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Sampras vs. Briton in semis

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Pete Sampras usually feels at home playing on Centre Court at Wimbledon. It won't be that way in Friday's semifinals.

Centre Court will reverberate with "Henmania" as Britain, still mourning over England's loss to Argentina in the World Cup, pulls for Tim Henman to go where no home-grown male player has ventured in 60 years."It's safe to say it's my favorite court," Henman said. "When you've got 15,000 people cheering you on and willing you on, it gives you a buzz."

Sampras knows he won't have any supporters.

"Playing Tim here in England, it will be tough," he said.

But Sampras said he has faced similar situations, namely playing Boris Becker in Germany, and knows how to cope.

"Hopefully, you can put the crowd out of the match," he said. "You've still got to play. It's still one-on-one. Tim is going to have some emotional support behind him, but you have to play, and I feel like I'm playing well."

Henman is playing more than just the No. 1 player in the world, the man who has won Wimbledon four of the past five years and who hasn't dropped a set so far this tour-na-ment.

Henman is also playing the burden of history. By beating Petr Korda in Wednesday's quarterfinals, he became the first British man to make the semifinals since Roger Taylor in 1973.

Now he's aiming to become the first Brit to reach the final since Henry Austin in 1938 and the first to win the title since Fred Perry in 1936.

"I wasn't born when Taylor got to the semis," the 23-year-old Hen-man said. "I don't want to stop at the semis now."

The other men's semifinal will feature two of the game's biggest servers - Richard Krajicek and Gor-an Ivanisevic.

Despite a swollen knee, Krajicek is playing as well as when he won the Wimbledon title in 1996. A bigger surprise is Ivanisevic, a former two-time finalist who won only one match in his previous five Grand Slam tournaments and was written off by many people.

"It's my 11th Wimbledon," he said. "I'm having fun. I don't know how it's going to finish, but maybe this year is the year for me."

Ivanisevic will be favored Friday because he has beaten Krajicek eight consecutive times dating back to 1992.

The men have a day off Thursday, which was set aside for the women's semifinals.

Henman has enjoyed relatively restrained media coverage this tournament because of the focus on the World Cup. But with England out of the Cup following Tuesday's penalty shootout defeat to Argentina, the hopes of a nation are now turned on Henman.

"What I'm doing is far more important to me than the World Cup," he said. "They (England soccer players) are out there representing their country, but when I'm on the court, I'm playing solely for myself."

Henman said he never played better than in his win over Korda and has no reason to believe he can't beat Sampras.

"The way I'm playing, I definitely feel I've got a good chance," he said.

Don't count on it, says Mark Philippoussis, who was swept away by Sampras in straight sets in the quarterfinals and hasn't seen anybody who can stop the defending champion.

"I think he's too solid," Philippoussis said. "He's dedicated out there and he wants to prove a point. When somebody serves like that, they want to say something. So I think he's ready. I don't think anybody will beat him."