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March 24, 2003

Mark Philippoussis



Q. That seemed to be a pretty mature and intelligent match that you played out there.

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: You talking about the singles?

Q. Singles.

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Yeah, I mean, you know what, I think we were playing some good tennis out there. He was hitting the ball well. I think it's good to see him back like that. I think he's hitting the ball as good as he has for a while. I was hitting the ball well, too. I was just trying to hang in there. Up 5-2 in the first set tiebreaker, and it got away from me. I just wanted to hang in there. You know, chip and charged in the tiebreaker, and hit some good volleys. And, you know, third set, anything can happen. I just made him play and I'm very happy. It was a tough match today and it was a good one to get through.

Q. That's a match that strikes me as when you first came out here, you might not have given it as much thought as you did and played it as well as you did. Sometimes you would go for a second serve and not think about it. It seems like you're putting your games together?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Yeah, when I do go for the second serve, like I said, I think the big thing is my fitness is getting better. You know, when you're tired and feeling tired, you want to try to end the points as quick as possible. You don't want to go out there and work for the points. I'm feeling good. I've got to make him play, kick it in and then play out the point and make him earn it, you know. That's just the way I'm thinking about it.

Q. You feel now like you're playing more mature tennis? You both have the talent.

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Definitely. Everyone matures in different stages. I'm a late maturer, there's no doubt about that. You know, 26, I'm not old. I'm still young and I've got definitely some years ahead of me, hopefully six years ahead of me. So, you know, every match I play I'm getting fitter, I'm getting stronger. My legs are getting stronger. I'm definitely, you know, playing some more mature tennis and I'm thinking about the points a lot more.

Q. In your last five matches against Andre, have you come out there with different game plans for those matches?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: The last time I played him was in San Jose. He played great, he was hitting the ball great. Before that, I played him twice coming back from my surgery, so I wasn't -- didn't have much chance there at all. So tomorrow, I got a feeling it could be a different day. I think the biggest thing for me is, you know, I've just tried to overplay when I've played him. That's one thing that I don't want to do.

Q. You mean, play beyond your expectations?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Well, you know, you just -- I think you can try too hard, you know. I was just trying to serve too big and lost my rhythm. I just want to play within myself and play the same kind of tennis I've been playing the last few days and go out there and, you know, make him work for it, you know?

Q. When you have a game like yours, do you really have a game plan? You have your game.

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Well, I have my game, but no matter who you play, you're always going to adjust, you know, the way you play a little to who you're playing - depending if some guy's got a weaker backhand, you'll take the backhand, or mix it up if he doesn't like the loopy ball or, you know, bring him into net, whatever it is. Obviously, I'm going to pay attention to who I play - where they like to serve on big points, if they don't like to get chipped and charged against, if they don't like a target, if they do like a target. Yeah, there is a plan out there. But, again, at the end of the day, the best thing to do is go out there and play your own tennis, play your own game. That's what I'm going to do.

Q. When you say tomorrow could be a different game, do you think you have a good chance if things go well for you?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Of course, I'd like to think, or else what's the point of going out? You know, obviously he's had an incredible start to the year. So for me, you know, I'm playing, I feel like my tennis is back. I'm very happy the way things are going at the moment. So, you know, tomorrow's another day. I've got to go out there and, you know, just try and play some good tennis.

Q. Today's match, can you look at it as that's a good omen for the Davis Cup coming up? Or is the surface different, and it's too far away?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Definitely too far away. Every match is a different match. I'm happy to go away with the win now. And, you know, Davis Cup is so different. You know, we're playing Sweden. It's gonna be tough. So I'll think about that when it comes up.

Q. It seems like the only way you beat Agassi is to basically step on him, go out and overpower him. If you have the ability from the back court to just move him, he doesn't like to play -- he's not a great defensive player. But when he's dictating, he's great. Very few players can dictate the ball now.

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I don't think I want to have really the mentality of going out there and overhitting him, because that's going to be wrong. I don't want to overplay. I don't want to be negative; I want to go out there and play my game, be positive, attack. That's my game. If he comes out with the passing shots, too good, there's nothing you can do. But I definitely have to work the ball around. I mean, he's here and he's going to miss too. Obviously, he has his days. I think he's having his -- maybe his years now (smiling). But, you know, I'm just going to go out there and just play good tennis, just play my game, smart tennis. You know, I don't want to give a present to him. I want to make him earn it.

Q. How do you balance singles and doubles during a week like this?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Well, I mean, this tournament's played over like 12 days or whatever, like 11 days, so there's a little more time. Sometimes it's unfortunate to play doubles and singles on the first day, but everyone has to do that sometimes. So it's a tough situation, because you want to play doubles, you know, to get some match play. But then all of a sudden, you're playing some good tennis in long matches, and it's like you don't need the match play, you just want to rest, but then you got to come out and play doubles. But if you lost early, you know, it's a great thing to have doubles. You can work on your game and do the right thing. So it's really tough, a tough situation. But, you know, I'm very happy to be playing doubles again, especially with Lleyton. You know, I just -- like I said, I'm getting stronger and fitter. I'm going to play more doubles this year. It will be better for the game, for my game.

Q. Is it a more difficult decision if you don't lose early in singles, is it more difficult to decide when you should play both?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Well, no matter what happens, you know, if you're entered in the tournament, you're going to play, you're going to give it your all. That's not an issue at all. The issue is thinking about whether you want to play doubles in that tournament. There's certain tournaments where, you know, maybe might be too much or, you know, you can have a rest, so...

Q. Back to today's match for a second, you obviously had to claw your way back into the first set. In the tiebreaker, it didn't go your way. It has to be frustrating. How hard was it for you to let that go?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I was very frustrated because I came back and actually had, I think, a couple of breakpoints at 4-all or 5-all. You know, up 5-2 in the tiebreaker, you let that slip, it's huge. I was extremely frustrated with myself. But I'm happy the way I hung in there and, you know, just stayed tough. You know, ended up getting to a tiebreaker again, and I just wanted to step it up, chip and charge, and just put the pressure on. I'm happy that I did that.

Q. Does it work on your mind when you go out there, hit a first serve, and you know you're going to hit 130, Agassi's sitting there with his feet just inside the baseline, ready to take the ball short? Is that intimidating in any way?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: No, that's his game. That's his game. That's what he does, he takes the ball early. He sees the ball so much earlier than a lot of other people.

Q. Does it enter into some people trying to overhit?

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: Definitely. You can definitely try to overhit when somebody does that, no doubt about that. Especially when, you know, they've got such good hands but they also move so well. I mean, I think he's in his fitness prime at the moment, you know, he's moving so well around the court. If he's moving well, that's his whole game. I think his whole game is based around his movement.

Q. Do you fall into that trap at any time?


Q. Going out there, things are not going great, you step up to the line for a critical serve, there he is sitting inside the baseline like he owns the court.

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: I don't know, that's what he does. He steps up. He also steps back if he's not seeing the ball properly, you know. And so, you know, I guess it's depending on how he's hitting the ball.

End of FastScripts….

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