Gimelstob to face Philippoussis in Hall of Fame final

Updated: July 15, 2006, 10:28 PM ET
Associated Press

NEWPORT, R.I. -- Mark Philippoussis used his big serve to advance to the final of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, beating sixth-seeded Jurgen Melzer 6-7 (2), 6-2, 6-0 in the semifinals Saturday.

Philippoussis, ranked No. 9 in the world in 2003 before falling out of the top 100 the past two years because of injuries, will face eighth-seeded Justin Gimelstob, a 6-1, 7-6 (4) winner over top-seeded Andy Murray. A top seed has never won the grass tournament in its 30-year history as a tour event.

"I knew what I had to do," Philippoussis said. "I was confident in my serve the whole day. On returns, I wanted to go for it and be aggressive."

Philippoussis, a 2003 Wimbledon finalist, won 87 percent of his first-serve points.

After being broken for the first point of the tiebreaker and falling behind 6-1 before losing the set, Philippoussis responded by breaking Melzer in the third and fifth games of the second set. Philippoussis broke serve again in the first game of the third set to take control and later converted three aces in fourth game. He closed the match out with his 16th ace to reach his first final since 2003.

Gimelstob, making his 10th appearance in Newport, will be looking for his first ATP title.

"I served very well. The best that I have this week, and that enabled me to take more chances," Gimelstob said. "The courts are advantageous to my style."

Gimelstob also noticed how well Philippoussis has played.

"It's nice that he's back, but I just want to concentrate on my side of the net," he said.

Murray advanced to the fourth round at Wimbledon before coming to Newport, where he felt he was affected by the surface that endured two days of rain.

Before the semis, Gabriela Sabatini, Patrick Rafter and Gianni Clerici were enshrined into the Hall of Fame during a center court ceremony. Steffi Graf, a 2004 inductee, presented Sabatini.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press