Tuesday, 20 August, 2002
Optus Australian Davis Cup captain John Fitzgerald has named Mark Philippoussis (world ranked 71) in his squad for the forthcoming Davis Cup World Group Playoff against India in Adelaide on 20-22 September 2002.
The powerful Victorian will join world No.1 Lleyton Hewitt, Wayne Arthurs (53), Todd Woodbridge (doubles ranked 6), Scott Draper (148) and hitting partners Peter Luczak (168) and newcomer Ryan Henry (junior doubles ranking 2) as Australia prepare to defend their right to remain in the World Group of the competition in 2003.
"It's great to have Mark declare himself fit, healthy and available for this Tie," said Fitzgerald. "His inclusion will bring a lot of versatility to the set up as he can play singles or doubles. He brings a lot of power and talent to the table and the rest of the guys are looking forward to having him in the squad."
Philippoussis played an integral part in Australia's 1999 Davis Cup final victory against France in a Team which included Hewitt and Woodbridge. He last played Davis Cup for Australia in February 2000 in a first round victory against Switzerland.
The 1998 US Open finalist has been dogged by ligament problems in his left knee which has seen repeated surgery and a slow and often painful return to fitness. Memorial Drive was the site of one of the high points of that return when earlier this year Philippoussis reached the final of the AAPT Championships.
Adelaide is also the site of Lleyton Hewitt's first senior tournament win back in 1998 where as a 16-year-old he leapt to international recognition by capturing his hometown title and becoming the lowest ranked (550) winner in tour history.
Optus Achiever Peter Luczak, was a hitting partner with the Team during this year's first round Tie against Argentina in Buenos Aires. The 22-year-old revelled in the experience of working with the Team in February and has since gone on to reduce his ranking from 271 to 168. This included winning the $US50,000 Challenger last month in Granby, Canada, and reaching the final of the $US50,000 Challenger in Binghamton, New York where he lost to Scott Draper.
Also hoping to gain from the experience will be Davis Cup newcomer Ryan Henry. The 17-year-old from Forster, NSW, has been enjoying a successful 2002 beginning with his singles win in the Australian Hardcourt Junior Championships in January. In junior doubles he won this year's Australian Open and reached the final of the French Open, partnered in both cases by fellow Australian, Todd Reid.
"Ryan will hopefully gain from the experience of being part of our preparations in the same way Peter did in Argentina," said Optus Australian Team captain John Fitzgerald. "Peter was a revelation in Buenos Aires and showed the potential was there to play a continuing Davis Cup role for Australia."
Tennis Australia President Geoff Pollard said, "This squad contains players who have produced some of the most memorable Davis Cup performances of all time, especially Mark's battle in the 1999 final in Nice and Lleyton's performance against Brazil in 2001.
"This is a strong squad to take into preparing for such an important Tie with its depth of previous Davis Cup success and experience."
The Tie at Memorial Drive will be played on Rebound Ace and Australia has to win to stay in the World Group next year. Australia is one of only six of the 142 countries in the competition to have belonged to the World Group for more than 20 years.
Memorial Drive last hosted a Davis Cup Tie in 2000 when a Team of Lleyton Hewitt, Wayne Arthurs, Patrick Rafter and Mark Woodforde defeated Germany, this time on grass, in the Davis Cup Quarterfinal.
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