Name: Mark Philippoussis
Birthdate: Nov. 7, 1976
Birthplace: Melbourne, AUS
Height: 6’5″ (1.93m)
Turned Pro: 1994
Residences: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California
Family: Father: Nick, a former football (soccer) player; Mother: Rossana; Sister: Anna Maria, a teacher.
Mark Anthony Philippoussis was born on November 7, 1976 in Melbourne Australia. Tennis was his passion from a young age. He started playing at six, coached by his father Nick.
Mark made his debut on the pro circuit in 1994 and he made quite the entrance. In 1995 he became the youngest player (at age 19) to finish the year inside the top 50, an incredibly impressive feat for someone so young. Despite this accomplishment, the match that made his mark was the 3rd round of the Australian Open when he sent Pete Sampras home in a stunning three sets. This match also earned him his first nickname – the ‘Scud’ – for the incredible power of his service combined with a shocking tendency of inaccuracy. In 1996, Mark won his first ATP tour title at Toulouse in September. He followed that up with the title in Scottsdale in March of 97 and then again in Munich in April and once more at Queens Club in June.
The late 90s saw some Mark have some of his greatest successes on court. In 1998 he made his first grand slam final, playing against countryman Patrick Rafter at the US Open in New York. Despite such a historic moment in his career, Mark nearly sank his chances by partying the night before the match (his partying rep would continue to haunt him during his career). Several months later in early 1999 he helped win Australia the Hopman Cup with partner Jelena Dokic. This marked the only time that the Aussies have won the Cup, despite being the tournament host. Mark hit another milestone that year on March 29th, making the top 10 in the ATP Rankings.
But it was 1999 that also saw the first signs of what would become chronic injuries. In his quarterfinal match against Pete Sampras he was forced to retire after coming down awkwardly on his left knee. A cartilage tear was diagnosed and he has surgery a few days later. He recovered and returned to the court at the end of the year. 2000 showed the knee repaired and Mark’s tennis going well. He would finish the year ranked No. 11. This year he made the fourth round or better at all the grand slams and even played for his country at the Sydney Olympics. Unfortunately, the year did not end well with Mark suffering a further tear of his left knee meniscus. He underwent surgery in Melbourne. After recouperating, Mark kicked off 2001 with a bang, winning the Kroger St. Jude, his 10th career title.
Despite a great start to the year, 2001 fell apart in March at the Ericson where he again tore cartilsge in his left knee. This surgery involved removing most of the cartilage in his left knee and as a result in order for his knees to take the stress of tennis he must have three injections synthetic cartilage injected in his knee every six months. This last surgery required Mark to spend three months in a wheelchair and the doctors initially told him he would never play tennis again. Mark returned to the court in September but struggled for the rest of the year. 2002 seemed off to a better start with a run all the way to the finals of the Australian Hardcourt but the wheels soon fell off and Mark never made it past the first or second round of most events. He did better on grass, making the fourth round at Wimbledon. Then problems arose at the US Open where he hyper-extended his knee leading to a bone bruise that would keep him off tour for months.
The months of forced recuperation led to a new Mark in 2003. He recommited to the sport and worked hard on his fitness. The results paid off with another grand slam final appearance – this time against Federer at Wimbledon. Sadly he was once again the runner-up. Mark kept the work up and snatched his 11th career title in Shanghai, his first in two years. During this time he also worked to patch up his relationship with Australia, specifically with regards to Davis Cup. Mark’s always had something of a turbulent history with Davis Cup. In 1999 and 2000 he had feuds with Rafter and Hewitt over his unwillingness to play in Davis Cup. Misinformation, name-calling, scheduling and injuries marked most of his outings. But this year Mark dedicated himself to being available for play, wherever and whenever. The committment paid off and later that year it was Mark’s fourth match that sealed the deal and won the Davis Cup for Australia. In this match Mark put it all out there, showing total dedication to getting it done for Australia. Post-match it was learned that he tore his pectoral muscle in the second set but played on despite the pain.
Despite the highs of the previous year, 2004 turned into something of a disaster. A sub-par performance at Davis Cup against Sweden in February knocked Australia out of the running and once again the Aussies blamed Mark for not trying or caring enough. The following months saw Mark’s career nose dive with loses in the first round at many tournaments. His ranking plunged. 2005 showed improvement, but nothing resembling his earlier tennis. During these two years Mark also seemed to live more of his life in the tabloids, dating singer Delta Goodrem and then actress Alexis Barbara. He even began feuding with his father and dropped him from his coaching team.
2006 looked to be starting off on the same downward spiral. But then the magic of grass happened and Mark won the final of the Hall of Fame Championships coming in as a wildcard. It’s a post Wimbledon event that a lot of top players skip, but Mark faced some good opponents to take the title, his 12th and the first in 3 years. But even this win couldn’t help him overcome his low ranking which was now well outside the direct entry cut-off for many tournaments. So down to the Challengers he went, having mixed results of early loses and one title win – the Calabasas Challenger in October. In the fall of 2007 Mark starred on the U.S. reality show Age of Love that had him choosing to date from a pool of younger and older women.
Unknown at the time, but this marked the end of Mark’s time on the ATP tour. In January 2008 Mark was injured at the Hopman Cup and this time it was the right knee. Surgery was required for a meniscus tear. Following recuperation in Australia Mark headed back to the U.S. where he planned to rehab with Gil Reyes, the man behind Agassi’s amazing fitness. As part of his recuperation from a previous injury Mark had taken up surfing and this proved to be his main passion in 2008. He made no tour appearances that year.
In 2009 Mark started playing on the ATP Champions tour, also known as the Seniors Tour, for those over 30 years. He played several tournaments but there wasn’t much ‘wow’ in the playing. In 2010 Mark effectively disappeared from the sport and didn’t set foot on a competitive tennis court.
Another new Mark appeared in 2011 on the Senior Circuit looking fit once again and ready to play. In quick succession he won three titles on tour (DelRay, Zurich and Bogota). Since then Mark has continued to play on the Champions tour. He also spends his time lving in California and surfing along the coast.