Younes El Aynaoui

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Younes El Aynaoui
يونس العيناوي
Aynaoui.jpg
Country  Morocco
Residence Rabat, Morocco
Born (1971-09-12) 12 September 1971 (age 43)
Rabat, Morocco
Height 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in)
Turned pro 1990
Plays Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Prize money $4,002,608
Singles
Career record 264–226
Career titles 5
Highest ranking No. 14 (11 March 2003)
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian Open QF (2000, 2003)
French Open 4R (1995, 2000)
Wimbledon 3R (2000, 2001, 2003)
US Open QF (2002, 2003)
Other tournaments
Olympic Games 2R (1992)
Doubles
Career record 24–55
Career titles 0
Highest ranking No. 85 (14 July 2003)
Last updated on: 9 April 2012.

Younes El Aynaoui (Arabic: يونس العيناوي‎) (born 12 September 1971 in Rabat) is a retired professional tennis player from Morocco.

He is a five-time singles winner on the ATP Tour and reached his career-high singles ranking of World No. 14 in March 2003, at the age of 31. His long career has been plagued by injuries and he did not play competitive tennis between September 2008 and January 2010. However in December 2009 he scheduled to play at the ATP Champions Tour tournament in London, where he made his debut at the senior tour.

Popularity in Morocco[edit]

El Aynaoui is an extremely popular figure in Morocco. He received a gold medal – the nation's highest sporting honor – from King Mohammed VI. In a 2003 poll by leading Moroccan newspaper L'Economiste, readers named El Aynaoui their favorite role model for society, ahead of the prime minister and athletics star Hicham El Guerrouj. The center court of the Royal Tennis Club in Marrakech is named after El Aynaoui.

Tennis career[edit]

At the Bollettieri Academy[edit]

In 1990, at the age of 18, El Aynaoui traveled to Bradenton, Florida, to spend a week at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, after which he decided to turn professional. He continued to hone his skills at the academy for the next two years where, in order to afford the fees, he drove the academy bus, cleaned the gym, strung rackets, tossed practice balls to campers, and helped to babysit younger players.He also saved money in a high interest account.

First ATP singles final[edit]

In 1993, he reached his first top-level Grand Prix singles final in Casablanca, where he lost to the Argentinian player Guillermo Pérez-Roldán.

1996 to 1998[edit]

After finishing runner-up in three tour events in 1996, El Aynaoui suffered a broken right ankle. He had surgery on his ankle in November that year, but the injury continued to cause him problems. He missed seven months of the season in 1997 and had a second surgery in February 1998. He returned to the tour that summer ranked World Number 444, and enjoyed a run of strong results. He won five Challenger series tournaments and finished runner-up at one top-level event in Santiago. By the end of the year he had improved his ranking to World Number 49, and was named the ATP's Comeback Player of the Year for 1998.

1999 to 2003[edit]

In 1999, El Aynaoui won his first top-level singles title in Amsterdam and the following year he reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open where he lost to Yevgeny Kafelnikov. El Aynaoui won his second top-level title in 2001 at Bucharest. He was runner-up in Amsterdam that year, losing in the final to Àlex Corretja in a five-set, 53-game match (6–3, 5–7, 7–6, 3–6, 6–4) which was the year's longest tour final. He was also runner-up in Lyon, defeated by Ivan Ljubičić in final.

El Aynaoui captured two tour titles in 2002 (Doha and Munich), and reached the quarter-finals of the US Open. The following year, he reached the quarter-finals of the Australian and US Opens and finished the season ranked a career-high World Number 14.

Longest Grand Slam fifth set[edit]

The most famous match of El Aynaoui's career came in the quarter finals of the Australian Open in 2003. He qualified for the match by defeating World No. 1, Lleyton Hewitt, 6–7, 7–6, 7–6, 6–4, in a very high quality match in the fourth round, thus setting up a quarter-final showdown with the up-and-coming American Andy Roddick (who would reach the World No. 1 ranking later that year). The five-set, five-hour match included the then longest fifth set in Grand Slam tennis history (since surpassed by the marathon Wimbledon 2010 match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut). Roddick won the battle 4–6, 7–6, 4–6, 6–4, 21–19. Both players saved match points before the fifth set ended.

Return to ATP Tour in 2007[edit]

After a three-year hiatus due to injury, El Aynaoui made a comeback to the ATP tour in January 2007, and was awarded a wildcard at the Qatar Open, Doha. He beat former Australian Open winner Thomas Johansson with two tie-breaks in the first round, only to be defeated 6–3 6–4 in the second round by the then World Number 5 and eventual winner Ivan Ljubičić.

Another comeback attempt in 2008[edit]

In March 2008, after a seven-month lay-off due to injuries, he won a Futures event in Castelldefels, Spain on clay,[1] and in April he won a challenger event in Chiasso, Switzerland. In May, he reached the semi-finals of the BMW Open in Munich. He was oldest player to reach the semi-finals of an ATP Tour level event since Jimmy Connors in 1993. He also reached the quarter-finals of the Casablanca Open in Morocco, retiring to Juan Mónaco due to an injury in his left calf.

ATP Champions Tour (2009)[edit]

El Aynaoui made his debut as a wild card at the senior tour in London, the last stop on the tour, joining Stefan Edberg, Patrick Rafter, Cédric Pioline, Pat Cash, Goran Ivanišević, Mark Philippoussis and Greg Rusedski. He won two matches, against Rusedski and Philippoussis.

2010 comeback[edit]

In the 2010 Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha, Qatar, El Aynaoui received a wildcard to participate in the tournament.

He played American Ryler DeHeart in the first round of this tournament and won 7–6 7–6, thus becoming at age 38 the oldest player to win a main tour ATP match since Jimmy Connors in 1995. However, El Aynaoui's run came to an end when he was defeated 6–3, 6–1 by Belgian Steve Darcis.[2]

Singles titles (5)[edit]

Legend (Singles)
Grand Slam (0)
Tennis Masters Cup (0)
ATP Masters Series (0)
ATP Tour (5)
Outcome No. Date Tournament Surface Opponent Score
Winner 1. 2 August 1999 Amsterdam, Netherlands Clay Argentina Mariano Zabaleta 6–0, 6–3
Winner 2. 10 September 2001 Bucharest, Romania Clay Spain Albert Montanes 7–6(7–5), 7–6(7–2)
Winner 3. 31 December 2001 Doha, Qatar Hard Spain Felix Mantilla 4–6, 6–2, 6–2
Winner 4. 8 April 2002 Casablanca, Morocco Clay Argentina Guillermo Canas 3–6, 6–3, 6–2
Winner 5. 29 April 2002 Munich, Germany Clay Germany Rainer Schüttler 6–4, 6–4

Singles performance timeline[edit]

Tournament 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Career SR
Grand Slams
Australian Open A A A A 2R 1R A A A 2R QF 1R 3R QF 1R A A A A A 0 / 8
French Open A A A A 1R 4R 1R A A 2R 4R 2R 2R 3R A A A A A A 0 / 8
Wimbledon A A A A 1R A 1R A A 2R 3R 3R 1R 3R A A A A A A 0 / 7
U.S. Open A A A A 1R A 1R A A 2R 1R 1R QF QF 1R 1R A A A A 0 / 9
Grand Slam SR 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 4 0 / 2 0 / 3 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 4 0 / 4 0 / 4 0 / 4 0 / 4 0 / 2 0 / 1 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 32
Year End Ranking 351 570 311 51 117 110 70 237 45 33 25 38 22 14 644 228 189 167 201 N/A

A = did not attend tournament

References[edit]

  1. ^ El Aynaoui Makes a Comeback (Again) | TennisGrandstand
  2. ^ "ATPWT". ATP World Tour. 6 January 2010. Retrieved 6 January 2010. [dead link]

External links[edit]