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Originally published September 8, 2005 at 12:00 AM | Page modified September 8, 2005 at 1:52 PM

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U.S. Open: Giant win for Andre

Andre Agassi, a 35-year-old two-time champion, came back from two sets down to beat James Blake and reach the semifinals of the U.S. Open last night. Agassi...

NEW YORK — Andre Agassi, 35 years young, took a pounding for two sets from a sizzling James Blake, pounced back at him for two more, then survived a tiebreaker in a wondrous five-set drama reminiscent of Jimmy Connors' legendary run to the U.S. Open semifinals at 39.

Rendered helpless at the start by Blake's dazzling speed and precision, Agassi asserted himself in the third set last night, turned the match around and looked fresher at the end of a 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) triumph that put him in the semis — two wins from capturing the title he won in 1994 and '99.

"It couldn't have been more fun to lose," Blake told Agassi as they embraced at the net and were given a long standing ovation in a still-packed Arthur Ashe Stadium.

"At 1:15 in the morning for 20,000 people to still be here, I wasn't the winner, tennis was," Agassi told the crowd.

Awaiting Agassi on Saturday will be U.S. Davis Cup teammate Robby Ginepri, an unsung, unseeded 22-year-old who reached his first major semifinal.

Ginepri gutted his way out of trouble and got the gift of Guillermo Coria's 13th and 14th double-faults on the last two points to win his third straight five-setter against a seeded player, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, and guarantee that an American will play in the final.

"It's all a big blur right now," Agassi said of his 2-hour, 51-minute duel with Blake, which ended with Agassi's final forehand winner smacking the sideline.

At 25, 10 years younger than Agassi, Blake was faster, sharper and stronger — for two sets. The difference between them wasn't age. It was Blake playing in a magical zone, clicking in every aspect of his game, digging out balls that seemed out of reach, while Agassi played merely good, decent tennis.

That changed in the third set, when Agassi raised his game and Blake fell back to Earth.

Almost as crazy as the Agassi-Blake match was top-ranked Lindsay Davenport, the 1998 women's champion, getting thumped in the first set by last year's finalist, sixth-seeded Elena Dementieva, and losing a match of epic sloppiness, 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (8-6).

"It seems like a lucky place for me," said Dementieva, who overcame 12 double-faults and had 43 unforced errors to Davenport's 56.

Dementieva will play tomorrow against No. 12 Mary Pierce, 30, the 2000 French Open and 1995 Australian winner who advanced to her first U.S. Open semifinals by beating fellow Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo 6-4, 6-1.



• Blake, Ginepri and former champion Andy Roddick were picked for the American Davis Cup team that will play Belgium this month.

Also chosen by captain Patrick McEnroe were Bob and Mike Bryan, the second-ranked doubles team at this year's Open.

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