Scud poised for comeback
Four knee operations and counting, and yet Mark Philippoussis is back yet again. On Wednesday, the Melbourne native disposed of the world's No.19 player, Alex Corretja, in the Kooyong Classic, 5-7 6-4 7-6 (7-5). Suddenly, the return of the Scud seems a possibility.
Written off for good by many, the big Victorian may not win next week’s Australian Open, but the 26-year old Melbourne native could worry more than one opponent in his own backyard. He says his main ambition is to get as many matches as possible under his belt: matches, tournaments, Davis Cup, … Did someone say Davis Cup? Australia happens to face Britain next month and with proven experience that includes Australia’s win in 1999, Scud now hopes to secure his place.
While his body passed its latest test, last week a second-round loss to Rainer Schuettler in Madras curtailed the Australian's first tournament since he hyper-extended his suspect left knee at the US Open in August.
"Last week was my first tournament since the US, so it's definitely tough. I feel like every time I get injured it gets a little tougher mentally coming back," Philippoussis said Wednesday at the Kooyong. "Physically I'm still obviously getting stronger, nowhere near as strong as I would like to be, but as much as you train there is no such thing as match toughness."
With four operations since 1999 which now require regular jabs of synthetic cartilage, Philippoussis says nothing can phase him.
"I just go out and play like there's nothing wrong. I don't think there's something wrong with my knee, I'm fine now," he insisted.
At 26, the lost years cannot be recovered. But he can make the most of those that are left and has pledged to play February's Davis Cup tie against Britain in his first home appearance since the 1997 quarter-final against the Czech Republic in Adelaide.
For now though, the second singles spot behind Lleyton Hewitt is taken.
True, Wayne Arthurs has torn his calf, but it appears that he will have recovered in time. Arthurs is almost certain to play doubles at Melbourne Park next week and is rated a 75 per cent chance to play singles, for which he will request a Tuesday start.
Arthurs plans to hit his first points in practice this weekend before making a decision on his fitness. "There's going to be one or two days in it, whether he makes it or not, but he's getting better every day," coach Brent Larkham said Wednesday.
"He's feeling great, his recovery is going really well, better than could be expected. He's pretty positive about trying to play doubles at least, and he'll 100 per cent be right for Davis Cup.”
But a sure thing could quicly turn into a quandary for Davis Cup captain John Newcombe should Melbourne Park next week bear witness to the real return of the Scud.