Mark cheats death in Surf Accident
Not the return to news I was waiting for...
Tennis ace cheats death in wild surf
July 4, 2008 - 7:11PM
Keen surfer Philippoussis ignored warnings about today's heavy conditions.
Former tennis star Mark Philippoussis was lucky to escape with his life after he paddled into wild seas off Victoria's surf coast today, despite a warning from a local expert.
Philippoussis was left cut and bruised after heavy waves snapped his surfboard and drove him into a cliff cave, where he spent hours waiting for the rough conditions to ease.
Fellow surfers had told Philippoussis it was dangerous to enter the large waves at Winkipop beach, near Torquay, freelance photographer Steve Ryan said.
"I said, 'Oh man, I wouldn't be going out here', because the sweep was really strong," Mr Ryan told Channel 9.
"The next thing you know, I saw him paddling out (and) he nearly got taken out by a big set on this place called the Buttons, which is pretty dangerous."
Mr Ryan said Philippoussis was dragged into an area known as the Valley and pummelled by waves until his board snapped.
He managed to reach a cave, where he spent about two hours, apparently to wait until the tide dropped, while onlookers alerted his girlfriend who was in a nearby carpark.
"He took refuge in a cave for about two hours, and he cut all his feet up and hurt his hip," Mr Ryan told Channel 9.
World-surfing champion Stephanie Gilmore had surfed at Winkipop earlier and greeted Philippoussis when he arrived but was not there when the drama unfolded, her manager said.
Philippoussis' agent Rob Aivatoglou tonight said "the Scud" had gone to Bells Beach with a friend but was surfing alone when he ran into trouble.
Mr Aivatoglou said that, after spending time sheltering in the Valley, Philippoussis had to exit the cave via the sea again in order to get safely back onto land.
"I know the cave played a part in his safe return, as he was able to take shelter initially,'' Mr Aivatoglou said.
"He's just happy that he's safe and sound and that everything turned out well.''
Mr Aivatoglou said Philippoussis had gone surfing as part of his rehabilitation program, following a recent knee operation, as he planned a return to full fitness.
"He's training again and he's surfing as part of that rehab.''
Philippoussis' mum told Channel Nine that her son had been in an incident but was doing well "given the circumstances".
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