-6, 6-7, 2-6 to Sargis Sargsian of Armenia.
Blake was let down by his serve from the start, hitting four double faults in his first two service games to fall 0-4 down.
Sargsian’s accuracy from the baseline kept the pressure on Blake in the second set and the 23-year-old American quickly went 1-5 behind.
He fought back to 5-5 but then wasted all his good work by throwing away a string of points in the tiebreak to lose it 7-3.
Meanwhile, last year’s surprise finalist David Nalbandian also moved ahead with an erratic 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 victory over fellow South American Andre Sa.
Unseeded Frenchwoman Mary Pierce upset Greek 14th seed Eleni Daniilidou 6-4, 6-1 to march into the next round.
The former Australian and French Open champion brushed aside her opponent to set up a showdown with American Lisa Raymond.
She is on course for fourth round meeting with reigning French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne.
Pierce was followed on court by women’s eighth seed Jennifer Capriati and the American made even lighter work of her opponent, Marie-Gaianeh Mikaelian of Switzerland, winning 6-2, 6-1.
French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne breezed through with a 7-6, 6-1 victory over Italy’s Flavia Pennetta on Centre Court.
The Belgian, seeded three, was given a stiff test in the opening set by the hard-hitting 21-year-old Italian, who is ranked 55 and was playing at Wimbledon for the first time.
Henin saved a set point at 5-6 before taking the tiebreak 7-2 as Pennetta consistently found the lines with her ferocious forehand.
India’s Leander Paes and partner David Rikl of the Czech Republic moved into Round II of the men’s doubles Wednesday beating Spaniards Juan Ignacio Carrasco and Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 (as reported in Thursday’s Late City edition).
Paes and Rikl will next take on Germany’s Nicolas Kiefer and David Prinosil.
Rusedski escaped with a $ 2,500 fine following his foul-mouthed tirade at an umpire during his Round II defeat by Andy Roddick.
Rusedski could have been fined a maximum $ 10,000 for his outburst. But tournament referee Alan Mills announced the lenient punishment after a meeting with Rusedski Thursday.