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Tuesday, 4 July, 2000, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
Philippoussis serve faces biggest test
Mark Philippoussis
Philippoussis expects his serve to come under fire
Mark Philippoussis admits even his most powerful serves may not be enough to penetrate Andre Agassi's awesome defence.

The Australian, who ended the dreams of Britain's Tim Henman, acknowledges that the American second seed is the best returner in men's tennis.

"When I have my rhythm and I'm serving big I'm feeling confident," said Philippoussis.

"But if there's anyone who can do anything it's going to be my next opponent. He's the best returner in the world.

Tested

"He's got extremely quick hand-eye co-ordination. That's definitely where my serve will be tested.

"Obviously I'm going to have to be on my game, playing my best tennis.


Andre Agassi
Agassi: a devastating returner
"I'll have to be prepared to watch myself hit a lot of volleys from my toes. He also has one of the best passing shots in the game.

"I'm just going to go out there and play my game and give it my all again."

Philippoussis, nicknamed 'Scud' because of his powerful serve, has already dug deep to make it to the quarter-finals.

He beat Dutchman Sjeng Schalken 20-18 in the final set of an epic third-round encounter.

Then he needed another fives sets to overcome Henman in front of a hugely patriotic Centre Court crowd.



When I have my rhythm and I'm serving big I'm feeling confident

Mark Philippoussis

But thanks to a new fitness regime and the expert advice of Wimbledon legend Boris Becker, he is in perfect shape for any challenges that come his way.

"I've been doing three hours a day doing drills side-to-side," said Philippoussis.

"I was hitting hundreds of volleys a day, mostly at my toes and mostly tough. They're the ones you are going to get in a match."

The Australian is desperate to go one better than last year when injury wrecked his dream of making the semi-finals.

Retire

Leading his quarter-final match against Pete Sampras, he had to retire after sustaining a knee problem.

"That match against Sampras I was in a zone where you feel nothing can sort of break your concentration," he said.


Boris Becker
Becker: advice from the sidelines
"You feel like pretty much you're the only two people in the stadium. Everything is blocked out. You can't really explain it. I was definitely in that zone last year.

"Against Henman I wouldn't quite say I was in the zone. I was a little nervous. I came out swinging, got some early breaks. Just hung in there.

"Andre's a popular guy. He's going to have a lot of people on his side. But they're such a great crowd. They understand their tennis. They love their tennis.

Concentrate

"But coming in here all I said to myself was 'concentrate as hard as you can for one more tournament, give it your all, then you can have a bit of a rest'."

In the other quarter-finals, Sampras takes on fellow American Jan-Michael Gambill while 12th seed Pat Rafter takes on 23-year-old Alexander Popp and Byron Black meets Vladimir Voltchkov from Belarus.

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See also:

16 Jun 00 | Wimbledon2000
Becker's wake up call for Philippoussis
04 Jul 00 | Wimbledon2000
Aussies name Davis Cup trio
03 Jul 00 | Wimbledon2000
Henman praises Philippoussis
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