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Philippoussis, Hewitt Will Play Doubles In L.A., Cincinnati

Photo By Fred Mullane By Richard Pagliaro

They've enjoyed varying degrees of singles success in recent months, and now Davis Cup teammates Lleyton Hewitt and Mark Philippoussis will partner in the doubles draw of two upcoming ATP events to prepare for Australia's Davis Cup September semifinal against Switzerland.

Wimbledon runner-up Philippoussis and 2002 Wimbledon champion Hewitt plan to play doubles at the Mercedes-Benz Cup, which begins on July 28th in Los Angeles and the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters starting on August 11th in Cincinnati.

The pair will reprise a doubles partnership they launched in Scottsdale at the Franklin Templeton Tennis Classic in March and continued at the Nasdaq-100 Open in Miami.

In Scottsdale, Hewitt and Philippoussis scored three consecutive victories — beating Argentines David Nalbandian and Sebastian Prieto, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1; overwhelming Donald Johnson and Jared Palmer, 6-3, 6-4; and edging fellow Aussies Wayne Arthurs and Paul Hanley, 7-6(2) 6-7(4) 2-1, retired — before falling to James Blake and Mark Merklein in the final, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-7(5).

The doubles partners reunited in the Scottsdale singles final with Hewitt scoring a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Philippoussis. It was the first of two tournament titles on the season for Hewitt, who followed his Scottsdale triumph by crushing Gustavo Kuerten, 6-1, 6-1 to win Indian Wells. Since that victory, Hewitt has posted a 10-5 record and has failed to surpass the quarterfinals in five consecutive tournaments.

The 26-year-old Philippoussis has never played a Davis Cup doubles match, but he possesses tremendous power both on serve and return and is a capable volleyer, which are all assets in doubles play. The Hewitt-Philippoussis pairing offers Australian Davis Cup captain John Fitzgerald another option after the expected starting doubles team of Todd Woodbridge and Wayne Arthurs.

In Australia's 5-0 sweep of Sweden in the Davis Cup quarterfinals, Arthurs and Woodbridge posted a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 victory over the Swedish team of Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Enqvist to raise their Davis Cup doubles record to 2-3. At Wimbledon, Woodbridge partnered with Bjorkman to claim his eighth Wimbledon doubles title.

Barring injury, Woodbridge will almost certainly be one half of the doubles team for Australia with Arthurs, Philippoussis or Hewitt possible partners depending on the score after the first day of play and the demands of singles play Hewitt and Philippoussis face against scheduled Swiss singles starters Roger Federer and

"In Sweden I think Todd and Wayne played probably 30 per cent better than at any other time they've played for us," Fitzgerald told Margie McDonald of The Australian. "So I really feel if they can get anywhere near that form, then they're a pretty good proposition."

Australia hosts Switzerland in the Davis Cup semifinals, September 19th-21st at Melbourne Park. The first day of singles play could feature a rematch of the Wimbledon final with Federer taking on Philippoussis.

The 21-year-old Federer has been a passionate Davis Cup performer. He owns a 20-7 Davis Cup record, including a 6-0 mark on hard courts, and is eager to excel in his Davis Cup encounter with Philippoussis.

"I'm thinking a little bit already about that upcoming match in Davis Cup, you know," Federer said. "That was a disappointment for me to lose against him on clay in Hamburg. I really tried to get it back, then to also feel better when I play him in Davis Cup. I don't feel pressure. I'm just happy to carry the Swiss flag on the men's side of the tennis. So I don't feel any pressure from that side."

Federer has prevailed over Philippoussis in three of their four meetings, with Philippoussis' lone win coming over Federer on clay, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 at the Tennis Masters Series-Hamburg in May.
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