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1999 Wimbledon

Semis set

Sampras, Rafter, Agassi, Henman reach final four

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Posted: Friday July 02, 1999 06:14 PM

  Pete Sampras, who lost his first set at Wimbledon this year, had his hands full against Mark Philippoussis. AP

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) -- Pete Sampras advanced to the Wimbledon semifinals Friday when Mark Philippoussis retired with a knee injury while holding a one-set lead over the five-time champion.

Andre Agassi, meanwhile, needed no favors as he overpowered Brazil's Gustavo Kuerten 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, in just 1 hour, 35 minutes to cruise into the semis and edge closer to a rare French Open-Wimbledon double.

With one more victory apiece, Sampras and Agassi would meet in an all-American final on the Fourth of July.

Sampras, chasing his sixth title in seven years, will next face Britain's Tim Henman, who ousted an injured Cedric Pioline 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 to reach the semifinals for the second straight year.

In Friday's first match on Centre Court, Philippoussis won the first set 6-4 against Sampras and was down 2-1 on serve in the second when he decided he could not continue.

In the last game, after Sampras had saved a break point, the Australian clutched his left knee after hitting a forehand service return at deuce.

After Sampras won the next point to hold serve, Philippoussis called for the trainer during the changeover.
U.S. Open champion Patrick Rafter beat a limping Todd Martin 6-3, 6-7 (7-5), 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-3).  

"I heard it click," the Australian said.

The trainer flexed Philippoussis' knee, first as he sat in the chair, and then as he lay on his back on a towel.

"That hurts," Philippoussis said as ATP Tour trainer Doug Spreen bent his knee outward.

After the three-minute injury timeout expired, Philippoussis shook his head to show the umpire he couldn't continue. He then went over to shake hands with Sampras, who had been waiting in the shade at the back of the court.

There were scattered boos from the Centre Court fans when the umpire announced the match was done.

Philippoussis' injury came while Sampras was in serious trouble against the big-serving Aussie.

"There's no question he was outplaying me, especially in the first set," Sampras said. "There was still a lot of tennis to be played, but the way he was playing, he was really tough to beat today."
  Tim Henman ousted an injured Cedric Pioline 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 to reach the semifinals for the second straight year.

"I feel like I'm pretty fortunate to be alive in this tournament," he said. "It was a strange, strange day today. One minute you're kind of holding on, the next minute he can't go on any more."

Sampras double faulted three times in the opening game to lose serve. Philippoussis saved four break points in the sixth game and served out the set in the 10th at love, finishing with an 136 mph ace.

Sampras had to save a break point in the third game of the second set before Philippoussis quit.

"I was extremely worried," the Aussie said. "It just got stiffer and stiffer. I knew I had no chance."

Philippoussis will have an MRI exam to determine the extent of the injury.

Martin was leading 5-3 in the fourth set when he tumbled and appeared to injure his right knee. From then on, he limped and grimaced.

But Martin earned three set points at 5-4 against Rafter's serve but couldn't convert. Martin then went up 3-1 in the tiebreak, but Rafter won six straight points to win the match.
Andre Agassi overpowered Brazil's Gustavo Kuerten 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.  

Martin later described the injury as minor and refused to blame it for his defeat.

"I just twisted it a little bit," he said.

Pioline injured his right knee as his legs buckled while hitting a backhand volley in the sixth game of the second set.

The Frenchman received treatment during changeovers throughout the final two sets. With his movement restricted, he tried to end points quickly. Despite barely being able to run, he won the third set against a clearly frustrated Henman.

But Henman took control in the fourth set, breaking in the fourth game, and serving out the match at love, finishing with his 19th ace.

Henman is bidding to become the first Briton to win the men's title since Fred Perry in 1936. He lost to Sampras in last year's semifinals.

Agassi was simply too good in all aspects of the game for Kuerten, a clay-court expert who hadn't won a match on grass until last week.

Agassi was never broken, repeatedly blasting return winners against Kuerten's inconsistent serve. Despite loud support from chanting Brazilian fans, Kuerten never posed a threat and made numerous unforced errors from the baseline.

Agassi, Wimbledon champion in 1992, is trying to become the first player since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to win the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year.

 
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Multimedia
Pete Sampras admits that he may have caught a break when Philippoussis retired due to injury. (229 K)
Mark Philippoussis describes the knee injury that forced him to retire from his quarterfinal match. (126 K)
Tim Henman looks ahead to his tough semifinals matchup with Pete Sampras. (130 K)
Andre Agassi says he's ready to take on anybody. (102 K)
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