Philippoussis serves up an upset over Kafelnikov Sampras and Agassi take victories in straight sets

June 23, 1998|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,SUN FOREIGN STAFF

WIMBLEDON, England -- Two weeks ago, Mark Philippoussis was in the dumps. He hated tennis. He had no motivation. He wasn't even sure if he wanted to go to Wimbledon.

So, what did he do? He got a haircut.

Yesterday, the clean-cut, hard-serving Australian pulled off the biggest upset in Wimbledon's opening round, defeating No. 7 seed Yevgeny Kafelnikov, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-1), 6-4, 6-2.

This was men's tennis at its best -- or worst, depending on your point of view. These two guys simply unloaded serves, threw in a few volleys, and occasionally had a rally.

Philippoussis had 21 aces and 14 double faults. Kafelnikov, who won a grass-court tuneup in Germany and was supposed to be among the favorites, had four aces and 22 double faults.

"I honestly do think that there's no reason why I can't win this tournament," said Philippoussis. "I've got to go out there and prove it to everyone and to myself, to show just how good I can play."

While Philippoussis was working on his confidence -- and his look -- the top tennis guns were quietly going to work.

Pete Sampras, the No. 1 seed out to win a fifth Wimbledon, dispatched Dominik Hrbaty, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2.

Sampras, struggling to regain his form, is confident he can win again.

"Wimbledon is kind of a new start and it's the only hope I can recapture my year by playing well here and obviously the surface is to my liking," he said. "I've had a lot of good memories playing here, so I hope that continues."

No. 3 seed Petr Korda defeated Javier Sanchez, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3. No. 12 seed Tim Henman outlasted Jiri Novak, 7-6 (7-4), 7-5, 5-7, 4-6, 6-2. But No. 10 seed Alex Corretja was ousted by Justin Gimelstob, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2, 6-3.

Andre Agassi, the 1992 champion and No. 13 seed, won here for the first time in three years by beating Alex Calatrava, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3. By losing weight and getting in shape, Agassi has renewed his career. He has also retained his unusual clothing style, showing up in what appeared to be his summer pajamas -- knee-length baggy shorts and a long-sleeved shirt.

Pub Date: 6/23/98

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