?Scud? wants to do his own thing
"Everyone loves you when you are winning, You lose a match and no one jumps on the bandwagon."
If you thought Mark Philippoussis is good just on court, hear him talk and you'll change your mind. Four years back at The Championships the 'Scud' came so close to pulling the trigger on Pistol Pete, people were worried for the man who was in the process of making Grand Slam history. Sampras survived and went on clinch the title just because Philippoussis got injured.
In the years in between, not too much has been heard of Philippoussis. All talk Down Under, in Europe and America was of the charismatic Pat Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt's rise to the top. Philippoussis didn't mind it. He never really was the darling of the media, the tennis establishment at home or even their own past champions which included Davis Cup bosses John Newcombe and Tony Roche.
And the 'Scud' has always been the last person to hide his emotions. If he had been unhappy with the way things were being done in Davis Cup, he spoke up. And on Monday night, after defeating World No.1 Andre Agassi, if you thought Philippoussis would go overboard, forget it. "I am just pleased that I won. I wouldn't say it was the match of my career," he said.
Beating the world No.1 and staying so cool about it, well that's Philippoussis way of going about things. When he talks of everyone loving him when he was winning, he obviously makes a point for mate Hewitt as well. "Hewitt has been No.1 two years in a row and now that he has lost, everyone is on his case like he should drop his pants. I feel bad for Hewitt, I just want him to keep his head up," says the Scud.
Talk of change of coaches and so on, Philippoussis also has been through it a few times. He recently parted ways with Peter McNamara and went back to his father. 'I have been with my dad since the age of six. He is the one who taught me to play tennis. I don't care if a lot of negative stuff is talked about me and my coach splitting," adds Philippoussis.
The spirit of adventure has always been there. He is daring by nature and not everything related is related with tennis. Firing aces is just one part of his life; he has been almost reckless throughout his career.
Born in Melbourne, the 26-year-old had a passion for speed with utter disregard for his own safety. He had collected 11 motorbikes, six sports cars, went horse riding and hit it off well with the beautiful women as well. It included Anna Kournikova.
All those things are in the past. For the sake of tennis, Philippousiss has changed. Having moved base from Florida to California, the most dangerous activity today is surfing. "Compared to what all I was doing, surfing is a lot more safer. And it's a great exercise for the body and mind," says the Aussie, who has undergone three major surgeries on his knee.
"I am healthy now, but when I had the third surgery and was on wheelchair, I was really wondering whether it was worth coming back. I am here just because I think I can do well," adds Philippoussis, who next meets Alexander Popp.