Wimbledon '95: Rusedski outclassed by Sampras

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The Independent Online
They came to rant and rave for Greg Rusedski, but were left to admire the class of Pete Sampras as the American took another smooth stride towards a hat-trick of Wimbledon singles championships.

The new Brit on the block was well and truly chopped, 6-4, 6-3, 7-5, in 93 minutes. Rusedski played impressively in many of the points, but his big serve was not complemented by a potent return, which was bad news for him on an afternoon when Sampras raised his game and swiftly subdued the partisans.

Rusedski delivered 13 aces, taking the total for his four matches to 90. But he also double-faulted seven times - completing the list on the second match point.

Only once, in the second game of the second set, did Rusedski threaten to break the champion's serve. Sampras saved two of the three break points with service winners, in between which Rusedski netted a forehand.

But only once did Rusedski's trade mark smile slip. The All England Club had demonstrated their confidence in Bruno Rebeuh, the French umpire caught up in the Tarango controversy, and all went well for him until Rusedski became upset by a couple of overrules when his serve was broken in the fifth game of the second set.

In the first instance, Rusedski believed that he had served an ace, but Sampras looked at the umpire, who agreed that the ball had clipped the net cord. "He looked at you, and you called a let?" Rusedksi asked. There was no fuss about the second overrule, after a Sampras forehand had been called long.

The standard of the American's play was so high that the only time he appeared to be in danger was when he chased a Rusedski shot on the second point of the first game of the second set. He failed to reach the ball and slid, falling among the courtside photographers and hitting his head on a lens.

He quickly recovered his composure, and continued to pick holes in Rusedski's second serves and returns, showing the 21-year-old from Montreal what needs to be worked on if he is to become a threat to the men at the top.

All is not lost. Having become Sampras's 18th consecutive victim at the All England Club, Rusedski is due to start his national service in earnest in the Davis Cup relegation play-off at Eastbourne next week. His adoptive country needs him to direct that 137mph serve towards three Monegasques, only one of whom has a world ranking (No 924).

Sampras now turns his attention to the man who stands in his path to the semi-finals, Shuzo Matsuoka, who rivalled Rusedski in showing how much he has enjoyed the tournament. Matsuoka performed a lap of honour on his side of the court, shook hands with his opponent, Michael Joyce, fell on his back, rolled on the grass, picked himself up, and bowed politely to the crowd.

It is not every day that a Japanese man advances to the last eight. The last occasion was in 1933, pre-dating Fred Perry's three years of British glory, when Jiro Sato made it to the semi-finals. Matsuoka, who defeated Joyce, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4, is the lowest-ranked player in the men's singles at No 108.

While not exactly upstaged, Matsuoka had to share the Tokyo headlines with Kimiko Date, who became the first Japanese player ever to reach the quarter-finals of the women's singles. Then again, Date is the sixth seed, and Japan can boast seven women in the top 100.

The Dutch also had something to celebrate. The unseeded Jacco Eltingh became the first man from the Low Countries to reach the quarter-finals since 1978, when Tom Okker's run was ended by Bjorn Borg in the semi-finals.

Eltingh, ranked No 27, frustrated Wayne Ferreira's hopes of making a name for himself on the lawns, defeating the South African seventh seed, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6, 6-3. Eltingh, who had looked no further than his opening match against Michael Stich when he arrived at Wimbledon last week, now meets Andre Agassi, the world No 1.

Alexander Mronz, who found himself on the Centre Court after being left stranded on Court 13 by Jeff Tarango on Saturday, became the latest to admire Agassi's strokes while being severely punished by them.

Agassi won, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. "On grass, I feel it's just a question of adapting in every match and doing what I need to do," he said. "Today, I didn't need to hit too big off the ground. When we got the the baseline rallies, I could afford to wait. He made some mistakes.

"When you play guys like Eltingh, they can take advantange of short shots. Eltingh is going to get to the net and play offensive." The Dutchman will have to do his job extremely well to push Agassi off his course towards Boris Becker in the semi-finals.

Becker coped with the big-serving Dick Norman, defeating Belgium's "lucky loser" from the pre-qualifying tournament, 7-6, 6-3, 6-4. The third seed now meets the unseeded Cedric Pioline, of France, who accounted for Petr Korda, of the Czech Republic, with surprising ease, 7-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Goran Ivanisevic defeated the American Todd Martin, 6-4, 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 - or, if you prefer, 33 aces to 24. The Croat, who was the runner-up to Sampras last year, now duels with Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the hope of having another crack at the defending champion. Ivanisevic's current ace count is 104. So much for the softer, slower ball.

Kafelnikov has yet to drop a set, confirming a prediction made by John McEnroe during the French Open that the 21-year-old Russian would be a player to watch at Wimbledon.

Having done so well on only his second visit, the man from the Black Sea must find a way to counter Ivanisevic's boomers. "I will find some leftie to practise with ," he said, "and I'm going to try to return the serve as much as possible." Preparing to play Ivanisevic is not a complicated business.

Results, page 22

YESTERDAY AT WIMBLEDON

Greg Rusedski's defeat by Pete Sampras ended British interest in the singles competition

No 7 seed Wayne Ferreira beaten in four sets

by Jacco Eltingh of the Netherlands

Gabriela Sabatini comes back from the brink to beat Lisa Raymond in three sets

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