Tennis: Philippoussis breaks tension

IT USED to be a worry being present when Pat Cash senior was watching his son play matches, his body convulsing every time the former Wimbledon champion hit a serve. Now the stress has transferred to another Australian tennis father, Nick Philippoussis.

"Dad said it nearly gave him a heart attack," the 21-year-old Mark Philippoussis said after squeezing through to his first Grand Slam singles semi-final at the United States Open. "And I think all my team has got some grey hairs."

Pat Cash junior, who helps coach Philippoussis, was on the point of chewing through his plastic credential, and Gavin Hopper, the trainer, looked in need of breathing exercises as their protege duelled through a fifth set tie-break against Sweden's Thomas Johansson on Thursday night. This was a particular kind of drama that cannot be repeated at Wimbledon, where final sets are played to a finish, without tie-breaks.

Philippoussis had recovered from two sets to one down and 2-4 in the fifth set. Each player had three match points in the tie-break. The Australian erased Johansson's third opportunity at 8-9 with his 30th ace, taking the shoot-out 12-10 to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-7, 6-3, 7-6 after three hours and 26 minutes. Philippoussis senior, relieved and proud, hugged his son and told him, "You turned into a man tonight."

They then prepared to face a "Super Saturday" semi-final against Carlos Moya, of Spain, the French Open champion. Philippoussis's compatriot, Pat Rafter, the defending champion, meets Pete Sampras, the world No 1, who is trying to equal Roy Emerson's record of 12 Grand Slam singles titles. It could be quite a weekend for Australia and Greece.

Sweden, though disappointed, will be encouraged by Johansson's performance. The 23-year-old from Linkoping, who was little known outside Scandinavia in spite of a world ranking of No 33, played his way into the lexicon of memorable finishes at Flushing Meadow.

It would be misleading to classify Philippoussis v Johansson among the great matches because many spectators were driven away by the errors as the contest meandered towards an exciting climax. Johansson was not thrilled. "I'd rather lose 2, 2 and 2 than this," the Swede said. "This is the worst that can happen almost. I'm not saying losing against Mark when he's playing like this is bad, but I broke him to 4-2, lost my serve to 4-3, but then I managed to save I don't know how many break points at 4-5. And in the tie-break I was serving at 6-5. I'm really satisfied with the tournament, but it's too bad that it should end like this."

Players with 15 double-faults on the scoresheet seldom win matches. "The biggest reason was that Mark was coming in on my second serve all the time," Johansson said. "You feel kind of stressed when you hit a second serve on him." Philippoussis understood Johansson's dilemma. "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."

Although Johansson had power in his serves - he hit 20 aces, one at 136mph - he could not match Philippoussis's boldness on the second serve. The Australian, often urged to play the percentage game, saved himself by going for broke. In the end 60 errors were eclipsed by 82 winners (including serves).

"I go for those serves, that's just the player I am," Philippoussis said. "I'm going to go for my shots. I have the confidence in my second serve to be able to do that.

"This match has taught me a lot about myself. I wanted to show I'd got some guts out there, that I didn't want to let go, that I'm a fighter. In the past, where it's been tough, I haven't come back strong. I was ready for the challenge out there tonight. I was bouncing on my toes in the fifth-set tie-breaker."

Philippoussis defeated Moya in their only previous match, winning 6-4, 6-3, on a concrete court at Indian Wells last year. "The guy is basically not going to miss from the back," Philippoussis said. "He's going to run everything down. I've got to be ready to play an even tougher match than I did last night."

Moya, the No 10 seed, was asked how he fancied his chances as the odd baseliner out in a quartet of server-volleyers. "Well, I played Philippoussis just once. He beat me. I beat Rafter three times. I beat Sampras once indoor. So, of course, it is not going to be easy. But I beat most of them, so I think I'm able to do it again."

While not underestimating the unseeded Philippoussis, Moya made the point that the Australian does not always deliver on the big occasion. "People are always expecting something great from him, and so far he didn't do that well."

Australia had reason to cheer yesterday. Sandon Stolle, partnering the Czech Republic's Cyril Suk, won the men's doubles title. They defeated Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor 4-6, 7-6, 6-2. Stolle's father, Fred, won the doubles title three times, twice with Roy Emerson and once with Ken Rosewall.

News
David Beckham
peopleFootballer joins No campaign
Sport
Angel Di Maria
Football
News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
news
News
i100Exclusive interview with the British analyst who helped expose Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
film
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script
tv'Thomas comes right up to the abyss', says the actor
News
newsIn short, yes
Sport
Angel Di Maria celebrates his first goal for Manchester United against QPR
Football4-0 victory is team's first win under new manager Louis van Gaal
News
Denny Miller in 1959 remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man
people
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl despairs during the arena auditions
tvX Factor review: Drama as Cheryl and Simon spar over girl band

Arts and Entertainment
art
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris claimed the top spot in this week's single charts
music
Sport
BoxingVideo: The incident happened in the very same ring as Tyson-Holyfield II 17 years ago
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Higher Level Teaching Assistants in Bradford and West Leeds

£65 - £75 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We are currently seeking Higher L...

EYP

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Job opportunity for an Early years ...

QA Manual Tester - Agile

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Bursar/Business Manager

£70 - £100 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Experienced bursar or business...

Day In a Page

These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories