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January 24, 2004

Mark Philippoussis


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Mark.

Q. That looked like you made a conscious effort to play a controlled sort of match. Is that what you had in mind today?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Yeah. I just wanted to play within myself and, you know, I got to concentrate on coming out a little more sort of fired up. I was relaxed, which was good, but a little too relaxed at the start. Definitely doesn't help when you only get one first serve in in the first game. Made it difficult for myself. But came back and broke him nicely. From there on, I was pleased with the way I played.

Q. How has this sort of evolved in your game? When did you start to think this was the way to go, playing within yourself?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Well, I mean, as each year passes, definitely you get more comfortable, I get more comfortable with my game and know exactly how I want to play. Most importantly, last year I had my first year where I played a full year, you know, and I wasn't injured. When you're healthy, and you start getting in a rhythm of playing without being injured, it's easy to know what you want to do, you know, how you're going to play out there. It's tough when you're coming back and forth to get into a rhythm. Last year, it being my first year for a while, I was healthy all the way through. I feel, you know, my game has gotten better and I've understood what kind of a game I want to play, things like that. So depending on who I play, also.

Q. Tim Henman at Wimbledon gets enormous sort of home-town support. Do you feel you get the same support here in Melbourne?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Definitely, I've always had incredible support here. It does, it feels great out there. They do help you through some tough moments, there's no doubt about that. I don't feel at all pressured or anything like that. I just feel very lucky to be playing in Melbourne and, you know, getting the treatment that I have been getting. It's a good feeling.

Q. It's been four years since you were in the fourth round here. How do you look back on that time? Has it been a time of personal growth for you, as well?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Sure, definitely, yeah. You know, I'm 27. But I definitely feel like, you know, I've been a late maturer, unlike other people. Everyone's a little different. The good thing is I've played three solid matches. You know, I played four sets against Santoro. Besides that, though, straight sets. So it does make life a lot easier when you go into the second week knowing that you haven't had that time on the court, you know, like I have in the past where it was four sets and five sets. You know, it definitely -- it catches up with you in the second week. As I said in the start of the week, I think it's very important to try and get the matches out of the way as quick as possible and spend as least time on the court as possible. I felt that I've sort of done that, and I'm very happy with that, just want to try and come up relaxed tomorrow, have a light hit and get ready for my match on Monday.

Q. Is there anything you're not satisfied with at this point?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: The egg white scramble in the hotel hasn't been the way I normally like it, but besides that everything is fine, yeah (smiling).

Q. Can you talk about Costa and Arazi?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Yeah, these guys, they're very talented. Obviously, they must be playing some good tennis. I've played some good matches to get in the third round. It's very important for me to know, obviously, their game plan is to stay on the baseline, stay and not miss, and run all day. For me it's important to try not to get pulled in that sort of play. Their game is staying on the baseline. My game is to, you know, stay back and just be positive, make the ball play, unless I get a short ball, and try and come in and keep the pressure on. So I think I'll try and keep the points short, you know, chip and charge when I can, just put the pressure on them. If they pass me all day, it's just too good.

Q. Delta was in your box. What's the story there?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Was she? I didn't see her there. I was concentrating on my match. I honestly didn't see anyone in there. It's good to know.

Q. How inspiring is someone like her for you?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Obviously she's an extremely strong girl, going through what she has. I sort of know what she's gone through because my father went through the same thing, but three times. She's doing great.

Q. Just looking forward to next week, there are some very big names obviously in the second week of the Australian Open. It's very much this feeling that all the main players are still in the tournament, and everybody's very much fighting for ascendency. How much do you get this feeling that everybody is there and it's going to be a great week next week?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: That's the great thing about a Grand Slam, you never know. There's some Grand Slams where in the second week there's like two seeds left, where it has happened in the past. This year, obviously the guys have come prepared. They're playing great tennis. And that's what it's all about. You know, if anyone wants to win a Grand Slam, they're going to have to beat the best players in the world. The good thing is, get in the second week, you're hitting the ball great. So, you know, like I said, if you want to win it, you've got to beat the best players, and that's what it's all about. So I'm looking forward to trying to do that.

Q. Delta's presence in the box did seem to cause quite a murmur and a ruffle in the crowd. Did you find that at all distracting?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: No. I have a job to do out there, and that's to concentrate on my match. That's what I'm doing.

Q. You seemed to be very relaxed and seemed to mix it up a bit, prepared to wait for the right shots. Is that because of the high confidence level you have in yourself, in playing your own game?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Not only that, but as I said, you got to realize that when you're not feeling a hundred percent, physically you're not a hundred percent, you don't want to stay out there all day and be patient. You can't afford to do that. You're going to have to take chances, you're going to hit shots that you shouldn't hit. I'm saying you have to do it to keep the points short. Now I'm feeling great physically, I have no problems. I can stay out there and work the ball around until I have a short ball, whereas before you don't have the luxury of doing that.

Q. Before you've been criticized by the media on that score.

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: It's very easy to sit back and say, "Okay, you shouldn't go for that shot." Of course, I know it's not a percentage shot. But people don't understand between matches I can't sit back there, when I was injured on and off, and grind all day, because if I did win that match, the next day I would wake up, I'd be so sore. I couldn't afford to do that. Whereas now I've been working hard and physically I feel great, you know, I can do that.

Q. So you feel that you're well-prepared at this stage to last for two weeks?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I'd like to think so. I'd like to think so. At the moment, I'm feeling pretty good. So, yeah.

End of FastScripts….

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