They join Roddick, Haas, Bryans
LOS ANGELES – Two-time Grand Slam champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia and American standouts James Blake, Taylor Dent, Mardy Fish, Robby Ginepri and Vincent Spadea have joined the player list for the 2005 Mercedes-Benz Cup presented by Countrywide at the Los Angeles Tennis Center-UCLA. They join Andy Roddick, defending singles champion Tommy Haas and defending doubles champions Bob and Mike Bryan.
Hewitt finished in the Top 3 in the ATP Entry Rankings last year by capturing four ATP titles in seven finals. He reached the quarterfinals or better in three of the four Grand Slams. The 2002 Wimbledon winner and 2001 U.S. Open champion owns 24 ATP career singles titles, including this year at Sydney. He reached the finals at the Australian Open and Indian Wells this year. 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. He was also the seventh player to finish No. 1 for at least two straight years.
Newport Beach resident Dent (U.S. #4) won a career-high 32 matches last year and captured a bronze medal at the Athens Olympics. He won ATP singles titles at Memphis, Bangkok and Moscow in 2003. His first ATP career singles title came at Newport, Rhode Island, in 2002. His best results this year were the finals at Adelaide and the quarterfinals at Sydney and Marseille. With the win at Newport, he joined his father, Phil, as an ATP titleholder. They are the only father and son to have won ATP singles titles in the Open Era-since 1968. As a freshman at Corona Del Mar High School in 1996, Dent won the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) high school tennis championship, becoming only the third freshman ever to win the event, joining Sampras in 1987 and Jon Leach in 1988. Dent’s father was a singles finalist at the 1974 Australian Open and won the U.S. Open mixed doubles title in 1976 with Billie Jean King. Dent’s mother, Betty Ann Stuart, was also a professional tennis player.
Spadea (U.S. #3) cracked the Top 20 ATP Entry Rankings for the second time in his career in 2004, capturing his first singles title at Scottsdale and winning a career-best 40 matches. He reached the finals at Delray Beach, the semifinals at Miami and Lyon and the quarterfinals at Adelaide, Auckland, Rome and Newport, Rhode Island. He finished in the Top 30 in 2003, the first time since 1999, advancing to four semifinals and four quarterfinals. In 1999, Spadea ranked as high as No. 19, posting eight victories over Top 10 opponents. He advanced to his first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the 1999 Australian Open. His best singles results this year were the semifinals at Delray Beach and Scottsdale and the quarterfinals at San Jose.
Fish (U.S. #5) was a finalist at San Jose and Halle in 2004, and he captured the silver medal at the Athens Olympics. He reached the semifinals at Memphis and the quarterfinals in his Los Angeles debut. He compiled his best pro season in 2003 by capturing his first career ATP singles title at Stockholm. He also reached three other finals, including the Tennis Masters Series Cincinnati event, and he was a quarterfinalist four times. He cracked the Top 20 rankings that year, and he made his Davis Cup debut. He reached the third round at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, his best Grand Slam results. He teamed with Roddick to win his first career ATP doubles title in Houston in 2002.
Blake (U.S. #10) reached the singles quarterfinals at Scottsdale, Indian Wells and Houston in 2004. His lone ATP career singles title came at Washington in 2002. He finished in the Top 40 rankings for the second consecutive year in 2003, when he was a singles finalist at Long Island, a semifinalist at San Jose and he reached the quarterfinals at Scottsdale, Indian Wells, Houston and Washington. His best results this year was the quarterfinals at Scottsdale. He helped the U.S. to the Davis Cup semifinals in 2002. He had a Grand Slam-best fourth round finish at the 2003 Australian Open. He was an All-American at Harvard University. He is making his third appearance in the Mercedes-Benz Cup.
Ginepri (U.S. #6) reached the semifinals at Washington and the quarterfinals at Scottsdale and Vienna in 2004. He had his best Grand Slam showings, reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. He finished in the Top 30 ATP Entry Rankings for the first time in 2003, when he captured his first ATP career singles title at Newport, at age 20 becoming the 11th youngest American to win an ATP singles title. His best singles results this year were the quarterfinals at Auckland and Memphis. He won his first career ATP singles match in Los Angeles in 2001.
The Mercedes-Benz Cup presented by Countrywide features a 32-player singles draw and a 16-team doubles competition. Entering its 79th year, the landmark Southern California tournament is the longest running annual professional sporting event in Los Angeles, and offers total player compensation of more than $1 million.
For the second consecutive year, the Mercedes-Benz Cup presented by Countrywide will be a part of the US Open Series, the cohesive, six-week summer tennis season of 11 North American tournaments linked to the US Open. The Series launched in 2004, and resulted in record attendance, TV viewership and live broadcast hours for the sport. Television viewership was up more than 50%, with regularly scheduled broadcasts on ESPN, CBS, NBC Sports and The Tennis Channel. In total, the US Open Series events – including the US Open – generated a record 1.5 million attendees, 126 million TV viewers and more than 15 million website visits, making it the strongest summertime property in sports. Lindsay Davenport and Lleyton Hewitt won the inaugural US Open Series.
Previous winners of the Mercedes-Benz Cup, whose history dates to 1927, include Andre Agassi, Michael Chang, 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.