Tue, Jan 27, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Philippoussis falls to Arazi masterclass

DUMPED The big-serving Australian was thrown out of his home grand slam event by Hicham Arazi; while Kim Clijsters cruised into the quarters

REUTERS , MELBOURNE

Morocco's Hicham Arazi raises his arms in celebration after his fourth round win over Mark Philippoussis at the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia, yesterday.

PHOTO: AP

Australian powerhouse Mark Philippoussis was cut to ribbons by Hicham Arazi's rapier-like ground-strokes yesterday, dumped out of his home grand slam in the fourth round 6-2, 6-2, 6-4.

The 10th seed, nicknamed "Scud" for the explosive serving which on this occasion deserted him, was baffled by his Moroccan opponent's dazzling array of shots.

"Nothing much I could do today," Philippoussis conceded. "Just have to take my hat off to him -- too good."

Arazi will meet Spain's Juan Carlos Ferrero in the quarterfinals. The third seed ousted Romania's Andrei Pavel 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

"It's been a long time since I played like that," 30-year-old Arazi said. "Let's hope I can go on and reach the semifinal."

Eighth seed David Nalbandian beat fellow Argentine Guillermo Canas 6-4 6-2 6-1 to reach the quarters for the second year running.

The former Wimbledon finalist has not dropped a single set in his four matches and will play Roger Federer next.

In the women's draw second seed Kim Clijsters stayed on track for her first grand slam title, beating Italy's Silvia Farina Elia 6-3 6-3.

Yet to lose a set, the Belgian is in devastating form despite a foot injury which had threatened to sideline her and will play Russia's Anastasia Myskina for a place in the semis.

Self-confessed tennis bad girl Myskina survived a red mist to beat ninth seed Chanda Rubin 6-7, 6-2, 6-2.

French schoolgirl Tatiana Golovin's amazing run at the first grand slam of the year came to an end, however. The 16-year-old was thrashed 6-2, 6-0 by American doubles specialist Lisa Raymond, conqueror of Venus Williams in the previous round.

Runner-up at Wimbledon last year, Philippoussis had looked extremely comfortable in the first three rounds, building momentum nicely.

Yesterday he looked lost.

Playing in front of his home fans, the Melbourne-born 27-year-old could barely keep the ball in play, his monster serve deserted him and he was downed with ease in only 104 minutes.

The defeat was a bitter blow to a player who has never made it past the fourth round here since his debut in 1994.

"I tried to do everything out there, but I just, sort of let the crowd down," Philippoussis said.

"He was always on top. Always ahead, playing with confidence. I always felt I was trying to catch up."

Clijsters had won all three of her matches against Farina Elia and never looked in any trouble against the Italian in their 73-minute encounter.

"I felt like this was good," she said. "I had to move well, move around a lot and I felt like I really enjoyed it as well."

Clijsters has conceded just 14 games in her four matches so far and remains well on track for her first major title after reaching the semi-finals in Melbourne the past two years.

She has lost in the final of three grand slams -- the 2001 French Open and the French and US Opens last year.

Clijsters can expect to be tested a little more in the next round when she runs into Myskina.

"She's obviously playing really well. I'll have to attack and make sure that I can get into an advantage situation a little bit from the start of rallies," Clijsters said.

Sixth seed Myskina battled past Rubin after a scratchy first set and is looking forward to the Clijsters showdown.

"Against Kim, you just have to do your best," said the Russian.

"Not 100 percent, I have to give like 300 percent. It is really hard though because she is the best one right now," Myskina said.

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