American tennis star Andre Agassi has survived a thrilling five-set match against Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus to advance to the third round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York.
Agassi, who will retire at the end of the tournament, took nearly four hours to edge the eighth seeded Baghdatis, 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 7-5 late Thursday to the delight of 23,700 cheering fans at Flushing Meadows' main venue.
Unseeded Agassi had a chance to win in the fourth set with a 4-0 lead, but Baghdatis broke the American's serve twice to force a deciding fifth set. The 36-year-old Agassi finally closed out the contest with a break of the 21-year-old Cypriot's serve.
Agassi next takes on qualifier Benjamin Becker of Germany.
Thanks to a cortisone shot, Agassi showed no sign of the back problems that have plagued him most of this season, but Baghdatis, a finalist at year's Australian Open, struggled with leg cramps the last few games of the match.
Agassi also staved off elimination in his opening match when he rallied from a four-game deficit to beat Andrei Pavel of Romania in four sets.
Agassi is an eight-time Grand Slam champion, including U.S. Open titles in 1994 and 1999.
Four women's former champions - Americans Lindsay Davenport and Serena Williams, Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova and Belgium's Justine Henin Hardenne - all advanced Thursday. Top seed Amelie Mauresmo of France and third-seeded Russian Maria Sharapova also advanced. Eighth-seeded Martina Hingis of Switzerland was upset 6-2, 6-4 by Virginie Razzano of France.
In men's action Thursday, world number two Rafael Nadal of Spain, sixth-seed Tommy Robredo of Spain, and 2000 men's champion Australian Lleyton Hewitt all reached the third round.
Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.