Tennis: Enqvist breaks Aussie hearts

Click to follow
The Independent Online
THOMAS ENQVIST may have trouble being granted a visa next time he wants to visit Australia. The Swede can hardly be the Aussies' favourite person after putting the third seed, Pat Rafter, out of the Australian Open in Melbourne on Friday. Yesterday the unseeded 24-year-old added the scalp of another local hero, Mark Philippoussis.

Enqvist may only be ranked 21st in the world, but he has been named by Andre Agassi as the man he would least like to face in the final next Sunday. He beat 14th seed Philippoussis 6-2, 6-4, 6-7, 6-4, 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals.

The former world junior No 1 has already won two tournaments this year and looked unstoppable for the first 90 minutes of the match. But when he served for the match at 5-4 in the third set, after a trumpeter in the crowd played the Australian national anthem, a remarkable transformation came over proceedings.

The 22-year-old Australian, hammered 6-4, 6-1 by Enqvist in the final of the warm-up event at Kooyong just eight days ago, broke back, and, in the electric Centre Court atmosphere, took the tie-break 7-3.

Philippoussis, runner-up to Rafter in last year's US Open, has never won from two sets down in his career, but he snatched Enqvist's serve again in the ninth game of the fourth set and served a 128mph ace - his ninth of the set and 24th of the match - to level matters.

Now it was Enqvist struggling. Two double faults in a row brought his opponent another chance to break at 1-1 in the decider.

Philippoussis netted a backhand, however; Enqvist survived the scare, and three games later it was he who received the gift of a double fault on break point for a 4-2 lead.

Having already messed up one service game for the match, he did not wait for the possibility of it happening again.

Philippoussis could not come up with the big serves when he needed them most, netted three forehands, and, on match point at 30-40, sent a backhand into the net as well.

"I think I played a perfect match until I was serving for the match," said Enqvist. "But when I lost that I got a bit tense maybe. In the end I was lucky."

Philippoussis said: "I was a bit anxious and nervous at the start, and 30 Swedes were making a lot of noise - so I tried to get the crowd into it and they started pumping me up. He is really dangerous out there, and I don't see anybody really hurting Thomas except Agassi."

The Swiss giant Marc Rosset followed up his victory over Tim Henman by overcoming the Czech, Bohdan Ulihrach, in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

The seventh seed Karol Kucera, the other danger man in the lower half of the draw according to Agassi, easily saw off the South African, Wayne Ferreira, 6-3, 6-1, 7-5 and has yet to drop a set.

Ferreira had defeated the former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek from two sets down in the third round, but Kucera did not let up for a moment. As a tie-break loomed in the third set he unleashed a superb cross- court winner to earn a match point, and Ferreira sent a forehand over the baseline to lose.

In the women's fourth round, top seed Lindsay Davenport crushed the 27-year-old Canadian qualifier Maureen Drake, playing only her second Grand Slam tournament since 1992, 6-1, 6-3. In four matches the world No 1 has dropped only 15 games. Venus Williams, Dominique Van Roost and Amelie Mauresmo also took just two sets to beat Chanda Rubin, Maria Antonia Sanchez Lorenzo and Emilie Loit respectively.

Results, Digest, page 21

Comments