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  Topic Review (Newest First)
02-23-2005 02:04 PM
Turkeyballs Paco
Re: Mark's career back on track

Scud ends eight-month horror
By Richard Hinds and wires
February 24, 2005

It remains to be seen if there is any light at the end. But, for the first time in almost eight months, Mark Philippoussis has at least found the tunnel.

A tough three-set victory by the Scud over Germany's Tomas Behrend, the world No.103, in the first round of the Tennis Channel Open in Scottsdale, Arizona, will not rank as the greatest accomplishment in the career of the Wimbledon and US Open finalist and two-time Davis Cup-winning hero.

But after a year-long battle with poor form and fitness, the 7-5, 1-6, 6-4 victory will come as an enormous relief to those who feared that, at age 28, Philippoussis's sometimes brilliant, sometimes frustrating career might have to come to an end.

"Of course it's a relief to win," said Philippoussis, whose previous victory came over Chilean Fernando Gonzalez in the third round at Wimbledon last year.

That performance came amid a miserable eight-month stretch in which Philippoussis lost 11 first-round matches, including defeats by such luminous names as Ian Flanagan, Thomas Zib, Luis Horna, Jan Hernych, Glenn Weiner and Julien Benneteau.

AdvertisementThen came a groin injury at the Hopman Cup in January that kept Philippoussis out of the Australian Open.

In Scottsdale, Philippoussis failed to convert a match point in the last set, then had to endure a long rain delay before finishing his match against Behrend.

"Physically I feel fine, I've been working hard on-court in Miami, I'm feeling strong, I've lost 8.5 pounds (3.8kilograms)," the Scud said. "I've been hitting the ball well in training, but matches are so different. You get the same balls but you spray them; it's easy to lose confidence."

The victory came just 24 hours after Philippoussis had been left out of Australia's Davis Cup team, a decision he made in tandem with captain John Fitzgerald. "I took an extra two or three weeks to make sure I was ready [for Scottsdale]," Philippoussis said.

"I didn't want to rush like I've done in the past. I wasn't setting any tournament goal, I wanted to see how it was going. A few days before this event, I felt ready."

Philippoussis plays Croatian Mario Ancic in the second round. Given he has so few world rankings points to defend, any victories will help improve his status of No.201.

While his first-up win was encouraging, Philippoussis still faces a tough road to get back to the top. He is hoping to get a wild card into either of the big-money US events - at Indian Wells and Key Biscayne - in coming weeks, but may end up having to play minor-league Challenger events to boost his ranking.

"If that's the way he has to go, Mark will do that," said his manager, Brian Cooney of IMG. "He needs to play and, like with [Andre] Agassi [who played Challenger tournaments when his ranking slumped], it probably doesn't hurt to eat a bit of humble pie and get your game together."

There was more good news for Australian tennis fortunes in Scottsdale, where Wayne Arthurs, the man most likely to take Philippoussis's Davis Cup singles berth, was also a first-round winner. Arthurs beat Taylor Dent 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), continuing an encouraging run of form for the big-serving 33-year-old. Incidentally, Dent might have been Australia's No.2 singles player next week had he chosen to play for his father Phil's native country rather than for the Americans.

"We're both serve-and-volleyers and we've had some close matches, and I've been fortunate to get through each time," Arthurs said. "The last time, at Wimbledon, we played four tie-breakers and only a few points here and there the difference."

In Dubai, No.2 seed Marat Safin was beaten 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 by Germany's Nicolas Kiefer in the opening round of the Dubai Open on Tuesday.

Playing his first match since winning the Australian Open, the Russian never found his rhythm against an opponent who also won their previous meeting, at the Toronto Masters last year.

Kiefer, who often came to the net, mixed aggression and a deft touch to frustrate his opponent.

Good luck to Mark next round!
02-23-2005 12:09 PM
Re: Mark's career back on track

I can't figure out whether it's a compliment or an insult to Tomas!
02-23-2005 10:45 AM
Re: Mark's career back on track

Originally Posted by flip_fan
I wouldnt say "back on track"just yet...
I was trying to be positive
02-23-2005 06:12 AM
Re: Mark's career back on track

I wouldnt say "back on track"just yet... but today was definately a small step in the right direction.

But im really liking what im seeing and hearing from mark. It looks as though he is back in Fila gear, which makes him look more professional and sexy... also he cut his hair, which i love... but most importanlty he's been working hard these past few weeks, admitting he's lost 3.8 kilo which is brilliant!

keep fighting mark!!!
02-23-2005 03:23 AM
Mark's career back on track

Philippoussis wipes Behrend
From correspondents in Scottsdale, Arizona
February 23, 2005

AUSTRALIAN Mark Philippoussis finally ended an eight-month losing streak by edging past German Tomas Behrend 7-5 1-6 6-4 in the opening round of the $481,000 Tennis Channel Cup today.

Philippoussis ... a winner, and it's still a whole month from April 1.
Pic: Associated Press

The former Wimbledon and US Open runner-up was playing his first tournament since suffering a groin injury at the Hopman Cup in early January that forced him out of the Australian Open.

After reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon last year, Philippoussis had suffered an embarrassing string of first-round losses.

Behrend is ranked No.104 in the world, 97 places ahead of Philippoussis.

Wayne Arthurs also won his first-round match here today, edging past fourth-seeded American Taylor Dent 3-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4).

But the big Australian story was Philippoussis, who yesterday was overlooked for next month's Davis Cup tie against Austria in Sydney.

He had to sit through a frustrating 94-minute rain delay today after failing to convert a match point.

"Of course, it's a relief to win," said Philippoussis, who won this title in 1997 and lost in the final to countryman Lleyton Hewitt two years ago.

"Physically I feel fine, I've been working hard on court in Miami. I'm feeling strong. I've lost eight and a half pounds (3.8kg).

"I've been hitting the ball well in training, but it's tough to find the rhythm. Matches are so different. You get the same balls but you spray them, it's easy to lose confidence.

"I took an extra two or three weeks to make sure I was ready.

"I didn't want to rush like I've done in the past.

"I wasn't setting any tournament goal, I wanted to see how it was going. And a few days before this event, I felt ready."

Philippoussis's most recent victory was in the third round at Wimbledon last year against Chilean Fernando Gonzalez.

He bowed out at the All England Club to Tim Henman and his 2004 season quickly became a nightmare with five successive first-round losses and an early end to a frustrating campaign in Tokyo in October.

A long off-season and a determined start in the first week of January at the Hopman Cup mixed teams event in Perth only led to more misery.

Losing both of his group matches - to Slovak Dominik Hrbaty and Peter Wessels, Philippoussis managed to tear his groin muscle in two places against Dutch opponent Wessels.

Philippoussis struck a dozen aces in the victory over Behrend to set up a second-round clash with Croatian Mario Ancic.

Arthurs, 33, won a serve-and-volley struggle over Dent, his third victory in as many matches over the son of former Australian Davis Cup star Phil Dent.

"It was a close match," he said.

"I was lucky to get through, it's always tough against Taylor.

"The conditions were good today, not too hot, not too cold, not to windy.

"But the balls were flying."

Top-seeded German Tommy Haas withdrew from the tournament blaming influenza and a bad back.

With additional reporting from Agence France-Presse


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