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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sharapova Shines in Debut; Agassi Starts Strong

APMaria Sharapova returning to Spain's Virginia Ruano Pascual in the Russian teenager's U.S. Open debut in New York on Tuesday. Sharapova won the match 6-1, 6-1.
NEW YORK -- The squeals followed Maria Sharapova around the court as she spent a few postmatch moments signing hats, programs, oversized tennis balls, everything thrust her way by fans of all ages.

"Maria! Maria! Maria!"

It was a shrill salute to the sport's latest glamour girl, a teenager embraced by a tennis crowd always hungry for new stars. She seems made for the part.

At age 16, Sharapova made her U.S. Open debut Tuesday with 6-1, 6-1 rubout of Virginia Ruano Pascual that was not as easy as the score suggested. It took 1 hour, 14 minutes. There were a half-dozen deuces as she fought to gain the first break of the match.

Each time, Ruano Pascual fought off the break point, Sharapova seemed to turn up the heat, urging herself on, pumping her fist.

It was a mixture of tenacity and intensity that seemed unusual for a player her age.

Wearing a pink dress and her blond hair in a ponytail, Sharapova bore down from the start. There were shrieks that have become her calling card and hard glares when she missed opportunities.

This is a player who means business.

There has been some grumbling about the yelps that accompany her shots. They do not concern Sharapova.

"I haven't been working on that at all," she said. "I just play tennis out there. I don't think about what's going on. That's the last thing on my mind. I'm here to play tennis."

In other women's action, three-time major winner Jennifer Capriati of the United States needed just 35 minutes to reach the second round, overpowering Cristina Torrens Valero of Spain 6-0, 6-1.

French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium started off with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Aniko Kapros of Hungary, a qualifier who upset her in the first round at Roland Garros last year. Others advancing included No. 7 Anastasia Myskina and 2000 semifinalist Yelena Dementieva, both of Russia, while No. 10 Magdalena Maleeva, No. 16 Yelena Bovina of Russia, No. 21 Anna Pistolesi, and No. 31 Alexandra Stevenson were the seeded women who left early.

On the men's side, three-time French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil was eliminated 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (1) by Russian qualifier Dmitry Tursunov, who now lives in the United States. In the sixth game of the last set, action was delayed for a few minutes while a heckler was removed by security at Kuerten's request.

Andre Agassi began his run as the oldest top-seeded player in the Open era by beating Alex Corretja of Spain 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 Tuesday in the first round of the U.S. Open.

"I'm certainly proud to still be doing this, this long and at this level," the 33-year-old Agassi said.

Agassi looks to be on top of his game.

Maybe it's because of his rigorous training, including plenty of running up hills. Perhaps it's his style of play. Or it simply could be that he saved some energy during a midcareer crisis, when he tumbled out of the top 100 and wound up resorting to minor league tournaments to work his way back.

Never before had a man his age risen to No. 1 in the ATP Tour computer rankings.

"For me, I have to answer that question a lot: `Is this still what I want to be doing?' I ask it every day, one way or another," Agassi said. "I have a strong sense of obligation to this game for everything it's given to me."

Against Corretja, twice a French Open finalist, Agassi crafted a 36-16 edge in winners. Agassi faced just three break points, saving each -- one with a running forehand winner, and two when the Spaniard shanked shots on a windy afternoon.

Corretja was ranked No. 2 in 1999, but now is 102nd, and he couldn't do much to slow Agassi.

At 20, fellow American Andy Roddick is just getting started, and he looked pretty impressive in handling Tim Henman of Britain 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-3.

"In my opinion, he's playing better than anyone in the world right now. That's stating the obvious," Henman said.

It was a matchup worthy of Week 2 at a major rather than Day 2, but four-time Wimbledon semifinalist Henman missed two months after shoulder surgery in February and has slipped to 34th in the rankings.

Michael Chang lost his final match as a pro Tuesday at the U.S. Open in a far more muted farewell than Pete Sampras' retirement announcement the night before.

While Sampras waited a year after his last match -- beating Agassi in the 2002 U.S. Open final -- to tell the world he was finished, Chang has been on a farewell tour since the beginning of the season and made clear the Open would be it for him.

Only a few thousand fans were on hand for the start of his match against No. 15-seeded Fernando Gonzalez, but, as always, Chang gave it his all.

"On court, it would be nice to be able to be remembered as a person that gave his best -- win, lose or draw," said Chang, whose career highlight was winning the 1989 French Open at age 17. "It's going to be tough leaving tennis."

He had his chances against Gonzalez, and produced a few top-notch shots, but in the end succumbed to the Chilean's all-out power game 6-3, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4.

Winners included Australian Open runner-up Rainer Schuettler of Germany, No. 11 Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand, two-time major champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia and 2002 French Open champion Albert Costa of Spain.

Three other seeded men lost: No. 21 Spaniard Felix Mantilla -- ousted by Ivo Karlovic, the 6-foot-10 Croatian who stunned Lleyton Hewitt at Wimbledon -- No. 29 Feliciano Lopez of Spain and No. 32 Vince Spadea of the United States.