Haas, Hrbaty, Safin, Srichaphan, Stepanek Commit to Countrywide Classic, July 24-30, at UCLA
They join Agassi, Nalbandian, Hewitt, Ancic, Ljubicic, Ginepri, Gonzalez, Bryans among entries LOS ANGELES
– Two-time Grand Slam champion Marat Safin of Russia, 2004 Countrywide Classic champion Tommy Haas of Germany, Wimbledon quarterfinalist Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic, Slovakia’s Dominik Hrbaty and Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand have committed to play in the 80th annual Countrywide Classic, July 24-30, at the Los Angeles Tennis Center-UCLA.
Other players already committed to the Countrywide Classic are four-time Los Angeles champion and eight-time Grand Slam winner Andre Agassi, former world No. 1 and two-time Grand Slam champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, the record-setting Southern California doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan, Mardy Fish, Robby Ginepri, Argentina’s David Nalbandian, Croatian Davis Cup stars Ivan Ljubicic and Mario Ancic and Chilean Davis Cupper Fernando Gonzalez. Ancic and Hewitt joined Stepanek in the Wimbledon quarterfinals.
Dennis Ralston, a Bakersfield native and USC alum whose career included winning the 1965 Los Angeles title over Arthur Ashe and the rare double of winning the Davis Cup as both a player and captain, will be the tournament honoree.
Safin captured the U.S. Open in 2000 and the Australian Open in 2005. He was also a finalist at the Australian Open in 2002 and 2004. He owns 15 ATP career singles titles, including a career-high seven in 2000. He has won at least one title in six of the last seven years. He has five ATP Masters Series tournament titles, including Paris three times. He achieved the world No. 1 ranking in November 2000. He is making his third appearance in Los Angeles.
Haas owns nine ATP career singles titles, including two this year, at Memphis and Delray Beach. He won four titles in 2001. His first title came at Memphis in 1999. He was an Australian Open semifinalist in 1999 and 2002 and he reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals in 2004. He was ranked as high as No. 2 in the world in May 2002. He was the silver medalist at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. He is making his fifth Los Angeles appearance, reaching the quarterfinals in 2001 and winning the title in 2004.
Stepanek won his first ATP career singles title this year at Rotterdam. He was a finalist at the ATP Masters Series event in Hamburg, reached the semifinals at Chennai and the quarterfinals at Barcelona. He finished 2005 as the No. 1 player from the Czech Republic for the first time. He won a career-high 45 matches to earn his first Top 25 year-end ranking. He reached two finals, five semifinals and four quarterfinals in 2005, three of them in ATP Masters Series events. He is making his first appearance in Los Angeles.
Hrbaty has six ATP career singles titles, three coming in 2004 at Adelaide, Auckland and Marseille. His other titles came in 1998 at San Marino, 1999 at Prague and 2001 at Auckland. He was a semifinalist at Roland Garros in 1999, and he reached the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open in 2004 and at the Australian Open in 2001 and 2005. He has played in 39 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments, the most among players on the ATP circuit. He was selected ATP “Newcomer of the Year” in 1996. His best singles results this year were the semifinals at Adelaide. He is making his third appearance in Los Angeles. He reached the semifinals last year.
Srichaphan, the No. 1 Asian player, compiled his fourth consecutive Top 50 ranking in 2005. He owns five ATP career singles titles, third most among Asian-born players. He won at Long Island and Stockholm in 2002, at Chennai and Long Island in 2003, and at Nottingham in 2004. He posted a career-best 50 match wins and spent 10 weeks in the Top 10 in 2003, becoming the first Asian-born player to rank in the Top 10. His best Grand Slam results are the fourth round at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2003 and at the Australian Open in 2004. His best singles results this year were the semifinals at Indian Wells and the quarterfinals at Chennai and Sydney. He is making his seventh appearance in Los Angeles. He reached the quarterfinals last year.
The Countrywide Classic will feature a 32-player singles draw and a 16-team doubles competition. The landmark Southern California ATP tournament is the longest running annual professional sporting event in Los Angeles, and offers total player compensation in excess of $1 million.
With 64 tournaments in 31 countries, the ATP showcases the finest athletes competing in the world’s most exciting venues. For the third consecutive year, the Countrywide Classic will also be a part of the U.S. Open Series, the eight-week summer tennis season linking 10 major ATP and WTA Tour tournaments to the U.S. Open. Television viewership for the 2005 U.S. Open Series generated significant increases, attracting more than 40 million viewers.
Previous winners of the Countrywide Classic, whose history dates to 1927, include Agassi, Michael Chang, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Michael Stich, Boris Becker, Richard Krajicek, Stefan Edberg, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Stan Smith, Arthur Ashe, Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Pancho Gonzalez, Jack Kramer, Bobby Riggs, Don Budge, Ellsworth Vines, Fred Perry and Bill Tilden. Agassi became a four-time winner of the event last year.
Proceeds from the Countrywide Classic, 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 Countrywide Classic tournament office on the UCLA campus. For information, please call 310-824-1010 or visit www.countrywideclassic.com.