HEWITT, PHILIPPOUSSIS ACCEPT WILD CARDS, SAMPRAS WITHDRAWS
FROM 2003 FRANKLIN TEMPLETON TENNIS CLASSIC,
MARCH 3-9, AT FAIRMONT SCOTTSDALE PRINCESS
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – World No. 1 ranked Lleyton Hewitt and fellow Australian Mark Philippoussis have accepted wild cards, and all-time leading Grand Slam champion Pete Sampras has withdrawn from the 2003 Franklin Templeton Tennis Classic presented by Business Objects, March 3-9, at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, it was announced Friday.
Hewitt, who won the 2001 U.S. Open and 2002 Wimbledon, and Philippoussis, the 1997 Scottsdale champion and 1998 U.S. Open finalist, join No. 2 ranked and defending champion Andre Agassi and rising American star James Blake in the Franklin Templeton Tennis Classic, an International Series event on the worldwide ATP men’s professional circuit. The tournament features a 32-player singles draw and a 16-team doubles competition. Prize money for the event totals $380,000.
Sampras, the 2002 U.S. Open champion and 14-time Grand Slam singles titleholder, is postponing his return to the tennis circuit. He has not played a tournament this year.
“We are excited to have Lleyton and Mark in the tournament,” said Tournament Director Gus Sampras, Pete’s older brother. “I’m disappointed that Pete isn’t quite ready, but I understand his decision. Pete wants to give 100 percent, and he just feels he’s not yet there. We are sorry to lose Pete, but with Lleyton, Andre, James and Mark, we have a very strong draw.”
“He (Sampras) is continuing his practice and conditioning, but does not feel he is at the level where he can give it his best,” said Paul Annacone, Sampras’ coach. Annacone said he and
Sampras will look at future events individually, and then make decisions about timing for Sampras’ s return to the ATP tour.
With Hewitt and Agassi, it marks the second time in tournament history the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked players in the world are in the draw. The other was 2000, when Agassi was No. 1 and Sampras No. 2. As of March 3, Hewitt will have held No. 1 for 68 consecutive weeks, the seventh-longest streak at No. 1 in the history of the ATP rankings (Aug. 23, 1973).
When Hewitt achieved the No. 1 ranking in 2001, he was the youngest player to finish the year at No. 1.He has finished No. 1 the last two years, the youngest player to rank as the top player in back-to-back seasons. The Franklin Templeton Tennis Classic marks Hewitt’s first appearance since the Australian Open, won by Agassi, his ninth career Grand Slam singles title.
With the addition of Hewitt and Philippoussis as wild cards, there are four former tournament champions in the field, joining Agassi and Wayne Ferreira. Hewitt has a 12-2 career record in Scottsdale, winning the title in 2000, reaching the final in 1999 and the semifinals in 2001.
The Tennis Refuge
You will be missed, Michel Kratochvil!