Mark Philippoussis jokes about modern players being ‘soft’ and ‘like brands’ with ‘entourages’

Mark Philippoussis of Australia

Mark Philippoussis was a big tennis star in the 90s and early 2000s, but he admits being a superstar back then is completely different to today as “players are like brands”.

The Australian turned professional in 1994 and finished runner-up to Patrick Rafter at the US Open in 1998 and Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2003 but several knee injuries meant he played very little tennis after 2006 and he eventually played his last match in 2015.

Philippoussis has also had a peak into the life of a modern tennis player as he first started working with Stefanos Tstisipas at Wimbledon this year and by the US Open he was part of his coaching team.

In an interview with Tennis Channel, the former world No 8 was asked about how different the 90s was compared to today and replied: “The lounge is packed [these days]. [Back then] you pretty much just had a coach, that’s it, maybe a trainer, towards the end of the 90s.

“Now, players are like brands. It’s like an entourage, so it’s a completely different thing. You didn’t have the social media or the forums. You could play and of course, you dealt with the crowd and appreciated signing autographs and all that, but then we switched off. You could switch off when you wanted to get away.”

When it was suggested to him that guys back then were a lot tougher, Philippoussis replied: “These guys are talented today, incredible athletes, but my God are they soft.

He then joked: “I just went by the lounge, they’ve got a hair salon there and now they do feet and nails. I mean, you know…?

“When I had a short ball I went right at the guy. Always. You say sorry and you move on. Now it’s like ‘oh f*** man’ you’ve got to send an email to apologise, a text, an Instagram post. Go at him again! Hit him again.”

The Australian also explained why he started working with Tsitsipas.

“If I commit myself, it needs to be to the right person and needs to make sense to me. And Stef was someone who made sense to me and would excite me of the thought. He is someone that’s an all-rounder,” he revealed.

He added there is still a lot of room for improvement in Tsitsipas’ game.

“Of course, he stays at the back, but he likes to come forward. I believe that’s something that can be worked on,” he continued.

“No one was working on those volleys. I understand times have changed, I understand that conditions are slower, courts are heavier, balls are heavier. But it’s still an important part of the game, coming in and finishing balls off at the net,” the 45-year-old explained.

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