Up-and-coming Americans also get wild cards
LONDON -- Former runner-up Mark Philippoussis, James Blake and a group of up-and-coming Americans were on Friday handed wild cards into the main draw of the U.S. Open starting later this month.
Australian Philippoussis, runner-up in New York in 1998, has slumped from a high of eighth in the world rankings to 202nd because of injury and no longer qualifies for top-flight events through his ranking.
The powerful 28-year-old, who also finished runner-up at Wimbledon in 2003, has played just eight tour-level events this year.
Blake is currently ranked 70th but had been ranked 107th and missed direct acceptance at the time of the U.S. Open entry deadline.
He reached the final of the U.S. Open Series event in Washington, D.C., two weeks ago. Last year, the 25-year-old finished in the top 100 for the fourth consecutive season despite a series of injuries and illness.
They are joined by Americans Jan-Michael Gambill, Brian Baker, Scoville Jenkins, Rajeev Ram, Bobby Reynolds and Donald Young in the main draw of the Aug. 29 to Sept. 11 grand slam.
Young, 16, is the top-ranked junior tennis player in the world and earned his wild card by winning the 2005 USTA Boys' 18s National Championship last weekend in Kalamazoo, Mich.
He will attempt to become the youngest player to win a men's singles match at the U.S. Open since Michael Chang in 1987, and will be the sixth youngest ever to compete in the U.S. Open.
Young defeated Sam Querrey in the Kalamazoo final to become the second African-American to win the Boys' 18s title in the tournament's 90-year history, joining last year's winner Jenkins.
Both the men's and women's U.S. Open singles champions will earn $1.1 million with the ability to earn up to $2.2 million based on their performances in the U.S. Open Series.