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September 2, 2009

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Mirza, Devvarman make slam history for India

SOMDEV Devvarman and Sania Mirza posted first-round victories on opening day of the US Open to become the first man and woman from India to reach the second round of the same grand slam event.

Mirza defeated Olga Govortsova of Belarus 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, and qualifier Devvarman beat Portugal's Frederico Gil 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.

"For a long time... I was the only one (from India) playing singles in the main draw of the grand slams," said 22-year-old Mirza, playing in her fourth US Open.

"It's great that Somdev is playing so well since the beginning of the year and getting better. I'm really happy that we have two Indians in the second round of a slam. I don't know if it's ever happened before."

Devvarman added: "I don't want to jinx myself but I feel good about where I am. I've had a couple of quality wins.

"It gives me a lot of confidence and belief that I can come out and compete with anyone. My game is up there with the rest." The International Tennis Federation confirmed they became the first Indian duo to advance together in slam singles.

Meanwhile, it was like old times at Arthur Ashe Stadium as fans gave Andre Agassi a rousing ovation as the former champion was honoured before Monday's opening night program at Flushing Meadows.

Eight-times grand slam champion Agassi, the US Open winner in 1994 and 1999, was one of four athletes saluted on center court as part of a celebration of the community work they do.

Agassi was joined by former basketball player David Robinson, football quarterback Doug Flutie and women's soccer player Mia Hamm, but it was the tennis champion who won a standing ovation and blew kisses to the four corners of Arthur Ashe Stadium.

"Over the years I've shared this court with many great athletes but I'm extra proud tonight to share this court with athletes who are not only great, but doing great work," said Agassi, one of only six men to win a career grand slam.

In 1994, the year Agassi won his first US Open title at the age of 24, he started the Andre Agassi Foundation dedicated to improving public education in his hometown of Las Vegas.

In June the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy graduated its first senior class and had a 100 percent college acceptance rate.


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