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1999 Wimbledon

Wimbledon Notebook

McEnroe and Graf reach mixed doubles semifinal

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Posted: Friday July 02, 1999 05:23 PM

  Steffi Graf and John McEnroe The odd couple: John McEnroe calls Steffi Graf "one of the greatest athletes in the 20th century." AP

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) -- John McEnroe and Steffi Graf thrilled Center Court fans Friday by reaching the Wimbledon mixed doubles semifinal with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Justin Gimelstob and Venus Williams.

Returning to action at Wimbledon for the first time in seven years, three-time singles champion McEnroe helped Graf beat Williams for the second time in two days. Graf, seeking her eighth singles title, beat Williams in Thursday's singles quarterfinals.

McEnroe and Graf were scheduled to play second-seeded Todd Woodbridge and Lindsay Davenport, but Davenport withdrew to concentrate on her singles semifinal against Alexandra Stevenson.

That gave ninth-seeded McEnroe and Graf a bye into the quarterfinals and they treated the crowd to some slick shotmaking.

McEnroe celebrated by punching the air and blowing kisses to the fans upon leaving the court. He also pointed to Graf, then to his head to indicate how smart he was to choose her as his partner.

"It was fantastic, magical," McEnroe said. "I am playing mixed doubles with one of the greatest athletes in the 20th century, certainly in tennis."

In another key doubles match, five-time men's doubles champions Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde lost 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (9-7), 6-4 in the quarterfinals to Dutchman Paul Haarhuis and American Jared Palmer.

The Aussies' reign as Wimbledon champions ended last year against Haarhuis and Jacgh in the final.

Dokic blues

How's this for a trivia question:

Name the player who beat the top seeded Wimbledon player in the first round, then was eliminated by a qualifier?

Answer: Jelena Dokic.

The 16-year-old Serb-born Australian, who also had to qualify, shocked No. 1 Martina Hingis in the opening round of the championships 6-2, 6-0.

She reached the quarterfinals, beating ninth-seeded Mary Pierce en route, before losing to Alexandra Stevenson.

Stevenson won 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 to become the first qualifier in Wimbledon history to reach the women's semifinals.

Fast-moving trainer

Doug Spreen was so busy at Wimbledon tending to injured players Friday it's surprising he didn't get hurt himself.

Spreen was called onto Center Court when Mark Philippousis sustained a serious knee injury in his quarterfinal match against Pete Sampras.

Having become the first player to win a set against the No. 1 seeded player and five-time champion, the Australian was down 2-1 in the second when he called for Spreen during a changeover.

The ATP trainer flexed the Australian's left knee on a chair, then on the ground before deciding Philippousis couldn't continue.

Spreen appeared next on Court One where France's Cedric Pioline fell on his right knee during his quarterfinal loss to Britain's Tim Henman.

Pioline's injury was not serious enough for him to stop and, although Spreen kept returning to administer treatment during changeovers, the Frenchman continued before losing in four sets.

Todd Martin looked like he would become the next quarterfinalist to need Spreen's help when he tumbled on Court 13. Martin carried on without treatment to his twisted ankle, only to lose in four sets to Pat Rafter.

 
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