- The Washington Times - Friday, August 16, 2002

Fernando Meligini shredded Andy Roddick's bid for his second straight Legg Mason Tennis Classic title last night when he stunned the No.2 seed with a 6-4, 6-4 victory in the tournament's third round.

A strongly partisan Centre Court crowd at the William H.G.FitzGerald Tennis Center couldn't carry Roddick past the plucky Brazilian, who broke serve in the final game of the second set after Roddick's double fault to seal the upset.

"I hit the ball OK, but things weren't clicking tonight. I just wasn't seeing the ball well," Roddick said. "He played smart, came up with big shots when he needed to."

Meligeni came up big by returning Roddick's serve well effectively neutralizing his most potent weapon and keeping Roddick pinned behind the baseline with driving groundstrokes.

Roddick still displayed his usual antics throughout the match, at one point high-fiving Meligeni, seeded 16th, after the Brazilian won a back-and-forth exchange at the net one of two big volley points he captured. Roddick tried just about everything, but very little worked consistently

Roddick became the second top-three seed No.3 Sjeng Schalken's loss to No.14 Paradorn Srichaphan was the other to get knocked out in yesterday's action. Fourth-seeded Alex Corretja, No.5 Marcelo Rios, No.6 James Blake and No.7 Thomas Enqvist all advanced to the quarterfinals, while Potomac's Alex Kim stretched No.8 Jarkko Nieminen to three sets before losing 0-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Top seed Andre Agassi evaded the upset bug and stayed on course for his sixth Legg Mason title by defeating former University of Virginia star Brian Vahaly. Agassi rolled in the first set, and while Vahaly gamely stayed with the five-time tournament champion in the second, forcing a tiebreaker, he eventually fell to Agassi 6-1, 7-6 (3).

"I never played against anybody that hits the ball as hard as Andre Agassi," Vahaly said. "I was trying to get the feel for the match, and he didn't let me do it."

Just four days ago, Vahaly, given a wild-card entry to the tournament, fought through three-plus hours of suffocating heat to pull out a three-setter against Zeljko Krajan. Then he upset No.15 seed Jan Vacek on Wednesday to make the third round in just his third ATP Tour event.

Agassi looked vulnerable at times, mis-hitting several returns and hitting other balls without his trademark pace. For his part, Vahaly didn't back down at any time and didn't hesitate to go for his shots.

"After the first set, he started to feel pressure to do something," Agassi said. "He had to hang it with the way I came out of the blocks. He challenged me and pushed me to play at another level."

After holding through each of his first four service games to lead 4-3, Vahaly actually forced an extended deuce game on Agassi's serve in the eighth game before losing it. The two then dug in to get to 6-all; two trademark Agassi service returns helped him to a 4-0 lead in the tiebreaker, which he closed out 7-3.

The crowd gave its usual standing ovation at the conclusion of an Agassi match, but Vahaly's performance certainly earned him a share of applause as well.

"I feel luck to have had the opportunity to have the feeling I did tonight," said Vahaly, who estimated he had about 200 supporters in the crowd. "I really felt a homecourt advantage."

The Agassi-Vahaly second set provided intriguing theater for the Centre Court crowd, but Srichaphan's 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 upset of Schalken proved the most hotly contested match of the day.

Srichaphan turned Schalken, the typically calm and composed Dutchman, into a player battling his own demons in addition to his opponent. Schalken, a 2001 Legg Mason finalist, split the first two sets with Srichaphan before imploding in the third.

Srichaphan broke in the second game to lead 3-0 and, with Schalken serving at 2-3, Srichaphan broke him with a forehand winner, after which Schalken slammed his racket to the grandstand court. Schalken's break from character wasn't temporary; though he broke back in the next game, he slammed his racket five more times in frustration in the seventh game.

"If an opponent is doing that, if I can keep playing well, he is going to be finished," Srichaphan said, accurately capturing yesterday's outcome.

Schalken got to 4-all, but Srichaphan broke his serve again in the 10th game, after which Schalken smashed his racket one final time. Fittingly, the racket frame broke.

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