Agassi touch fails to rub off on Scud
October 13, 2006
AFTER spending two weeks training with Andre Agassi's former coach Darren Cahill and fitness adviser Gil Reyes in Las Vegas, Mark Philippoussis suffered a disappointing first-round defeat in the minor league Swanston Challenger in Sacramento.
Philippoussis's work-outs with the highly respected Cahill and Reyes are just the latest in a series of attempts to kick-start one of the game's most frustrated and unfulfilled careers. The Australian also dined with the recently retired Agassi in Las Vegas, hoping to draw inspiration from the American's legendary fightback.
After slumping to No.141 in the rankings, Agassi swallowed his pride and played several Challenger tournaments to help resurrect his career, eventually winning five more grand slam titles.
"Andre inspires me in a lot of ways," Philippoussis told The Sacramento Bee newspaper. "Winning [five] of his eight grand slam titles after turning 29 is a very big inspiration. When he was [No.141], nobody thought he would return to the top 10, much less be No.1 and win grand slam titles. It's another chapter to his incredible career."
While Philippoussis's first result was disappointing - a 7-6 (7-2), 7-5 defeat to the 232nd-ranked American Sam Warburg - he said he had chosen to play small tournaments such as the $75,000 Swanston Challenger rather than more lucrative main tour events to improve match fitness before the Australian summer.
The association with Cahill is just the latest in a long list of coaching flings for Philippoussis. He recently reunited for a third time with Peter McNamara following another reunion with boyhood coach Archie Adams, practised last year with John McEnroe in New York, and has spent time working with, among others, Pat Cash, Gavin Hopper, Mike de Palmer, Todd Viney, Andrew Florent, and his own father, Nick.
With McNamara in Austria, Philippoussis's current coaching arrangements are unknown. His Australian management did not return calls yesterday.
Ranked No.131, Philippoussis remains reliant on wildcards to play major events. But, despite the fact he turns 30 next month and has had three knee operations, he still believes he can reach a third grand slam final.
"The first one [1998 US Open], I was young, inexperienced and nervous," he said. "The second one [2003 Wimbledon], I ran into someone on fire. I fully hope to give myself another opportunity and go one better."
Philippoussis said, despite his long slump, he had not lost his appetite for the game.
'If I didn't [love the game], I wouldn't be playing," he said. "I'm very confident my best years are ahead of me. If I want to get back, this is the way to do it. I'm willing to do whatever it takes."