January 26, 2004: Unfortunately Mark’s Aussie Open jinx struck again and he failed to make it past the fourth round. Mark was sent home by Arazi 2-6, 2-6, 4-6. The match was a combination of Mark not finding his rhythm (38 unforced errors and winning only 27% on second serves) and Arazi playing one of his best-ever matches. It seemed that no matter where the ball was Arazi was finding the perfect shot for the point. Next Mark will take a few days off before gearing up for the Davis Cup against Sweden in Adelaide on Feb 6th.
January 24, 2004 pm: Media update from Round 3 with some nice articles and photos. Next up for Mark is Arazi whom he holds a 3-2 lifetime record against. They last met in 2002 on hardcourt where Mark won.
January 24, 2004: In a match where Mark’s A-game wasn’t with him (he averaged only 49% first serves for the match – and the best was only 55% in the 3rd set), Mark dug deep and defeated Ancic 6-4, 7-6 (7-2), 6-2. While every year the press seems to herald a new Philippoussis, it has been these past two matches that show the new version to truly have arrived. Previously when Mark’s A-game was gone, so was the match as he vainly tried to force his power game (ie. serve) to appear. The matches against Santoro and Ancic have shown a more mature Mark who’s willing to look for and find a B-game to win the match. Media update coming later.
January 22, 2004: Despite a typical slow start, Mark kept his cool against the wily Frenchman and advanced to the third round 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. Next up is the big Croatian Ancic.
January 21, 2004: More articles added from the Australian Open. Also the Philippoussis family released this statement today:
“We wish to advise that Mark’s cousin David, who fell sick immediately prior to the match last night and was rushed to hospital, is in no immediate danger and is recovering well in hospital. On behalf of both of us, and the rest of the family, we wish to thank the members of the public and tournament organizers for their immediate attention to David, and to the doctors and staff at the hospital currently looking after him. We would also like to thank the many who have sent messages of support which have been greatly appreciated.”
January 20, 2004: Mark has passed the first hurdle at the Australian Open, defeating Johansson 7-6 (8-6), 6-2, 7-6 (7-4). Although Mark is normally a slow starter, he came out firing last night and played good solid tennis to win in three. For those who couldn’t see the match I recommend the BBC Match summary that offers some play-by-play (in the Articles section). Next up is Fabrice Santoro, whom Mark holds a 4-2 record against. Our good wishes for a speedy recovery go out to Mark’s cousins David who suffered a heart attack at the Open last night.
January 19, 2004: Mark is set to take the court tomorrow night as the second match of the evening on Rod Laver. Look for him around 8:30pm Melbourne time. Mark also made one of the ‘Quotes of the Week’ from the BBC: “I can honestly say I’m not one of them. Unless ice cream is a steroid. If ice cream is a steroid, I’m definitely positive for that then.” (Mark Philippoussis after being asked if he is one of the players, alongside Greg Rusedski, to have tested positive for nandrolone.)
January 17, 2004: Mark’s hopes of getting his Australian Open bid off to an easier start were dashed when the draw netted him the opponent of 2002 champion Thomas Johansson. Johansson is unseeded after sitting out much of 2003 with a knee injury, and while he’s still in the early stages of coming back, he will be a challenging match. Mark carries a 3-0 lifetime average over him, but the two haven’t played each other since 2000 – a lifetime ago in tennis time. Also lurking in Mark’s quarter are Verkerk, Ferrero and Coria. Lots of good articles today – I recommend reading “Catch a rip…” and “Father knows best”