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Capriati advances despite serving struggle

Jennifer Capriati fixed her ponytail and secured her hat with a look of determination that seemed missing the entire match.

Capriati was close to losing to 32nd-seeded Anastasia Myskina Sunday at the Nasdaq-100 Open. Down a set and trailing 5-4 in the second, the crowd yelled, "Let's go Jennifer!" All Myskina had to do was hold serve and she had the biggest win of her career.

That was part of the problem. The serve. Neither had much success, and it cost Myskina.

Capriati, seeded No. 1, won the next three games and closed out the third set for a 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 win. Capriati faces Iroda Tulyaganova tonight in the quarterfinals.

Capriati struggled as her family and close friend Matthew Perry of NBC's Friends watched from the stands. She lost more than half of the points when she served, double-faulting 10 times and holding six of 14 games.

"I was missing by just a little bit," she said. "The second serve didn't have a good rhythm to it.

"But overall that shouldn't stand out, because it was a great match, and I thought I played pretty well."

Three other top women had an easier time.

No. 2-seeded Venus Williams was leading Mariana Diaz-Oliva 6-2, 1-0 when the Argentine retired with a strained lower back.

No. 3-seeded Martina Hingis lost five points in the opening set and routed Tatiana Poutchek 6-0, 6-1 in 41 minutes. No. 8-seeded Serena Williams beat Katarina Srebotnik 6-1, 6-0 in 46 minutes.

No. 7 Jelena Dokic, who has won only two matches since straining her right thigh in early February, lost to Anne Kremer 6-3, 6-1. Marissa Irvin beat No. 10 Meghann Shaughnessy 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, and Alexandra Stevenson beat No. 16 seed Magdalena Maleeva 6-3, 7-5.

Capriati lost serve six straight times before holding for a 6-5 lead in the second set. She smacked two winners in the next game to take the set, then broke Myskina's serve three times in the final.

"I never give up until the last point," Capriati said. "I felt pretty confident that I would be able to break and just apply the pressure."

Myskina, whose ranking has climbed to 36th from 59th since the first of the year, went for the lines and, until the last few games, often hit them.

"I played really good except serving," the 20-year-old Russian said. "I'm happy that I showed my game, so it's good."

In men's play, No. 9 Andre Agassi beat Augustin Calleri 6-3, 6-2, but there were three upsets.

No. 2 Juan Carlos Ferrero lost to Adrian Voinea 7-6 (8-6), 1-6, 6-2; No. 3 Yevgeny Kafelnikov lost to 1998 champion Marcelo Rios 6-4, 7-6 (7-4); and No. 7 Sebastien Grosjean was beaten by Gaston Gaudio 7-6 (9-7), 4-6, 6-1.

Australian Open champion Thomas Johansson, seeded eighth, beat Guillermo Coria 6-1, 6-4 and faces Agassi Tuesday.

Agassi, who turns 32 next month, was the oldest player to reach the third round. Rejuvenated by a switch in coaches, and fully healed from a wrist injury that forced him to miss the Australian Open, the four-time Key Biscayne champion looked sharp in his first two matches.

The key, he said, is making the most of his experience.

"I'm at a stage in my career now where I have to look to maybe do a few things differently," Agassi said. "I'm constantly thinking about the game to give myself the advantage. Because, you know, the disadvantage is being 32."

Agassi took few risks against Calleri, letting the Argentine beat himself with repeated mistakes, including six double faults.

In February, Agassi parted with his coach of eight years, Brad Gilbert. Australian Darren Cahill, who formerly worked with Lleyton Hewitt, replaced Gilbert.

Agassi said the fresh perspective has helped his game.

"Darren was a different kind of player than me," Agassi said. "He knew what it was like to be on the other side of the net from good baseliners, and what they bring to the table that makes them hard to deal with. So it's helping me be at my best, no question."

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