2001 Australian Open: Pat Rafter’s last chance
If the collective emotions of the Australian people could be harnassed, Patrick Rafter would have won a sackful of Australian championships. He was one of our most popular players because of his gallantry, his dashing style of play, and lack of affectation. His good looks won him a few points too.
Ever since Mark Edmondson won the 1976 Open, Australians had been awaiting another home-grown champion to place his name on the men’s honour roll. One of the vanishing breed of serve and volley players, Rafter slowly imposed himself on the Australian consciousness in the 90s. But he rarely played as well at home as on foreign shores. He twice won the US Open and twice made the Wimbledon final.
His best effort at Melbourne Park was a fourth round finish in 1995 – the best, that is, until 2001, when he faced Andre Agassi in a semifinal, with a chance to play either Arnaud Clement or Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the final.
On a warm, steamy evening, Rafter led Agassi by two sets to one. As the match wore on, however, the heat and tension took toll of the Aussie’s muscles, causing him to sweat heavily, cramp, and struggle with fatigue. Agassi, keeping down unforced errors, won 7-5 2-6 6-7 6-2 6-3.
Source: 2010 official program