Wed, Jul 02, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Unseeded Philippoussis upsets Agassi

WIMBLEDON Rankings often mean little to up and coming players when they have a chance to realize their dreams in the world's most famous tennis meet

AP , WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND

Britain's Tim Henman returns to Argentina's David Nalbandian in their fourth round match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London on Monday. Henman won the match 6-2, 6-7, 7-5, 6-3.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Undaunted by the game's greatest returner, who also happens to be ranked No. 1 and own eight Grand Slam titles, the unseeded Mark Philippoussis hit a record-tying 46 aces and upset Adre Agassi 6-3, 2-6, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-4 in the fourth round.

"So little can decide each set that it's pretty frustrating at times," said Agassi, the 1992 champion. "I felt like I made him earn it. I made him play the big shot at the crucial time, and he came up with it."

His exit means no past winners are in the quarterfinals; that hasn't been the case at the All England Club since 1973, when a player boycott diluted the field.

For Philippoussis, this represents a return to the big time. Once ranked No. 8 and the 1998 US Open runner-up, he fell out of the top 100 in 2001 after a series of left knee injuries. He's always had that booming serve, though.

Broken twice in the second set Monday, Philippoussis won the last 16 games he served, saving nine break points. Only Goran Ivanisevic, in 1997, had as many aces in a Wimbledon match.

"The great thing about the serve is you've got the ball in your hands. You can take your time, no one can rush you. You're in control," the 48th-ranked Australian said. "Even on the second serves, I went for them. Against a guy like Andre, you have to."

He earned his fourth trip to Wimbledon's quarterfinals, having made it that far in 1998-2000. He lost each time, once to Agassi, twice to Pete Sampras.

Philippoussis, who surfs four hours a day when home in San Diego, gets to play a less-distinguished foe this time: Alexander Popp, who's ranked 198th and beat Olivier Rochus 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

Other quarterfinals: No. 5 Andy Roddick versus Jonas Bjorkman, No. 4 Roger Federer versus No. 8 Sjeng Schalken, and Britain's Tim Henman vs. Juan Carlos Ferrero or Sebastien Grosjean -- their match was stopped because of darkness with Grosjean ahead 2-1 in sets.

Wimbledon is the only Slam that schedules all 16 fourth-round matches on the same day. After rain delayed Monday's start an hour, the Williams sisters, Jennifer Capriati, Lindsay Davenport and Kim Clijsters were in action simultaneously. Not for long, though: They all won quickly, dropping a total of 23 games.

Venus Williams had to be the most satisfied winner. She picked up a 6-1, 6-3 victory over No. 16 Vera Zvonareva, who stunned her in the French Open's fourth round.

"Venus was unbelievable today," Zvonareva said. "She didn't give me chances."

Tuesday's women's quarterfinals: defending champion Serena Williams versus No. 8 Capriati; 2000-01 champion Venus Williams vs. 1999 champion Davenport; No. 2 Clijsters versus No. 27 Silvia Farina Elia, who never made the quarters at 43 previous majors; and French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne versus Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Davenport will try to snap a five-match losing streak against Venus; Capriati has lost seven straight against Serena.

"The level will jump quite a bit tomorrow -- the level of opponents," Davenport said. "The top players have gone through relatively unscathed so far."

The same can't be said for the men. With defending champion Lleyton Hewitt a first-round loser, and second-seeded Agassi now gone, it's the first time in the Open era neither No. 1 nor 2 made the last eight.

"I had nothing to lose," Philippoussis said. "Everyone was expecting him to win. That's a great position to be in."

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