Sadly Mark’s Wimbledon appearance didn’t do much for his overall rankings. While he did advance 9 spots in the Champions race, more importantly he dropped 4 spots in the entry rankings to a miserable 214. He’ll need some significant wins to bring that up close to the level for direct entry to the larger tournaments! In Newport Mark’s first opponent will be number 3 seed Paul Goldstein and they will take the court tomorrow.
Mark has been granted yet another wildcard, this time to the Campbells Hall of Fame Classic in Newport, NY starting July 10th. Newport is the only ATP event on grass to take place in the US, so it’s a good surface for him. Former Australian Davis Cup champion John Alexander spoke out over the weekend that Fitzgerald should strongly consider Philippoussis for the upcoming tie with Argentina. Also the word around Wimbledon, though there was no official announcement, was that Mark has asked McNamara to stay on as a full-time coach for the rest of the season.
June 28, 2006: Unfortunately the magic of Wimbledon just couldn’t hold as Mark lost 6-7 (6-8), 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 3-6. to Mirnyi today. It was a battle of the big servers with every chance to break that much more important and Mark just failed to convert today with 10 break opportunities and only one conversion. While it wasn’t the Wimbledon Mark hoped for, his level of play on the grass this week has been better than we’ve seen in months – here’s hoping it will improve even more on the summer hardcourt. A bonus for Mark this month has been a return to working with former coach Peter McNamara (who coached Mark as a junior and in 02-03). While there’s no word as to whether this is going to be a permanent arrangement, McNamara has long been a supportive and steadying influence on Mark so any time spent with him is a good thing.
June 27, 2006: Proving that there’s just something special about the grass at Wimbledon, Mark won over Mathieu with monster fourth set tiebreak 5-7, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 7-6 (14-12). Mark’s serve was booming – with an incredible 39 aces! While his first serve percentage dropped in the fourth set to 49%, the earlier three sets had it up over 65%. Next up will be either Max “The Beast” Mirnyi (a sure bet slug fest) or Ramirez-Hildalgo.
June 26, 2006: It just wouldn’t be Wimbledon if it didn’t rain, and this year the rain struck early, allowing only 30 minutes of play today. Mark now has the 3rd match of the day on Court 2 on Tuesday.
June 25, 2006: The order of play for Monday has been released and Mark will have the second match of the day on Court 3 against Mathieu. This will be a new change as Mark and the 32nd seed have never played before.
June 24, 2006: The Wimbledon draw has been released and Mark is in the bottom quarter of the top half of the draw. He will face Frenchman Paul-Henri Matheui in the first round. Top seeds in his quarter are Nalbandian (4), Johansson (12), and Blake (8). Mark was scheduled to play an exhibition match against Nadel at the Hurlington Club this week prior to Wimbledon but NAdel withdrew due to a foot injury and there’s been no word if the exhibition went on with other players.
June 16, 2006: Mark can breathe a little easier tonight as the All England Club granted him one of the remaining wildcards for Wimbledon. Now fans just have to hope for a little luck from the draw!
June 15, 2006: Mark’s feeling of match win glory was sadly short lived with a 2-6, 6-3, 3-6 loss to Gonzalez in the third round. Mark fought for the match and showed signs of good quality play, but he had a bit of trouble with the serve and that cost him (and getting broken the first game of the match didn’t exactly set a good tone). Unfortunately for Mark I have a feeling two match wins just won’t be enough for the All England Club to justify a wildcard when there are many other deserving players out there. Thankfully for fans, Mark has indicated that if he doesn’t get a wildcard he will be attempting to qualify, and that might not be a bad thing – he could certainly use the match play.
June 14, 2006 pm: For a player who couldn’t manage to win one match on the hardcourts, Mark proved his grass court prowess by winning two in one day! Following his morning defeat of Moodie, Philippoussis went on to defeat Grosjean 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 4-6. Grosjean is ranked 23 so it’s an impressive win for Mark and will garner him some nice bonus points in the rankings. Hopefully it will also impress the All England Club. Mark looked in good form in both matches and that all important serve was firing – 22 aces in the Grosjean match alone! Mark will only get a short time to rest however as he has the first match of the day (granted a 12:30pm start) tomorrow against 6th seed Gonzalez. Big update to the photos page with photos from Queens as well as back at the Nasdaq 100. It appears that Mark has switched from Fila to Nike. Although there’s been no formal announcement Mark has been wearing the trademark Swoosh since late May and is wearing it still at Queens.
June 14, 20006: He won! He won! Mark won his first round match at Queens Club today defeating Moodie 6-3, 6-4. Showing that grass is his best surface Mark looked comfortable during the match and while not an inspiring performance Mark played a solid game. The key to the match was Mark’s serve that held up throughout the match. Next up he’ll face Grosjean against whom he lost earlier this year at the Australian (though Mark did win their lone meeting on grass at Wimbledon in 2003).
June 13, 2006: That staple of the British grass court season has struck earlier, with rain interrupting play today at Queens Club. They haven’t released a revised order of play for tomorrow but about half the matches got completed so Mark will likely have the second match of the day tomorrow. Also he must still wait for a Wimbledon wildcard. The All England Club announced 3 of its’ 8 mens wildcards (all Brits – Alex Bogdanovic, Richard Bloomfield and Jamie Baker) and will be announcing the other 5 later this week. It is likely they are waiting to see how players fare at Queens so it is now even more important than before for Mark to play well.
June 12, 2006: Queen’s Club begins tomorrow and Mark will take the court on day two of play (Tuesday). He will be facing off against Wesley Moodie of South Africa who’s currently ranked 70th in the world. Tomorrow is also the big day when the All England Club will be announcing their wildcards for Wimbledon.
Mark has secured one step on the road back – today he was granted a wildcard into the Stella Artois grass court tournament at Queen’s Club. The Stella tournament organizers have been good to Mark over the years since he won the event way back in 1997. Mark will still need to receive a wildcard for Wimbledon if he wants to avoid having to qualify at Roehampton.
It’s another vanishing act for Mark. He was scheduled to play at the Harrah’s tournament in Tunica starting this week but his name is missing from the draw. Though there’s been no reports, my guess it’s either a return of one of his nagging injuries from this season. Not a good sign if he wants to qualify at the French (again, no word on that but since he turned down a wildcard playoff, my guess is that he’s try to get through the qualifying round).