Scud dumps Mac for dad - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Scud dumps Mac for dad

By Paul Mulvey 27/05/2003 04:13:54 PM Comments (0)

Mark Philippoussis feels he lost his way in the two years he was coached by Peter McNamara and has returned to his father's guidance with one tactic in mind - power.

Philippoussis confirmed after his five-set first round win at the French Open that he sacked McNamara following the Miami Masters in March and would not be replacing him.

His father Nick, who has travelled with him for the majority of his tennis career apart from two years when he was fighting cancer, has returned as the 26-year-old's coach and his stamp was firmly on the scratchy 2-6 6-7 (7-1) 7-5 6-2 6-2 win against qualifier Alex Kim.

"For a few years I felt like I lost my game, that strength, my shots that were there when I was 18, 19, 20," he said.

"I was fearless when I was young, I was hitting my groundstrokes without a care.

"I think the last few years my dad has sort of stepped back and I've lost my shots, to be quite honest, lost the speed on the groundstrokes.

"We've been working on trying to get it back, relax, do the things I was doing when I first got on the tour."

Nick has been the biggest influence on Philippoussis' tennis and, apart from brief and tempestuous periods with Pat Cash and Gavin Hopper, former Wimbledon doubles champion McNamara was his only fulltime coach.

When McNamara came on board at the end of 2000, Philippoussis was ranked No.11 in the world but has only won one title since as he has overcome serious knee injuries and plummeted below 100 in the rankings.

He has been injury free for much of the last 18 months and is now No.52.

He said he has been working with his father since Australia's Davis Cup tie in Sweden last month on increasing the strength of his ground strokes.

"When you do some wrong things for a few years, it's going to be tough. You can't get rid of them after two matches," he said.

"After each tournament, after each match, after each week it's getting better.

"As you saw, it paid off today."

The power game paid off in the end but it was also his brute force which got him into serious trouble in the first three sets against Kim.

He served 25 aces but the majority of his staggering 95 unforced errors were a result of him trying to hit the cover off the ball, sending it long, wide or into the net, and almost through it on some occasions.

Philippoussis was two points away from losing the match when he was serving at 5-4 down in the third set after giving up two service breaks.

He was down 0-30 and clawed back to 30-30 and deuce before holding serve and then immediately breaking the American world No.172 to clinch the set and stay in the match.

With his confidence rising, he started to find his range and the power shots that were misfiring in the first three sets were starting to land in.

For the second year in a row at Roland Garros, Philippoussis has fought back from two sets down in the first round only to face 1998 champion Carlos Moya in the second round.

Fourth seed Moya, who beat Philippoussis in straight sets last year, was pushed by Italian Filipo Volandri before winning 7-6 (9-7) 4-6 6-2 6-3.

Philippoussis was the only one of four Australians playing on the opening day to move into the second round.

Qualifier Todd Larkham put up a good fight against Germany's Nicolas Kiefer before losing 6-3 6-3 4-6 2-6 6-3 in three hours and 43 minutes.

Australia's female representation of four was cut in half within three hours of the tournament starting when Christina Wheeler and Nicole Pratt both making straight sets exits.

Pratt was beaten 6-4 6-3 by Greek 14th seed Eleni Daniilidou three hours after wildcard Wheeler also lost 6-4 6-3 to Italy's Tathiana Garbin.

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