Philippoussis simply pleased to be healthy again
Mark Philippoussis has met with such ill fate at the US Open since losing in the final five years ago that he is simply pleased to be injury-free again.india Updated: Aug 30, 2003 09:46 IST
Mark Philippoussis has met with such ill fate at the US Open since losing in the final five years ago that he is simply pleased to be injury-free again.
Beaten by fellow Australian Patrick Rafter in the 1998 final, the 20th seed registered his best New York performance since then by reaching the third round with a 6-2 6-3 6-4 victory over Frenchman Anthony Dupuis on Friday.
"Looking back, it feels like such a long time ago," the injury-plagued Philippoussis told reporters of his 1998 run. "There are a few times I've been here since and felt like...(I) couldn't win.
"It's difficult when you go somewhere, go into a tournament and you know you can't win because you're on the comeback trail. What you tell yourself is 'let's get some match play' but that's the worst thing, especially in a grand slam.
"You want to get psyched and do as well as you can. So for me now it is such a great feeling, just being healthy and to have a rhythm.
"I'm 26, turning 27. I'm filling out...You know, I'm becoming a man pretty much."
Said with tongue-in-cheek, the last comment was at least an acknowledgement that for years Philippoussis was a boy -- quite often a playboy.
Snared by the temptations of fame and fortune, he trundled through years of under-achievement made worse by an on-going knee ligament injury.
Surgery appears to have finally corrected that, while a new attitude has blocked off the mental abyss into which he often fell.
A first-round exit at the US Open in 2002, when he again hurt his knee, a second-round defeat in 2000 and no-shows because of injury in 1999 and 2001 constituted an ugly road back.
"I'm feeling pretty good," said the player beaten by Swiss Roger Federer in last month's Wimbledon final.
"I'm a few pounds lighter than I was at Wimbledon and I feel that on court. There's a long way to go but in each of my two matches here, I've got better.
"I'm relaxed and loose and the most important thing is that, just like at Wimbledon, I'm enjoying the challenge and the atmosphere," added Philippoussis, who was watched on Friday by movie-actress girlfriend Tara Reid.
He faces Argentine 13th seed David Nalbandian in the third round, with Federer a possible fourth-round opponent.