Moment of truth for untried men's quarter-finalists


A GLANCE at the men's quarter-finalists at Wimbledon throws up an immediate anomaly: None has ever won the title at the All England Club. 

Andre Agassi's fourth-round loss to Australian power-server Mark Philippoussis on Monday deprives the tournament not just of its showman in chief but leaves the event wide open. 

And with Frenchman Sebastien Grosjean completing a four-set win yesterday over Spanish third seed Juan Carlos Ferrero, the last eight would consist of men with not one Grand Slam crown between them. 

They comprise a mixture of experienced contenders with a history of near misses and youngsters whose potential appears as enormous as it is yet unfilled. 

That lends extra spice to a tournament which opened with the exit of last year's champion, Aussie top seed Lleyton Hewitt, to Croatian qualifier Ivo Karlovic. 

Andy Roddick, just 20, is the youngster with the trophy firmly in his sights. 

Having seen off Thai Paradorn Srichaphan, Roddick, the US fifth seed and his country's lone survivor, now meets Swede Jonas Bjorkman, who beat him on grass at Nottingham in their only previous meeting. 

Roddick came here having won Queen's and the youngster has a steadying hand on the tiller in Agassi's long-time mentor Brad Gilbert. 

“Brad's philosophy is you've gotta win seven matches.  

There are eight guys left – I'm just one of them,” said Roddick, who could meet Swiss fourth seed Roger Federer in the semis – provided Federer, plagued by a back problem in Monday's win over Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, can oust Dutch eighth seed Sjeng Schalken. 

The only predictable element this fortnight has been the weight of expectation on the shoulders of British 10th seed Tim Henman. 

Henman, four times a semi-finalist in the past five years and crushed by Hewitt 12 months ago, epitomises the nearly man label. 

If defeat by Hewitt was no surprise, Henman should have seen off Croatia's Goran Ivanisevic two years ago in a semi where he held the whip hand before rain stretched the match out three days. 

Ivanisevic went on to win the title – something no British man has done since Fred Perry in 1936. 

Henman, whose season got off to a slow start following shoulder surgery in November, is on fire after seeing off Argentine David Nalbandian, last year's finalist. 

Philippoussis, 26, who meets Alexander Popp, a German, is also ready to seize his chance.  

He fired 46 aces past Agassi to level Ivanisevic's 1997 mark.  

“My self belief is going up. I've been working hard, things have paid off.” – AFP  

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