Mark Philippoussis

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Mark Philippoussis
Mark Philippoussis

Mark Anthony Philippoussis (born November 7, 1976 in Melbourne, Australia) is a Greek-Australian tennis player. He turned professional in 1994 and is currently residing in California. He regards himself as both Australian and Greek and as a child spoke Greek as his first language [1]. As well as being a professional tennis player, Philippoussis is also popular with female fans which led to him a pursue a minor career in modelling. In 1998, Philippoussis was deemed Sexiest Athlete by People, an American magazine.

Philippoussis' style of play is to hit every shot hard. Many players hit serves hard, but only Mark Philippoussis can hit a groundstroke at the same speed, earning the nickname Scud. He is widely regarded as the hardest hitter in the history of the game, next to Lew Hoad.

Philippousis generates his power with his upper-body strength and powerful legs. His height of 6'5" (195 cm) also gives him an advantage over his opponents as well as his powerful physique weighing in at 98kg.

Early career

Coached by his father, Nick Philippoussis, the right-hander has played tennis since he was six years of age. He was briefly coached by former 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash during his junior years, which ended in an acrimonious split.

In 1994, he finished third in single ranking for juniors. Philippoussis also finished as junior doubles champion with Ben Ellwood in Australia, Wimbledon, and Italy. He turned professional in 1994.

In 1995, at the age of 19, he was the youngest player in the year-end top 50. In 1996, he reached the 4th round of the Australian Open upsetting Pete Sampras in the 3rd round and in doubles with Pat Rafter, he advanced to semi-finals at Wimbledon and US Open. On May 25, 1997, he recorded a personal best 229.0 km/h (142.3 mph) serve in a game he lost to Albert Costa.

Rise to top 10

In 1998, he reached his first Grand Slam final at the US Open losing to fellow Australian Pat Rafter. On March 29, 1999, he entered the top 10 for the first time and stayed there for 11 weeks. He advanced to the quarter finals at Wimbledon for the second straight year and retired in 2nd set against no. 1 Pete Sampras after having won the first set. He suffered a moderate cartilage tear in his left knee and underwent arthroscopic surgery four days later on July 6. He returned to professional tennis seven weeks later in Indianapolis and lost in his opening match. He did not play again until October 12 in Singapore where he lost in 2nd Round.

He finished 1999 in the top 20. 2000 was the fourth consecutive year in which he finished in the top 20. He reached the 4th round at the Australian Open losing to eventual champion Andre Agassi. He defeated Pete Sampras 8-6 in the fifth set at Roland Garros in a 3rd round match but lost in the 4th round. For the third consecutive year, he made it to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon losing again to Andre Agassi. He appeared in his second Olympics, losing in 3rd Round to eventual gold medalist Yevgeny Kafelnikov. He finished 2002 in the top 100 (7th time in 8 years) despite not winning a title. He moved from Miami to San Diego, California area in September 2002.

Davis Cup

Philippoussis is also a member of the Australian Davis Cup squad.

Philippoussis has always claimed to be proud of representing his country but personal differences with the Davis Cup Captain and Coach, John Newcombe and Tony Roche, interfered with his commitment to play early in his career. Despite several highly publicised feuds, Mark played a large part in giving Australia their 27th Davis Cup triumph - second only to the United States with 31 - but it was their first since 1986. In 1999 Mark defeated France's Cedric Pioline, 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 in front of a boistrous French crowd in Nice.

Injuries plaugued Mark's availability for Davis cup and was the cause of a public rift between team-mate Patrick Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt. Rafter publicily accused Philippoussis of 'jerking' the team around after he withdrew from a Davis Cup tie in late 2000. Philippoussis said Rafter was 'ill-informed' and upset by the lack of support and understanding from his team-mates.

Knee surgeries forced Philippousis out of Davis Davis Cup till February 2003. By then Pat Rafter had retired, and John Fitzgerald and Wally Masur were the new Davis Cup captain and coach. The impact of these changes was instantly recognised as team harmony was at its highest throughout the year. Mark Philippoussis once again sealed victory for Australia in the Melbourne Final against Spain. Mark beat Spain’s Juan Carlos Ferrero in a 7-5 6-3 1-6 2-6 6-0 battle.

2003 comeback

After three knee operations and a protracted comeback, Philippoussis avowed a new seriousness to his sport. He made himself available regularly for Davis Cup, hired a new physical trainer, and took up surfing as his new recreation. It seemed to work, as he made the 2003 Wimbledon final, finally losing to Roger Federer 6-7, 2-6, 6-7 [2].

During a 2003 Wimbledon tennis match against Andre Agassi (6-3, 2-6, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 6-4), he set a new Australian tennis record of 46 aces served in a match, three aces short of the overall ATP Tour record then held by Richard Krajicek.

Philippoussis broke a two year singles title drought by winning the Shanghai Open in 2003. On 30 November 2003 he defeated Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain to win the fourth match of the Davis Cup final in Melbourne, securing the title for Australia. This victory in front of his home crowd won him a place in the affections of the Australian sporting public which some of his behaviour in earlier years - including refusal to play Davis Cup - had put in jeopardy.

Mark Philippoussis and Alexis Barbara

Fall from grace

The honeymoon period with the Australian public, however, did not last. 2004 proved a disastrous year in terms of his tennis career and public profile. After shouldering most of the blame for losing Australia's Davis Cup tie with Sweden with an unexpected below par performance, Philippoussis struggled through to the Wimbledon fourth round in June 2004.

From Wimbledon in June until the end of the season in October, he failed to win a single ATP tennis match and finished with one of his lowest ever rankings since turning professional in 1994.

Philippoussis was said to be too involved in his love life. In October 2004, a much publicized affair with Australian singer Delta Goodrem had soured and seriously damaged his public standing when newspapers revealed that Paris Hilton had professed an interest in Philippoussis. This only added to his "playboy" image, with the public siding with the popular Goodrem.

As of June 2005, Philippoussis is engaged to model Alexis Barbara.

Titles (10)

Singles (10)

No. Date of Final Tournament Surface Opponent in the final Score
1. 14 October 1996 Toulouse, France Hard Magnus Larsson (Sweden) 6-1 5-7 6-4
2. 3 March 1997 Scottsdale, USA Hard Richie Reneberg (USA) 6-4 7-6(4)
3. 28 April 1997 Munich, Germany Clay Alex Corretja (Spain) 7-6(3) 1-6 6-4
4. 9 June 1997 Queen's Club, London Grass Goran Ivanisevic (Croatia)) 7-5 6-3
5. 16 February 1998 Memphis, USA Hard Michael Chang (USA) 6-3 6-2
6. 8 February 1999 San Jose, USA Hard Cecil Mamiit (USA) 6-3 6-2
7. 8 March 1999 Indian Wells, USA Hard Carlos Moya (Spain) 5-7 6-4 6-4 4-6 6-2
8. 7 February 2000 San Jose, USA Hard Mikael Tillstrom (Sweden) 6-5 4-6 6-3
9. 19 February 2001 Memphis, USA Hard Davide Sanguinetti (Italy) 6-3 6-7(5) 6-3
10. 22 September 2003 Shanghai, China Hard Jiří Novák (Czech Republic) 6-2 6-1

Singles finalist (8)

  • Sep 22 1997 - (lost to Nicholas Kiefer) Toulouse, France 7-5 5-7 6-4 Hard
  • Sep 29 1997 - (lost to Greg Rusedski) Basel, Switzerland 6-3 7-6(6) 7-6(3) Carpet
  • Aug 31 1998 - (lost to Pat Rafter) U.S. Open, New York City, USA]] 6-3 3-6 6-2 6-0 Hard
  • Oct 02 2000 - (lost to Nicholas Kiefer) Hong Kong, China 7-6(4) 2-6 6-2 Hard
  • Nov 13 2000 - (lost to Marat Safin) Paris, France 3-6 7-6(7) 6-4 3-6 7-6(8) Carpet
  • Dec 31 2001 - (lost to Tim Henman) Adelaide, Australia 6-4 6-7(6) 6-3 Hard
  • March 3 2003 - (lost to Lleyton Hewitt) Scottsdale, Arizona, USA 6-4 6-4 Hard
  • June 23 2003 - (lost to Roger Federer) Wimbledon Championships 7-6(5), 6-2, 7-6(3) Grass

External links

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