Vol. 4 Num 36 Wed. July 02, 2003  

Scud wrecks US dream

Andre Agassi joined Lleyton Hewitt on the Wimbledon scrapheap on Monday - ruining what was otherwise shaping up as a dream of a day for the American contingent at the All England Club.

Andy Roddick, the young pretender to Agassi's crown as the king of American tennis, blasted his way past Paradorn Srichaphan to reach the quarterfinals.

But the hoped-for clean sweep failed to materialise as Agassi crashed in the fifth set under a barrage of hostile fire from the man they call the Scud, Australia's Mark Philippoussis.

The 6-3, 2-6, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-4 win was a victory to relish for Philippoussis, who has battled back from a recurring knee injury which had threatened to end the 26-year-old's career.

But for Agassi, now 33 and preparing for the birth of his second child with wife Steffi Graf, it was a defeat that could herald the end of any realistic chance he had of adding another Wimbledon crown to the title he won here in 1992.

Unbowed, Agassi vowed he would be back next year. "Why wouldn't I be back? I'm still a tennis player. This is the place to be."

Agassi's departure means there are no former winners left in the men's draw. French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero - who was two sets to one down to Sebastien Grosjean when their match was suspended - is the only surviving player with a Grand Slam title of any description to his name.

But British dreams of a first Wimbledon champion since Fred Perry in 1936 remain alive after Tim Henman eliminated David Nalbandian, last year's beaten finalist, 6-2, 6-7 (4/7), 7-5, 6-3.

Roddick, the bookmakers favourite even before Agassi's demise, dropped a service game for only the second time in the tournament.

That cost him the second set but it was to prove an isolated blemish on an otherwise flawless progression to a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win and a quarterfinal against experienced Swede Jonas Bjorkman who got past Max Mirnyi of Belarus 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4).

Despite the mounting expectations, Roddick refused to get carried away.

"There are eight guys still left in and I'm just one of them," the 20-year-old insisted. "That is the game-plan and I'm sticking to it."

Roger Federer, seen by many as Roddick's main title rival, won against Spain's Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-4.

Federer, who next faces the Netherlands' Sjeng Schalken, admitted he thought his time in this year's tournament was up.

"I didn't think I'd be sitting here today as a winner," said the Swiss fourth seed.

"I have to take this lucky match today and try to get rid of this and get ready for the quarters - it's a great opportunity."

Eighth seed Schalken defeated ninth seed Rainer Schuettler 7-5, 6-4, 7-5.

And in a battle a unseeded players Germany's Alexander Popp overcame Olivier Rochus of Belgium 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

In the remaining women's matches on a rain-interrupted day at Wimbledon,

French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne stormed into the quarters with a 6-3, 6-3 over Mary Pierce.

In the all-Russian affair Svetlana Kuznetsova ended the dream run of 16-year-old Maria Sharapova.

Sharapova, the teen sensation, lost 6-1, 2-6, 7-5.

Italy's Silvia Farina Elia won her fourth round match against Argentina's Paola Suarez 7-5, 7-6.

SCUD FIRES: Australian Mark Philippoussis raises his arms for joy after defeating Andre Agassi of the United States in the fourth round of Wimbledon Championships on June 30. Photo: AFP