Woodforde Shoots Down Philippoussis in Fourth Round
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) _ Teen sensation Mark Philippoussis, flying high after conquering Pete Sampras, was ousted from the Australian Open today by the slicing and softballing of wily veteran Mark Woodforde.
Philippoussis, who never dropped service in knocking Sampras out of the No. 1 ranking two days earlier, was broken seven times in his 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 loss.
Australian fans thus had one of their native sons in the quarterfinals, but not the one many thought had the weapons to become the first Australian winner at the Open since Mark Edmondson in 1976.
This was the first time Woodforde, 30, one of the world’s top doubles players, had reached the singles quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament.
The 19-year-old Philippoussis, who served 29 aces against Sampras, had 12 against Woodforde _ and they were nearly offset by eight double faults.
Woodforde blocked back some of his opponent’s fastest serves, retrieved other tough shots, hit low slices that Philippoussis couldn’t tee off on, and at other times set him back with high topspins.
``It was very hard for me, after beating Sampras, to come back,″ Philippoussis said. ``I think I maybe went on a bit too relaxed. ... When things didn’t go too well at the start, I couldn’t pump myself up, (even though) it was a big occasion for me, one of the biggest matches of my life, to get into the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.″
Woodforde agreed that ``he definitely wasn’t the same player who played Pete Sampras.″ But, the veteran added, ``he’s such a great player that I think you should all just forget about this match and look forward to him playing much, much better tennis.″
Woodforde, who is ranked 67th in the world to Philippoussis’ 40, ``wasn’t scared at all″ of the big teen. ``I’ve beaten him in practice,″ Woodforde said, adding that his experience in playing against Philippoussis in doubles had helped in figuring out his serve.
Discussing strategy, Woodforde said that Philippoussis’ game against Sampras ``was just incredible. ... That was just a blinder of a game.″ But Sampras plays with power, ``just like Mark Philippoussis, and I think Scud just loves it. He just doesn’t like the subtle changes of pace, and that’s what I set out to do.″
Australian fans call Philippoussis ``Scud″ because of the missiles he launches with his racket, and there were cries of ``Come on, Scud,″ when he was trailing 5-0 in the final set.
But groups of youngsters kept up chants of ``Woody, Woody, Woody″ between games.
At the end, ``I was trying to blink away the tears,″ Woodforde said. ``I was really overcome out there.″
He rejected what he called ``the myth in tennis that after age 25, if you haven’t reached the top 10, you’re nothing.″
Philippoussis started the match with two aces, and said that after those he thought he could keep up the level of play he had reached against Sampras.
But in his second service game, he was broken after helping Woodforde with three double-faults and three shots hit impatiently into the net off his opponent’s changes of pace. On the fourth break point, Woodforde set Philippoussis back with a moonball and then drilled a forehand winner down the line.
``Mark showed today that experience is the key thing in matches,″ Philippoussis said.
He also said he expected to absorb his lesson and bounce right back.
``I’m only 19. I’ve had a great tournament,″ he said.
In the quarterfinals, Woodforde will take on seventh-seeded Thomas Enqvist of Sweden, who beat Italy’s Renzo Furlan 7-5, 6-0, 6-3.
While Woodforde says he isn’t talking now about winning the tournament, Russian Yevgeny Kafelnikov is.
After the sixth-seeded Russian beat American MaliVai Washington 6-3, 6-2, 6-4, a television interviewer said, ``I’ve got $10 that says you’ll win.″
``Make it $100. I won’t disappoint you,″ Kafelnikov responded.
Later, he explained: ``The player who I never won against is out of the tournament, Pete Sampras. Everybody else, I beat them. So why can’t I win the Australian Open? I feel like I am in very good shape now. I am completely satisfied with the whole aspect of my game, and I’ve got enough confidence to win it.″
It would be his first Grand Slam tournament title. Kafelnikov, dubbed AK-47 by other players, so far has yet to get past the semifinals of a major tournament.
Trying to put the ball past his speedy opponent, Washington made 45 unforced error’s to Kafelnikov’s 15.
``I just wanted to not give him any free points,″ Kafelnikov said. ``I just wanted to make him play as much as I can, which I did. As soon as I won the first set, I was totally in control of the match.″
In women’s matches, No. 2 Conchita Martinez of Spain advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Lindsay Davenport of Murrieta, Calif., the 10th seed. She next meets No. 8 Anke Huber of Germany, a 6-3, 6-2 winner over Austrian Barbara Schett.
Davenport had trouble keeping her groundstrokes in play and staying with the heavy topspin shots of Martinez. Davenport made more than three times as many unforced errors (34-10) and never really pressured the 1994 Wimbledon champion, who was a semifinalist in all four Grand Slam tournament events last year.
Also advancing was No. 16 Amanda Coetzer of South Africa, who ousted Russian Elena Likhovtseva 6-3, 6-3.