On This Day In Tennis History

Share this article!


This week is a big week in tennis with week No. 2 of the U.S. Open Series and Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s return to the court in Canada following their epic Wimbledon final. This week has also been a one of epic matches and unusual circumstances in the history of the sport, as documented in the soon-to-be released book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press). The following is an excerpt from the ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY compilation that features entertaining anecdotes and match summaries featuring John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Andre Agassi, Monica Seles, Martina Navratilova among others.

July 22

1989 – In what Boris Becker calls “an exhausting day at the office,” the three-time Wimbledon champion from Germany wins the fifth-set of a lateness-suspended match with Andre Agassi, then pairs with Eric Jelen to win four-set doubles match against Ken Flach and Robert Seguso to give West Germany a 2-1 lead over the United States in the Davis Cup semifinals in Munich. Becker and Agassi’s singles match is suspended the previous night after midnight with the score knotted at two sets, Becker trailing two-sets-to-love and Agassi failing to serve out the match at  6-5 in the third set. Becker is the sharper player on the resumption of play and wins the fifth set to close out his 4 hour, 26 minute 6-7 (4), 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-4, win that evens the best-of-five-match series at 1-1. After only 45 minutes of rest, Becker returns to the court in doubles with Jelen and hands Flach and Seguso their first loss as a Davis Cup doubles team in their 12 pairings for the United States in a 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4, 7-6 (3) decision. Says Jelen of the Agassi-Becker epic, “That was one of the greatest matches I ever saw.” Says Agassi of his loss, ”I think, considering the circumstances and the court, I did the best I could do. I don’t feel I lost. He beat me. There are times when you pour all your heart and guts into the match. Then you’ve just got to shake hands with the winner.” The following day, Agassi loses to Carl-Uwe Steeb in four sets to give West Germany the semifinal victory. West Germany goes on to beat Sweden 3-2 in the Davis Cup Final.

1979 – Guillermo Vilas wins the singles title at the Washington Star International singles when Victor Pecci collapses, overcome by leg cramps, as the two play a second set tie-breaker, with Vilas leading 7-6, 6-6 and 4-3 in the tie-break. Said Vilas, “This is a sad way to win.”

1992 -  World No. 1 Jim Courier loses to No. 157-ranked Diego Perez of Uruguay 7-6 (5), 6-2 in the second round of the Philips Head Cup clay court championships in Kitzbuehel, Austria.

2007 – Belgian qualifier Steve Darcis, ranked No. 297 on the ATP computer, defeats Austria’s Werner Eschauer 6-1, 7-6 (1) in the final of the Dutch Open in Amersfoort, Netherlands. Darcis, playing in the main draw of only his second ATP event, is the lowest ranked player to win a title since Tommy Haas, who due to injury, was ranked No. 349 when he won the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston in 2004. In 1998, Lleyton Hewitt was ranked No. 550 when he won the title in Adelaide, Australia.

July 23

1992 – In their 36th and final meeting as professionals, Ivan Lendl routs rival John McEnroe 6-2, 6-4 in the quarterfinals of the Canadian Open in Toronto. Says Lendl of McEnroe, “If you have him on the ground on his back, you have to step on his throat.”You can’t put out your hand and say come on over here and hit me. You have to concentrate all the time and not give him any chances.” When he was asked what kind of technique he used on McEnroe’s throat, Lendl smiles and replies, “I have spikes in my shoes and I try to twist them as much as I can. That’s the killer instinct.” Lendl wins the all-time series with McEnroe 21-15, including winning the last six meetings and 10 of the last 11.

1984 – Sixteen-year-old Aaron Krickstein becomes the youngest player to win the U.S. Pro Championships, defeating Jose-Luis Clerc 7-6, 3-6, 6-4 in the men’s singles final at the Longwood Cricket Club in Brookline, Mass. Clerc leads 3-0 in the final set, before Krickstein rallies for victory.

2000 – The United States is shut out for the first time ever in a Davis Cup series other than a Challenge Round or Final as Juan Carlos Ferrero and Juan Balcells complete a 5-0 shutout of the United States in the Davis Cup semifinal in Santander, Spain. In the final days’ dead-rubber matches, Ferrero defeats Vince Spadea 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, while Balcells defeats Jan-Michael Gambill 1-6, 7-6, 6-4. The shutout loss marks the end of John McEnroe’s short tenure as U.S. Davis Cup captain. In November, McEnroe announces his resignation as U.S. captain after only one year in the position. Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, the top two U.S. players, beg off the match with Spain with injuries. McEnroe, distraught with the loss, skips out on the post-match press conference, but says to Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times in a pool phone interview from his car hours later driving to Bilboa airport,  ”I’m totally spent. I’m deflated. It was tough and it was tough for everybody. I feel like I’m going to throw up. I’m not sure if it’s emotional or what, but I’m about to heave.”

2006 – Third-seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia captures his first ATP title in his first final at the Dutch Open Tennis in Amersfoort. The 19-year-old does not lose a set at the championship and beats No. 4 seed Nicolas Massu of Chile 7-6(5), 6-4 in 2 hours, 41 minutes in the final.

2006 – A rookie into the top 10 rankings, James Blake defeats fellow American top tenner Andy Roddick 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(5) in the final at the RCA Championships at Indianapolis. Says Blake, “This was extremely exciting for me, to play really my best tennis. It’s a little more gratifying to do it when your opponent is playing well. I feel like I’ve earned the No. 5 ranking. It’s crazy what confidence will do. Every break goes against you when you don’t have confidence. And every break goes your way when you do have confidence. I have confidence now and they all seem to be going my way.”

1996 – The Olympic tennis competition opens in Atlanta with defending men’s singles gold medalist Marc Rosset of Switzerland winning the opening match on Stadium court, defeating Hicham Arazi of Morocco 6-2, 6-3.

1991 – Michael Chang and Pete Sampras are unceremoniously dumped in the second round of the Canadian Open in Montreal – Chang falling 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-3 to Italy’s Stefano Pescosoliso, while Sampras losing to Japan’s Shuzo Matsuoka 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (10-8)

2006 – David Ferrer of Spain saves a match point and stages an incredible comeback to defeat Jose Acasuso of Argentina 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 7-5, 6-4 to win his second career ATP title at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, Germany. Ferrer trails 1-5 in the fourth set and saves a match point with Acasuso leading 5-4 in the fourth set.

July 24

1987 – John McEnroe and Boris Becker play one of the greatest Davis Cup matches of all time as Becker outlasts McEnroe 4-6, 15-13, 8-10, 6-2, 6-2 in 6 hours, 21 minutes in the Davis Cup Qualifying Round in Hartford, Conn. The match is one minute shy of the 6-hour, 22-minute Davis Cup epic between McEnroe and Mats Wilander in the 1982 Davis Cup quarterfinal, the longest men’s singles match in tennis history at the time. The 28-year-old McEnroe, playing in his first competitive match since losing in the first round of the French Open in May, fights to keep the United States out of an 0-2 hole against West Germany on the first day of play as Becker’s teammate Eric Jelen opens the series with a 6-8, 6-2, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Tim Mayotte. Says McEnroe, ”I just didn’t have much left. I gave it what I had. It was nice to be a part of a great match. I just wish the result had been different.” Says the 19-year-old Becker, “It was a war.”  West Germany goes on to win the series 3-2 – relegating the United States to zonal competition for the first time ever for the 1988 Davis Cup campaign – making 28-time Davis Cup champions ineligible to win the 1988 Davis Cup title.

1996 – No. 2 seed Goran Ivanisevic of Croatia is upset in the first round of the Olympic tennis competition in Atlanta, as the defending bronze medalist hits 42 unforced errors in a 6-4, 6-2 loss to No. 104 ranked Marcos Ondruska of South Africa. Richey Reneberg, who replaces the injured No. 1-ranked Pete Sampras in the U.S. singles line-up, is defeated by India’s Leander Paes in the first round as Reneberg is forced to retire due to a groin pull and a heat illness after 2 hours, 16 minutes in the oppressive Georgia heat, Paes leading 6-7 (2), 7-6 (7), 1-0. Mal Washington of the United States becomes the first African-American man to compete in the Olympics, defeating Slovakia’s Jan Kroslak 6-3, 7-6 (3),

2004 – Nicolas Massu of Chile plays two matches on the final day of the Generali Open in Kitzbuhel, Austria – defeating the No. 1 seed Rainer Schuettler of Germany 6-3, 6-3 in the semifinals and the No. 2 seed and French Open champion Gaston Gaudio of Argentina 7-6, 6-4 in the final. Says Massu, “I played very well, as I always do in Kitzbuhel. I feel good at this altitude. I beat the Paris champion, and that is a big victory for me.”

1932 – Despite suffering from an upset stomach from a pre-match meal of roast pork and cucumbers, Ellsworth Vines defeats Gottfried von Cramm 3-6, 6-3, 9-7, 6-3 to clinch a 3-2 U.S. victory over Germany in the Davis Cup Inter-Zone Final at Stade Roland Garros in Paris, France.

1905 – The United States is shutout in a Davis Cup match for the first time ever as Britain completes a 5-0 victory over the United States. Britain’s Sidney Smith defeats William Clothier 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 and Britain’s Laurie Doherty defeats William Larned 6-4, 2-6, 6-8, 6-4, 6-2.

1960 – Roy Emerson wins the singles title at the Swiss Open in Gstaad, Switzerland for the first time in his career, defeating Mike Davies of Britain 6-4, 9-7, 6-2. Maria Bueno needs only 38 minutes to win the women’s title, defeating Sandra Reynolds 6-2, 6-3 in a rematch of the Wimbledon final, also won by Bueno.

July 25

1970 – In a decision called by Neil Amdur of The New York Times as ” the most revolutionary step in tournament tennis scoring since ‘love’ became synonymous with losers,” the United States Tennis Associated announces that a sudden-death nine-point tiebreak will be instituted for all matches at the 1970 U.S. Open tennis championships. Says Bill Talbert, the tournament director for the U.S. Open, “We consider this to be a major step forward for the game of tennis. It provides tennis with a finish line, such as we have in racing, basketball, football and other major sports. No longer will a tennis match drag on for hours. It will be played within a sensible, predictable amount of time, enabling spectators to estimate the length of a match and make their plans accordingly.”

1988 – Thirty-five-year-old Jimmy Connors wins his first singles title in four years – and the 106th of his career – defeating Andres Gomez 6-1, 6-4 in the final of the D.C. Tennis Classic in Washington. The win is the first for Connors since October of 1984 when he wins the ATP singles title in Tokyo, losing in 11 singles finals before breaking through and winning in Washington, D.C. Says the No. 8-ranked Connors, “I go through a career and win 105 tournaments and it’s never enough. Now I guess I’m stuck on 106 until I win 107, right? It doesn’t feel as bad not having won a tournament in about 25 minutes than it has in 3 1/2 years. I wanted to win a tournament, no doubt; I just haven’t done it. But mostly, I’m just out there to have some fun.”

1987 – Bjorn Borg is inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I. in absentia, but is defended for his no-show status by fellow inductee Alex Olmedo. “We all have different problems,” says Olmedo. “We’re all egomaniacs in a way. Whatever his hang-up was, I don’t blame him for not coming. Maybe he was too busy making money or maybe he was afraid to make the flight. Whatever, it doesn’t take anything from the presentation…I also think it’s a bit of publicity shock for him after all these years. Most of the movie stars I work with sometimes don’t like to be in the public eye. I think Borg is in the same category. He’s probably publicity shy now.” Olmedo is inducted with fellow pros Stan Smith, Dennis Ralston and Billie Jean King.

1996 – Andre Agassi defeats Slovakia’s Karol Kucera 6-4, 6-4 in the second round of the Olympic tennis competition and, in his post-match press conference, announces that he will compete in the Olympic doubles competition with Mal Washington, replacing the injured Richey Reneberg. Says Agassi, “The team took a hit. You’ve got to adjust to it. As far as I’m concerned, if it calls for you to give more, you’ve got to give more. It’s as simple as that. Even if it costs me a medal, it is still something that you’ve got to do.”

1982 – Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert Lloyd pair to lead the United States to the title at the Federation Cup in Santa Clara, Calif., with a 3-0 win over West Germany. Navratilova defeated Bettina Bunge 6-4, 6-4, while Evert Lloyd defeats Claudia Kohde Kilsch 2-6, 6-1, 6-3. Navratilova, who also won the Federation Cup for Czechoslovakia in 1975, becomes the first women to win the Cup for two nations.

July 26

1999 – Patrick Rafter of Australia begins his one – and only – week as the world’s No. 1 ranked player, replacing Andre Agassi in the top spot on the ATP computer. Rafter’s curious one-week reign as the No. 1 ranked player is the briefest stint in the top spot of any man or woman. Carlos Moya of Spain ranks No. 1 for only two weeks in March of 1999, while Evonne Goolagong ranks as  the No. 1 woman on the WTA Tour for a two-week period in April of 1976 (although not uncovered and announced by the WTA Tour until December of 2007).

1987 – The United States is relegated to zonal competition for the first time in Davis Cup history as Boris Becker defeats Tim Mayotte 6-2, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-2 in the fifth and decisive match as West Germany defeats the United States 3-2 in the Davis Cup qualifying round in Hartford, Conn. The Becker-Mayotte match is called by John Feinstein of the Washington Post as, “the match of their lives,” as Mayotte, who grew up in Springfield, Mass., a 25 miles from the Hartford Civic Center, plays inspired tennis in front of furiously vocal crowd. Says Becker after the epic match, “It was the most difficult match of my life. The circumstances made it hard, the crowd cheering every time I missed a serve made it hard and him playing for two sets like I have never seen him play in his life, it was all very tough. I just had to stay calm — stay calm, be patient and not go mad. If I go mad, I lose the match.” Writes Feinstein, “For Mayotte, this was sweet agony. He miraculously came from two sets down to force a fifth set. He was playing in an emotional daze, carried by the fans, by his teammates, by the circumstances.”

1969 – Nancy Richey is upset in the semifinals of the U.S. Clay Court Championships by Gail Sherriff Chanfreau, 6-3, 6-4 – ending her tournament record winning streak at 33 straight matches over seven years. Chanfreau goes on to win the title, beating Linda Tuero, 6-2, 6-2 in the final.

1953 – Gardnar Mulloy, at the age of 39 years, 8 months and four days, becomes the oldest man to win a singles match for the U.S. in Davis Cup play as he defeats Ian McDonald of the British West Indies 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 in Kingston, Jamaica.

1996 – The unlikely pairing of Andre Agassi and Mal Washington share the doubles court at the Olympics, defeating Mexico’s Alejandro Hernandez and Oscar Ortiz  6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in the first round.  Said Agassi, “Hey, a couple of good singles players can click well and compete hard; don’t be surprised if we end up in a medal round.”

July 27

1986 – Martina Navratilova returns to her native Czechoslovakia and her hometown of Prague in triumph as a member of the U.S. Federation Cup team, clinching the U.S. 3-0 final-round victory over the Czechs with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Hana Mandlikova. “We all did it for Martina,” says Chris Evert Lloyd, whose 7-5, 7-6 victory over Helena Sukova began the U.S. sweep of Czechoslovakia in the final series. “We dedicate this Federation Cup to her.” Says Navratilova of the crowd support she received all week that results in a tearful closing ceremony for the Wimbledon champion and her U.S. teammates. “I wanted to tell them how special it was for me to be here. It exceeded my wildest expectations.”

1946 – In the final of the first French Championship since the conclusion of World War II, Frenchmen Marcel Bernard dramatically defeats fellow left-hander Jaroslav Drobny of Czechoslovakia 3-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 in the men’s singles final. The French have to wait another 37 years before they celebrate another native men’s singles champion when Yannick Noah wins the men’s singles title in 1983. It will be another 59 years before another all left-handed men’s singles final is played at Roland Garros when Rafael Nadal defeats Mariano Puerta in the 2005 final. In the women’s singles final, Margaret Osbourne defeats fellow American Pauline Betz 1-6, 8-6, 7-5.

2007 – Sam Querrey slams an incredible 10 aces in a row – believed to be a record – in his 7-6(6), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4) upset win over fellow American James Blake in the quarterfinals of the Indianapolis Tennis Championships. Querrey, a six-foot-six, 19-year-old from Southern California, begins his incredible serving streak with a 113 mph serve out wide at 6-6 in the first-set tie-break. Querrey hits four straight aces in his first two service games of the second set and after a 109 mph ace out wide in the first point of the sixth game of the second set, Querrey’s streak ends with a double fault. Querrey, ranked No. 90 in the world, serves a total of 34 aces in the match. Says Blake, “That’s the most consistent I’ve seen him serve. I practice with him quite a bit. I’ve seen him improve over the last year-and-a-half at an incredible rate. I think it’s still going….I don’t think I’ve ever been aced 10 times in a row, until today…The way Sam was locked in, it was tough to deal with. It made me focus on my serve and I needed to hold every time.” Says Querrey in his post-match TV interview, “It was just one of those days when I was in the zone serving and it definitely paid off in the end.”

1928 – Play opens in the 1928 Davis Cup Challenge Round in Paris as Bill Tilden and Rene Lacoste christen Stade Roland Garros, built to honor the French Four Musketeers’ victory in the previous year’s Davis Cup. Tilden gives the United States an early 1-0 lead by defeating Lacoste 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. Henri Cochet ties the score at 1-1 as he defeats John Hennessey 5-7, 9-7, 6-3, 6-0.

1988 – Roger Smith of the Bahamas, ranked No. 150 in the world, registers a stunning upset of world No. 1 Ivan Lendl, defeating the reigning three-time U.S. Open champion 6-2, 6-3 in the first round of the Volvo International at Stratton Mountain, Vermont.  Says Lendl, “He was serving very well and the ball was going very quick, and I couldn’t get into the match. It was not a letdown. It was practice for the U.S. Open. This was not the highlight of my year.”

1930 – Bill Tilden plays his final Davis Cup match, losing to Henri Cochet 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 7-5 as France completes a 4-1 victory over the United States in the Davis Cup Challenge Round at Stade Roland Garros in Paris. Tilden concludes his Davis Cup career with a 34-7 record and the distinction of leading the U.S. to five Davis Cup titles.

1996 – The morning after a bomb kills one person in Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta, Monica Seles advances into the quarterfinals of the Olympic tennis competition with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Argentina’s Gabriela Sabatini. Says Seles, the subject of security at sporting events since her on-court stabbing in 1993, “I’m still going to the track and field (Saturday night) and to other events and go on with my life. That is pretty much all I can do. That is what I did after the stabbing. You just have to go on.” Says Sabatini of Seles, “I would think it would be even harder for her because of what happened to her. It’s upsetting and it affects you quite a lot because nobody feels secure anywhere.” Andre Agassi rallies from a 6-2, 3-0 deficit to defeat Andrea Gaudenzi of Italy 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 to advance into the quarterfinals of the men’s singles competition.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)


Share this article!

One Response to On This Day In Tennis History

Page 1 of 11
  • movie fan says:

    on that note, i think i’ll be eating a lot more vegetables and cutting back on a few other things…

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Page 1 of 11

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>