Scud changes coach again
March 30, 2005
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS has had more coaches than injuries – if that's possible.
Now add the name Andrew Florent to the list.
Australia's fallen tennis star has employed Florent, a 34-year-old former doubles specialist with a career-high singles world ranking of 610th, on a two-month trial basis.
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
And, languishing at world No.188 and having not reached the third round of a tournament anywhere since Wimbledon last July, Philippoussis is nothing if not desperate.
He phoned Florent last week and, on two days' notice, Florent took up the challenge and promptly flew from Melbourne to Miami to hook up with Philippoussis.
Already, though, Florent has his work cut out – literally.
Philippoussis is out of action for up to a month after rolling his ankle in his first-round win in Miami over Belgian Christophe Rochus.
The 28-year-old former Wimbledon and US Open runner-up was last seen hobbling from his crutches into his 18-year-old fiancee Alexis Barbara's Mayback and heading to a destination unknown.
Doctors have told Philippoussis not to venture onto a court for at least two to three weeks, ruling him out of a scheduled exhibition event in Texas next month.
If fit, he may contest the US Men's Claycourt Championships in Houston from April 18 before playing the European claycourt season.
Florent faces an uphill battle getting his new employer in shape for Wimbledon, which is now less than three months away.
Philippoussis has won just two matches in eight months, missed the Australian summer with a groin tear and also struggled with knee and shoulder injuries before coming a cropper in Miami.
Florent does have the advantage of going back a long way with Philippoussis.
He beat a then 16-year-old Philippoussis in doubles on the Scud's professional debut in the first round of a second-tier Challenger event in Perth in 1992.
But while Philippoussis's career took off, culminating in two grand slam finals, a pair of Davis Cups and peaking with entry to the world's top 10 in 1998, Florent spent a decade toiling away in doubles events.
Although Florent accumulated $US1,109,785 ($A1.44 million) before retiring two years ago with three doubles titles, his main claims to fame may have been partnering then world No.1 Lleyton Hewitt at the 2001 and 2002 Cincinnati Masters Series events.
Florent is the latest in a long line of former players to have coached Philippoussis during a tumultuous career.
While his father Nick has been his coaching mainstay, Philippoussis has previously employed fitness fanatic Brett Steven, Wimbledon champions Pat Cash and Boris Becker, Peter McNamara and Gavin Hopper as mentors.
Last year, Philippoussis even turned to superbrat John McEnroe for help as he desperately tried to revive his once glittering career.