Tennis: Rusedski and Sampras winded

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The Independent Online
Unexpected defeats in windy conditions for Pete Sampras and Greg Rusedski, the leading Australian Open seeds, in Melbourne yesterday gave the players plenty to think about for next week's Grand Slam event.

In the swirling winds affecting the Kooyong Classic, Rusedski, the British No 1, lost 7-5, 6-4 to the Australian Mark Philippoussis, while Sampras fell to Gustavo Kuerten, the French Open champion, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. The beaten pair will now play each other today, the second day of the exhibition tournament that has become the traditional warm-up event for the Open.

Rusedski, seeded fifth for the Open, was relaxed about his defeat to Philippoussis. the 15th seed, and said: "It was ideal practice for the Australian Open. The courts are the same and the balls are virtually the same. It was difficult for both of us to serve at pace in the windy conditions and I am not at all disappointed."

Sampras, the first seed, was also not too upset and said: "It was not meant for playing tennis out there, it was more for flying a kite. It was impossible to play, the wind was so strong."

Andre Agassi had earlier gained an impressive 6-4, 6-0 win over the Austrian Thomas Muster, while the left-handed Croat Goran Ivanisevic beat the Ukrainian Andrei Medvedev 7-6, 6-3, who had stepped into the tournament after Michael Chang, the defending champion, had withdrawn with a strained stomach muscle.

The tournament is being played in two groups of four with the top player from each group going into Saturday's final.

At the Sydney International, Anna Kournikova lost to Lindsay Davenport, 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, after five delays for rain. "It's the first match I ever played seven and a half hours," Kournikova said. "She definitely has more experience with matches like this. I think I got tired waiting around so long."

Serena Williams reached the quarter-finals when Sandrine Testud retired because of tendinitis in her left knee while trailing 7-6, 3-0. Williams said that if Testud was hurt, she did a good job of disguising it. "She seemed to be moving fast, jumping high, running swift. All of a sudden she came over and shook my hand."

In the men's draw, another talented player, the 16-year-old Australian, Lleyton Hewett, who beat the world No 4, Jason Stoltenberg, on Tuesday after becoming the lowest-ranked player to win an ATP Tour event on Sunday, lost 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 to his compatriot, Michael Tebbutt.

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