Philippoussis pushed out for sake of morale

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The Independent Online

Mark Philippoussis has withdrawn from Australia's Davis Cup defence after falling out yet again with the rest of the team. Philippoussis has agreed to pull out of this year's final against Spain after his team-mates made it clear they did not want him involved.

Mark Philippoussis has withdrawn from Australia's Davis Cup defence after falling out yet again with the rest of the team. Philippoussis has agreed to pull out of this year's final against Spain after his team-mates made it clear they did not want him involved.

Philippoussis was the hero of Australia's 1999 Davis Cup victory over France but upset his team-mates when he refused to play in last month's semi-final against Brazil because of injury. "Even I was surprised by the lack of support I received from some of my team-mates, captain and national association as a result of my being unable to participate in Brisbane," he said yesterday. "I have been made aware of the captain John Newcombe and players Pat Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt's desire and intention to maintain the same line-up for the final in December that was available for the semi-final last month and I will respect that decision," he added.

The big-serving Philippoussis again defended his decision to withdraw from the semi-final, citing a knee problem. His left knee was operated on after Wimbledon last year and continues to cause him problems. "My withdrawal was out of concern for my health... it is worth noting that, after my participation in the first Davis Cup match of this year in Switzerland, I was forced to withdraw from two important ATP tour events shortly thereafter due to precisely the same concern."

But Australia's players, who beat Brazil 5-0 to advance to December's final, were unhappy with his sudden withdrawal, and launched a series of attacks on the player.

Philippoussis said that he respected their decision and wished the team luck, adding that he would focus on his preparations for the US Open and the Olympics. His manager, John McCurdy, said Philippoussis would not comment on a possible Davis Cup recall if a team member became injured or unavailable for the decider.

The 1998 US Open finalist lifted Australia to its 27th Davis Cup title last year with two critical singles victories in the 3-2 win against France in Nice. He returned for the opening match of the defence against Switzerland in February and helped to ensure Australia advanced to the quarter-final with Germany.

Philippoussis, who rated the win in France as the greatest moment in his career, has been criticised for pulling out of previous Davis Cup matches. The Tennis Australia president, Geoff Pollard, said he could sympathise with Philippoussis, adding that he would call a summit of Australia's leading players to resolve the situation.

"I must reiterate, Mark Philippoussis has been a valued member of the Australian Davis Cup team and I look forward to witnessing his future contribution," Pollard said.

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