ATP Basic Facts about Mark Philippoussis
Father is Nick Philippoussis. He's Greek from the island of Tinos. He grew up travelling a lot when he was young. He speaks 7 languages and is a very educated man. He was a bank manager for 20 years when I started my tennis career. He was my coach growing up and still is. He was a coach in Trieste, Italy. My mother is Rosana Philippoussis. She's Italian. No sporting background, she played tennis for fun.
How many brothers / sisters?
I have a sister, she's older. She's 33. Her name is Anna Maria Philippoussis and she has a masters degree in education. She's a teacher.
How many nephews and nieces?
I have cousins in Greece. I speak to them sometimes on the phone. We are all very close, we love each other and support each other.
Most Inspirational player / athlete (past or present)?
Boris Becker, I watched him when he was 17 and won Wimbledon. Just the way he played, he was powerful, when he hit the ball it was a big shot from the baseline plus his serve and volley. Everything about his whole game is power, from the back and on the net.
When did you first become interested / show an interest in tennis?
I started playing at the age of 6 with my father. I wanted to become a soccer player, so it was tennis and soccer at the age of 6. Then when I was 9 my dad entered me in the under 11s tournament and I lost in the finals singles and doubles.
Outside of a big win, what is your "Ideal Day"?
At home, I'd wake up late, have my pancakes, see my dogs, hang out with my dogs a little bit, swim in the pool, friends will come over, we'll go wake boarding for a few hours, come back, jump on the bikes, go down to the beach, go eat some sushi, come back, wake board, come home have a bit of a sleep, wake up, go nightclubbing and do it all over again.
What do you like least about being a tennis player?
I don't dislike anything. I love the sport.
If you weren't a tennis player, what would you be?
I'm pretty crazy, so I'm sure something crazy. I don't know, maybe motorbike rider. Definitely something active. I can't sit around for a long period of time, I'll go crazy.
How do you deal with popularity?
I don't think about it. I'm very laid back, down to earth. And I love that. That's what it's all about.
How do you handle female adulation?
It's obviously very flattering. But I try just to concentrate on tennis. Girls are very demanding.
Most thrilling moment in sports?
Winning the Davis Cup. A lot of other sporting events have inspired me, probably for different reasons. I also enjoy motorcross and dirt bike riding because it's so dangerous.
What is the biggest challenge you have overcome in tennis?
Probably with my father, his cancer, and struggling through that. Trying to balance my tennis career and my personal life was tough when he was sick. Just watching my dad fight through it. Actually it doesn't hit you how important life is and how important your family is. I love tennis - that's what I do. But it just doesn't come close to your family and my family's health is the most important thing in my life to me.
What was your most important victory?
Winning Davis Cup beating Pioline. I think it started up my tennis career. I definitely have some great moments with the US Open when I won other tournaments, one of the Masters Series tournaments. I think that just matured me as a player and completed me, my game and myself as a person.
What special steps do you take to mentally prepare for a big match?
My coach Gavin gets my racquets and strings, grips and everything ready and I'm pretty much a laid back relaxed person. I like to go outside, meet friends and have a drink with them. Half an hour before the match, I will go inside, have a shower so I can get prepared.
Do you have any special rituals / habits before, during or after a match?
What (thus far) has been the defining point in your career?
A night match against Edberg when I was 17 or 18. That was a big stepping stone for me.
How do you cope with defeat?
I think I need to get more hard on myself when I lose, get more pissed off.
How do you cope with the constant travel?
It was exciting when I started off but now it's a bit frustrating but you have to do it. You get used to the time difference quickly, no matter where I am I sleep. If it's on a bus, train, taxi, plane, I just sleep. Going to Australia recently I slept from the take off to landing and the flight hostess said she's never seen that before in her life.
What do you plan to do after tennis?
A bit of acting. Maybe do a bit of surfing, but just relax. Wake boarding, I want to do a bit of motorcross riding.
You've loved acting even as a kid- if there was an opportunity to be in a movie would you think about it?
A couple of years ago, Anthony Quinn saw me at the US Open, and then called my agent and said he liked my looks, and would like me to play the part of his son in the movie. I said sure, playing the part of Anthony Quinn's son of course. I was going to do it but they changed the scheduling of the movie.
What other sports are you interested in / good at?
Wake boarding, snow boarding and billiards.
Who is the most inspirational person in your life?
My family. They are so supportive and we just stick together so much as a family, just what we've been through, made us tougher.
Little known fact
I'm a very shy boy, I love my dogs, very sensitive in a way, a bit of a romantic kind of guy, but I'm actually a bit crazy too, I love the adrenaline sort of stuff. I love doing things that people say not to do.
Why I love tennis.
Off the court I'm quite shy, very soft spoken, when I get on the court I feel like it's a stage, where everyone comes and watches you play. I'm a different person when I'm on the court and off the court. I'm not shy at all, I do things to make people laugh, I'm very relaxed. Playing great points, seeing the crowd react, seeing people yell out your name, it's a big buzz and I like to have a bit of fun out there.
I have a couple. I have Kids Cancer and Homeless Kids. I am also doing something in America with homeless kids. I had an incredible experience with this kid who had cancer. I got involved with him and brought him to my training and I hit with him. It's hard especially when you get close to him, but he's doing a lot better. I went to the Children's hospital to see him and it was very hard. I nearly started crying seeing these kids suffering, without hair. But just to see how happy they are, it gives you a new perspective about life. It's ridiculous if you think you have problems - just visit the hospital.
Travel - what are your favorite non-tennis destinations?
The Greek Islands. I went to Mikonos, Santorini and Tinos. I think I felt related because at the back of Tinos there's a little town called Agapi which translated in English means love. It's a small town and that's where, because in Greece, from your surname, its different parts of Greece where you are from and Philippoussis comes from Tinos, from that little town Agapi. That's where all the Philippoussis name comes from.
Have you got romance in your blood?
Fashion (special designers / types of clothing?)
I like wearing what's comfortable. I like wearing things with pockets, baggy, just to be comfortable. I wear a lot of things that probably make me look like a dag but I don't care. As long as I'm comfortable.
Do you play any musical instruments?
When I was 10 my dad had me going to guitar lessons and I was so impatient that I just stopped.
Do you have any pets (type / name / age?)
I've always had dogs growing up. I have two dogs in Melbourne and two dogs in Miami. I have had Pomeranians and I love their personality. I have 2 Pomeranians here and I bought one for myself and I bought another one, a girl, so they can have babies.
Is the house in Miami a getaway for you?
It's nice where I live. I can't live in Australia, it's too far away. My house is near South Beach on an island called Palm Island so it's very private, two policemen guard the island everyday 24 hours a day and it's very private. Julio Iglesias also lives just down the street from me. We wake board everyday when we are back. We go out to nightclubs, watching mini concerts, we go wake boarding, we go to the movies, we ride our bikes everyday. Julio loves his bike, he loves his wake boarding, exciting things.
Hobbies (collecting, etc?)
Watches and motorbikes.
Pretty much I listen to Iguano Ape and Blink 182 and 311.
Favorite Movie (current)
I'm a movie freak. I watch them whenever I get a chance. I don't know if it's the movies or just the popcorn.
Favorite Movie (all time)
My absolute idol, and whom I adored as a kid, is Jerry Lewis. I have watched his shows at least 10 times each. Every scene he used to do I would stay at home doing exactly the same thing whether it's with my eyes or my face, running like him. I tried to copy him exactly. Point break is one of my favorites, also Bad Boys, Black Rain, Brave Heart. The last movie I enjoyed was Stigmata.
My favorite food is spaghetti with chicken mincemeat. My mom makes it and she and my sisters are incredible cooks. I also like chicken, pastas, Japanese food and definitely Chinese.
Do you have a special diet?
No, but I am keeping away from fat and sugar.
Do you eat a particular meal before matches?
Pasta, tomato paste and chicken.
What's it about cars that you love?
Speed. Everything pretty much in my life is speed. I just love speed, it's adrenaline. My favorite things are fast cars and fast bikes. I do wake boarding, which is a lot of fun, snow boarding, motorcross, sky diving, which I've done a couple of times. It's just the best feeling. The first time you had to be connected, it's like a tandem jump. My friend was scared. Honestly, he doesn't believe me when I told him that I was not scared at all, not once. I was actually pushing the guy to go out. I was dragging him to go out and before he was ready I just jumped out of the plane. I just loved it. It's just the best feeling. As soon as I landed, I just wanted to go straight back up there. It was an incredible feeling.
I have different favorite cars for their own reasons. My favorite is Lambhorgini, but you know, it's just unrealistic. I like the 355 Spider and a Porsche twin turbo west as a coupe. I have a few cars and I drive them all for their different reasons. It's the same with my bikes, I love them for their different feeling on the road, the way they ride. For sports bikes it has to be the Ducati 916 SBS which is actually a race bike, it's not road legal. For a cruise, I've got a custom built Harley which I love but I never ride at all. I just clean it. I just don't like to ride it. I just look at it. This is like one of my favorite things and the Confederate, it's one of my favorite road bikes, my cruising bikes and the fat one.
Have you always loved the dangerous elements?
Yes, ever since I was a little kid. I was always hurting myself. My dad got me a motorbike but the ones that you plug into the wall, the battery ones, and ever since I was a kid I always loved doing stupid things.
Football (soccer) Club
I love American sports, NFL and the NBA. The Miami Heat are probably my favorite team because I live in Miami.