Sympathy for Dokic
Philippoussis stands by former Hopman teammate
Updated: Wednesday February 14, 2001 2:30 PM
MELBOURNE, Australia (CNNSI) -- Injured Australian tennis player Mark Philippoussis said Thursday that he felt sorry for compatriot Jelena Dokic and her battles with tennis officials, a situation he can well relate to.
Philippoussis said Dokic, his former Hopman Cup partner, appeared unhappy on court and it was sad to see her booed by the Australian Open crowd.
Like Dokic, Philippoussis is no stranger to controversy, having tested Australian fans with his on-again, off-again stance on Davis Cup availability. But Thursday his manager said Philippoussis might soon return to the Davis Cup fold.
Philippoussis has never been booed by an Australian crowd as Dokic was before and after her first-round loss to Lindsay Davenport on Monday night after renouncing Australian tennis to represent Yugoslavia.
"I think why I feel so bad is because she's only 17, she's only started her career and at the moment she's done so well," said Philippoussis, who has missed the Australian Open because of knee surgery late last month.
"She looks unhappy on the court, it's a real shame, and because she should be enjoying herself and should be happy she's out there with the talent to play tennis.
"I understand how some people would react, but at the same time when a 17-year-old girl walks out onto the court and some people are booing her, I really felt for her.
"To go to three sets (against Davenport) after what's been happening and what's being said, she is so strong and it's great to see that."
Speaking at a media conference for Melbourne charity Open Family, Philippoussis added it had been difficult to sit out the Australian Open.
His recuperation period also ruled him out of the Davis Cup first round tie against Ecuador in Perth early next month.
But he said he was on track to resume competition at the men's tour event in Memphis, Tennessee in mid-February.
His manager John McCurdy said Philippoussis had spoken several times to new Davis Cup captain John Fitzgerald about possibly joining the team later in the year.
McCurdy also hinted Philippoussis would remain unwilling to give a commitment to every Davis Cup tie but Fitzgerald may be prepared to accept that.
"Mark doesn't respond well to having too heavy a schedule -- with his injuries and his big body type, the schedule is very important," McCurdy said.
"He wants to play Davis Cup, obviously the first one is out but we'll see how the rest of the year pans out."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.