Agassi rusty in first-round loss at Queen's Club

Updated: June 12, 2006, 3:49 PM ET
Assocaited Press

LONDON -- Andre Agassi played his first match in more than three months Monday, and it showed.

Andre Agassi
AP Photo/Tom HeveziA win after a long layoff was beyond Agassi's reach.

The 36-year-old Agassi lost 6-4, 6-4 to Tim Henman in the first round of the grass-court tournament at Queen's Club, a tuneup for Wimbledon.

"It's the first match in a long time," Agassi said. "Wasn't terribly pretty. Today I wanted to go out there and start average and end good. I feel like I started more uncomfortable than I wanted and ended pretty ordinary. That's not good."

Agassi had played only eight matches since the U.S. Open in September because of a bad back, with his last appearance coming at the Indian Wells tournament in March.

"I felt good physically, and mentally I was looking forward to it," Agassi said. "But feeling good in a match is a whole different proposition."

Henman, who also has been struggling with a bad back, attacked at every opportunity and forced Agassi into either an error or to hit short.

Henman broke to lead 2-1 in the first set on an Agassi backhand error, but dropped serve at love in the next game. The British player broke again to go up 4-3, and saved three break points to serve out the set.

The crucial break in the second set came when Henman put away an overhead in the opening game.

Agassi failed to convert two breakpoint chances at 3-4 -- returning long on the first point, and hitting a drop shot that fell short on the second.

Henman closed out the match with a forehand winner as Agassi, caught wrong-footed, slipped and fell on the grass.

"I went out there expecting to be a bit unsettled, you know, reacting to the ball and sort of getting through the nerves of just executing my game," Agassi said. "It wasn't as good as I'd hoped, but I suppose it could have been worse. Towards the end I started hitting a few cleaner shots. Turned out to be a bit too late."

Rafael Nadal, who won his second straight French Open on Sunday, is the top-seeded player in his first Stella Artois Championship. Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia is seeded second.

Nadal, who has a first-round bye, is scheduled to play Mardy Fish or Jamie Baker in the second round on Wednesday.

Defending champion Andy Roddick opens Tuesday against Canadian qualifier Frank Dancevic. Roddick is attempting to become the first player to win the event four times in a row. Lleyton Hewitt won three straight between 2000-02.

Americans James Blake and Justin Gimelstob will meet on Tuesday, and Andy Murray of Scotland will play Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia-Montenegro.