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Tennis: Wimbledon 2003 - Take big-serving Scud to cruise into semi-finals.

Byline: ADRIAN HUMPHRIES

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS'S

reward for passing some tough early tests should be a comfortable passage to the semi-finals today.

The Australian, who fired down 46 aces in his five-set

defeat of Andre Agassi in the last 16 on Monday, meets Alexander Popp in a big-servers' battle today.

Popp said after beating Olivier Rochus in four sets that he would rather play Philippoussis than Agassi. But it is hard to see how the German beanpole can combat his opponent's greater strength.

And after a series of injuries, Philippoussis looks as fit as a fiddle right now.

Agassi certainly talked up his conqueror's chances, saying: "He seems like he's in the right place mentally, and his body's holding up. He has a lot of weapons. There's no reason why he can't do it."

San Diego resident Philippoussis, who spends more time surfing at the beach than practising on the court, says he has learned a lot in recent months from playing doubles with his Davis Cup teammate Lleyton Hewitt.

He said: "Lleyton's work ethic is is fantastic. He's great on the court and his intensity is awesome. I'm far more relaxed on court, but there are a lot of things you can take away from playing with him."

Philippoussis is expected to outserve Popp, his groundstrokes look a shade better and he is significantly higher-ranked than his opponent, who lies 150 spots below Scud in the Champions Race.

Neither man has been beyond the quarters at Wimbledon, but there is no reason to expect a wobble from former US Open finalist Scud and the 6-4 for a straight-sets win should be taken with a small saver on 3-1.

Andy Roddick should show that he has come a long way since losing to Jonas Bjorkman in Nottingham last summer.

The American went down to the experienced serve-volleyer in that grass-court meeting, but Roddick has made such great strides under new coach Brad Gilbert in recent weeks that bookmakers make him a prohibitive favourite to exact revenge.

Bjorkman is playing in his first quarter-final in ten visits to Wimbledon, and his chance should not dismissed lightly.

After all, he was eliminated from the tournament by eventual champions Lleyton Hewitt last year and Pete Sampras in 2000, while other recent exits were against Roger Federer in 2001 and Pat Rafter in 1999.

Bjorkman expects Roddick to adopt different tactics for their second meeting. "I reckon he will stay back this time," he said. "He came in a bit at Nottingham, but that wasn't too successful. He will probably try to win points from the baseline and off his serve."

But Roddick is doing all the right things right now and his four-set verdict over Paradorn Srichaphan in the last 16 was a result brimful of promise.

Bjorkman may be wily enough to nick a set off the tournament favourite, and Roddick to make the semis in four sets looks the bet.

Recommendations

M Philippoussis 3-0

4pts 6-4 (Coral)

M Philippoussis 3-1

1pt 14-5 (Tote)

A Roddick 3-1

2pts 7-2 (Blue Square)
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jul 2, 2003
Words:508
Previous Article:Tennis: Wimbledon 2003 - serve & volley.
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