Mark makes the semis at Ordina Open

June 18, 2005: On Friday Mark continued his winning ways by defeating Sanguinetti 7-6 (7-0), 7-6 (7-2) to advance to the semifinals. Unfortunately today he lost 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-5), 3-6 to Lorda, the defending champion at the Ordina Open. It was a tight match until Mark lost serve in the third set and couldn’t convert it back. But fans should take heart that it’s probably a good thing that Mark didn’t advance again as now he has a short breather before starting Wimbledon. On-site reports indicate that Mark’s game improved with each match and that he’s showing some very aggressive net serve and volley tennis.

June 16, 2005: It’s a streak breaker! Mark won today 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (7-2) over Garcia-Lopez breaking a streak that goes all the way back to last year’s Wimbledon! It’s the first time since then that he’s won two singles matches at the same tournament! Mark wasn’t at his best today, but he held it together to advance. Next up is David Sanguinetti. The Wimbledon draw also came out today and Mark will play Beck in the first round with a potential match-up against Safin in the second round. You can see the full draw on the Wimbledon website.

June 14, 2005: Mark managed to hold it together today to win over Rochus 6-3, 7-6 (10-8). He’s taking some anti-infammatories for his back and they’re making him slightly nauseaus, which is affecting his game. His serve is firing though, and he’s hoping that the match play will help the back and get him in form for Wimbledon. And for the first time in weeks there’s positive upward movement in Mark’s rankings!

June 11, 2005: In an attempt to get some more match play prior to Wimbledon, Mark accepted a last minute place in the Ordina Open in the Netherlands next week. He’ll start off against Christophe Rochus. Interestingly, Mark’s only played him twice, both times earlier this year on hardcourt, they’ve each won once. (Thanks to Mars for the tournament news)

A back injury this time at Surbiton

May 31, 2005: Poor Mark just cannot seem to get a piece of luck to go his way. About an hour prior to his match today he withdrew with a lower back injury. According to the doctor at Surbiton it’s a “lower intercostal neuralgic occurrence.” No word yet on exactly how serious this might be, so hopefully a week of rest will put him back in form to start at Stella Artois next week. It might however impact the All England club’s decision on whether to grant Mark a wildcard to Wimbledon. Their decision’s are announced the day play starts at Stella Artois next week, so there’s not even a chance that they can look to see how Mark performs there before making a decision. We’ll have to keep our fingers crossed that they look more to Mark’s past performances at Wimbledon than his current play (or lack there-of).

May 29, 2005: Good news for Mark’s grass court preparations as he got an open spot in the Surbiton Challenger that starts tomorrow. First up is Alex Bogdanovic from Britain. (thanks to Francesca for the news). Best of luck to Mark!

An ankle injury takes Mark out of the Nasdaq

March 26, 2005: Poor Mark just can’t seem to get any kind of good luck this season. In his match on Thursday against Rochus, Mark took a nasty fall after rolling his ankle – but he was able to get help from the trainer and finish the match. Unfortunately when the ankle didn’t seem to be getting better Mark had an MRI done and the diagnosis – torn ligament in his left ankle. He’s currently on crutches but he expects to be back on the court in three weeks. What that means for his next tournament is anyone’s guess as he’s forced to get by on wild cards for entry or step back and try his luck on the Challenger circuit. Here’s wishing Mark a speedy recovery!

March 25, 2005: Mark got some revenge on C. Rochus today, beating him in the first round at the Nasdaq 100 in Miami and avenging his loss to him last week at the Challenger event last week. Round two brings him 15th seed Gonzalez. Mark has also taken on a new coach. Andrew Florent, a Melbourne tennis club coach, has been given a two month trial period as an “assistant”. Florent has worked with Tennis Australia’s junior players and is a prior doubles specialist on the ATP tour, only retiring two years ago.

Mark sets return date

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.

Mark withdraws from Australian Open

It’s official, Mark formally withdrew from the Australian Open today at his doctor’s recommendation. Currently Mark is looking at resuming his tournament play in San Jose at the beginning of February. Because he’s pulling out based on a documented injury Mark invoked the rankings protection for six months, or eight tournaments that allows him entry at his ranking at time of injury – 109.

Injury and rankings worries

Mark has officially withdrawn from the Sydney International starting this week. He is receiving treatment for his injury and still hopes to be able to compete at the Australian Open. However, it is more than injury recovery time that Mark must be considering with regard to this event. By not competing this week Mark loses the 40 points he earned there last year. At the Open last year he advanced to the 4th round and earned 150 points. If he competes at the Open and does not match his 4th round appearance he could slide well outside 200th in the rankings. While the ranking is a horrid number to consider, it has further ramifications in that he would be outside the main draw for all ATP and grand slam tournaments and would require either a wildcard entry or having to go back to the Challenger circuit to earn the points back to make main draws again. But if he decides his injury is too severe to allow him to play the Open he’ll activate the ATP’s protected ranking option and when he recovers, he will be able to play eight tournaments over a six month period at his protected ranking of 109.