Philippoussis, Nalbandian, Schalken, Srichaphan,
Malisse Added to Already Strong Field
LOS ANGELES – International stars Mark Philippoussis, David Nalbandian, Sjeng Schalken, Paradorn Srichaphan and Xavier Malisse have committed to the Mercedes-Benz Cup presented by Countrywide, July 12-18, at the Los Angeles Tennis Center-UCLA. They join three-time champion Andre Agassi, defending champion Wayne Ferreira, 2003 finalist Lleyton Hewitt, and other American standouts Mardy Fish, Taylor Dent, Robby Ginepri, Vincent Spadea and twins Bob and Mike Bryan in the strong field.
Philippoussis has won 10 ATP career singles titles, most recently last year at Shanghai. He was a finalist at Wimbledon last year and at the U.S. Open in 1998, and he has three other quarterfinal appearances at Wimbledon. He finished in the Top 10 rankings for the first time in his career last year, and he helped Australia to the Davis Cup title over Spain.
Nalbandian finished in the Top 10 rankings for the first time in his career in 2003, one of two Argentines to do so. He owns two career ATP singles titles, both coming in 2002, at Estoril and Basel. He was a Wimbledon finalist in 2002, and he reached the semifinals at the U.S. Open and the quarterfinals at the Australian Open last year. He advanced to the semifinals of the French Open this year.
Schalken, from The Netherlands, finished in the Top 20 rankings for the second year in a row in 2003. He captured two ATP singles titles in a year for the first time. He has won at least one title five consecutive seasons, and he owns nine ATP career singles titles. He and Agassi are the only active players to win titles on five continents.
The No. 1 Asian player, Srichaphan compiled his most consistent season in 2003, winning two ATP singles titles – at Chennai and Long Island – in three finals. The Thai star posted a career-best 50 match wins and finished a year-end best No. 11 in the rankings. He actually spent 10 weeks in the Top 10, becoming the first Asian-born player to rank in the Top 10. He owns four career ATP singles titles.
Malisse recently reached the singles final at St. Poelten, and he teamed with countryman Olivier Rochus to win the French Open doubles title. He finished in the Top 60 rankings for the third consecutive year in 2003. He had quarter-final results on three different surfaces: at Queen’s Club, Indianapolis and Moscow. He became the first Belgian in nearly 100 years to reach the Wimbledon semifinals in 2002. He also became the first Belgian to finish in the top 25 in the ATP rankings.
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 Mercedes-Benz Cup 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. Two-time Los Angeles champion Frank Sedgman (1950-51) is the 2004 Tournament Honoree.
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.
Toby Zwikel, Brener Zwikel & Associates, Inc., 818/344-6195, ext. 104
Jill Martinette, Mercedes-Benz USA, 714/435-3130
Rick Simon, Countrywide Financial, 818/871-5330
Bob Kramer, Mercedes-Benz Cup, 310/824-1010, ext. 230