. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

TV-Favored Agassi Strolls to Easy Win


NEW YORK -- The U.S. Tennis Association and CBS network officials were breathing a bit more easily here Monday night, after Andre Agassi breezed past his first opponent in the opening night session of the U.S. Open.

Agassi beat Colombian Mauricio Hadad, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2, in a match that had all the drama of a Brooke Shields' movie.

Which was just the way the people who run this tournament, the USTA, and the people who really run this tournament, CBS, want it. That's why, speculation has it, Agassi was bumped up a couple of notches from his ranking (No. 8) to his seeding (No. 6). And when the draw was finished, presto: There was a ratings-grabber Agassi-Michael Chang semifinal and an even-bigger ratings-grabber Agassi-Pete Sampras final looming for the second weekend of prime-time tennis and prime-time commercials.

While the top players were almost unanimous in their scorn for what they considered a lack of respect for the ATP rankings, Agassi on Monday broke ranks and defended the USTA.

"I don't worry about really where I'm seeded," said the popular Las Vegan who won the U.S. Open as an unseeded player.

"I got the better end of the deal," he admitted. "By the same token I was a little disappointed with the ATP choosing this as their fight to fight."

Agassi said he was prepared to give tournament officials the benefit of the doubt and he was none too pleased to find the ATP holding him up as an example in its charges of USTA tampering with the draw.

"I've gone to bat for the ATP and it's kicked me in the ass in more than a few ways," he said.

"I'm just thinking about my tennis to be quite honest," he insisted.

"If I can put together a couple of good weeks and finish strong and maybe win then I can consider this a great year."

Michael Chang, promoted from third in the world to the second seed, shook off some opening day jitters to post a 3-6, 6-1, 6-0, 7-6 win over Brazilian Jaime Oncins, the man Jimmy Connors beat for his final U.S. Open victory.

On the women's side of the draw, unseeded Amanda Coetzer of South Africa, ranked No. 17, posted the biggest upset of the day, taking out No. 5-ranked and No. 6-seeded Anke Huber of Germany, 6-1, 2-6, 6-2.

"This was a tough draw," Coetzer said. "You know, I just looked at it as not a first-round match, just a great challenge for me."

Among the other winners were an ailing MaliVai Washington.

Washington, battling a sour stomach as hard as he was battling a big-serving Moroccan named Karim Alami, got through to the next round with a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 victory on Stadium Court. "Toward the end of the match," Washington said, "my stomach felt like week-old sushi."

Three more players, all Americans, withdrew with injuries Monday. Jim Courier, winner of four Grand Slam titles in his career but none here, dropped out because of a bruised knee and Mats Wilander suffered a groin injury. Mary Jo Fernandez, seeded ninth here, suffered a wrist injury. One of the week's highlights will be Sweden's Stefan Edberg in his last Grand Slam tournament after a career that includes six Grand Slam titles. Edberg's first match against Richard Krajicek of the Netherlands, seeded No.5 and this year's Wimbledon champion may very well be his last Grand Slam match.

Russian Anna Kournikova, coach Nick Bollettieri's latest prodigy, won her first match in Grand Slam play. The 15-year-old beat Ludmila Richterova of the Czech Republic 7-6 (7-4), 6-3.

Three seeded women won in straight sets -- No. 13 Brenda Schultz-McCarthy, No. 14 Barbara Paulus, and No. 15 Gabriela Sabatini, the 1990 champion who showed a bit of her old form in a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Patricia Hy-Boulais. ()