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Старый 23rd June 2004, 22:28
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Re: Зарубежная пресса о теннисе

Punters back the Scud
Herald Sun
June 22, 2004

MARK Philippoussis has been backed into sixth favourite to triumph at Wimbledon, despite not winning a significant match in almost six months.

Glimpses of the All England Club and US Open finalist's form during the Boodle and Dunthorne challenge at Stoke Park last week were sufficient for London betting houses to slash his quote from 50-1 to 25-1.

Beaten in last year's final by Swiss Roger Federer, Philippoussis has not won a rankings-points match since beating Croat Mario Ancic at the Australian Open on January 24.

But straight-sets victories over fellow Australian Todd Reid and Briton Lee Childs in the past three days have boosted 11th seed Philippoussis ahead of a first-round encounter with Belgian qualifier Christophe Rochus.

Philippoussis dodged rain on Sunday as he finalised his preparation after an abysmal string of losses, none worse than the opening-round departure from Queen's Club at the hands of 866th-ranked Welshman Ian Flanagan.

Flanagan was beaten in 39 minutes in the first round of Wimbledon qualifying by 356th-ranked Israeli Andy Ram.

Despite the wretched form, Philippoussis has not lost his belief in his game.

Former world No. 1 and dual Wimbledon finalist Pat Rafter and Philippoussis's former long-time coach Gavin Hopper both predict the Victorian will excel in the next two weeks.

Philippoussis last season came within touching distance of the sport's Holy Grail, accounting for Mariano Zabaleta, Cyril Saulnier, Radek Stepanek, Andre Agassi, Alexander Popp (from two sets to love down) and Sebastien Grosjean.

He was then taken apart in the final in straight sets by Federer, but the enthusiasm for the Philippoussis' grasscourt game endures.

Perhaps inspired by the memories of the Scud's epic Davis Cup final fightback against Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero, plenty of punters are willing to back him.

Federer (6-5) and Andy Roddick (7-2) - Philippoussis's likely semi-final opponent - dominate betting.

Englishman Tim Henman (6-1) and Australia's 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt (7-1) are next in the market. Frenchman Grosjean, twice a Queen's finalist, shares the next line - at 25-1.

Rafter says there are only four obvious title contenders - Federer, Roddick, Henman and Hewitt - but places Philippoussis among the "dangerous floaters".

"Mark's not been in his best form, but he's always had confidence in his ability to go out there and play well," Rafter said. "I'm not sure if he's got as much confidence this time, but he's someone who can play well on grass and he's one of those unpredictable players with a big serve."

Philippoussis gunned down 178 aces at Wimbledon last year, including 46 in his win against Agassi.

Rochus, ranked 117th, has won only one of five matches at the All England Club. Philippoussis's haul is 22-7.

Wayne Arthurs, due to begin his campaign overnight against German Florian Mayer, is rated a 250-1 chance by local bookmakers.

Reid, a wildcard entrant, is at 300-1 ahead of his match today against American 30th seed Vince Spadea.
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