MELBOURNE - Grand slam specialist Pete Sampras crashed out of the Australian Open on Sunday, outgunned by tour veteran Todd Martin after Marat Safin and Tim Henman were punished for sub-standard performances.
Martin, 30, beat the third seed 6-7 6-3 6-4 6-4 for his first win in a grand slam over Sampras, the winner of a record 13 titles in the four major tournaments.
"Nothing feels better than to know that something I did today, I've never done before," the unseeded Martin said after only his third win over Sampras in 20 career meetings.
Safin, the second seed and U.S. Open champion, continued a poor run in Australia when he succumbed 6-2 7-6 6-4 to 14th seed Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia.
"That's ridiculous today, what I did on court. It was a little bit of a disaster," said Safin, who was beaten in the first round last year.
The losses by Safin and Sampras meant that the tournament's top three seeds failed to survive the first week of the season-opening grand slam. Top seed Gustavo Kuerten was beaten by Briton Greg Rusedski in round two.
Eighth seed Henman was also disappointed after he was soundly beaten 6-2 6-3 6-3 by last year's Wimbledon runner-up Pat Rafter.
"I certainly give Pat a lot of credit for the way he played but overall I think I handled the situation pretty poorly," Henman told reporters.
Andre Agassi and Lindsay Davenport, the defending men's and women's champions, had no such regrets after stifling challenges from outclassed opponents.
Davenport sailed into the quarters when she downed error-prone 15th seed Kim Clijsters of Belgium 6-4 6-0.
Sixth seed Agassi beat Australian showman Andrew Ilie 6-7 6-3 6-0 6-3 and was on course for a much-anticipated quarter-final against Sampras before Martin intervened.
Martin, beaten by Sampras in the 1994 Australian Open final, recovered after dropping the first set in a tiebreak 2-7.
MARTIN CHANGES TACTICS
Martin, who has not won a grand slam title in more than a decade on the professional circuit, hammered Sampras with pinpoint serves and then returned Sampras's serve with venom to dominate the last three sets.
"I think it was the best he played against me in many years," Sampras said.
Martin said he beat Sampras by ignoring all their previous matches, when he usually tried to alter his own natural game of big serves backed by strong returns in a bid to find a way through the Sampras armour.
"Every time I've ever played Pete I kept on making adjustments along the way rather than sticking to my guns and having a shootout with him," Martin said.
"Today I finally stuck to my guns."
Hrbaty, a 1999 French Open semifinalist, had not made it past the first round in the previous three years in Melbourne but reached the quarters after downing Safin in just over two hours.
The Slovak sizzled from the start, hammering away from the baseline and serving flawlessly.
"I just played well today. I felt the ball great. I was playing a little bit faster than Marat today," he said.
"I didn't give him a chance to hit winners on my serve," said Hrbaty, who won a warm-up event in Auckland.
He will now meet local favourite Rafter in the quarter-finals after the Australian whipped British number one Henman in another lopsided match.
The double U.S. Open champion mixed delicate chip shots with powerful groundstrokes to confound Henman, who seemed powerless to counter the Australian's variety.
Henman stayed with his opponent for much of the first set but Rafter raced away in the second and third sets, breaking the Briton's serve twice in each. Henman then meekly double faulted on the final point to hand Rafter the match.
"My performance was certainly nothing to shout about," Henman said.
Rafter is determined to put on a good show in what could be his last grand slam appearance before a home crowd.
"I really wanted to prove something at the Australian Open," said Rafter, who has announced he is considering retiring at the end of this year.
Rafter's previous best Australian Open was in 1995, when he reached the fourth round.
"I'm very happy with the way I played and where I am right now," Rafter said.
Davenport will meet eighth seed Anna Kournikova, who beat Germany's Barbara Rittner 6-3 6-1 to reach the quarter-finals of a grand slam tournament for only the second time in 16 attempts.
Kournikova is still seeking her first career singles title. Her previous best grand slam performance was at Wimbledon in 1997, when reached the semifinals as a 16-year-old.
"I'm definitely really happy with the result and it's great to be playing so well in a grand slam again," the delighted Russian said.
Davenport was untroubled against a flat Clijsters, who has rocketed into the top 20 and pushed Davenport to three sets at the U.S. Open and in the Fed Cup last year.
Fourth seed Monica Seles will play Jennifer Capriati in another quarter-final. Seles, four times a winner in Melbourne, ended the run of rising Belgian teenager Justine Henin with a hardfought 4-6 6-4 6-4 win.
Capriati, the 12th seed, beat Spaniard Marta Marrero 7-5 6-1.