Andre Agassi was but a neon blur yesterday. Jim Grabb, his overmatched opponent in the Sovran Bank Classic final, tried everything. He attacked, he launched exasperating moonballs, he alternately hurried and slowed the match to a crawl.

But Agassi just kept flexing his ever-more-bulging muscles from the baseline and hammering one ground-stroked rocket after another. The traffic snarl on 16th Street outside the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center hardly had subsided by the time Agassi won a 21-minute first set, and the onslaught never relented in his 6-1, 6-4 victory.

"I was winning handily, but I never felt like it was a sure thing," Agassi said, but he was being gracious. His 11th pro title (third this year) was among his easiest, as the top seed capped a week in which he didn't drop a set.

Agassi lost only 11 points on serve all afternoon, three during a first set in which Grabb won just 11 points. Agassi faced only one break point, and he dispatched that indignantly with one of many rifled forehand winners down the line.

He missed only seven first serves, usually just dumping the ball in at three-quarters pace to get play started; still, he won 34 of 41 points on it. He came to the net just three times -- winning points twice -- and converted three of his four break-point opportunities.

And, when Agassi finally decided to crank up the velocity on his serve in the last game, he fired a pair of aces. All of this came in his first tournament since he lost the French Open final early last month, and he said he hadn't picked up a racket between returning from Paris and beginning preparation for this event four days before it began.

"Every match, it seems like I rose to the occasion," said Agassi, mentioning an equally imposing 67-minute victory over Michael Chang in the semifinals Saturday night. "I could've played better provided I had been pushed harder, but it's tough to bear down and beat everybody handily too. Just surviving, you feel good about it."

Said sixth-seeded Grabb, a doubles specialist in his first singles final since 1987: "I thought Andre played great. He's hitting the ball with such pace these days. . . . For me to stay with Andre, I would really have to sustain a high level.

"He's definitely looking a lot more fit. He's working hard, and it's paying off for him."

Grabb speaks from experience. His lone singles title in five years on the tour came over Agassi three years ago in Seoul, when Agassi was a 16-year-old prodigy from Nick Bollettieri's academy. Agassi was capable of brilliance, but also was high-strung, unstable and equally likely to destruct amid a brooding fit.

"It's a different ballgame with him," Grabb said. "He was 20 pounds lighter {in the '87 match}, and I was two pounds lighter. He's developed into a world-class player. He was a highly talented, skinny kid who was kind of up and down mentally. He's really developed. . . . Now it's a matter of whether he can sustain it mentally."

Agassi's approach to the game has been questioned often. He has played Wimbledon only once. He has been accused of giving up in the middle of matches, including a Davis Cup affair last year. A banner 1988 was followed with a succession of subpar results last year as he struggled to find a racket that suited him and sagged somewhat beneath the pressure of carrying America's tennis hopes on his shoulders.

He has been ranked as high as third -- he came here No. 4 -- but has yet to win a Grand Slam event. However, the French Open may have been Agassi's breakthrough, and he said yesterday he believes he has made remarkable strides in recent months.

"I won six tournaments {in '88}, but I only beat one player in the top 10," he said. "This year I'm beating the big guys, and I'm giving them a battle when I don't beat them. There's no question I'm better now.

"You haven't seen me let up on someone for awhile, and I don't think you'll see it again for awhile. I'm just different now."

He certainly showed no mercy for Grabb, ranked 38th and an upset winner over second-seeded Brad Gilbert in a semifinal that contained a five-hour rain delay between the first and second sets. Grabb showed remarkable resiliency in that match, bouncing back from a 0-6 trouncing in the second set to take the decisive third. He also displayed an ability to make effective on-court adjustments.

But he had few openings yesterday. Agassi broke serve in the second game en route to a 3-0 lead, prompting Grabb to ditch temporarily his charge-the-net tactics. But the onslaught continued, as Agassi broke again in the sixth game and served out the set.

Grabb, hobbled slightly by a sore left leg, simply couldn't keep pace. Agassi broke again with a backhand pass for a 2-1 second-set lead, and Grabb's only break point was lost at 2-3. Grabb became only more discouraged as Agassi closed in on his third win in four head-to-head meetings, finishing the 62-minute match with waves and bows to the crowd.

Said Agassi, "It seems like every day that goes by, I'm more aware of the ability I've been given."