Davis Cup win has rejuvenated Philippoussis's career

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The Independent Online

Mark Philippoussis did not just win the Davis Cup for Australia. He rejuvenated his own career.

Mark Philippoussis did not just win the Davis Cup for Australia. He rejuvenated his own career.

"The Davis Cup has started other careers, and I feel mine is really starting today," Philippoussis said after defeating Cedric Pioline 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 on Sunday to give Australia an insurmountable 3-1 lead over France in the final.

Despite seven career titles and a run to the US Open final last year, the 23-year-old Philippoussis has often struggled to show big-match temperament to go with his big-match talent and thunderous serve.

But there was no lack of character against Pioline, the French No 1.

"I really believe that this is the start of my career because I have never concentrated as well as I did today," he said. "I can honestly say that I heard no noise from the crowd, just the ball hitting the line, the line calls and my heart beating."

Philippoussis overpowered Sebastien Grosjean in Friday's opening match and is now 8-4 in Davis Cup play.

Having missed last year's campaign because of a dispute with the team's management, he is now looking forward to a long future in the Davis Cup.

"I am out to prove how important the Davis Cup is to me," he said. "I have learned from my mistakes. I am still young, and everything negative that has happened is behind me."

Australia beat France 3-2 to win the fabled trophy for the 27th time, with Grosjean beating Lleyton Hewitt 6-4, 6-3 in the last match of the day.

The partisan French crowd hoped that Pioline would take control when he won the second set after saving a set point.

But Philippoussis reacted brilliantly, cranking up his famed service and pummeling Pioline with a series of powerful forehands. Philippoussis easily took the final two sets.

At 1-1, he blasted four powerful winners past Pioline, including one blistering forehand to the baseline that had the Frenchman holding his head in his hands.

By the end, the Melbourne-born player was in total command, firing 15 aces and winning in just 2 hours, 42 minutes.

"This is the best moment of my life," he said match. "I got injured at Wimbledon this year, and who knows if I could have gone on to win there. But I would take this for a Wimbledon win any time."

Australian captain John Newcombe was full of praise for Philippoussis.

"That was the best match Mark has played with his head in his life. He didn't have highs and lows, just highs," he said. "A lot of people said Mark couldn't play on clay. Now they have to believe it."