How much things can change in a new year. Just days ago at the very end of 2006 Mark and his fans were looking for an improved year after such an impressive start at the Hopman Cup. But 2007 saw the return of the Philippoussis injury curse. Just after the start of his match against Haenhell Mark hyper-extended his right knee. He received treatment but after just one more point (where he didn’t even attempt to return Haenhell’s serve) he retired. He will have an MRI on Wednesday to determine the extent of the injury, but it is likely Mark may have to miss the Australian Open. The difference in the injury this time (not sure if it’s a positive or a negative) is that it was his right “good” knee that was injured and not the left one that has undergone all the suergeries. Post-match Hopman Cup director McNamee said “It is not good, he is hurting pretty bad and he is struggling… he is shattered and he is pretty pessimistic about how he is feeling.” We wish Mark all the best for a speedy recovery!
Mark has withdrawn from the Louisville Challenger with a back injury. There has not been any word on exactly what the extent of the injury is or how long it will keep him out of play.
Poor Mark just cannot seem to get a break. In his quarterfinal match on Thursday he injured the little toe on his left foot. He received treatment but it was still very painful to put weight on. He was able to make it through that match, but yesterday he withdrew from the semifinal match. The diagnosis is a severe bone bruise that if he keeps playing on before it heals could fracture. Mark is entered in the Bronx Tennis Classic that starts on Monday but it’s not yet clear whether the toe will be strong enough for him to compete. His potential first-round match up is with Jeff Morrison. Mark has also asked for a wildcard into the Pen Pilot tournament in New Haven that begins August 21st.
August 2, 2006: Yesterday Mark withdrew from the Vancouver Open due to “suspected back problems.” There’s been no update as to what that is but it is likely a reoccurrance of the back spasms that bothered him back in February. Mark is still scheduled for the dBI tournament next week in Binghamton. (thanks to Ruth for the injury news)
July 30, 2006: Mark has been given a wildcard into the Odlum Brown Vancouer Open, a Challenger event in Vancovuer, British Columbia. His first round match (played either Monday or Tuesdau) will be against Simon Stadler of Germany. (Thanks to opiklop for the heads-up).
June 28, 2006: Unfortunately the magic of Wimbledon just couldn’t hold as Mark lost 6-7 (6-8), 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 3-6. to Mirnyi today. It was a battle of the big servers with every chance to break that much more important and Mark just failed to convert today with 10 break opportunities and only one conversion. While it wasn’t the Wimbledon Mark hoped for, his level of play on the grass this week has been better than we’ve seen in months – here’s hoping it will improve even more on the summer hardcourt. A bonus for Mark this month has been a return to working with former coach Peter McNamara (who coached Mark as a junior and in 02-03). While there’s no word as to whether this is going to be a permanent arrangement, McNamara has long been a supportive and steadying influence on Mark so any time spent with him is a good thing.
June 27, 2006: Proving that there’s just something special about the grass at Wimbledon, Mark won over Mathieu with monster fourth set tiebreak 5-7, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 7-6 (14-12). Mark’s serve was booming – with an incredible 39 aces! While his first serve percentage dropped in the fourth set to 49%, the earlier three sets had it up over 65%. Next up will be either Max “The Beast” Mirnyi (a sure bet slug fest) or Ramirez-Hildalgo.
June 26, 2006: It just wouldn’t be Wimbledon if it didn’t rain, and this year the rain struck early, allowing only 30 minutes of play today. Mark now has the 3rd match of the day on Court 2 on Tuesday.
June 25, 2006: The order of play for Monday has been released and Mark will have the second match of the day on Court 3 against Mathieu. This will be a new change as Mark and the 32nd seed have never played before.
June 24, 2006: The Wimbledon draw has been released and Mark is in the bottom quarter of the top half of the draw. He will face Frenchman Paul-Henri Matheui in the first round. Top seeds in his quarter are Nalbandian (4), Johansson (12), and Blake (8). Mark was scheduled to play an exhibition match against Nadel at the Hurlington Club this week prior to Wimbledon but NAdel withdrew due to a foot injury and there’s been no word if the exhibition went on with other players.
June 16, 2006: Mark can breathe a little easier tonight as the All England Club granted him one of the remaining wildcards for Wimbledon. Now fans just have to hope for a little luck from the draw!
It seems that Mark’s vanishing act has been to receive another series of injections on his left knee and then work in southern California with trainer Markus Heon on fitness. Heon is the man responsible for getting Mark into his best ever form prior to his run to the final at Wimbledon in 2003. Mark has also dismissed coach Adams, preferring to return to working with just his father as his coach. Mark will be skipping the clay court season, including the French, to prepare for an assault on the European grass circuit leading up to Wimbledon.