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Surprise victory for Kratochvil

Swiss player Michel Kratochvil celebrates his victory over Andre Agassi of the US on Tuesday Keystone

Swiss number two, Michel Kratochvil, has beaten American Andre Agassi 7-6, 7-6 in the first round of the Indian Wells Masters Series tournament.

The 22-year-old only needed two sets to overcome the defending champion, who had returned to Indian Wells after having claimed his 50th ATP title in Scottsdale.

Kratochvil, who has now defeated a top-ten player for the first time in his career, was delighted with the result.

“That’s one of those matches you’re looking forward to, playing Andre in the US, a tournament he won last year on centre court,” said the Swiss star.

“I just had a lot of courage on the big points – I went for them,” he added.

During the tightly fought match, the Swiss world number 40 managed to break the American’s serve three times.

Sweet revenge

Only one year ago Kratochvil faced the world number five in San Jose, where Agassi was clearly stronger than his Swiss opponent.

But in Indian Wells it was Agassi’s turn to be on the receiving end of a series of powerful volleys.

After the match, Kratochvil’s 33-year-old opponent explained to reporters what had gone wrong.

“I didn’t step up in the biggest moments of the match, never found my rhythm,” said the American, “but he stepped it up even on match point with a long rally and went for it on the line.”

“So all in all,” he added, “he played a better match than I did.”

Kratochvil now goes on to meet Marcel Rios from Chile in the second round of the tournament.

More Swiss success

In Tuesday’s other Indian Wells first-round tie involving a Swiss player, Roger Federer also won through to the second round after defeating his Belgian opponent, Xavier Malisse, in three sets, 6-7, 7-6, 6-3.

Federer will face Austria’s Stefan Koubek in the next round.

Kratochvil’s Swiss compatriot, Emmanuelle Gagliardi, was also celebrating on Tuesday, after she eased through to the last four at Indian Wells following a two-set win over Israel’s Anna Smashnova.

Gagliardi proved she was on top form when she took the quarter-final match in straight sets, 6-2, 6-1.

The Swiss star will now go on to meet Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova in the semi-finals.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR