Pat Rafter

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Patrick Rafter
Patrick Rafter 2015.jpg
Pat Rafter at a 2015 Australian Open Player's party, January 2015
Country (sports)  Australia
Residence Pembroke, Bermuda
Born (1972-12-28) 28 December 1972 (age 44)
Mount Isa, Queensland, Australia
Height 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)[1]
Turned pro 1991
Retired 2002, 2014
Plays Right-handed (one-handed backhand)
Prize money $11,133,128
Int. Tennis HoF 2006 (member page)
Singles
Career record 358–191 (65.21%) (in Grand Slam and ATP Tour main draws, and in Davis Cup)
Career titles 11
Highest ranking No. 1 (26 July 1999)
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian Open SF (2001)
French Open SF (1997)
Wimbledon F (2000, 2001)
US Open W (1997, 1998)
Other tournaments
Tour Finals RR (1997, 2001)
Grand Slam Cup F (1997)
Olympic Games 2R (2000)
Doubles
Career record 214–111 (in Grand Slam and ATP Tour main draws, and in Davis Cup)
Career titles 10
Highest ranking No. 6 (1 February 1999)
Grand Slam Doubles results
Australian Open W (1999)
French Open SF (1998)
Wimbledon SF (1996, 1998)
US Open SF (1996)
Team competitions
Davis Cup W (1999)

Patrick Michael "Pat" Rafter (born 28 December 1972) is a former Australian professional tennis player. He reached a career-high Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) world No. 1 singles ranking on July 26, 1999. His career highlights include consecutive US Open titles in 1997 and 1998 and consecutive runner-up at Wimbledon in 2000 and 2001.

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 2 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 3 meetings. He is also the only player who has a winning record with the 18-time Grand Slam winner on all the three main tennis surfaces: hard, clay and grass.[2]

Tennis career[edit]

Rafter turned professional in 1991. 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 natural serve-and-volley style of play. Rafter was on the Australian Davis Cup Team that lost in the final in 2000 (to Spain) and 2001 (to France). He was unable to play in the 1999 Davis Cup final – where Australia beat France to win the cup – because of injury (though he won important matches in the earlier rounds to help the team qualify).

Rafter was on the Australian teams that won the World Team Cup in 1999 and 2001.

He retired from the professional tour at the end of 2002 (his last match was played in December 2001). He returns to the courts annually to play World Team Tennis for the Philadelphia Freedoms.

1991[edit]

1992[edit]

1993[edit]

1994[edit]

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

1995[edit]

1996[edit]

1997[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 Greg Rusedski in a four-set final and Andre Agassi and Michael Chang, among others, in earlier rounds; 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 U.S. Open title led many, including Hall-of-famer and four-time U.S. Open champion John McEnroe to criticise Rafter as a "one-slam wonder".[3]

1998[edit]

1998 was a particularly strong year for Rafter, who won the Canadian Open and Cincinnati in a row (only Andre Agassi, in 1995, Andy Roddick, in 2003, and Rafael Nadal, in 2013 also have won both 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 stated "10 grand slams", and that a player has to come back and win a Grand Slam again in order to be considered great.[3]

Following his title at Cincinnati, Rafter won a US Open warm-up tournament in Long Island, New York. Entering the US Open as the defending champion, he reached the final again, defeating Sampras in a five-set semifinal. Rafter pointedly took issue with Sampras' refusal to show him respect in defeat: "That is what really upsets me about him", Rafter said, "and the reason why I try to piss him off as much as I can."[4]

Rafter then defended his U.S. Open title by defeating fellow Australian Mark Philippoussis in four sets, committing only five unforced errors throughout the match. When asked about Sampras' earlier comments about having to win another Grand Slam in order to be considered great, Rafter replied: "Maybe you can ask him that question, if he thinks that now. For me, I won another Slam, and it hasn't sunk in yet. It's very, very exciting for me, especially to repeat it".[3] Altogether, Rafter won six tournaments in 1998, finishing the year #4 in the world.

1999[edit]

At the 1999 French Open, Rafter drew future World No. 1 and 18-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, after losing the first set. Rafter then reached the Wimbledon semifinals for the first time in 1999, where he lost in straight sets to Agassi, 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. 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.[5] He 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 doubles titles at the ATP Masters Series events in Canada (1999) and Indian Wells (1998).

2000[edit]

Pat Rafter playing for the Australia Davis Cup team in 2001.

His ranking had fallen to No. 21 by the time he reached the Wimbledon final in July 2000. In the semifinals, Rafter 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.[6] 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, and was then not able to get back into his game. Sampras won in four sets.

2001[edit]

In 2001, Rafter reached the semifinals of the Australian Open, but 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.[7] 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.[8][9] In the final, he squared off against Goran 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 before his unexpected retirement at the Davis Cup final, winning the singles rubber but losing the doubles rubber.

2002[edit]

Rafter announced retirement at the end of the year, stating that he lost all motivation to compete at the top level, after not playing any matches during the season to recover from injuries.

After retirement[edit]

In honour of Patrick Rafter the 5,500 seat centre court of the Queensland Tennis Centre in Brisbane, Australia was named Pat Rafter Arena.[10] In 2002, he won the Australian of the Year award.[11] This created some controversy as he had spent much of his career residing in Bermuda for tax purposes.

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.

He was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame and inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2006.[12] On Australia Day 2008, Pat Rafter was inducted into the Australian Open Hall of Fame.

In October 2010 he was announced as Australia's Davis Cup captain.[13] Rafter stood down as Australia's Davis Cup captain on 29 January 2015.[14] He was succeeded by Wally Masur.

On January 12, 2014 Rafter, 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.[15]

ATP Champions Tour[edit]

At the 2009 AEGON Masters Tennis, Rafter lost his opening round robin match against the 1987 Wimbledon Champion Pat Cash 2–6, 6–2, 10–6. In a much anticipated match and reply 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,[16] Rafter won the match 6–7, 6–4, 11–9. This represented the first time that Rafter was able to defeat Edberg.

Equipment and apparel[edit]

Rafter, while professional, used Prince Sports racquet and Reebok clothes. Since the beginning of 2011, he began using Dunlop Sport racquet, continuing with Reebok clothes.

Personal life[edit]

Rafter was born in Mount Isa, Queensland, and is third-youngest in a family of nine children. He began playing tennis at the age of five with his father and three older brothers.

In April 2004, Rafter married his girlfriend Lara Feltham (with whom he had a son, Joshua) at a resort in Fiji. Their daughter, India, was born in May 2005.

Rafter donated half of the prize money from his 1997 and 1998 US Open wins to the Starlight Children's Foundation; he attempted to do so anonymously in 1997 but was unsuccessful. He has created his own charity organisation that raises funds for children's causes each year. Rafter also supports animal rights and the work of animal liberation groups such as makeitpossible.com.

He has occasionally played reserve grade Australian rules in the Sydney AFL for the North Shore Bombers.

Since his retirement, Rafter has gone on to become an underwear model for Bonds, a brand ambassador for the Mantra Group of hotels and a successful businessman.

Career statistics[edit]

Grand Slam performance timeline[edit]

Tournament 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 SR W–L
Grand Slam tournaments
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
Winner 1997 US Open Hard United Kingdom Greg Rusedski 6–3, 6–2, 4–6, 7–5
Winner 1998 US Open (2) Hard Australia Mark Philippoussis 6–3, 3–6, 6–2, 6–0
Runner-up 2000 Wimbledon Grass United States Pete Sampras 7–6(12–10), 6–7(5–7), 4–6, 2–6
Runner-up 2001 Wimbledon Grass Croatia Goran Ivanišević 3–6, 6–3, 3–6, 6–2, 7–9

Video[edit]

  • Wimbledon 2000 Semi-Final – Agassi vs. Rafter (2003) Starring: Andre Agassi, Patrick Rafter; Standing Room Only, DVD Release Date: 16 August 2005, Run Time: 213 minutes, ASIN: B000A343QY.
  • Wimbledon 2001 Final: Rafter Vs Ivanisevic Standing Room Only, DVD Release Date: 30 October 2007, Run Time: 195 minutes, ASIN: B000V02CT6.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]