Scud’s advice to teen tennis stars
Mark Philippoussis, who will contest the Australian Open 2015 Legends tournament, has offered words of advice to Australia's rising crop of young tennis stars.
Australian tennis fans; there’s another young Nick on the rise.
Though at 10 months old, it may be a little early to be getting excited about the career of Nicholas Philippoussis.
The toddler was proudly displayed at Melbourne Park by his father Mark on Wednesday.
Philippoussis is back in Australia for the first time in six years, enjoying his visit with wife Silvana and their son ahead of playing in the Australian Open Legends tournament.
He has been keeping an eye on the progress of Australia’s current tennis crop, including exciting youngsters Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis who share his Greek heritage.
Speaking with just a hint of an American accent, the 38-year-old predicted Kyrgios would rise to the top of world tennis if he could stay fit.
“He’s an incredible talent, he has all the game, all the weapons to become one of the best in the world and definitely a Grand Slam contender,” he said.
“Being a big guy like that it’s very important to train in a smart way and keep as healthy as possible.”
A finalist at the 1998 US Open and Wimbledon in 2003, Philippoussis was speaking from experience as his own career was badly hampered by knee injuries.
His second piece of advice to both Kyrgios and fellow teen star Kokkinakis was “to keep the mind on track and stay on course”.
“Tennis is a beautiful sport but it’s also a sport where you get thrown out onto the world and it’s on an international level,” he said.
“As an athlete and as a human being, you’re learning, you’re a kid, growing up in the public eye is not easy.
“They’re going to have a lot of support and they should take advantage of that.”
Philippoussis said the Greek heritage he shares with Kyrgios and Kokkinakis was a source of pride.
“Number one you’re an Aussie but you’ve always got your heritage in the background,” he said.
“They should be incredibly proud of who they are… it’s great to see some names with some longer letters.”
Philippoussis hopes for a warm reception in his home town and site of perhaps his most famous victory – defeating world No.1 Pete Sampras as a 19-year-old at the Australian Open in 1996.
“It’s such a beautiful feeling to come back with my wife and my son,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to going out there and doing what I fell in love with as a kid and that’s playing tennis.”
Philippoussis finished his career in 2006 shortly after losing in the first round of the US Open to Rafael Nadal and Australia’s Davis Cup semifinal loss to Argentina.
He will also play in an exhibition event alongside Rafael Nadal on 14 January, and he hopes to launch his clothing line, Phlip Apparel, in Australia during 2015.