Tennis: Grosjean accused of undue influence

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The Independent Online
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS served, volleyed and rallied his way to the quarter-finals of the Monte Carlo Open yesterday, and afterwards accused his French opponent, Sebastien Grosjean, of persuading the umpire to penalise him to the brink of disqualification.

The 22-year-old Australian, who had been given a code violation by the German official, Rudi Berger, for breaking his racket after losing the opening two games of the second set, was docked a penalty point after celebrating his recovery to 3-3 by hitting a ball into the crowd. A third misdemeanour would have resulted in Philippoussis being shown the door, but he managed to restrain himself and won, 4-6, 7-6, 6-2, earning a match against Marcelo Rios, of Chile, for a place in the semi-finals.

"The thing that really upset me was that Grosjean asked for me to get a point penalty given to me, which is bad sportsmanship," Philippoussis said. "It was terrible on his part. Obviously, I deserved to get the violation for breaking the racket, but there was no difference between what I did the second time and what you do when you win a match, hitting the ball into the stands. I was happy that I broke [Grosjean] and was back in the match. I [hit the ball] to spur myself on, to get my adrenalin going. That's why I don't think I deserved to get the penalty.

"The umpire said he had to give it to me, because [Grosjean] complained, which is ridiculous. You don't ask an umpire - force an umpire - to give the other player a code violation. I've never, ever heard of that."

Grosjean, the runner-up to Richard Krajicek at the Lipton Championships last month, defended his action. "I just asked the umpire to do his job," he said.

Philippousis has an opportunity to overtake Britain's Tim Henman at No 7 in the world rankings, having achieved what Henman and his British compatriot Greg Rusedski failed to do here, defeating a clay-courter with a mixture of attacking zeal and defensive nous.

The Australian, who is based in Florida, is embroiled in the controversy created by the International Tennis Federation's decision to grant the United States a home tie in July to mark the Davis Cup centenary, even though Australia were due a visit. "What we're arguing is, if they wanted an historic moment, why didn't they do it for the first round, when America played England? That would have been perfect, because England played in America in the first-ever Davis Cup match."

Even in complaining mode, Philippoussis smiles a lot more than Rios on a good day. "I think the ATP Tour is pretty boring," was Rios's theme after defeating Hicham Arazi, of Morocco, a fellow left-hander, 6-3, 6- 3. "They should invent something so the players don't get bored when they've got to wait all day when it's raining."

Surely a 23-year-old who has won $6.2m (pounds 3.9m) in official prize-money alone could find ways to amuse himself in Monte Carlo, even when it rains? "Yeah, sure. I do a lot of things. I just say that the Tour is boring. I'm not saying my life is boring. I go out at night, I have a great time. I've been going to the casino." It's tough at the top.

n Markus Schur, the Germany coach, has called up Elena Wagner and Jana Kandarr for a Fed Cup World Group Two first-round tie against Japan this weekend in Hamburg. Wagner and Kandarr will team up with Andrea Glass for a tie Germany will have to play without their best players. Steffi Graf, Anke Huber and Marlene Weingartner have withdrawn injured.

Results, Digest, page 27