Flip as the Anti-OAF: I won because I was there on the court mentally
Mark Philippoussis Interview
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Must be a bit of a relief, I imagine, without a long stretch of a tournament win?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I don't look at it that way. I've always said I take each day as it comes, and I don't dwell on the past and think about the past.
So for me, I think for me, I've been putting in some good practice since Queen’s. Working on a few things. Mainly just trying to stay relaxed, get my mind right and enjoy myself.
Q. How pleased were you with that win today?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Yeah, I think it was pretty straightforward grass court tennis. It was a good first match, first up. Good to set the -- get the match, get into the tournament.
Q. Is it a special feeling walking back through the gates again?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Yeah, definitely. There's no other tournament, I must say, that definitely gives me those butterflies in my stomach before the match. You know, I'm not really wanting much to eat before the match. Little nervous. But I think it's good nerves. It's definitely a positive sign for me.
Q. How different was your play today vis-à-vis the matches that you were losing? What did you do differently today?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I was there mentally. Simple as that. I was there mentally.
I've been working hard on and off the court. My fitness has improved a lot. Been working with Brett Stevens off the court, on the court. Working those hours on the court with him and my dad, and it's paying off.
But, more importantly, mentally, I'm there. I'm focused, and I'm ready, you know. I think that's the biggest thing.
Q. The fact that it's Wimbledon, does that make you switch on?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Definitely. If you're not going to switch on at this tournament, and if I'm not pumped, then there's no use playing. Might as well put the racquets in the closet.
Q. Is something like today just what you needed, a win, a good win, and that will set the momentum rolling, get your confidence back?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Yeah, I'm just looking at a match at a time. Today, I was focusing on today's match. As I said, thinking about just the simple grass court tennis. Serve and volleying, first volley, getting in when I can, keep the pressure on. I'm 6'4. If they can pass me at the start, fair enough. But if they can pass me for five sets, then it's too good. The odds of that aren't going to be too high.
Q. Your serve seemed quite -- I think you hit 138 there. You seemed to be serving a lot of aces. Does that stand you in good stead here?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Yeah, I feel like I had good rhythm today. So sometimes I rush a little bit. But all in all, I'm happy. I didn't drop my serve once. So that's a positive thing.
Q. Can it be like a bit of a switch with you more than other players? You can just sort of turn it on without having to necessarily build up to something, that all of a sudden you can just turn your game around?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I'm definitely not the type of guy that needs matches, needs to play a lot of matches, a lot of matches, to be playing good tennis.
Like I said, my mind has to be there. I've got to be pumped and just relaxed on the court.
Today, that's what I was. I was relaxed. I just thought about going out there and playing it a point at a time. Enjoying myself, and being focused.
And, like I said, this is Wimbledon. And if I'm not going to get pumped this tournament, then I never will.
Q. Pretty low-key, though, considering you were the finalist last year. Court 3, the small interview room. A lot of people aren't talking you up as a great contender. Does that suit you?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: That's perfect with me. I'm sure they contend -- they think nothing much was gonna happen last year. So I love that. I'm just gonna go about doing my thing, getting on the court, and playing my tennis.
Q. Have you had difficulty maintaining -- you talked about fun. But has it been hard to have fun over the last, say, five, six months for you?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I've been having a lot of fun, but not on the court (laughter). That's the thing so...
Q. Was it important to have Delta there with you today?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Yeah. She's, you know, she took time off. She's here to support me. You know, that's what it's all about. It's nice. Really nice.
Q. Looked like Verkerk was getting through. Can you talk about playing him next, please.
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Yeah. Big server. Not a natural serve-and-volleyer. Not a natural volleyer. But big serve on the grass is always gonna be dangerous.
Again, for me, I'm gonna concentrate on my serve. Do what I do. Serve and volley and then put pressure on second serves. Chip and charge. Put the pressure on. And, you know, we'll see if he can come up with the pass. If he can, too good.
Q. You say you're taking it one match at a time. How far do you think you can go?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Like I said, I'm just thinking about the next day. That's the only thing on my mind.
Q. Third round...
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Don't even tell me. I don't even want to know. Don't even tell me.
I'm not really worried. All I care about -- I don't even know who I play once I get off the court after a win. All I care about is who I play on the court that day. That's the only thing on my mind.
Q. Don't look at your draw?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: No.
Q. Are you doing the same things as last year: In same house, eating at the same places, anything superstitious?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: No, I'm in a different house this year. Maybe if I won the tournament, I'd have stayed in the same house. But I'll keep swapping houses until...
Q. How do you feel compared to last year with your game, mentally?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Obviously, hasn't been an ideal start of the year. But, as I said, I'm not the type of guy to dwell on that and worry about that too much.
It's Wimbledon time. And I'm happy to be here. I'm pumped to be here. So I'm just gonna go out there and just play how I can play. Simple as that.
Q. Have you thought in the medium term or long term about how much longer you want to keep playing tennis?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: No, not at all. I definitely stopped looking ahead and tried to, you know, tell myself or tell other people what I'll be doing in the few years down the track after, you know, having three knee surgeries. So for me, from now on, definitely taught me to take each day as it comes and just wake up and deal with that day.
Q. Have the knee surgeries extended your career in a bizarre sort of way, or do you think your body is still pretty much that of a 27-year-old who's been playing tennis for a long time?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Yeah, like you said, I'm 27. I've been on the tour for 10 years. Definitely takes a toll on your body. Especially I'm 6'4", 215 pounds.
Yeah, there's other guys on the court that carry half the weight around and can run all day. Obviously, there's a little more pressure on the joints.
But, you know, in retrospect, I had those three surgeries where I haven't played those three and a half years. But then again, you know, coming back from three surgeries has also has been very tough, too.
Q. Mentally more than physically?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Mentally, yeah, more than physically. But pretty much just as much as physical, too.
Q. Looking back over the last six months, do you think people have written you off without really good reason?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Oh, you know what, I'm just -- that's just normal. That's just normal. And then in two weeks' time they'll be jumping on the bandwagon. So it really doesn't worry me.
Q. After the final last year, you said you were confident you would one day win the tournament here. You still believe that?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Definitely. Without a doubt.
Q. Why do you believe that you can win the tournament?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Because I have what it takes to win. I know I can win it. Simple as that.
Q. This year?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I hope. I hope.
But like I said, there's a lot of tennis to go. So most important thing is, you know, just taking it a day at a time. Today I got through. I worry about relaxing tomorrow, having a good practice, then I'll wake up the next day and tackle that day.
Q. How much of an advantage do you have here as opposed to anywhere else, do you think?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Yeah, the thing about when I come here is I'm in a simple frame of mind. I know I'm on grass. I know I'm going to serve and volley. Serve and volley first, second serve. Get into net when I can. It's very simple.
You know, on the hard court, sometimes I can be a little confused about what my game plan is gonna be. That's why, you know, consistently I have done well here in the past. Because, you know, like I said, serve and volley first and second serve. Getting to the net.
You know, when I have something - in that frame of mind, I think I'm a lot more positive definitely as a player, and as a person.
Q. Obviously, your opponents also know that?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Yeah, sure, they know that. Definitely no surprise.
Q. Breaking your serve is really the key, isn't it?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Yeah, that's definitely the key. I think for me, like I said, most important thing is just not losing my concentration and just staying focused. Because, you know, when I do lose concentration, that's when you can get broken and have some, you know -- miss some easy volleys and be a break down. And it can happen real easy.
Q. What's been the reaction to your new clothing line? Have you had some nice comments about it?>
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Nothing's coming in yet. I'm just doing my own thing.
Q. Looks good.
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Thank you. So, yeah, just...
Q. Is Delta here today watching you?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: She is today, yes.
Q. She's here today cheering you on.
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Uh-hmm.
Q. You mentioned your body has taken a bit of a hammering these 10 years on the tour. How much is the off-court activities like your surfing helping or hindering it?
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I think compared to what I used to do, surfing has definitely helped. It, you know, keeps me physically going when I'm off the court. I'm in the water, so I'm always doing something. It's great for fitness. I think being in the water definitely just keeps my muscles, my body loose. You know, it's definitely a good thing, positive thing.