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August 25, 1997

Mark Philippoussis

Flushing Meadows, New York

ANDRE CHRISTOPHER: Questions for Mr. Philippoussis.

Q. How do you think you played today?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I was definitely happy with the way I played today than I have in the last few weeks. It's obviously difficult for the first round. You know, he's a tough player. Last time we played at the Italian Open, he beat me Love-2. Definitely had some revenge there a little bit today, so feeling good.

Q. Are you happy with your serve?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Yeah. I felt like I had some good rhythm today. I was down one breakpoint. I think that service game I served like three double-faults, missed some easy shots.

Q. Quite quick at times, but also a little erratic.

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Yeah. I mean, today I tried to mix it up a bit more. I mean, I was happy with the way I served, but as the matches go on, I'd like to serve better each match.

Q. What was the most pleasing feature of the way you played today?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I think my attitude on the court, you know. I thought I was concentrating well, which I haven't been doing the last few weeks. And, you know, I was really eager out there. I was definitely on my toes from the start. That's important for me.

Q. Mark, compared to the Open here last year, what's changed in terms of your own game or the way you're approaching things?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Well, each year I'm a better player. You know, I'm getting better, mentally stronger. You know, I'm more mature. I've got, you know, some more matchplay under my belt. I'm more experienced. You know, I love playing here at the US Open. You know, the courts are great. The balls are -- I like playing in front of the crowds here. They get into the matches, which is good. Just enjoy playing. So, you know, I just love being out there, just playing my game.

Q. You had experience playing on that court before. Do you think that was a factor today at all?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Yeah. That court's pretty quick, I think. The balls bounce extremely high. You know, last year wasn't such a good match on that court. Year before it was good. Yeah, I have played, I think, a couple more times maybe than he is. So obviously that must count for something.

Q. Mark, you let him back into the match in the third set. Were you disappointed with that? Do you think you were coasting a little bit maybe or what?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Well, I was disappointed, you know. The good thing was, at the start of the first set I broke him early, so I was up early. I broke him straightaway in the second. So he really never had his nose in front, which was important for me. You know, just started off slow in the third. You know, it was just one service game there, so it didn't happen again, which is good.

Q. So you didn't coast at all?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: No. I mean, I was -- I mean, I was concentrating. You know, I didn't want to lose concentration or get slack or anything. Three double-faults don't count. 40-30 point, went for a forehand down the line, which wasn't on, things like that.

Q. Mark, a few disappointments in recent weeks. Over that it seems. Any reason why you can't push right through maybe to the second week of this tournament?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I mean, last week I was -- I had a week off, went to Lendl's place, played a little bit of tennis in the morning, lots of golf in the afternoon. I just -- main thing was to recharge my batteries, to get mentally prepared for here. Like I said, it's two weeks. Have a day in between your matches to recover, be prepared for the next match. Like I said, I'm hitting the ball well here. You know, every match is going to be tough, but I feel confident that hopefully I will be in the second week. Lots of players say the tournament doesn't start until the second week, and I think that's very true. Once you get to that second week, the top players seem to go to a next level, third gear or something, play better. That's what it's about.

Q. Did Lendl give you any tips, advice?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: A couple of golf tips here and there, you know (laughter).

Q. Tennis?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I mean, he just talks, you know, a bit like that. You know, Lendl speaks his mind, tells you straight out what he thinks. That's what you need to hear.

Q. What did he say?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: He said you got to try to hit the ball in the fairway a lot more, not in the rough (laughter).

Q. How did that connection come about?


Q. How did the connection with Ivan Lendl come about?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I went to his house three years ago, he invited me over. The option is always open whenever I go there to relax. Just an opportunity to go before the US Open.

Q. How did you handle his German Shepherds?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Good. I mean, I love dogs. Fine.

Q. The New York Times Tennis Magazine brought out a supplement, sort of a form guide on all the top players. The comment on you was something like, "Talented, but something missing." What do you think they might be getting at there?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Well, I mean, you know, everyone has their own opinion. You know, that's great. You know, I don't really care about what people say. You know, I know what I'm doing, what my goals are in my life, in my tennis. And, you know, I'm still 20. I have lots of years ahead of me. You know, if I lose a tennis match, my life isn't over. You know, I'm healthy, I've got my family. That's the most important thing. Tennis isn't the most important thing in my life. You lose a tennis match, you lose a tennis match. I'm just grateful I've got the talent to play, you know, I'm doing something. But, you know, I'm just going to give 110 percent, that's the best I can do.

Q. Do you think maybe that's a reflection of your poor form since Queen's maybe? Why haven't you been concentrating lately?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: That's a good question. I've asked myself that a couple of times. But, I mean, everyone's different, you know. Some people, some time off here and there. I haven't played a lot of tennis. For some reason, I haven't been concentrating as well. It's hard for people to judge you. They don't understand, you know, what's going on. It's not just the tennis court, you've got things outside in your private life. You know, if it's good, that reflects on your tennis, you play good. If it's bad, you sort of think about it, you're not there for your matches. People just don't understand that.

Q. Somebody in the press room said you're driving around in a new, fast car. Was there anything in that at all?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I don't know where that came from (laughter).

Q. So you don't drive around in a fast car?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I drive around, but I drive well under the speed limit, of course (laughter).

Q. It's a fast car, but you drive it slow?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Yeah, it is a fast car, but I drive it very slowly (laughter).

Q. That loss to Sampras here last year, what did you take away from that, I mean, in terms of what a match like that can teach you?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Well, it's funny because people were sort of building up the hype for that match. It was played on a night match. Energy walking out there, you know, was good. It was a good feeling. I think maybe I got too sucked up in the whole thing. Go out there, try to bash him off the court. Again, that's experience. I've just got to learn, take it -- play like the way I've been playing. So, yeah, I mean, like I said, every year I'm a more mature player. Hopefully that's not going to happen again.

Q. I got in late. I don't know if anybody asked you. Did it feel differently than the Open has felt in the old stadium today?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Well, the funny thing is, you know, one lady over the microphone says for the first round match at 11. Then she goes, "We'd like to welcome everyone to the new US Open." We're like, it's the new US Open? It's a great stadium. Everyone's getting lost in the stadium. That's pretty much the only difference. You know, the scene on that centre court is amazing, Arthur Ashe Day was he electrifying. It's hard to explain. It was a great thing out there. Definitely one of the best centre courts I've ever seen in my life.

End of FastScripts….

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