Jump to content

Pat Rafter

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Patrick Rafter
Rafter at the 2015 Australian Open
Full namePatrick Michael Rafter
Country (sports) Australia
ResidenceLennox Head, New South Wales, Australia
Born (1972-12-28) 28 December 1972 (age 51)
Mount Isa, Queensland, Australia
Height185 cm (6 ft 1 in)[1]
Turned pro1991
Retired2003 (last match November 2001)
PlaysRight-handed (one-handed backhand)
Prize moneyUS$11,133,128
Int. Tennis HoF2006 (member page)
Career record358–191 (65.2%)
Career titles11
Highest rankingNo. 1 (26 July 1999)
Grand Slam singles results
Australian OpenSF (2001)
French OpenSF (1997)
WimbledonF (2000, 2001)
US OpenW (1997, 1998)
Other tournaments
Tour FinalsRR (1997, 2001)
Grand Slam CupF (1997)
Olympic Games2R (2000)
Career record214–111 (65.8%)
Career titles10
Highest rankingNo. 6 (1 February 1999)
Grand Slam doubles results
Australian OpenW (1999)
French OpenSF (1998)
WimbledonSF (1996, 1998)
US OpenSF (1996)

Patrick Michael Rafter (born 28 December 1972) is an Australian former world No. 1 tennis player. He reached the top Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) singles ranking on 26 July 1999. His career highlights include consecutive US Open titles in 1997 and 1998, consecutive runner-up appearances at Wimbledon in 2000 and 2001, winning the 1999 Australian Open men's doubles tournament alongside Jonas Björkman, and winning two singles and two doubles ATP Masters titles.

He became the first man in the Open Era to win Canada Masters, Cincinnati Masters and the US Open in the same year, which he achieved in 1998; this achievement has been dubbed the American Summer Slam. To date, only two players have followed this feat: Andy Roddick in 2003, and Rafael Nadal in 2013. Rafter is the third man in the Open Era to reach semifinals or better of every Grand Slam tournament in both singles and doubles, after Rod Laver and Stefan Edberg, and remains the last man to date to accomplish this. Rafter is also the only player to remain undefeated against Roger Federer with at least three meetings, though the meetings took place early in Federer's career. He is also the only player with a winning record over the Swiss on all the three main surfaces: hard, clay and grass.[2]

Tennis career[edit]

Rafter turned professional in 1991. During the course of his career, he twice won the men's singles title at the US Open and was twice the runner-up at Wimbledon. He was known for his serve-and-volley style of play.

Early years (1991–1996)[edit]

Rafter won his first tour-level match in 1993, at Wimbledon. He reached the third round, before losing to Andre Agassi. He also reached the semifinals in Indianapolis. He defeated Pete Sampras in the quarterfinals in three tight sets, before losing to Boris Becker in the semifinals. Rafter finished 1993 with a ranking of 66.[3]

Rafter won his first career singles title in 1994 in Manchester. Prior to 1997, this was the only ATP singles title he had won.

Breakthrough and stardom (1997–1999)[edit]

Rafter's breakthrough came in 1997. At that year's French Open, he reached the semifinals, falling in four sets to two time former champion Sergi Bruguera. Then, he surprised many by winning the US Open, defeating Andriy Medvedev, Magnus Norman, Lionel Roux, Andre Agassi, Magnus Larsson, and Michael Chang before beating Greg Rusedski in a four-set final; he was the first non-American to win the title since Stefan Edberg in 1992. This was his first Grand Slam title, and catapulted him ahead of Chang to finish the year ranked #2 in the world (behind only Pete Sampras). The unexpected nature of his US Open title led many, including Hall-of-famer and four-time US Open champion John McEnroe to criticise Rafter as a "one-slam wonder".[4]

Rafter had a particularly strong year in 1998, winning the Canadian Open and the Cincinnati Masters ─ Andre Agassi (1995), Andy Roddick (2003), and Rafael Nadal (2013) are the only other players to have won both of these tournaments in the same year. Rafter defeated ninth-ranked Richard Krajicek in the Toronto final and second-ranked Pete Sampras in the Cincinnati final. When asked about the difference between himself and Rafter following their titles, Sampras responded, "10 grand slams". He added that a tennis player must come back and win a Grand Slam again in order to be considered great.[4]

Entering the U.S. Open as the defending champion, Rafter reached the final by defeating Hicham Arazi, Hernán Gumy, David Nainkin, Goran Ivanišević and Jonas Björkman before besting Sampras in a five-set semifinal.[5] Rafter then defended his US Open title by defeating fellow Australian Mark Philippoussis in four sets, committing only five unforced errors throughout the match.[4] Altogether, Rafter won six tournaments in 1998, finishing the year No. 4 in the world.

Rafter won the Australian Open men's doubles title in 1999 (partnering Jonas Björkman), making him one of few players in the modern era to win both a singles and doubles Grand Slam title during their career (fellow countryman Lleyton Hewitt would later achieve this feat in 2001). He and Björkman also won a doubles title at the ATP Masters Series event in Canada in 1999.[6] At the 1999 French Open, Rafter drew future world No. 1 and 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer in the first round, making him the first-ever opponent of Federer in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament. Rafter defeated him in four sets.[7] Rafter then reached the Wimbledon semifinals for the first time in 1999, losing in straight sets to Agassi. This was the first of three consecutive years that the two met in the Wimbledon semifinals. July 1999 saw Rafter holding the world No. 1 men's singles ranking for one week, making him the shortest-reigning world No. 1 in ATP Tour history.[8] As the two-time defending US Open champion, Rafter lost in the first round of the tournament, retiring in the fifth set against Cédric Pioline after succumbing to shoulder tendinitis. Rafter's shoulder injury wound up being serious enough to necessitate surgery.[9]

Due to injury, Rafter was unable to play in the 1999 Davis Cup final won by Australia; however, he won important matches in the earlier rounds to help the team qualify.[10]

Late career (2000–2003)[edit]

Rafter playing for the Australia Davis Cup team in 2001

Rafter's ranking had fallen to No. 21 by the time he reached the Wimbledon final in July 2000. In the semifinals, he defeated Agassi 7–5, 4–6, 7–5, 4–6, 6–3. The match was hailed as a classic, particularly because of their contrasting playing styles, with Agassi playing primarily from the baseline and Rafter attacking the net. Rafter faced Sampras in the final, who was gunning for a record-breaking seventh Wimbledon title overall (and seven in the past eight years). While Rafter made a strong start to the match and took the first set, after the match he would claim that he had "choked" part way through the second set tie-break, and was then not able to get back into his game. Sampras won in four sets.

Rafter played on the Australian Davis Cup Team that lost in the final in 2000 (to Spain) and 2001 (to France). Rafter played on the Australian teams that won the World Team Cup in 1999 and 2001.

In 2001, Rafter reached the semifinals of the Australian Open. Despite holding a two sets to one lead and having the support of the home crowd, Rafter lost the match to Agassi in five sets.[11] Later in the year, Rafter again reached the Wimbledon final. For the third straight year, he faced Agassi in the semifinals and won in yet another five-setter, 2–6, 6–3, 3–6, 6–2, 8–6. Much like the previous year's semifinal, this match also received praise for the quality of play that the two men displayed.[12][13] The final was originally scheduled to play on the second Sunday but was rescheduled to the third Monday because the other semifinal between Goran Ivanišević and Tim Henman was played on three separate days. In the final he played Ivanišević, who had reached the Wimbledon final three times before but had slid down the rankings to World No. 125 following injury problems. In a five-set struggle that lasted just over three hours, Ivanišević prevailed. He played his last match at the Davis Cup final on rubber, winning the singles but losing the doubles.

Rafter did not play any tour matches in 2002. He spent the year recovering from injuries. In January 2003, he announced his retirement from professional tennis, stating that he had lost all motivation to compete at the top level.[14]

Comebacks and post-retirement activities[edit]

The 5,500-seat centre court of the Queensland Tennis Centre in Brisbane, Australia, was named Pat Rafter Arena in Rafter's honour.[15] In 2002, he won the Australian of the Year award.[16] This created some controversy, as he had spent much of his career residing in Bermuda for tax purposes.[17]

Rafter did return at the beginning of the 2004 season to play doubles at two tournaments only; the 2004 Australian Open and the 2004 AAPT Championships (in Adelaide). However, he lost in round one of both events, playing alongside Joshua Eagle.

In 2005, Rafter won the International Club's prestigious Jean Borotra Sportsmanship Award.

He was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame and inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2006.[18] On Australia Day 2008, Rafter was inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame.

In 2009, as part of the Q150 celebrations, Rafter was announced as one of the Q150 Icons of Queensland for his role as a "sports legend".[19]

In October 2010, Rafter was announced as Australia's Davis Cup captain.[20] Rafter stood down as Australia's Davis Cup captain on 29 January 2015.[21] He was succeeded by Wally Masur.

On 12 January 2014, Rafter—then aged 41—announced that he would be partnering current Australian number one Lleyton Hewitt in the doubles draw of the 2014 Australian Open. The comeback, however, was short-lived, as the pair went down in straight sets to eventual runner-ups Eric Butorac and Raven Klaasen in the first round.[22]

ATP Champions Tour[edit]

At the 2009 AEGON Masters Tennis, Rafter lost his opening round robin match against the 1987 Wimbledon Champion and fellow Aussie Pat Cash 2–6, 6–2, 10–6. In a much anticipated match and replay of the 2001 Wimbledon final, Rafter faced Goran Ivanišević. Rafter won the match when Ivanisevic retired while serving for the opening set, 3–5. Despite his performance, the retirement was enough to push Rafter into the final against Stefan Edberg. In what is described as a spell-binding serve-and-volley showdown,[23] Rafter won the match 6–7, 6–4, 11–9. This represented the first time that Rafter was able to defeat Edberg.

Career statistics[edit]

Grand Slam performance timeline[edit]

(W) winner; (F) finalist; (SF) semifinalist; (QF) quarterfinalist; (#R) rounds 4, 3, 2, 1; (RR) round-robin stage; (Q#) qualification round; (DNQ) did not qualify; (A) absent; (NH) not held; (SR) strike rate (events won / competed); (W–L) win–loss record.
Tournament 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 SR W–L
Australian Open Q2 Q1 1R 1R 3R 4R 2R 1R 3R 3R A SF 0 / 9 15–9
French Open A A A Q3 4R 1R 1R SF 2R 3R 2R 1R 0 / 8 12–8
Wimbledon A A Q2 3R 2R 1R 4R 4R 4R SF F F 0 / 9 29–9
US Open A A Q1 1R 3R 2R 1R W W 1R 1R 4R 2 / 9 20–7
Win–loss 0–0 0–0 0–1 2–3 8–4 4–4 4–4 15–3 13–3 9–4 7–3 14–4 2 / 35 76–33

Finals: 4 (2 titles, 2 runners-up)[edit]

Result Year Tournament Surface Opponent Score
Win 1997 US Open Hard United Kingdom Greg Rusedski 6–3, 6–2, 4–6, 7–5
Win 1998 US Open (2) Hard Australia Mark Philippoussis 6–3, 3–6, 6–2, 6–0
Loss 2000 Wimbledon Grass United States Pete Sampras 7–6(12–10), 6–7(5–7), 4–6, 2–6
Loss 2001 Wimbledon (2) Grass Croatia Goran Ivanišević 3–6, 6–3, 3–6, 6–2, 7–9

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Patrick Rafter". atpworldtour.com. Association of Tennis Professionals. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
  2. ^ s.r.o., eHM. "Patrick Rafter vs. Roger Federer - The Ericsson Open - Miami - TennisLive.com". www.tennislive.net.
  3. ^ "Patrick Rafter | Overview | ATP World Tour | Tennis". ATP World Tour. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Dillman, Lisa (14 September 1998). "Rafter Grandly Slams U.S. Open Criticism". Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ "Sampras slight raises stakes for 'Pat-trick'". The Independent. 28 August 1999. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022.
  6. ^ "Patrick Rafter | Titles and Finals | ATP Tour | Tennis". ATP Tour.
  7. ^ "1999 French Open Men's Singles" (PDF). 1 October 1999. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 October 1999.
  8. ^ "Top 5 tennis players with the shortest reign as World No. 1". EssentiallySports. 9 August 2015.
  9. ^ "Rio Olympics 2016 (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". ABC News.
  10. ^ Matthews, Bruce (11 January 2003). "Good guy of tennis quits for his family". Herald Sun (First ed.). Melbourne, Victoria. p. 7.
  11. ^ "Survival of the fittest".
  12. ^ "Rafter charges into final". bbc.co.uk. 6 July 2001.
  13. ^ "Back for more".
  14. ^ "Rafter announces retirement". The Sydney Morning Herald. 10 January 2003.
  15. ^ "Stadium named after Pat Rafter - Brisbane International Tennis". 23 October 2008.
  16. ^ Lewis, Wendy (2010). Australians of the Year. Pier 9 Press. ISBN 978-1-74196-809-5.
  17. ^ "Pat comes home from exile". The Sydney Morning Herald. 17 September 2002. Retrieved 22 January 2024.
  18. ^ "Patrick Rafter". Sport Australia Hall of Fame. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  19. ^ Bligh, Anna (10 June 2009). "PREMIER UNVEILS QUEENSLAND'S 150 ICONS". Queensland Government. Archived from the original on 24 May 2017. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
  20. ^ "Pat Rafter named Australian Davis Cup captain". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. 20 October 2010. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  21. ^ "Lleyton Hewitt to retire from tennis after 2016 Australian Open, Pat Rafter stands down as Davis Cup captain". ABC News. ABC. 29 January 2015. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  22. ^ ATP Staff. "Hewitt/Rafter Doubles Campaign Ends in Defeat". ATP World Tour. Archived from the original on 16 February 2015.
  23. ^ "Pat Cash Wins First Ever Meeting With Pat Rafter". Archived from the original on 3 November 2012.

External links[edit]