Andre Agassi continued his command of the hardcourts Saturday night, overcoming Mats Wilander 6-3, 6-3 to reach the finals of the Volvo International.
Agassi wasn't sharp in the early going and his win didn't come as quickly and cleanly as did his first three victories this week at the Connecticut Tennis Center.Agassi lost his service twice, doubling the number of breaks he has had in the tournament. He also missed eight of 13 chances to break Wilander, who survived with the help of seven well-placed aces, which ranged from as slow as 79 mph to as fast as 119 mph.
Agassi found his rhythm in the second set and began delivering his returns with the power and precision that has made him unbeatable on the hardcourts.
"It was kind of close early. But I managed to pull away, and once I get ahead I get a little more confidence," Agassi said. "I wouldn't say it was my optimum performance . . . but I would say I pretty much had everything under control."
Standing in the way of Agassi's seventh title this year is the towering Richard Krajicek, who upset fourth-seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov 6-4, 6-4 in the earlier semifinal.
The pressure will be on Krajicek.
Agassi is 45-2 on hardcourts this year and has won 19 straight matches. He will be making his 10th appearance in a final this year. He has reached the final in every hardcourt event he's played this year and hasn't lost a match on the surface this summer.
On Saturday night, Wilander, a former No. 1 player, ended up being no match for the new ruler of the tennis world. He did have his moments of brilliance, slicing some nice drop shots and chasing down some of Agassi's.
And, after the two lost their first two service games, Wilander was only broken once more in the first set despite being being down break points in all of his remaining service games.
Earlier Saturday, Krajicek used 16 aces and a deft serve-and-volley game to beat Kafelnikov. Krajicek, seeded eighth, was down a break after two games but quickly recovered.
Making his first appearance in a semifinal since late February at Rotterdam, Netherlands - where he won his second straight title of the year - Krajicek got off to a bad start against Kafelnikov, who hadn't dropped a set all week.
Krajicek failed to win a point during his first service game, and was broken after making four straight unforced errors, including two backhanders into the net and a double fault.
But it was the only time in the match that Krajicek lost his serve. He went on to break Kafelnikov three times, while relying mostly on his serve to save the remaining three break points he faced.