Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Brussels, Belgium
article from the Courier, an Australian newspaper:
Three weeks off but Scud still playing like he's on holidays
Wednesday, 3 March 2004
Mark Philippoussis found a three-week break from tournaments had failed to restore his winning form as he lost in the first round of the Dubai Open yesterday.
Philippoussis was playing his first match since losing heavily in both his Davis Cup singles matches in Australia's first-round loss to Sweden in Adelaide last month.
He was beaten 6-2, 7-6 by Belgium's Olivier Rochus.
Afterwards, Philippoussis said his treatment by the Australian media since the Davis Cup had made him consider leaving the game, but only briefly.
"For a split second I wanted to get out of the game and then I woke up and came to my senses and realised that that's what I do," he said.
However, he said the media attention had forced him to flee to Los Angeles after the Davis Cup defeat, where he joined girlfriend Delta Goodrem.
"It was a pretty tough month for me in January, pretty hectic and very frustrating because I love Australia, I love my country so much, and these things happen and make you just want to get away and leave your country to get away from something like that," he said. "When you're put under a microscope like that 24-7, on and off the court, it's very tough.
"I'm a very private person. When I'm on the court, I do my best and give 110 per cent. When I'm off the court, I'm a young guy trying to live my life."
Philippoussis had his chances in Dubai, but paid the ultimate penalty when he missed a set point in the second set.
Standing 30cm taller than Rochus, Philippoussis had a great advantage in power, but was unable to impose it upon the shortest man on the tour.
Rochus returned Philippoussis's famous serve superbly in the first set, but the second depended on a tight tie-break in which the Aussie seemed to be escaping from trouble when he led by seven points to six. But when he advanced to the net behind a faded forehand, Rochus covered the width of the court and struck a wonderful backhand pass cross-court.
Three points later Philippoussis mistimed an ambitious backhand to concede a mini-break and Rochus closed it out with a tidy second serve which Philippoussis failed to return.
"It's just great," Rochus said. "I knew I had to make him run. He has a very good serve and I had to return as many balls as possible, try to get into the rallies and make him move. It worked."
Meanwhile, Tim Henman went from defeating the world No1 Roger Federer in his last tournament to losing 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4) to a man ranked 149 in the world, Tomas Zib. The British No1 tried to impose an attacking game at every opportunity, but found the Czech qualifier resilient in slowish night conditions.
The key moments came after Henman had broken serve to lead 2-1 in the final set, but was unable to consolidate. By the tie-breaker Henman was under the greater pressure and mini-breaks in the third and the seventh points were enough to see the man from Prague go through.