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Swap secured Scud wildcard
By Paul Malone
August 27, 2005

A US OPEN source said last night Mark Philippoussis was given his Flushing Meadows wildcard last week after Tennis Australia guaranteed an American man would be granted a 2006 Australian Open wildcard.

As Australia had only two men, Lleyton Hewitt and Wayne Arthurs, as direct entries for the US Open, TA decided it should seek a career lifeline for Philippoussis, who is No. 208 in the world.

US Open spokesman Chris Widmeyer said the US Tennis Association did not explain wildcard allocations.

Wildcards have to be requested by players and it is not known whether the idea to swap grand slam wildcards came from TA, the USTA or the Philippoussis camp.

"One of the things we look for in the wildcards is someone who can add prestige to the tournament and there is no question Mark fits that category," Widmeyer said.

"He is a popular player here and New Yorkers enjoy his style of muscular play."

Grand slam wildcards are mostly reserved by host nations to blood junior players or reward other worthy recipients.

It is understood the swap is a one-off arrangement.

Philippoussis, who has not won an ATP match since Wimbledon, will have to hit a lot of balls to beat tough Slovakian Karol Kucera in his first-round match.

Philippoussis was not sighted at Flushing Meadows yesterday, but practised there on Wednesday.

Fellow Victorian Peter Luczak, trying to make the main draw the hard way, was a tenacious winner yesterday in the second round of qualifying, defeating Chilean Adrian Garcia 7-5 4-6 6-2. Luczak, 25, today faces Brazilian Thiago Alves, ranked No.175, for a place in the main draw.

Luczak, ranked No.188, said a stint as a hitting partner for Hewitt in Cincinnati last week and the experience of his Davis Cup debut against Argentina last month, had helped him remain resolute against the baseline game of Garcia.

"I watched Lleyton beat Greg Rusedski in Cincinnati when he didn't play well in the first set and just hung in to find a way to win. That's what I tried to do today," Luczak said.

"The last couple of weeks I've been working hard on my fitness. I'm not the fastest guy around, so I have to work hard to run well.

"He (Garcia) was cramping and a bit tired in the third and I knew if I just hung in there I should be able to get him."

The Courier-Mail
 
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