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AGASSI FIGHTS TO OVERCOME PROVO’S PEARCE

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Andre Agassi is trying to get his tennis game back in shape, but he had to struggle to a 7-6, 6-3 victory over Provo's Brad Pearce in the second round of the Sovran Bank Classic Wednesday.

Agassi will play Israel's Gilad Bloom, the No. 13 seed, a 6-2, 6-4 winner over Jared Palmer, tonight.Fifth-seeded Michael Chang needed a break in the 12th game of the second set against Steve Bryan, ranked 358th in the world, before winning 6-2, 7-6.

Agassi's first competition since losing to Andres Gomez in the final at Paris started badly as Pearce answered Agassi's trademark strutting and gesturing to the crowd by taking a 4-2 lead.

But Pearce, a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon, started pressing as the volleys that got him the lead began falling into the net.

"Right there I should have had an adrenaline rush, but I just didn't have it in me," said Pearce, who had a tough first-round victory over Bryan Shelton on Tuesday.

Pearce fell behind a break and said he was "scraping pretty well" to force a tiebreaker. He even had set point at 7-6. but Agassi answered his cross-court attempt with a forehand pass deep in the corner to even the score and turn the match around.

Pearce tried to keep the pressure on in the second set, but at 30-30 in the sixth game he dropped two volley attempts into the net and Agassi rode the break to his first victory of the summer.