Kafelnikov, Grosjean are latest to fall
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Yevgeny Kafelnikov went out missing and mumbling. Sebastien Grosjean was eliminated when he couldn't overcome neck pains.
Their losses at the Australian Open on Wednesday left the tournament without its top five men's seeds halfway through the second round, something that never has happened before at a Grand Slam event.
Alex Kim, an American college player who turned pro in 2000, won 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 against No. 4 seed Kafelnikov, the 1999 Australian winner and 2000 runner-up.
Spain's Francisco Clavet ousted No. 5 Grosjean 6-4, 3-6, 6-0, 5-7, 6-4, a day after the Frenchman woke up with a sore neck.
In Wednesday's last match, Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic lost 6-3, 7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-4 to Frenchman Jerome Golmard and became the last of the 2001 Grand Slam titlists to fall.
Kafelnikov, who had 55 unforced errors to 17 by Kim, frequently punctuated his misses with muttering. The Russian also served 10 double-faults.
Kim, ranked No. 234, reached match point with a shot that ticked the top of the net and dribbled over. Kafelnikov ended the 1-hour, 42-minute match with a backhand into the net.
"I don't think it's really hit me yet what's just happened out there," Kim said. "But I've worked really hard in the last month or so, and anything can happen in a Grand Slam. I felt confident going into the match -- not that I was going to win -- but that I was hitting the ball well and I think I had a good shot."
The Russian said it probably was his most painful loss.
"It was one of those days when I was so flat. I can't recall the last time I was having trouble playing three consecutive shots into the court," he said.
"I had no energy. I really can't explain why. My progression for the season seemed quite normal" up until match time, he added.
Kafelnikov, who had never failed to reach the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park in seven previous trips, said he wasn't taking Kim lightly. He had heard the American was a good baseliner and fast around the court.
"I don't remember when I played that terrible in a Grand Slam at all," said Kafelnikov, who won the Sydney 2000 Olympic gold medal to supplement his Australian and French Open titles. "But it's the way it goes -- I just have to take it like it is and move on."
Kafelnikov said he had no energy and hadn't "felt that bad in a long time -- maybe never."
"I could not play three consecutive shots. I really cannot explain why. Having lost in the second round of the Grand Slam, now I can feel how painful it is."
The second round began without the top three men's seeds -- also unprecedented at a Grand Slam. No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, still weak from chicken pox, and No. 2 Gustavo Kuerten both lost. No. 3 Andre Agassi, the 2000 and 2001 champion, withdrew because of a wrist injury before the tournament began.
Grosjean said he woke up Tuesday with a sore neck.
"My neck is painful. It stopped me from serving well and I couldn't hit the ball hard," he said.
He had 68 unforced errors and allowed both of Clavet's match points on misses before the 51st-ranked Spaniard ended it with an overhead shot.
He said he was taking painkillers and called for the trainer at the end of the third set to try to warm up the neck and help him relax.
Grosjean rallied from a 1-4 deficit to tie it at 4 in the final set, but then lost the next two games. He was able to convert only seven of his 14 break points in the match.
"It was a tough season for me so it's kind of not surprising that it (injury) happened," said the Frenchman, who was a semifinalist last year in the Australian and French Opens and runner-up to Hewitt in the season-ending Masters Cup.
The highest remaining seed is No. 6 Tim Henman, who beat Vladimir Voltchkov of Belarus 6-3, 6-4, 6-1. Henman has reached the semifinals at Wimbledon three times, but never gone beyond the fourth round at any other Grand Slam event.
Pete Sampras, who has won a men's record 13 Grand Slam events, is seeded eighth, but is gaining as a favorite.
Britain's Greg Rusedski came back from 1-4 in the first set to beat Australia's Mark Philippoussis 7-6 (7), 6-3, 6-4 in a battle of big servers. Philippoussis, who reached No. 8 in 1999, is coming back from knee surgery after missing most of last year.
His exit meant the tournament is without an Australian in the third round for the first time in the Open era. The 1989 U.S. Open was the last Grand Slam event without an Aussie in the third round.
Rusedski next meets fellow Briton Henman.
One of the day's fastest winners was Taylor Dent, who advanced with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Sweden's Andreas Vinciguerra, another promising 20-year-old who reached the fourth round last year.
Dent's big serve and aggressive net play showed why both the Australian and U.S. Davis Cup teams are interested in the American whose father, Phil, was once Australia's top player.
"It's definitely flattering," Dent said.
Dent said he's leaning toward playing for the United States, but is putting off a decision because "I need to get better first."
Because of his links to Australia, Dent was given a wild-card entry despite finishing last year at No. 116 in the world rankings after a back injury in the U.S. Open.
Against Vinciguerra, Dent chipped and charged against every one of the Swede's second serves and broke him six times. Dent served at up to 132 mph, but said he's holding back slightly while caring for his back with icing and stretching.
"Everything else I'm going 100 percent," he said. "Hopefully, I can keep raising my level as the tournament goes on."
At Wimbledon, Dent had the fastest record serve of the year -- 144 mph -- and forced Hewitt into five sets before losing in the second round.
Slovakia's Dominik Hrbaty, a quarterfinalist last year, ousted 18th-seeded Albert Portas of Spain 6-1, 6-3, 6-0.
No. 12 Guillermo Canas of Argentina defeated Paraguay's Ramon Delgado 6-2, 7-5, 6-7 (9), 6-4, and No. 16 Thomas Johansson of Sweden beat Austria's Markus Hipfl 6-4, 6-1, 6-4.
Austrian Stefan Koubek came back from two sets down for the second straight match, beating American James Blake 4-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.
Blake upset No. 14 Alex Corretja in the first round, while Koubek rallied for a 0-6, 1-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4, 8-6 victory over French qualifier Cyril Saulnier.
Romania's Adrian Voinea won 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 2-6, 6-3 over France's Julien Boutter, the man who beat Kuerten in five sets in the first round.Send this story to a friend | Most sent stories
Wednesday's results from the Australian Open
Efficient Hingis cruises into third round
Hewitt falls in opener, Sampras moves on
Aussie Open Rd. 2
American Alex Kim pulls off the huge upset against fourth seed Yevgeny Kafelnikov.
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Aussie Open Rd. 2
Big server Taylor Dent advances with a straight set win.
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