Agassi Beats Sargsian in Australia

ADELAIDE (Reuters)–Andre Agassi avoided a disastrous start to 1998 when he came from one set down to beat Armenian journeyman Sargis Sargsian in the Australian men’s hardcourt championship Wednesday.

Sargsian led Agassi 6-4 3-2 when rain forced the first round match to be cut short on Tuesday–but the American fought back immediately after the match resumed–winning four games in a row to take the second set 6-3.

Agassi–a former Australian Open–Wimbledon and US Open champion–broke Sargsian’s serve in the third set to win 4-6 6-3 6-3.

The win meant Agassi avoided the fate suffered by fellow American Jim Courier–another former world number one–who was beaten in the opening round on Tuesday by Australian doubles specialist Mark Woodforde.

Agassi later said he was determined to play to his full potential after a dreadful year in 1997–when his world ranking slipped to 110 from number eight.

The flamboyant American failed to win a tournament or make a final last year for the first time since 1986. He said he was keen to do well in the Australian Open–the first Grand Slam event of the year that starts in Melbourne on January 19.

"If I want to go to Melbourne expecting great results–I’m going to have to start here," Agassi told reporters. "I’m not going to make predictions about where in the rankings I’m going to reach."

Seventh seed Thomas Johansson of Sweden was beaten 4-6 6-4 6-4 by French qualifier Nicolas Escude.

Second seed and French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil beat Kenneth Carlsen of Denmark 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 in another first round match earlier on Wednesday.

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