Gimelstob enjoys home comforts

Justin Gimelstob, playing at the Los Angles Tennis Centre which he likes to refer to as "home", proved an inhospitable host on Thursday night by defeating the second-seeded Mark Philippoussis 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 in an error-strewn match at the Mercedes-Benz Cup.

Justin Gimelstob, playing at the Los Angles Tennis Centre which he likes to refer to as "home", proved an inhospitable host on Thursday night by defeating the second-seeded Mark Philippoussis 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 in an error-strewn match at the Mercedes-Benz Cup.

The American has seen off some notable opponents at the LATC in the past, including Andre Agassi in 1997 and Patrick Rafter in 1998. "I just chalk it up to another thing I shouldn't have said," Gimelstob said of his comment three years ago that the venue is his home. "People were chiming it in out there and it got me going."

Philippoussis became his latest victim after a two hour, 15 minute struggle. Gimelstob served 15 aces to 13 from Philippoussis, but served 10 double-faults to one for the Australian.

"He's a confidence player," Philippoussis said of his opponent. "After winning that second set, I'm sure he had a sniff he could take the match. It's lack of match play on my part. I had chances. You better take those opportunities. I'm the one who let him in the match."

Both players sprayed shots all over the court, and neither managed a service break in the final set.

"So many shots I went for too much," said Philippoussis, who like Gimelstob was playing his first hard-court tournament of the summer. "I haven't had a chance to practise my serve and volley. I was way too relaxed. I should have been intense."

Gimelstob won on the second match point with his second consecutive smash, giving him his first career win over Philippoussis in three meetings. "I hit some really good returns in the tie-breaker," Gimelstob said. "He always goes for big shots. He wasn't particularly sharp."

At Stanford the top-seeded Lindsay Davenport defeated Australia's Nicole Pratt, 6-2, 6-4 in the second round of the Bank of the West Classic. The victory put Davenport, the defending champion and twice winner, into a quarter-final against the No 8 seed Chanda Rubin.

Davenport, playing for the first time since losing to Venus Williams in the final at Wimbledon, took charge of the match with a strong first set. "I thought I played pretty well," said Davenport, who has been bothered with ankle and back injuries this year. "I had to work hard out there, but my body held up OK."

In other second-round matches, Zimbabwe's Cara Black upset the sixth-seeded Amanda Coetzer of South Africa, 6-2, 6-1. The No 9 seed, Anna Kournikova, defeated Canada's Jana Nejedly, 6-1, 6-0, and the No 10 seed Amy Frazier beat Kristina Brandi 7-6, 6-0.

Kournikova, looking for her first WTA Tour singles title, needed just 44 minutes to defeat Nejedly for the third time in as many meetings. "Once I got up 2-0, I just never looked back and was playing great," Kournikova said. "I'm playing much better than when I was at Wimbledon. I was hitting some unbelievable shots and I didn't hesitate going for them."

The Russian was showing no signs of discomfort from the ankle she injured in the first round of the German Open. She took charge from the start and now plays the No 6 seed, Sandrine Testud.

Kournikova, who reached the quarter-finals last year in the event, has defeated Testud in two previous meetings, including the first round at Wimbledon this last month.

* The former Wimbledon and US Open champion Stan Smith has been appointed coach of the US Olympic men's tennis team after the Davis Cup captain, John McEnroe, turned down the job because of conflicts with his personal schedule.

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