The USTA announced on Wednesday, July 23 that 99 of the 100 top-ranked men in the world have entered the 2003 US Open Tennis Championships. The 2003 US Open will be played August 25 - September 7 at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. The US Open Men’s Singles Championship, with the winner receiving a record $1 million, is presented by Lincoln Mercury.
Leading the list of entries is current world No. 1, two-time US Open Champion (1994, 1999) and reigning Australian Open champion Andre Agassi of Las Vegas, the oldest player ever to hold the No. 1 ranking on the ATP Entry System at the age of 33. He was runner-up to Pete Sampras at the US Open last year. Agassi owns eight Grand Slam men’s singles titles, tying him for sixth all-time.
Agassi is followed by world No. 2 Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain, the reigning French Open champion; No. 3 Roger Federer of Switzerland, who won his first Grand Slam singles title earlier this month at Wimbledon; No. 4 Carlos Moya of Spain, the 1998 French Open champion; and No. 5 Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, the 2001 US Open and 2002 Wimbledon champion.
No. 6 Andy Roddick of Boca Raton, Fla., is the next highest-ranked American entry. The 20-year-old Nebraska native reached his first Grand Slam semifinal this year at the Australian Open and duplicated that finish at Wimbledon. The 2000 US Open boys’ singles champion has reached the men’s singles quarterfinals at the last two US Opens, losing to the eventual champion both years.
Reigning champion Pete Sampras today officially withdrew from the 2003 US Open. Sampras was automatically included on the initial entry list last week with a 52-week ranking of No. 26. He has not played a professional tournament since winning his fifth US Open and record 14th Grand Slam singles title last year. Sampras will be the first US Open men’s singles champion not to defend his title since 1970 winner Ken Rosewall.
In all, there are 10 entrants who have won Grand Slam singles titles in their careers including: 2000 US Open champion Marat Safin of Russia; three-time French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil; 2002 Australian Open champion Thomas Johansson of Sweden - who entered on a special protected ranking; 2002 French Open champion Albert Costa of Spain; and reigning Olympic and former French Open and Australian Open champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia.
Other American men who received direct entry into this year’s tournament include No. 29 James Blake of Tampa, Fla., No. 34 Vince Spadea of Boca Raton, Fla., No. 39 Jan-Michael Gambill of Spokane, Wash., No. 40 Mardy Fish of Tampa, Fla., No. 46 Robby Ginepri of Marietta, Ga., No. 53 Taylor Dent of Newport Beach, Calif., No. 76 Brian Vahaly of Atlanta, No. 85 Justin Gimelstob of Morristown, N.J., and No. 94 Todd Martin of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
The United States has 11 players who received direct entry into the 2003 US Open, second only to Spain’s 14.
Andreas Vinciguerra of Sweden was the 104th and last player accepted directly into the men’s field of 128. Sixteen more players will gain entry through the US Open qualifying rounds, August 19-22, while the remaining eight spots are wild card entries awarded by the USTA.
The July 14 edition of the ATP Tour Entry System rankings is used to determine the initial US Open main draw entry list. The US Open draw will take place on Wednesday, August 20.