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Sampras wins after Philippoussis retires with knee injury
Posted: Friday July 02, 1999 03:36 PM
LONDON (Reuters) -- The gods were smiling on American Pete Sampras on Friday as injury to an inspired Mark Philippoussis ensured the Wimbledon champion's defense of his crown continued into the semifinals.
Sampras, aiming to win a record sixth Wimbledon title in the modern era, was trailing the giant Australian 4-6 2-1 in their quarter-final on centre court when Philippoussis felt his left knee "click" and decided he could not play on.
Philippoussis had become the first man to take a set off Sampras at the championships this year and appeared in control before his injury.
Sampras, who meets Britain's Tim Henman in the semifinals, was almost embarrassed to have progressed in such fashion.
"It's been a strange, strange day," said Sampras. "I can't sit here and say I've fended off Mark.
"He was outplaying me and I can't feel good about it. There's mixed emotions, obviously. I'm glad I'm playing in the semifinal on Saturday, but I feel bad for Mark, because he was playing well enough to win here."
If Sampras was unsure how to react, there was no doubting Philippoussis's feelings.
"I'm very disappointed," he said, just before leaving the grounds to go to hospital to have tests on the knee. "I felt as though I was hitting the ball well.
"I don't know if I was in control, but it was a great shame. I've never had any problems with my knees before, and I've never pulled out of a match before.
"I knew I was in big trouble after a while. The main thing is that I hope it's not serious. I'm not dying, so I realize there are plenty of worse things that could happen."
Sampras had struggled with his serve in the first set, recording three double faults in the first game that saw Philippoussis break.
He could not put pressure on Phillipoussis's delivery, either, and there was a feeling that, after losing to Sampras four times in Grand Slam competition, it was to be Philippoussis's day.
Sampras, who missed the Australian Open to take some well-earned rest, has been gearing his year towards this tournament and he feels very much at home on Centre Court, despite the rain which dogged the tournament this week.
"I don't think they should touch this stadium. It's historical and I love playing here.
"I don't think they should put a roof on Centre Court, even though the rain delays can be tiresome. It's a unique arena and it's something very special to me."
He will be back on Centre Court on Saturday, to meet Henman for a place in the last four.
The pair have developed a good friendship on the ATP Tour although Henman will be desperate to put that aside and record his first victory over Sampras.
Sampras, who beat Henman at the same stage of Wimbledon last year and in the Queen's final last month, said: "When you step on court, friendship does not come into play.
"Over the last three or four years, we've practiced together and we play a lot of golf.
"There's no comparison on the golf course -- he's a much better player than I am. He's getting closer on the tennis court, as well.
"I don't think I've got a psychological edge over him. He knows he's capable of beating me now, but I just hope that it doesn't happen just yet."
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