Mark is still in waiting to find out if he will receive one of the three remaining wild cards for the Australian Open. He is hoping that a good showing at the Hopman Cup starting on the 30th will help sway Tennis Australia his way. Mark has been working in Adelaide with Darin Cahill and looks to be in very good shape. Cahill says it’s an informal relationship – he’s just helping a friend – and while he will not be in Perth had no comment on any other upcoming tournaments. Expected to arrive in Perth is Mark’s dad, Nick, who has been absent from the circuit for several months. Despite constant rumors in the press that the falling-out had more to do with Mark’s then fiance Alexis, at a press conference in Perth Mark again spoke that the need was just to be out on his own for a while and that he was still in regular contact with his father. (At the press conference Mark also confirmed that he’d split with Alexis back in September).
Mark lost to Henman 6-7 (4-7), 4-6 in their exhibition match at the Blackrock Masters in London. Not a win fans would hope for, but considering it’s his first match against a top player in some time it at least wasn’t an embarrassing loss. Mark has been confirmed to pkay in the Heineken Open in Auckland, New Zealand starting on January 8th. He’s also announced that he will not play in the Australian Open qualifying rounds and will instead request a direct wildcard for the event. Tournament director Tiley has gone on the record as hoping that Mark will re-consider as there is no guarantee the Open will grant him that wildcard. With a current ranking of 114, Mark would need the help of lots of withdrawls to make a direct entry to the Open.
Mark put two wins back-to-back which fans can only hope is a good sign of things to come. He defeated Levy 6-3, 6-4 in the second round at Calabasas. Next up he will play Tyler Cleveland in the quarterfinals at 6pm tonight.
Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, Mark lost to Nadal today 4-6, 4-6, . Nadal just had the goods and showed why he’s ranked 2nd – there wasn’t a shot he was missing. Now though Nadal played really well, Mark also played at a level better than I think we’ve seen so far this year and had he drawn someone other than Nadal he might have advanced. McEnroe was commentating for the match and repeated something we’ve all heard before – if Mark really wants to make it back to the top he needs to improve just one thing – his fitness. It was especially obvious against such an quick and agile player as Nadal, but Mark hasn’t really improved that part of his game. He’d have a much easier time if his overall fitness and quickness were better.
The rains that mostly skipped Wimbledon decided to take in the US Open this year with almost today’s entire schedule being rained out. As a result, Mark’s match against Nadel will be the first of the day tomorrow at 11am on Arthur Ashe.
Mark takes the court tomorrow against Nadel as the second match on Arthur Ashe. Also there’s an interesting article about the ATP’s plans to make some changes to the tour events for next season. Changes include starting tournaments on Sundays (instead of Mondays) and using a round robin format in early rounds. The changes are designed to increase the sports visibility and encourage more fans to follow the sport.
The draw has been released for the US Open starting next week. Unfortunately Mark did not get any benefit to his chances. He’s in the bottom quarter of the draw and his first round opponent will be none other than Rafael Nadal, the second seed. Mark’s going to need to bring his number one game if we wants to advance to the second round.