HT Image
HT Image

Scud misfires ? but will be back

Mark Philippoussis of Australia, a whole chapter of knee operations behind him, knows all about being bloodied.
PTI | By Agence France-Presse, London
PUBLISHED ON JUL 06, 2003 10:51 PM IST

Mark Philippoussis of Australia, a whole chapter of knee operations behind him, knows all about being bloodied.

But the 26-year-old from Melbourne will never be unbowed - not even after losing Sunday's Wimbledon final in straight sets to Roger Federer of Switzerland.

Federer was magnificent on the day as he gave up zero break points on his serve while capturing twice the usually quasi-unreturnable serve of his opponent to win the title 7-6 (7/5), 6-2, 7-6 (7/3).

Philippoussis, once linked with Russian glamour girl Anna Kournikova, said after all his trials and tribulations, which included more than two months in a wheelchair two seasons ago while his father Nick has had to battle cancer, that losing a Grand Slam final would not get him down.

No sooner had he come off court than he was insisting he would not only be back - he would hold aloft the trophy himself.

"It's been a great tournament for me. Unfortunately, I fell one short - but I'll be back," said the man known as Scud whose serve brought 14 more aces on Sunday to take his tournament haul to 178.

"I'm definitely gonna hold that trophy up before I retire, that's for sure.

"I can't really say I did much wrong. Whoever won the first set was gonna go on a roll," said Philippoussis, who experienced for the second time the numbness which accompanies a Grand Slam final defeat having also gone down in the 1998 US Open final to compatriot Pat Rafter.

"I wouldn't say it was my best match out there. My first serve percentage wasn't that high. I wasn't returning as well as I wanted to," said the star who has resolved to make his life revolve purely around his game rather than the fast cars and the adrenaline rush of dangerous pursuits such as skydiving.

"I pressed a little too much. He can do everything. When you have a great day everything's great, everything's perfect," he conceded of his rival's performance.

But Philippoussis added he could take inspiration from the never-say-die attitude of Goran Ivaisevic, the Croatian who came back from three final losses and injury traumas of his own to win the tournament in 2001 as a wildcard.

"Goran was in the final three times before he won. I'm never gonna give up.

"It was almost like destiny that he had to win it before he retired.

"I'm definitely going to come back and I'll be a lot stronger," said the Aussie, who revealed his father had put everything into perspective for him beforehand.

"He said: 'This is just the beginning. Look where you were 18 months ago'."

Philippoussis' next target is to make a similar impression on the US Open and go one better than his final loss there five years ago.

But first, the man who bears an Alexander the Great tattoo on his shoulder, having acknowledged he had bowed to a greater talent Sunday, will head for the Californian surf and his other passion of surfing after his Wimbledon wave just failed to take him to the winner's shoreline.

Story Saved