Originally created 09/13/98

Philippoussis advances to final



NEW YORK -- Mark Philippoussis used a booming serve and a flawless net game to charge into his first Grand Slam final, defeating Carlos Moya 6-1, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 at the U.S. Open Saturday.

The 21-year-old Australian, long one of the biggest hitters in the sport, rocketed second serves as high as 120 mph at Moya, often pinning the French Open champion in place.

The match opened Super Saturday at the Open, with Martina Hingis facing Lindsay Davenport for the women's championship in the second match and Patrick Rafter going against Pete Sampras in the other men's semifinal.

It will be the second straight year and third time since 1994 that an unseeded player goes for the U.S. Open men's title. Rafter defeated unseeded Greg Rusedski of Britain last year.

Philippoussis took charge fast against Moya, firing high hard serves and often following them with sharply angled shots that found open areas of the court. He needed just 20 minutes to win the first set and 31 to take the second.

Then Moya turned tougher, saving four break points and winning the third set on the ninth and 10th double faults of the match by Philippoussis. The same thing happened in the fourth set, when Moya escaped three more break points and held for 3-2.

But in his next service game, Moya was called three times for foot faults and got into a argument with umpire Jim Zimmerman after a double-fault call, asking for an overrule. When it was denied, Moya asked the umpire, "What are you doing up there?" Replays showed the call was correct.

Moya never shook that call off. He saved two more break points before Philippoussis broke for 4-3. On the changeover, microphones caught Moya cursing in Zimmerman's direction, still upset over the double fault.

Three games later, it was over but only after Moya avoided two match points. Philipoussis finished Moya with a sharply angled bacjhand volley and raised his arms over his head in triumph.

He had 21 aces in the match and won 85 percent of his first serves. It was a display of dominance by a player who came into the Open unseeded but was widely viewed as one of the most dangerous men in the draw.

One of just three players ever to register a serve over 140 mph, Philippoussis was playing with fresh resolve, armed with newfound confidence after surviving a 3-hour, 26-minute match in the quarterfinals against Thomas Johansson of Sweden Thursday night. He survived three match points to win that match 12-10 in a fifth-set tiebreaker and came away from it full of confidence.

"I wanted to show that I didn't want to let go out there, that I'm a fighter," he said after that match. "In the past, where it's been tough, I've sort of not played the big points right. I just didn't want to take the challenge."

That changed against Johansson and Philippoussis kept it up against Moya, playing dominant tennis right from the start with a balanced attack that turned the match his way early.

Moya seemed drained by two five-set matches against Americans Nichael Chang and Jan-Michael Gambill and a four-hour marathon against countryman Alex Corretja, the man he beat for the French Open crown in May.

Philippoussis played high quality tennis but made some trouble for himself with 11 double faults and 36 unforced errors.

But Moya was never able to put more than a temporary dent in the Australian's game, playing flat, rather uninspired tennis for the first 2 sets.

After reaching the semifinals, Moya said he came into the Open with no idea that he might win the tournament because he had been playing bad tennis. On Saturday, that quality of play caught up with him.

Philippoussis, coached by ex-Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, is convinced that he can win Grand Slam events.

"I think I have all the tools," he said. "It's just a matter of time. I have to stay focused, strong and positive."

He gets his first chance on Sunday.