'No one remembers the runners-up' – Philippoussis still regrets losing to Federer 20 years on

By Sports Desk July 06, 2023

Mark Philippoussis still holds frustrations over his defeat to Roger Federer in the 2003 Wimbledon final.

Thursday, July 6 marks 20 years since Philippoussis went down 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 7-6 (7-3) to a then 21-year-old Federer at the All England Club.

That defeat saw Philippoussis' second chance at winning a major title pass by, and also marked the first grand slam success of Federer's incredible career.

Federer would win a further 19 major titles, including another seven at Wimbledon, before he retired last year.

Reflecting on that loss 20 years ago, Philippoussis told Stats Perform that seeing Federer go on to enjoy so much success did not ease the pain.

"No, no, I think a loss is a loss and unfortunately, no one really remembers the runners-up," he said.

"I'm always going to be proud of those couple of weeks, and Wimbledon was always my favourite event of the year and my dream as a kid. I came close but close wasn't good enough."

Philippoussis does have immense pride in his run to that final, though.

He added: "It was a very proud day. It was my dream, one of my dreams as a kid was hopefully one day, not only just play on that Centre Court, but play that last Sunday match and have that walk on that Centre Court.

"I was lucky enough to do that walk. Of course, going all the way and losing in the final hurts, I'm not going to lie, especially where I believe that I had some opportunities in that first set.

"It wasn't meant to be but I'm very proud of that."

Asked if he believed at that moment Federer would ultimately become one of the greatest players of all time, Philippoussis said: "He always had that talent. He was number three in the world at that stage. It's not like he came out of nowhere.

"He was someone that everyone was looking up to, that was capable of being a grand slam champion and number one in the world, but did I think he was going to go ahead and win over 20 grand slams?

"I thought that maybe Pete Sampras was going to hold on to that [record of] 14 for a little while, but just the way Federer dominated for years after that was amazing."

Federer's eight titles in the men's singles is a Wimbledon record. Sampras and Novak Djokovic, who is seeded second at the current tournament, are one behind him on seven.

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