Originally created 05/07/02

Agassi, Safin, Roddick win first-round matches

ROME -- Andre Agassi routed Nicolas Kiefer 6-3, 6-2 Monday in the opening round of the Rome Tennis Masters Series tournament.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion, making his European clay-court season debut, broke the German's serve in the opening game of the match, and that was all Agassi needed to win the first set. In the second set, the 32-year-old American clinched the match with two consecutive breaks.

"I feel pretty good and quite confident for my first match here," said Agassi, who has never won this event. "(Kiefer) helped me with some unforced errors."

The German produced 29 unforced errors, while Agassi made only 18 mistakes.

American teen-ager Andy Roddick followed Agassi onto center court and defeated Spanish clay-courter Alex Calatrava 6-2, 6-3.

Roddick broke Calatrava twice in the first set and finished the second set with another break for a 5-3 lead, then served out the match at love.

Earlier, Marat Safin overpowered Alberto Martin 6-2, 6-2.

The former U.S. Open champion controlled the match, whipping groundstrokes from inside the baseline that rendered his opponent powerless. The sixth-seeded Safin, who has never advanced past the second round in Rome, improved his career record against the Spaniard to 4-0.

In other matches, 10th-seeded Sebastien Grosjean routed Hicham Arazi 6-4, 6-0, 14th-seeded Jiri Novak defeated Sjeng Schalken 6-4, 6-4, and wild card Stefano Galvani upset Greg Rusedski in three sets.

The first seed to lose was the 15th-seeded Guillermo Canas, who fell 6-4, 6-4 to Markus Hipfl.

Thirteen-time Grand Slam champion Pete Sampras was to play another Spanish clay-court specialist, Felix Mantilla, on Tuesday.

The tournament features nearly all the top players in the world, including Gustavo Kuerten, a finalist the past three years in Italy, who will be making his first appearance in a Masters Series event since August in Cincinnati. Kuerten, who returned from hip surgery last week, won here in 1999 and lost in the final the last two years.

The two-time defending French Open champion was to take on local favorite Davide Sanguinetti on Tuesday.


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