February 24, 2005: The wins just didn’t last in Scottsdale with Mark falling to Ancic 1-6, 6-7 (3-7) last night. While it wasn’t a win Mark did some some excellent game in the second set and made Ancic work for the win. Next Mark hopes to play in the Pacific Life Open starting March 7th, but is waiting on word of a wildcard slot.
February 23, 2005: It’s only taken 240 days, but Mark has finally won another match! He defeated Behrend 7-5, 1-6, 6-4 at the first round in Scottsdale last night. Despite a 90 minute rain delay in the third set Mark kept his composure. It wasn’t the prettiest of matches but Mark is reported to look fitter (he’s lost 8.5 pounds) and moving sharper on the court. Here’s hoping he can build on that win! Next up is Ancic, against whom Mark has a 2-0 record, both matches being on hardcourt. The match is scheduled to start at 6:0pm PST.
It’s official – Mark will not be playing the opening round of Davis Cup later this month. Team captain Fitzgerald spoke with Mark several times over the past week and it was a mutual decision that Mark needed to stay in the US and get some tennis matches under his belt and continue working on his fitness. The Davis Cup team will consist of Hewitt, Woodbridge, Arthurs and Draper. The Franklin-Templeton Classic is underway in Scottsdale and Mark’s first opponent will be Tomas Behrend of Germany, currently ranked at 102.
Davis Cup coach Masur has done on record to say if Mark is fit they’re going to want him on the team. Of course that brings up the whole issue of whether Mark will be willing to make the trip back to Australia only days before Indian Wells.
It’s been a lonely start to the tennis season without Mark to cheer on. But fans can take some heart, Philippoussis now has a set date to return. He’s accepted a wildcard into Scottsdale starting February 21st and barring any injury flare-ups, he’ll be back on court. The Davis Cup team is also supposed to be announced on that day and currently there’s no decision whether to play Mark or choose youngster Todd Reid. Given that Mark is planning to play in Indian Wells, California the day after the Davis Cup event in Sydney, Australia,my guess is that they’ll name Reid.