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Agassi wins easy match, Davenport defeats Venus

Andre Agassi made short work of marathon man Sargis Sargsian on Labor Day and moved on to an incredibly attractive matchup at the U.S. Open: Next up, top-seeded Roger Federer in the quarterfinals.

Lindsay Davenport won in straight sets, too, needing five match points in the final game to turn back Venus Williams 7-5, 6-4. It was the 25th time the former Open winners met — Davenport leads 13-12, and they’ve split eight Grand Slam matches.

“She appears to be struggling a bit for confidence,” Davenport said.

Agassi swept out his longtime friend and occasional practice partner 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in just 90 minutes. Sargsian’s last two matches totaled nearly 10 hours, though he said he felt fresh instead of fatigued.

“I never expect to win easily, and I think matches have the potential of looking that way more than feeling that way,” Agassi said.

Tim Henman and Dominik Hrbaty also advanced on the men’s side. Shinobu Asagoe moved into women’s quarters against Davenport, while No. 1 Justine Henin-Hardenne played at night.

Federer reached the Open quarterfinals for the first time, and did so in easy fashion. No. 16 Andrei Pavel withdrew with a herniated disc in his lower back long before their match started — he missed six months last year with a bad back and wrist.

Playing on his 30th birthday, Henman gave himself a neat present: his first trip to the Open quarters in his 10th visit to Flushing Meadows. He led a testy Nicolas Kiefer 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-1, 6-7 (4), 3-0 when the German pulled out with an injured right hand.

“I’m slowing up already,” Henman kidded.

Hrbaty rallied to oust Olivier Rochus 2-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-0. Hrbaty overcame 77 unforced errors to make it to a major quarterfinal for the first time.

Asagoe upset No. 29 Eleni Daniilidou 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-3, making her the lowest-ranked U.S. Open quarterfinalist since Williams in 1997.

Asagoe is ranked 62nd; Williams was 66th when she reached the final in her Open debut.

The sixth-seeded Agassi kept up his drive for a third Open championship and never let Sargsian get into a rhythm. Agassi broke him in his first service game of each set.

“I don’t think it’s quite as comfortable playing against somebody that you root for,” Agassi said. “I mean, if I were to lose, I probably wouldn’t want to lose to anybody more than him, if that makes any sense at all.”

Sargsian played the two longest matches of the tournament, needing 5 hours, 9 minutes to beat Nicolas Massu in the second round and then taking 4:44 to defeat Paul-Henri Mathieu.

Agassi saw that last match on television.

“Never been so nervous in my life,” Agassi said. “It’s a lot easier playing than watching when you really care about it. I was pulling for him. It was a great display of tennis and heart, by both players.”

Sargsian’s knee wobbled in the second set, though he was able to continue. At 31, he’s three years younger than Agassi.

“It’s strange to play Andre, to be honest,” he said. “I really hope this is the last time I play him. I don’t feel like I have a game plan against him. Like I don’t know how to win the points.”

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