Aussies at Roland Garros – Mark Philippoussis 2000
As we count down to French Open 2012, tennis.com.au will feature some of the best Australian achievements at Roland Garros.
As we count down to French Open 2012, tennis.com.au will feature some of the best Australian achievements at Roland Garros. The highlights will be revealed in chronological order and when all 20 have been named, you get the chance to vote for your No.1 achievement.
Ranked No.25 in the world, Mark Philippoussis’s form leading into the second major of the year hadn’t been bad, but it hadn’t been great.
He’d won one title for the year, in San Jose, but he didn’t have to beat anyone inside the top 40 to take the title. He’d played four top 10 players for the year but hadn’t won a single match.
So when the boy from Williamstown with the boom serve drew then world No.2 Pete Sampras in the opening round of Roland Garros, few expected the Australian to win.
Up to that point, second-seeded Sampras had started the 2000 season off fairly well – he’d won the Miami Masters title, made it to the semifinals at the Australian Open, losing a tough five-setter to world No.1 Andre Agassi, and was a quarterfinalist at Indian Wells. He also had won 12 singles Grand Slam titles. Sampras, simply, was (and still is) a legend of the game.
The one thing Sampras hadn’t done as a tennis player was to win the Roland Garros title. Sampras had tried and come up short 10 times already and, at the age of 29, time was running out for him to complete his career Grand Slam.
The match started well for Sampras, the American taking the opening set 6-4 after a Philippoussis double fault. But then it was the Australian who grabbed the next two sets, 7-5 7-6(4).
Staring down the barrel of what would be his second first-round loss in Paris, Sampras fought back to win the fourth, setting the scene for what would prove to be a dramatic decider.
Philippoussis got the first break, but it was short lived, Sampras broke straight back. But in the 14th game, Sampras double-faulted on match point to hand Philippoussis the upset 4-6 7-5 7-6(4) 4-6 8-6. It was Philippoussis’s third win over the American in 10 meetings.
“I am really disappointed,” Sampras told reporters after the match.
“But all credit to Mark. I thought I competed well to come back from two sets to one but I missed a couple of volleys there at 7-6 and you know the rest.
“In the fifth set it comes down to nerves and he had the better nerve.
“One year, hopefully, I’ll get those breaks here. I thought my game was there today and it’s sure frustrating flying home tomorrow.”
Philippoussis, meanwhile, made it to the fourth round – his equal best result on the Paris clay – where he fell to Juan Carlos Ferrero in four sets.
Weeks later Sampras put the loss behind him to win his seventh Wimbledon title and 13th major overall. Philippoussis, however, finished his career without winning a singles major, but was a finalist at the US Open (1998) and at Wimbledon (2003).
Profile: Mark Philippoussis
Aussies at Roland Garros – the complete list to date
2000 Mark Philippoussis stuns Pete Sampras in the first round