They Join U.S. Stars Fish, Dent, Spadea, Ginepri and the Bryans
LOS ANGELES – Defending champion Wayne Ferreira of South Africa and fellow 2003 finalist Lleyton Hewitt of Australia have committed to the Mercedes-Benz Cup presented by Countrywide, July 12-18, at the Los Angeles Tennis Center-UCLA. It marks the 78th consecutive year of one of the most historic championships in tennis.
Ferreira and Hewitt join an already strong early player field that includes four of the top six American Davis Cup stars, Mardy Fish, Taylor Dent, Vince Spadea and Robby Ginepri, and the world’s No. 1 doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan.
Ferreira, who turned back Hewitt 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 in an electric 2003 final played before a capacity crowd, finished in the Top 30 rankings last year for the first time in three years. His singles title in Los Angeles was the 15th of his ATP career. This year’s Australian Open was his 53rd consecutive Grand Slam tournament played, one shy of Stefan Edberg’s record 54. In the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Ferreira became the first South African to win an Olympic Medal (bronze) in 32 years.
Hewitt, the 2002 Wimbledon winner and 2001 U.S. Open champion, owns 21 ATP career singles titles, including this year at Sydney and Rotterdam. He won six ATP singles titles in 2001 and five in 2002. He was ranked No. 1 for 75 consecutive weeks from November 2001 to April 2003. By being ranked No. 1 throughout 2002, he was only the fourth player (joining Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras) ever to rank No. 1 every week during a calendar year.
The Mercedes-Benz Cup features a 32-player singles draw and a 16-team doubles competition. The landmark Southern California tournament is the longest running annual professional sporting event in Los Angeles, and offers total player compensation in excess of $1 million. The 2004 tournament marks the first men’s event in the new US Open Series, a historic breakthrough for the sport that links 10 summer hard-court tournaments to the US Open, creating a cohesive, six-week summer tennis season for ATP and WTA Tour professional tournaments in North America.
Previous winners of the Mercedes-Benz Cup, whose history dates to 1927, include Andre Agassi, Michael Chang, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Michael Stich, Boris Becker, Richard Krajicek, Stefan Edberg, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Arthur Ashe, Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Pancho Gonzalez, Jack Kramer, Don Budge, Ellsworth Vines and Bill Tilden.
Proceeds from the Mercedes-Benz Cup, held in conjunction with UCLA, benefit the grassroots programs of the non-profit Southern California Tennis Association (SCTA) and UCLA. The SCTA offers programs, leagues, and tournaments involving 300,000 juniors and 50,000 adults and seniors. Inquiries regarding tickets and information may be directed to the Mercedes-Benz Cup tournament office on the UCLA campus. For information, please call 310-824-1010 or visit online at www.mercedes-benzcup.com.