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Dent upsets Coria at Key Biscayne
Updated: 2005-03-29 08:52

For Taylor Dent, speed always meant a 140-mph ace. So when he sprinted across the court to outscramble Guillermo Coria, the surprised crowd roared. Dent beat a top-10 player for the fourth time this year Monday, eliminating Coria 6-3, 6-4 in the third round at the Nasdaq-100 Open. Dent dominated with his serve, but he also chased down a drop shot by the crafty Coria and angled his reply crosscourt for a winner.

Taylor Dent of the USA looks on between games during his match against Guillermo Coria of Argentina during the NASDAQ-100 Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center in Key Biscayne, Florida. Dent won the match 6-3, 6-4. [AFP]

"It's always nice to beat the South Americans and Spaniards at their own little game," Dent said with a smile.

The elimination of Coria, the runner-up last year, left just one of the six highest-ranked players — No. 1 Roger Federer — in contention with four rounds still to go. The highest-seeded man left in one half of the draw is No. 13 Ivan Ljubicic.

Dent, seeded 31st, used his serve-and-volley game to keep Coria on the defensive. Dent lost only four points on his first serve, never faced a break point and won 37 points at the net.

He used his wheels too. Pudgy and injury-prone in the past, Dent said sprint work has reduced his weight at least 15 pounds from a high of 215.

"He certainly has a game that should cause problems for a lot of people," said Andre Agassi, who also won and might face Dent in the quarterfinals. "I would expect him to have these wins a lot more often."

Six-time champion Agassi hit 12 aces and took barely an hour to beat Arnaud Clement 6-2, 6-4.

On the women's side, unseeded Kim Clijsters continued her comeback from a wrist injury and reached the quarterfinals by beating No. 5 Anastasia Myskina 6-3, 6-4. Clijsters has won 11 consecutive matches, including her first tournament title in 13 months earlier this month at Indian Wells.

"I definitely didn't expect to be playing so many matches on this trip" to the United States, the Belgian said. "So everything is a bonus."

Joining French Open champion Myskina on the sideline was fellow Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, the U.S. Open champion. She lost to 17-year-old Ana Ivanovic of Serbia-Montenegro, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.

"This is quite a big result for me," said Ivanovic, who won her first WTA Tour title in January in Canberra, Australia. "I think I'm pretty happy."

The 6-foot Ivanovic next plays top-seeded Amelie Mauresmo, who beat No. 16 Karolina Sprem 6-1, 7-5. No. 2 Maria Sharapova eliminated No. 23 Shinobu Asagoe 6-1, 6-2, and No. 4 Elena Dementieva rallied past 17-year-old Tatiana Golovin 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.

While Coria was eliminated, fellow Argentine Gaston Gaudio advanced and will play Agassi next. The No. 7-seeded Gaudio beat No. 27 Sebastien Grosjean 6-2, 6-3.

No. 6 Tim Henman swept another Argentine, No. 28 Juan Ignacio Chela, 6-3, 6-1.

In three previous appearances at Key Biscayne, Dent never advanced past the second round, but he added Coria to an impressive list of players he has defeated this year. Earlier wins over No. 2-ranked Lleyton Hewitt, No. 4 Marat Safin and No. 9 David Nalbandian underscore Dent's potential.

"I feel like if I execute my game, I'm going to give anybody in the world a handful of trouble," Dent said. "That's what happened today. I just happened to be executing from the start."

Coria, seeded fourth, struggled with his serve on a cloudy, windy afternoon and hit eight double faults — including four to fall behind 4-3 in the second set.

"I never felt comfortable out there," Coria said. "I didn't play as well because of the way Dent played. He put a lot of pressure on me."

Serve-and-volleyers have become a rarity — Henman is the only one in the top 20 — but Dent is committed to the tactic and believes he's still improving at age 23.

"It's a very dominating game," he said. "If you're playing well, there's not much guys can do about it. I've had guys come up to me after the match saying, `I'm not even mad I lost. There's nothing I could do.'"

He'll next play unseeded Florian Mayer, who upset No. 15 Fernando Gonzalez 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-3.

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