Everyone says the courts at this year's U.S. Open are faster. Andre Agassi professes to know exactly how much faster.

Agassi, who hopes to cap his rise from the ranks of the satellite tour with his second U.S. Open title, found the Arthur Ashe Stadium court to his liking as he overpowered young Frenchman Sebastien Grosjean 6-4, 6-1, 6-4."The court is definitely quicker, no question bout it," he said after capping the first day of the year's final Grand Slam tournament. "Forty-two percent quicker than last year."

Also advancing into the second round Monday were the two No. 1 seeds, Pete Sampras and Martina Hingis.

No. 9 Karol Kucera and No. 14 Goran Ivanisevic won in men's singles and No. 6 Monica Seles, No. 9 Irina Spirlea, No. 11 Patty Schnyder, No. 14 Dominique Van Roost and No. 16 Ai Sugiyama were winners in the women's field.

The only seeded player to be ousted on the first day was No. 15 Alberto Berasategui of Spain, who fell to Thomas Muster of Austria 7-6 (7-1), 6-2, 6-3.

Tuesday, Steffi Graf, a five-time U.S. Open champion, opened against American Corina Morariu, and last year's men's singles finalist, No. 6 Greg Rusedski of Britain, faced South African Wayne Fer-rei-ra.

Also playing first-round matches Tuesday are No. 2 Lindsay Davenport, Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna and French Open winner Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.

Tuesday night, defending men's champion Patrick Rafter meets Hicham Arazi of Morocco after fifth-seeded Venus Williams, the surprising women's finalist a year ago, faces Germany's Elena Wagner.

In 1997, Agassi's ranking bottomed out at 141, even after he surprisingly reached the fourth round at the National Tennis Center. He began the climb back to respectability in Challenger and satellite tournaments - the minor leagues of tennis.

Agassi was perking in the middle set, hitting lines, controlling points, dominating play. He leaped high in the air for a smash on the final point to move one set away from the second round.

As quickly as Agassi's "A game" came, it went away. Still, he had enough to hold off the challenge provided by Grosjean.