By Claude England, Maryland Match Point
At first I thought it must have been the strong capuccino I had enjoyed after ou last dinner in Melbourne that was keeping me so wide awake, but as the minutes continued to tick by, I came to realize it as the sheer excitement of the past five days at the Australian Open that was still tingling through my body.
So many talented players, great matches, and the magnificent state-of-the-art Australian Open facility. Where to begin?
Mark Philippoussis opened up the center court action with a straight victory over Nicolas Kiefer, who would have, at that time, thought he would go on to upset Pete Sampras in straight sets, only to be thrashed in the following round by fellow Australian Mark Woodforde.
Next it was defending champion Andre Agassi who basically limped onto center court after having the misfortune of hurting a tendon in his knee during a fall on his apartment steps. Andre, wearing a pathetic bandage, somehow won this match against Argentine qualifier Gaston Etlis, who at one point was serving for the match, and at another time was within two points of perhaps the upset of the decade. It was a sad sight from both ends of the court. Etlis played brilliant tennis, showing no mercy for Andre’s inability to move around the court, hitting precision drop shots that the defending champion, instead of racing towards, could only stand and watch. But when it came to winning those final points, Etlis became even more creative in finding ways not to win, and Andre hobbled to a 6-3 in the fifth victory.
In the players’ box, in the Royal Box, in the commentary box or on the courts, former champions were everywhere!
2-time Wimbledon champion Stefan Edberg, Roger Federer’s coach:
3-time champion Boris Becker, now Novak Djokovic coach:
Amélie Mauresmo, Andy Murray’s new coach and winner in 2006:
3 former Roland Garros champions and a former Australian Open runner-up were on Court 1 on Thursday for a fun Legends doubles match.
The beautiful Court 1 – nicknamed the “Bullring” because of its circular shape – is a favorite among serious tennis fans because of its relatively small size and feeling of close proximity to the action.
The Court number 1 has been the scene of some stunning French Open upsets, such as unseeded Gustavo Kuerten‘s 3rd-round victory over Thomas Muster in 1997, on his way to his first of three Roland Garros titles; and Gabriela Sabatini‘s defeat – after a 6-1, 5-1 lead and five match points – to Mary Joe Fernandez in the 1993 quarterfinals. It was also the site of Marat Safin’s famous “dropped pants” match against Felix Mantilla in 2004.
Sadly, court number one will be destroyed. One more proof that decision-makers have no idea what fans like and what makes the beauty of Roland Garros. More informations on Roland Garros stadium modernization.
Long rallies at the net, jokes, that match was great fun for players and spectators alike:
Albert Costa is currently coaching Feliciano Lopez, Thomas Enqvist is Fernando Verdasco’s coach and Carlos Moya is now Spain’s Davis Cup team captain, but I have no idea what Gaston Gaudio has been up to since his retirement, if you have any info, leave a comment below, thanks!
Enjoy more pictures:
They played at Roland Garros a few years ago, they are now back in Paris as coaches, TV commentators or are taking part to the Legends trophy, and with this new trend of great champions turning to coaching, there’s plenty of past champions to see around the grounds at Roland Garros.
6-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker, coach of Novak Djokovic:
Goran Ivanisevic, quarterfinalist in 1990, the year he beat then world No 1 Stefan Edberg in the first round. He now coaches Marin Cilic:
Sergi Bruguera, winner in 1993 and 1994, coach of Richard Gasquet:
Magnus Norman, finalist in 2000, coach of Stanislas Wawrinka:
Sébastien Grosjean, semi-finalist at Roland Garros in 2001, coach of Richard Gasquet:
Fabrice Santoro, doubles finalist in 2004, interviews players after their matches:
Iva Majoli, Roland Garros champion in 1997:
Anastasia Myskina, first ever female Russian player to win a Grand Slam title (Roland Garros in 2004):
1998 Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna:
Natasha Zvereva, runner-up in that famous 1988 final against Steffi Graf:
Martinez is now captain of the Spanish Fed Cup team. Tauziat is the former coach of Eugénie Bouchard (below a picture of them two at Roland Garros last year), she now coaches Aleksandra Wozniak:
Gaston Gaudio, surprise winner in 2004:
Albert Costa, winner in 2002. He is currently coaching Feliciano Lopez.
Stefan Edberg flew from Indian Wells to Stockholm to take part to the Kings of Tennis tournament. He beat Henri Leconte and Mats Wilander but Thomas Enqvist was simply to good in final.
Next up for Edberg is a trip to Miami to join Roger Federer for the Miami Masters next week.
Henri Leconte, Marcelo Rios, Carlos Moya, Mats Wilander, Stefan Edberg and Thomas Enqvist. The legends gathered in Stockholm for the 2014 edition of the Kings of Tennis and it was the “home player” Enqvist who impressed the most.
In Friday’s final against Edberg there was no doubt: the 40-year-old dominated all through the match and only conceeded five games.
Son of success
Afterwards, he revealed the secret of his success: his son Tim, 7.
He coached me the all week. He used to say, “Dad, why don’t you run on the balls?”. I answered: “Because I can not reach them.” Then he just said: “Yes, but you can not know unless you run.”
The fact that we can have Stefan and Mats (Wilander) here, after all they have done for Swedish tennis, is incredible. Thank you for being here, said Enqvist.
Edberg, who recently hit with a certain Roger Federer (his current “pupil”), admitted the defeat and also praised Enqvist.
He went a little too fast today. He played fantastically well, so there was not much I could do. I tried to mix up the game but it was not enough. He (Enqvist) deserved to win.
An exciting day of tennis at the Optima Open on Saturday, in front of a sell-out crowd.
3 entertaining matches with:
– 2 players I had never seen play: Mark Philippoussis and Thomas Enqvist
– 2 players I had never seen play against each other: the two legends Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe
and 2 players I’ve seen countless times: Guy Forget and Henri Leconte
Former top 20 Sabine Appelmans presenting the players: