Sampras Withdraws; Wild Cards Announced
American tennis veterans Michael Chang and Todd Martin, 1999 Indian Wells Champion Mark Philippoussis of Australia and Mario Ancic of Croatia have been awarded wild cards into the main draw of the 2003 Pacific Life Open, which is presented by the City of Indian Wells.
They join a men’s field which includes defending champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and James Blake of the United States, Gustavo “Guga” Kuerten of Brazil, Roger Federer of Switzerland and Marat Safin of Russia.
Two-time champion Pete Sampras, Guillermo Cañas, Nicolas Escude, Tommy Haas, Paul-Henri Mathieu and Greg Rusedski have withdrawn from the event.
“We are disappointed that Pete won’t be back at the Pacific Life Open,” said Charlie Pasarell, Tournament Director. “Our fans have always enjoyed watching this great champion compete at our event. We wish him and his family well as he decides on his future.”
Chang, a three-time Pacific Life Open champion (1992, 1996, 1997), announced earlier this year that following the 2003 US Open, he will be retiring from the tour after a remarkable 16-year career. He has won 34 singles titles, including the 1989 French Open, and is the first Asian American to reach the world’s Top 10, where he held the career-high No. 2 spot in 1996. Chang, along with Agassi, are the only two players in ATP history to win a singles title in three different decades. He will be honored during an on-court ceremony at the 2003 Pacific Life Open.
Martin, an Illinois native, has won 10 singles titles throughout his long career, including back-to-back wins in Memphis in 1994 and 1995. A doubles finalist at the 1998 Pacific Life Open, he is a two-time singles quarterfinalist at the tournament. He was a finalist at both the 1994 Australian Open and 1999 US Open. Chang and Martin were also wild card entries at the Pacific Life Open in 2002.
Philippoussis, a former champion of this event in 1999, has played consistently well at the Pacific Life Open. He is a nine-time career singles title holder and finalist at the 1998 US Open, where he lost to fellow Aussie Patrick Rafter in four sets. Ancic, 18, climbed 187 positions in the ATP Champions Race in 2002. He qualified at his Wimbledon debut, then defeated Federer, the No. 9 seed, in the first round.
In addition to 52 direct entries, eight players will advance through the 32-player qualifying draw, held March 8 and 9, into the main draw.