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Final like a film script for Philippoussis

Mark Philippoussis admitted on Friday that reaching the final after appalling injury troubles that nearly ended his career was like a script from a Hollywood film.
PTI | By Agence France-Presse, London
PUBLISHED ON JUL 04, 2003 11:01 PM IST

Mark Philippoussis admitted Friday that winning through to his first Wimbledon final after appalling injury troubles that nearly ended his career was like a script from a Hollywood film.

Asked whether he believed in fairy tales after beating France's Sebastien Grosjean in straight sets to reach Sunday's showpiece men's singles final, the burly Australian grudgingly conceded a romantic streak.

"Yeah, I love my movies. Why not?" he grinned.

"Obviously, just having your name on the trophy is a dream come true," said the 26-year-old, who missed all of the 2001 season as well as almost half of last season after undergoing a string of knee operations.

"A lot of tennis players, when they are kids, dream of winning Wimbledon. It's one of their favourite tournaments - it has been for me.

"The history this tournament has is great. Hopefully I'll have a chance to be part of it."

The man known as "Scud" blasted his way into the final with a 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-3 demolition of Grosjean, and now faces young Swiss star Roger Federer.

Such success is sweet vindication for Philippoussis, who 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 after his knee gave way.

Following a third knee ligament operation in 14 months in March 2001, Philippoussis was wheelchair-bound for more than two months and was warned 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," he said Friday.

With this in mind, the Australian insisted was not about to get carried away ahead of the final.

"I'm not really thinking about the trophy or anything like that. I'm just thinking about getting my body ready and coming up for that match, and playing a good match.

If he wins the title, Philippoussis will take over from fellow Aussie Lleyton Hewitt, who was a shock first round exit this year but has stayed in London to cheer on girlfriend Kim Clijsters in her singles and doubles campaign.

"He just congratulated me and just spoke about what he's been up to and stuff like that," Philippoussis explained.

Asked about his first Wimbledon memory, Philipoussis recounted watching as an eight-year-old as the teenaged Boris Becker pounded his way to a first title in 1985 - "this guy just diving around everywhere" as the Australian put it.

"I kind of admired that," he grinned.

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