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All Australia rooting for Philippoussis

The fightback by Mark Philippoussis from near crippling injuries to contest the men's tennis final at Wimbledon Sunday earned the softspoken Australian front-page praise across the nation's newspapers.

india Updated: Jul 06, 2003 11:55 IST

The fightback by Mark Philippoussis from near crippling injuries to contest the men's tennis final at Wimbledon Sunday earned the softspoken Australian front-page praise across the nation's newspapers.

"Scud's Amazing Courage", "Scud's Brave Journey," and "One to go" blared banner headlines atop full front-page pictures of "Scud" Philippoussis in newspapers from Brisbane to Perth on Sunday.

It will be nearly midnight Australian time when Philippoussis takes to the court against the Swiss Roger Federer, but many will be watching live television coverage of the match.

Philippoussis, 26, was hailed as one of the top young players of his generation after securing runner's up spot in the 1998 US Open, but was almost forced out of tennis altogether by knee injuries.

He underwent three knee ligament operations in 14 months and in March 2001, the wheelchair-bound athleste was told he might never take to the courts again.

"I think that after that third surgery, I pretty much told myself never to look too far ahead," Philippoussis told a press conference in London on Friday.

Australian fans, stunned by the first-round elimination of compatriot and defending Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt, have shifted their full attention to Philippoussis.

Stories about his aggressive US personal trainer and ex-Marine Markus Heon and the mysterious two Greek words -- "andros" and "pothia" -- written on his taped fingers during matches have been front-page news throughout the past week.

Australia Pat Cash, former world number one, 1987 Wimbledon champ and one-time Philippoussis' coach, said this was the young player's best shot at a Grand Slam title.

"Mark is hitting the form of his life," Cash told the Sun-Herald newspaper.

"This event is for the taking and I think he can do it."

First Published: Jul 06, 2003 11:55 IST