No auto Open wildcard for Scud
By Paul Malone
July 29, 2006
MARK Philippoussis may have to win a play-off series against Australian players to receive a US Open wildcard - and he will have to also declare his Davis Cup availability.
Tennis Australia director of player development Craig Tiley confirmed last night that the body had secured a wildcard exchange program between the Australian and US Opens in recent talks with the US Tennis Association.
Tiley said Tennis Australia would decide closer to the US Open in New York, which starts on August 28, whether to award the male and female wildcards at Australia's disposal or invite players to a wildcard play-off series at Flushing Meadows or Forest Hills.
Philippoussis's first title in almost three years, at Newport this month, lifted his world ranking to No. 121, 32 places ahead of thirdt-ranked Australian Peter Luczak - and behind only one compatriot, Lleyton Hewitt (No. 13).
"If someone says 'I'm not playing Davis Cup, but give me a wildcard', it's not going to happen," Tiley said.
"Obviously, we can't control it if they said they are going to play Davis Cup and then pull out the day before, but we can remember it for next time around . . . I don't think that would happen."
Australia is the underdog for its Davis Cup semi-final against Argentina in Buenos Aires from September 22-24 on clay, a surface on which Philippoussis won the deciding rubber of the 1999 Davis Cup final in France.
Philippoussis will not be a direct entry into the 128-man main draw because places are held for wildcards, qualifiers and exempt players.
"It's great for the players that we have these US Open wildcards again and we want to take our time to decide the best way for Australian tennis to use them," Tiley said.
"We've had Mark Philippoussis do well and win a tournament and Alicia Molik is now back on track. They may get a couple of wins the next few weeks and if they do then we can make a selection.
"Mark won't be a direct entry, but if his ranking goes below 100 we'd consider it (not having a play-off). On the men's side, one of the considerations is we have Davis Cup and it goes into the equation."
Australia's US Open men's wildcard allocation will be decided by Tiley, Australia Davis Cup captain John Fitzgerald and Australian Institute of Sport head coach Brent Larkham.