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September 10, 1998

Mark Philippoussis

Flushing Meadows, New York

Q. Did you have a massage?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: No, not yet. After this.

Q. What were you doing?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Sitting down (laughter). Just stretching.

Q. All emotional when you were talking to the TV. How were you inside?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Yeah, it was hard for me to talk then. I couldn't really speak. I was just still tired, but just so thrilled, you know, more mentally than anything. Just relief to get through that match.

Q. Was that the biggest win of your career, do you think?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Yeah, in a certain way, yes. Obviously, not against -- you know, obviously the Sampras match was, but this is an entirely different feeling. This, to be quite honest, was just -- felt just as good inside as that Sampras one.

Q. Seemed like a mental battle as much as anything.

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Yeah. You know, I just wanted to hang in there tough. I was playing some up-and-down tennis, just wanted to keep on attacking, just not give up.

Q. You were attacking, on his serve you attacked, then on your own, you pulled out big second serves.

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I told you I go for those serves. That's just the player I am. I'm going to go for my shots. I have confidence in my second serve to be able to do that.

Q. After the first set, you were very tentative. You lost your serve three times. Then you went to that chip and charge strategy on the second serve, which really changed everything. What made you do it?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I was a bit upset at myself losing that first set. Lose my serve three times, lose at 6-4, has got to say something. I was ready, I was eager out there. I was very disappointed in myself. I just wanted to come at him hard, just let him know that you're going to have to pass me all night, I'm going to be all over the net.

Q. He said that he never faced a more courageous opponent. Do you think this was your most courageous match of your career?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I definitely think so. This match that definitely matured me a lot, coming off that court. This is definitely a step in my life that is going to change something definitely.

Q. Do you see that you could become a different player?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Definitely. You know, knowing that I can do it, no matter if I'm down -- when I'm down, just hang on tough. Definitely going to change a lot of things for me.

Q. Could the US Open have two Australian champions in a row, but with different names?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Why not? Pat is playing some great tennis at the moment. Definitely don't look over him not beating Pete. I mean, it's going to be a great match. Pat is going to be ready to go.

Q. Your dad is not with you?


Q. Have you spoken to him since the end of the game?


Q. What was that like?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: He's just laughing, just a hug, big hug. He said himself, "You turned into a man tonight."

Q. How important was it to you to have him here?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Very important, very important, for some support. Also, you know, he doesn't love traveling, but he just loves watching me tennis. It brings him joy, makes him happy. And I want to make him happy. He's done a lot for me in my career. You know, I'm here where I am because of him. You know, I want to give back to him now.

Q. Did you have to do it by winning 12-10 in the final tiebreaker?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Yeah, he said it nearly gave him a heart attack. I think all my team has got some gray hairs tonight. But definitely didn't want to do it that way.

Q. You seemed like Pat Cash out there sometimes, just running into the net, those great half volleys, you were serving great as well, but your all-around game was just really good.

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Yeah. I made too many -- I made a lot of unforced errors from the back. It was windy, so the ball was moving around a lot. If you didn't have some good footwork, I miss-hit a lot of balls. It's tough to pass when it's windy like that. It's swirling around everywhere. You know, I'm six foot four, when a guy sees me coming to the net, I don't think it looks too good on his side.

Q. Your career obviously has had a lot of ups and downs, a lot of expectations, maybe even some mistakes, whatever. Does a moment like this heal that in a way, pay for all that?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I'm only 21. I'm going to make some decisions in my life, right or wrong, I'm just learning. I'm still a kid. I'm learning not only in tennis, but in life. I've definitely got a long way to go. I've just started my life. You know, this match has taught me a lot about me personally, not just as a tennis player, but as a person.

Q. What would that be, if I may ask?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I mean, I just wanted to show I got some guts out there, that I didn't want to let go. You know, that I'm a fighter. In the past, where it's been tough, I've -- I haven't come back strong. I've sort of not -- not -- tanked isn't the right word, just didn't play the big points right. I just didn't want to sort of take the challenge. And I was ready for the challenge out there tonight.

Q. Yesterday Patrick Rafter mentioned that the two of you were on a little bit friendlier terms now after some uneasy months earlier in the year. Given the fact that you all are making history, first time in 20 something years two Aussies in the semis, can you comment on how your relationship is now? Is it back to normal, a little uneasy?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Yeah, we're friends. We've talked about it. You know, I think we've put things behind us. That's how it is, you know. We're still both young. We have to get things behind. That's happened. We're definitely going to see a lot of each other. He's a nice guy. We just had to get things worked out.

Q. You said that you sort of finally got into a position to take chances, to try and close out matches. What have been the one or two things that have turned you around to get you in that position?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: My concentration on the court, you know, no matter when I was done, I just took it point by point, just concentrated on what I had to do, not worrying about anything, what the score was, you know. Just my fitness at the moment is good. I felt great out there.

Q. Probably haven't had time to think about this. How do you approach such a big game against a player like Moya?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I mean, the guy's basically not going to miss from the back. He's going to run all day, he's going to run everything down, he's not going to miss. I've got to be ready to play even a tougher match than I did today against him. I'm ready to do that. It's the semifinals of a Grand Slam. This is what it's all about. You know, I'm motivated. You have to be, definitely have to be motivated out there.

Q. Were you surprised by how powerful his first serve was tonight?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Definitely, to be honest. You know, I knew he had a big serve, but not that big. The guy hit 136 today. That was huge. I mean, I had a lot of chances, a lot of breakpoints, sort of felt like if I didn't take the first one, he was going to come back with some big serves, and that's what he did.

Q. What aspect of the game does need improving? Missed a fair bit from the back. Is there a particular segment of your game that you want to improve?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I've been working extremely hard on my all-around game. I made too many unforced errors today I think due to maybe lack of footwork because it was windy, definitely have to have a lot more footwork out there, just get the racquet back earlier. You can't afford to do a lot with the ball, especially when it's windy like this. I was trying a bit too much. Just towards the end, I just had to -- you just pretty much have to just get the ball in play when it's windy like this. Wait for a short ball and come in.

Q. You haven't played so many five-setters in your career so far. How did you feel out there tonight physically?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I felt good. I felt great out there, to be honest. Maybe I was also going on adrenaline. I was bouncing on my toes in the fifth, tiebreaker. I won that match. I feel great now.

Q. As you look back, what was maybe the key thing that changed the tie?


Q. Of the match, like if you look back on it. What really changed it?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Well, you know, the 4-2 game when I broke back. That was huge. You know, I hit some great volleys on my serve. I saved some breakpoints in the start of the fifth set. That could have been two breaks there. But, you know, I hung in there and just the guy returned well to break me. You can't do anything about that, just stay positive.

Q. You really jumped all over his second serve, though. He was in here saying the reason he double-faulted so much was because in the back of his mind he knows you're going to jump all over that second serve.

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Yeah. I mean, that's obviously part of the plan. I wanted to let him know that I was coming in, and he did. He knew that. He tried -- had to do a bit too much on his second serve. I put a lot of pressure on him.

End of FastScripts….

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