Philippoussis takes his time: 5 hours-plus

Win over Schalken ends longest one-day match in Wimbledon's open era

Tennis

July 02, 2000|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,SUN FOREIGN STAFF

WIMBLEDON, England - What happens when an Australian serving machine named Mark Philippoussis meets a Dutch brick wall named Sjeng Schalken?

The longest one-day match - by time - in open-era Wimbledon history.

Philippoussis defeated Schalken, 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (7-4), 20-18, yesterday in an epic third-round encounter that took 5 hours, 5 minutes to complete.

"Those are the kind of matches that I'm proud of," Philippoussis said. "That's why you play tennis."

Only the 1969 Pancho Gonzales-Charles Pasarell match was longer - 5 hours, 12 minutes - and that took two days for Gonzales to win.

The 83 games Philippoussis and Schalken played were the most in a match at Wimbledon since 1970, before the tie-breaker was introduced.

Right elbow bloodied, legs aching and opponent unyielding, Philippoussis finally showed at Wimbledon that his big serve is accompanied by a big heart and transformed himself into a title contender.

The fifth set was a 2-hour, 20-minute page-turner with enough plot twists and booming serves to keep the crowd transfixed until Philippoussis uncorked a punishing, inside-out forehand for the vital break, and served out the match.

He finished with 44 aces.

"The tournament has just started now," Philippoussis said. "It's nothing to get excited with."

After the long match, he'll face Britain's great hope, Tim Henman, in the round of 16 tomorrow.

Henman defeated Hicham Arazi, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3, yesterday, then waited around to watch the end of the Philippoussis match.

"What took you so long?" Henman said to Philippoussis. "I played my match in one set of yours."

Philippoussis took the joking in stride and had a smile on his face when he told the press: "Obviously, I wasn't laughing. I was bleeding, blood on my shorts. It felt like I'd just been punched to death for five hours."

Reigning French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten, fighting a head cold, was ousted by Alexander Popp, 7-6 (8-6), 6-2, 6-1.

"I could run, could play, but not full of energy," Kuerten said. "That's enough to be out of a tournament like this."

A day after surviving two match points to beat Todd Martin in five sets, Andre Agassi returned to defeat Jerome Golmard, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.

The women's draw followed form with a series of predictable victories for reigning champion Lindsay Davenport, Venus Williams and Monica Seles.

Arantxa Sanchez Vicario fought off two match points to survive a tense encounter against Sandra Nacuk, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Capriati defeated Yayuk Basuki, 7-6 (7-4), 6-0, after overcoming an early distraction of hearing the Scots Guards band serenading the tennis legends assembled on Centre Court for a ceremony celebrating Wimbledon's Millennium Championships.

Capriati, down 2-5 in the opening set and playing on Court 3, told assistant referee Tony Gathercole, "I can't play with this stuff. Turn it off."

Among the tunes the band played were the theme to "Chariots of Fire" and the British national anthem, "God Save the Queen."

"It was pretty loud," Capriati said. "It was pretty annoying for the players."

Eventually, the music stopped, and Capriati played her way into the round of 16, where she'll meet Davenport.

"I'm pretty pleased with the way I've been playing so far the last few matches," she said. "I think I'll have to play better."

NOTE: Martina Navratilova, 43, went 1-1 yesterday in her return to Wimbledon.

In women's doubles, she and Mariaan de Swardt beat Kimberly Po and Anne-Gaelle Sidot, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5. In mixed doubles, she and Mahesh Bhupathi lost to Jan Siemerink and Miriam Oremans, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 18-16.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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