Martin Continues Undefeated Champions Run In Newport
NEWPORT, R.I., August 20 – Todd Martin continued his undefeated run in champions tennis at the International Tennis Hall of Fame Thursday, defeating Wayne Ferreira of South Africa 7-5, 5-7, 10-6 (Champions Tie-Breaker) in the quarterfinals of the $150,000 Hall of Fame Champions Cup. Since Newport has hosted an event on the Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over, Martin has not suffered a loss, posting a 5-0 record on Newport’s grass courts that includes his title run in the inaugural event in 2007.
“I still love playing here,” said Martin, who did not compete in the 2008 event. “I like being here. I like competing and I’ve made a commitment. My family spent quite a bit of time here these last couple of summers and we love it here.”
During his ATP career, Martin played three times on the grass courts of the International Tennis Hall of Fame at the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Championships in 1990, 1991 and 1992, with his best showing coming in 1991 when he reached the semifinals, losing to Bryan Shelton. His 1990 appearance Newport marked his first career ATP event. In 2007, returning to Newport in the first year of the Outback Champions Series event, Martin defeated John McEnroe 7-5, 7-5 to win the title.
Against Ferreira on Thursday, Martin said he struggled in the hot and humid conditions, despite living in a hot and humid climate of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
“I live in Florida in the swamp and you can’t walk to get the mail without breaking in to a full sweat,” said Martin. “Today it was warm. It was humid and at times maybe a little bit challenging to stay dry. Yeah, I was wiped.”
Martin jumped out to win seven of the first eight points of the Champions Tie-Breaker, a first-to-10-point tie-breaker played in lieu of a third set. Ferreira fought valiantly to close the gap to 8-6 before Martin won the last two points to clinch the match.
“On paper on this grass court, I match up pretty well against Wayne,” said Martin. “There’s not too many places where I think I match up really well. I probably on average return a little bit better than him. On average I maybe serve just a touch better than him. I also volley well. Where he gets me is with his athleticism and with his forehand. And today at times he returned really well, and with his backhand especially. He’s definitely a forehand guy but he had a really good time managing his backhand. But also he has an aggressive nature. He got a lot out of that side.”
Martin will face long-time rival and former U.S. Davis Cup teammate Jim Courier in Saturday’s semifinals. Courier posted a 6-3, 7-6 (4) win over Jimmy Arias in Thursday’s late quarterfinal match, played as a thick, afternoon fog rolled in from the Atlantic Ocean.
Courier, who turned 39 years old on Monday, is seeking his first professional singles title on grass courts. The 1993 Wimbledon finalist was also a singles finalist a year ago in Newport, losing to Pat Cash of Australia.
“I grew up playing on the baseline and grass definitely rewards the serve and volley player,” said Courier. “Grass is a challenge for me but I like the challenge. I lost in the finals here last year to Pat Cash so I am getting closer.”
Arias was not only making his first visit of any kind of Newport and the state of Rhode Island, but was playing on grass courts for the first time since 1986.
Quipped Arias, “I brought Jim down to my level and I almost won a set.”
Mark Philippoussis of Australia opens play on Friday against Sweden’s Mikael Pernfors, while the late quarterfinal will pit Mats Wilander of Sweden against defending champion Cash. Ticket information can be found at www.TennisFame.com. The remaining schedule of play for the Hall of Fame Champions Cup is as follows;
Friday, August 21st – 1pm
Singles Quarterfinal – Mark Philippoussis vs. Mikael Pernfors
Followed by Doubles Exhibition – Jim Courier & Wayne Ferreira vs. Todd Martin & Jimmy Arias
Followed by Singles Quarterfinal – Pat Cash vs. Mats Wilander
Saturday, August 22nd – 1pm
Singles Semifinal – Martin/Ferreira winner vs. Courier/Arias winner
Followed by Doubles Exhibition
Followed by Singles Semifinal – Philippoussis/Pernfors winner vs. Cash/Wilander winner
Sunday, August 23rd – 1pm
3rd Place Match
Pete Sampras won the opening event on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, defeating McEnroe in the final of the Champions Cup Boston in February. McEnroe won the second event of the year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, defeating Courier in the final. Sampras won his second title of the year at the Del Mar Development Champions Cup in Los Cabos, Mexico, defeating Patrick Rafter in the final. Courier won his first title of the 2009 season in April at the Cayman Islands, defeating Arias in the final. Following Newport, remaining events on the Outback Champions Series will be held in Charlotte (Sept. 24-27), Surprise, Ariz. (Oct. 8-11) and Dubai, U.A.E. (Nov. 18-21).
Courier leads the current Champions Rankings on the Outback Champions Series entering Newport with 2000 points, followed by Sampras with 1600 points and McEnroe with 1300 points. Arias sits at a career-high No. 4 Outback Champions Series ranking with 1050 points, followed by Cash with 700 points at No. 5 and Philippoussis at No. 6 with 600 points. Wilander, Pernfors and Patrick Rafter are tied at No. 7 with 500 points, while Martin rounds out the top 10 with 400 points.
Founded in 2005, the Outback Champions Series features some of the biggest names in tennis over the last 25 years, including Andre Agassi, Sampras, McEnroe, Courier and others. To be eligible to compete on the Outback Champions Series, players must have reached at least a major singles final, been ranked in the top five in the world or played singles on a championship Davis Cup team. The Outback Champions Series features eight events on its 2009 schedule with each event featuring $150,000 in prize money as well as Champions Series points that will determine the year-end Champions Rankings No. 1.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, established in 1954, is a non-profit institution dedicated to preserving the history of tennis, inspiring and encouraging junior tennis development, enshrining tennis heroes and heroines, and providing a landmark for tennis enthusiasts worldwide. It was recognized as the sport’s official Hall of Fame in 1986 by the International Tennis Federation, the governing body of tennis. The International Tennis Hall of Fame’s legendary grass courts remain the only competition grass courts available for professional events and exhibitions, while also available for public play. For more information about the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, events and programs, please call 401-849-3990 or log on to www.tennisfame.com
InsideOut Sports + Entertainment is a New York City-based independent producer of proprietary events and promotions founded in 2004 by former world No. 1 and Hall of Fame tennis player Jim Courier and former SFX and Clear Channel executive Jon Venison. In 2005, InsideOut launched its signature property, the Outback Champions Series, a collection of tennis events featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including “Legendary Night” exhibitions, charity events, private corporate outings and tennis fantasy camps such as the annual “Ultimate Fantasy Camp”. Through 2008, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment events have raised over $4 million for charity. For more information, please log on to www.InsideOutSE.com or www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com.