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December 3, 1999

Mark Philippoussis


Q. Newc used to say clay is maybe your best surface.

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: You know, I've worked on my game I think in the past that I started to feel comfortable on all surfaces. This week with the boys and Rochey, I've been training extremely well, very hard. I was just ready. I knew I was hitting the ball well. I was ready to come up with the match.

Q. In the circumstances, where does that rate among your wins?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Definitely one of the most important, maybe the most important of my career. You know, I felt very calm out there. Surprisingly calm, to be quite honest. There was a lot of noise. The Australians were making a lot of noise. You know, I knew what I had to do. I played some solid tennis.

Q. How important was it that you kept your focus in that first set when he broke you straight back?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I really think that was pretty much one of the only loose games in the match. I lost a little bit of focus. You know, I was hitting my forehand okay, but I went for a bit too much on one of them at 30-15. On another one, you know, I just got caught bit running around it. Besides that, I concentrated well. I was able to get up an early break in each set so I could relax myself.

Q. Two things. How nervous were you before the match? Secondly, how much do you think it will help you come Monday to have that hit out under your belt?


Q. Sunday, sorry.

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I was like, I'm going snowboarding Monday (laughter). Like I say, I've been hitting the ball extremely well, and today, all last week. I forgot the question (laughter).

Q. Were you nervous before the match?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Sorry, that's right (laughter). I was pretty good all week. I woke up this morning, had a good hit, went back to my room. I tried to eat something, and I couldn't. My stomach was growling. I had the butterflies going, so I couldn't eat anything. Once I was there, standing up for the national anthem, I couldn't wait to get on court. That's why I felt like I was a bit surprised. I was just ready to get on; couldn't wait.

Q. And the second part was, how much do you think that will help you come Sunday?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Well, obviously, you know, it will help a lot. But, you know, Lleyton is out there. We've got the doubles. There's a long way home. For me personally, you know, I was focused from the beginning and I'll stay focused till the end.

Q. How much of a psychological blow do you think that victory is to the French team?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Well, like I said, I think the first match, -- obviously any match is important. You know, hopefully Lleyton will be a bit more relaxed now being 1-Love up. He can go out there and play his game. But, I don't know, Davis Cup, I mean, you can't -- obviously it helps winning that first rubber, helps the team, maybe relaxes everyone a little bit. But everyone one's a different one. I'm sure just like us, they'll be concentrating on the next one.

Q. You've been asked about having to prove yourself. Do you think, contrary to your answer the other day, though, that this does deliver a message about Mark Philippoussis, Davis Cup, in Australia?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Well, you know, I'm sort of out to prove something. But more out to prove how important Davis Cup is to me. Because some people think that it's not so important to me. But this is the biggest, you know, win of my life so far. For that, it's very important. You know, I'm very relaxed at the moment, but I'm extremely happy. I don't want to be too overwhelmed because, like I said, there's a long way to go. There's nothing more important to an athlete than representing his country. I haven't really understood -- you can't really understand the true feeling of a Davis Cup final until you play in a final. Today it was what it was all about.

Q. Can I ask you how you feel, where you see Davis Cup going in the next century? It's the centenary this year? Where do you see it going in the future? Do you think there is a future for it or will sort of individualism win out?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I'm pretty sure there will be a future for Davis Cup. You know, like I said, every nation starting off, at the end of the years there's two left playing for that cup. That cup is very prestigious - a lot of great names and great teams, great countries have gotten, you know, their names on the cup. I wouldn't want anything more than seeing my name and this team on the cup just before the millennium.

Q. Did John have any message for you in the dressing room beforehand? Did he try to keep you calm, focused?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Pretty much, yeah, everyone's message, stay focused, keep playing the way I was playing in practice, don't change anything, deep breaths, just relax, go out there and enjoy it.

Q. How do you rate your game on clay compared with when you won in Munich or Dusseldorf when you won the World Team Cup?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I mean, like I said, I feel very confident, maybe very comfortable on clay. I think today I hopefully proved a little that I'm more of a complete player. You know, I'm not going to go out there and blast winners. If I'm ready to hit 20 shots to win the point, I'm going to do that. Today, I was ready to stay out there for five hours if I had to and give it my all. You know, mentally and physically, I was there.

Q. Did you feel that Grosjean was playing under his level?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Well, I'd like to think that I didn't let him pick himself up.

Q. You said yesterday that you didn't think it was a particularly slow clay court. Having played through it in match conditions, is that still your estimation, that it's got a little more life to it?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Definitely. If you can see how much the ball are kicking up, especially on the second serves, you know. But the good thing is they're also staying down when you're slicing it. So it's a very fair court. It's a nice pace.

Q. What was your strategy after the first set for the rest of the match?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Yes. The first set was extremely important to get myself off to a good start, to relax myself. I think the good thing is that I got up an early break after the second set and third set, which relaxed me and put him under pressure from the start. So, you know, I just stayed on top of him from then.

Q. What would be the key in your match against Cedric?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Well, I'm just going to go out there and play my game, play the way I have been playing all week, play the way I played today. Just stay focused, stay positive, just enjoy myself.

Q. You mentioned the national anthem before. Can you tell us a bit about the emotions you were going through when that was playing?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: It was just a great feeling walking on the court, hearing the Aussie fans going crazy. You know, when they call out your name, you know, you have a step forward and wave, then you hear the national anthem. At that moment, I felt like I just couldn't wait to get on court, to be quite honest. I was just ready. That's when I knew it was going to be, I think, a good day for me and hopefully for the team. Like I said, we've been working hard, and this is what it's for.

Q. We saw that Sebastien Grosjean wasn't able to play his own game. You say at the start you didn't let him play his game. How were you able to capitalize, to control him?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: You know, from the start, I was playing some solid tennis. You know, I got an early break up in the second set, just kept on top of him. You know, his head was dropping down a little, he was a bit discouraged. You know, he started making unforced errors. I just kept the pressure on and just kept making him play.

Q. Have you ever felt as you did today for any other match you played in your career?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Felt in what way?

Q. Well, the emotion, feeling. You got to a US Open final. You've also been part of a winning team for Australia with the World Team Cup; granted not as big as this. In your career, at all, have you ever felt such an emotional high, got your game together in such a way as you did today?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: You know, just from week one, as soon as I was preparing for this Davis Cup, I knew I had to play some great tennis. I worked extremely hard. You know, after the games, the match, I can't really explain it. To look over to Newc, Rochey, the boys, everyone's jumping up, the fans going crazy, it's just so much of a better feeling because you're not playing for yourself, you're playing for them. It's our team, it's your country. You know, I don't really understand until you come off the court and you get congratulated, this and that by so many Aussies, it just makes you feel so good. It's an entirely different feeling.

Q. Obviously there's a big crowd, 10,000 people, in the Acropolis Congress center, most of them French, but there was a small bank packed with Australian fans. At some points during the match, they were more vocal than the rest of the arena. How important was that for you?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I felt there were 10,000 Fanatics out there and maybe 1,000 French. I mean, it was perfect.

Q. I understand you're very fond of Ferraris. Are you going to treat yourself if you win this weekend?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: No (laughter). I've got mine now. That's fine. I'll just stick with one.

End of FastScripts….

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