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Popp rues Scud accuracy

German Alexander Popp said he believed he had more than done himself justice in going down in a five-set thriller to Mark Philippoussis.
PTI | By Agence France-Presse, London
PUBLISHED ON JUL 04, 2003 01:11 AM IST

German Alexander Popp saw his Wimbledon dreams disappear in a hail of huge serves from Australian Mark Philippoussis - but after years spent battling glandular fever the 26-year-old said he believed he had more than done himself justice in going down in a five-set thriller.

Philippoussis finally emerged a 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 8-6 winner, staving off three break points against him in the 11th game and then picking off his rival to move through after a brutal encounter which rain had forced into a second day.

"It was very frustrating. He was just too good on serve," said Popp, a quarter-finalist three years ago on his only previous appearance.

"I think I can play better than this but there are many external factors such as maintaining my fitness," said the German, who has a British mother.

"When someone serves like that there's very little you can do to turn things around. A couple of times he staved off a break by banging down an ace at 120 mph (190 kph) and that ability gave him an advantage.

"But I've shown I haven't forgotten my tennis and can give the best a tough match. I had to show I was worth a protected ranking rather than go back to playing the little tournaments.

"I forced myself to work for months to get ready to come here so that makes things easier even if public expectations will now increase.

"If I'd made a break I would have been serving for the match - but that's tennis. I'm very disappointed because it was a very close match. Once you reach the quarter-finals and have a chance to reach the semi-final you want to win - but in a couple of days I'll be very happy with the tournament.

"Mark served really well and was aggressive - suddenly I was in a fifth set. I missed a couple of easy shots. That's why I lost the two sets to love lead I had. I had no chance to break him.

"I don't think there's anybody who can break him if he serves like that."

Popp, 198 on the ATP computer, now hopes to stay fit to show he can produce similar form outside of south London.

"The main thing is just working and winning your matches," said Popp, who said his ranking was not a major issue for him.

"I don't think about it - the top ten is too far away. I just want to stay fit and play well."

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