Philippoussis Upsets SamprasPHIL BROWN , Associated Press
Jan. 20, 1996 8:21 AM ET
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) _ Australian Mark Philippoussis attacked Pete Sampras with aces, thundering forehands and tantalizing chips and ousted the No. 1 seed from the third round of the Australian Open today.
Philippoussis won 6-4, 7-6 (11-9), 7-6 (7-3) in a 2 hour, 14 minute match in which he served 29 aces.
It was the second Australian-American epic battle in two nights. On Friday, American Jim Courier wore down Australian Todd Woodbridge 6-3, 6-7 (7-2), 7-6 (7-3), 3-6, 8-6 in a 4 1/2-hour struggle.
``Do it for Woody,'' one fan shouted to Philippoussis early in the second set. Philippoussis responded by slamming in his 11th ace of the night.
Philippoussis faced only two break points, and saved both. Sampras faced six and saved all but one, at 4-5 in the first set, when he double-faulted once and then the Australian was attacking his second serve.
Philippoussis reached set point on a drop volley that hit the net cord and a backhand error by Sampras as the Australian was charging in.
Then Philippoussis stretched wide to make a backhand crosscourt pass that Sampras got his racket on but couldn't handle.
Sampras saved two set points en route to the second-set tiebreaker, and two more in the tiebreaker, in which he also held two set points.
But Philippoussis got a minibreak at 9-9 when Sampras hit a backhand volley wide, and took the set with a strong serve.
In the final set tiebreaker, Philippoussis raced to a 6-1 lead and took the match when Sampras netted a backhand serve return.
The 19-year-old Philippoussis, ranked No. 40 and bearing Australia's tennis hopes on his shoulders, wound up for his forehands with a loud grunt and often slammed them past Sampras. At other times, he dropped backhand chips on Sampras' feet at the net, forcing misses. Sampras tried at times to slow down the pace and throw off his opponent's rhythm, but without success.
The loss cost Sampras his No. 1 ranking, but later rounds of the tournament will determine whether the new top man is Andre Agassi or Austrian Thomas Muster.
``I served unbelievably,'' Philippoussis said. ``I tried to stay calm. It was hard to believe I was serving for the match against the world No. 1.''
Sampras had beaten Philippoussis in a tough four-set match at the U.S. Open last year, and described the Australian as ``dangerous.''
After the match, he said, ``He was just on today, plain and simple. He has definitely improved in the last six months.''
The roof on Center Court was closed because of rain earlier in the day, and Sampras said that made Philippoussis' serve even better.
``I really didn't have a sniff at getting his serve back,'' Sampras said.
He added: ``I wasn't serving great, but I wasn't having trouble holding my serve. My problem was trying to break him. I was a little overwhelmed.''
But, Sampras said,``I feel I'm going to play him a lot more before I'm done. ... We'll see over time if he can play at that level.''
It was the first time Sampras had lost in straight sets in a Grand Slam tournament since bowing to Sweden's Stefan Edberg in the semifinals of the 1993 Australian Open.
In other matches, for a change, Boris Becker didn't have to show his mastery of five-set matches.
Sweden's Magnus Larsson kept the match close for just one set before No. 4 seed Becker won 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 6-3 today, advancing to the round of 16 at the Australian Open.
In first two matches, Becker needed five sets to come from behind. Another member of the tough Swedish contingent, Thomas Johansson, won the first two sets against Becker. But now with a 30-13 record in five-set matches, he has won more than any other active player.
This time, he said, serving was easier because the Center Court roof was closed because of rain, and there was no sun or wind to contend with.
``I felt my serve was very, very good, and he didn't have much chance to get on it. The match didn't go to five because of that,'' said Becker, who has won five Grand Slam titles, but none since the 1991 Australian Open.
Larsson was moving up the rankings, going as high as No. 10 last April, before he broke his right foot in June. He now is 19th.
``I didn't move. I didn't do anything to really bother him. ... At least, I have no pain in my foot. I'll just have to go home and practice more and harder to get back to the form I had here last year,'' when he reached the fourth round, Larsson said.
Meanwhile, another Swede was victorious today. No. 7 Thomas Enqvist won his third-round match against Hernan Gumy of Argentina.
No. 6 Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia beat Australia's Michael Tebbutt 7-5, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 on Center Court. The first two sets were played with the roof open, and temperatures as high as 84 degrees, dropping suddenly to 61. Then came the rain. The roof was closed, and play resumed about an hour later.
On the outside courts, play was interrupted for 3 1/2 hours.
American MaliVai Washington won one interrupted match, beating Mauricio Hadad of Colombia 6-4, 6-2, 6-3. He faces Kafelnikov next.
Becker's next foe, Brett Steven of New Zealand, beat Jan Siemerink of the Netherlands 6-1, 6-4, 6-7 (7-3), 6-2.
Australian Mark Woodforde ousted Francisco Clavet of Spain 4-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-2, 6-4.
Three of the top women players, including teen-agers Martina Hingis of Switzerland and American Lindsay Davenport, beat the rain with quick morning victories, but had to deal with winds that moved shots and blew plastic bags and other trash onto the courts.
Hingis needed just 47 minutes for a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Mana Endo, who had eliminated No. 5 Kimiko Date, a Japanese compatriot.
Davenport, seeded 10th, beat Finland's Nanne Dahlman 6-4, 7-5.
Germany's Anke Huber, seeded eighth, beat Ludmila Richterova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-1.
Playing under the roof on Center Court, No. 2 Conchita Martinez of Spain beat Germany's Jana Kandarr 6-3, 6-0.
Elena Likhovtseva of Russia, who ousted defending champion Mary Pierce in the second round, reached the round of 16 with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Rita Grande of Italy.