Work in Sports
No. 2 seed loses opener at Roland Garros
Posted: Monday May 29, 2000 11:57 PM
PARIS (Reuters) -- Huge serving Mark Philippoussis smashed second seed and world number two Pete Sampras out of the first round of the French Open on Monday in a five-set marathon.
The world number two was beaten 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 8-6, in three hours 39 minutes on Center Court.
Four double faults at four crunch moments decided the clash, the final one coming as Sampras served facing three match points to hand the Australian victory.
"I am really disappointed," Sampras said afterwards.
"But all credit to Mark. I thought I competed well to come back from two sets to one but I missed a couple of volleys there at 7-6 and you know the rest.
"In the fifth set it comes down to nerves and he had the better nerve.
"One year, hopefully, I'll get those breaks here. I thought my game was there today and it's sure frustrating flying home tomorrow."
Philippoussis said: "I concentrated well ... and I had to, the whole match. I am extremely pleased."
Sampras began his match brightly enough, holding his own serve comfortably on a blustery Center Court.
The pair, two of the biggest servers in the game, slugged it out toe-to-toe for the first set and Philippoussis eventually double-faulted at set-point in the 10th game to hand the American the lead.
Philippoussis stormed back, though, continuing to heap pressure on Sampras and forced the break for a 6-5 lead before serving out to level, clinching it with a crunching ace.
A tiebreak was needed to separate the two in the third set and a whipped passing shot handed the Australian the mini-break for 3-1 and then the set.
Sampras refused to buckle and a punched forehand volley saw him snatch a break for 4-3 in the fourth. It was all he needed as he served out three games later to send the match into a fifth set.
Philippoussis broke to go 4-2 up on a Sampras double fault but handed the advantage straight back and had to wait until the 14th game of the final set to clinch victory.
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