Roger Federer is looking to join Bill Tilden as the only player to win six straight U.S. men’s singles titles when he plays Juan Martin del Potro in the 2009 US Open final Monday. Tilden won his six straight men’s singles titles from 1920 to 1926 – and he earned a seventh title again in 1929 in a final that was played 80 years ago exactly to the day of Federer’s match with del Potro.
In that match in 1929, Tilden, 36, won his seventh – and final – U.S. men’s singles crown, defeating fellow “oldie” 35-year-old Francis Hunter 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the championship tilt. Tilden’s seventh title tied him with Richard Sears and Bill Larned for the record of most U.S. men’s singles titles. At age 36, Tilden became the oldest U.S. singles champion since Larned won his last two titles in 1910 and 1911 at ages 37 and 38. Wrote Allison Danzig of the New York Times, “The match went to five sets, with Tilden trailing 2 to 1, but there was never any question as to the ultimate reckoning and the final two chapters found the once invincible monarch of the courts electrifying the gallery as of yore with a withering onslaught of drives and service aces that brooked no opposition.” Bud Collins, In his book THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS, calls the 1929 U.S. men’s final “The Geezer’s Gala” as the combined age of both finalists – 71 years – ranks second only to the 1908 Wimbledon final played between Arthur Gore, 40 and Herbert Roper Barrett, 34.
Collins, in his book THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS tome, summarizes the career of Tilden below in his book excerpt.
United States (1893–1953)
Hall of Fame—1959
If a player’s value is measured by the dominance and influence he exercises over a sport, then William Tatem “Big Bill” Tilden II could be considered the greatest player in the history of tennis.
From 1920 through 1926, he dominated the game as has no player before or since. During those years he was invincible in the United States, won Wimbledon three of the six times he competed there, and captured 13 successive singles matches in the Davis Cup challenge round against the best players from Australia, France and Japan.
With the Bills, Tilden and Johnston, at the core, the U.S. seized the Davis Cup from Australasia in 1920, and kept it a record seven years. But by 1927, the Bills were no longer impervious, and France took over, 3-2, on the last day, in Philadelphia—Rene Lacoste beating Big Bill, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, and Henri Cochet flooring Little Bill, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.
As an amateur (1912-30), Tilden won 138 of 192 tournaments, lost 28 finals and had a 907-62 match record—a phenomenal .936 average. His last major triumph, the Wimbledon singles of 1930, gave him a total of 10 majors, standing as the male high until topped by Roy Emerson (12) in 1967. Bill missed another by two match points he held against René Lacoste in the 1927 French final. He won the U.S. mixed with Mary K. Browne in 1913-14, but had been beaten in the first round of the 1912 singles at Newport by fellow Philadelphian Wallace Johnson (whom he would defeat in the 1921 final). He didn’t feel sure enough of his garne to try again until 1916, in New York. He was 23, a first-round loser to a kid named Harold Throckmorton. Ignominious, tardy starts in an illustrious career that would contain seven U.S. titles and 69 match victories (a record 42 straight between 1920 and 1926).
By 1918, a war-riddled year, he got to the final, to be blown away by a bullet-serving Lindley Murray, 6-3, 6-1, 7-5. But he’d be back: seven more finals in a row. In 1918, Big Bill’s electrifying rivalry with Little Bill Johnston began—six U.S. finals in seven years, more than any other two men skirmished for a major. After losing to Little Bill in 1919, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3, Tilden, disgusted with his puny defensive backhand, hid out all winter at the indoor court of a friend, J.D.E. Jones, in Providence, retooling. He emerged with a brand new, fearsome, multifaceted backhand and complete game, and was ready to conquer the world. He did not lose to Little Bill again in a U.S. final, and held an 11-6 edge in their rivalry. His concentration could be awesome, as during a two-tournament stretch in 1925 when he won 57 straight games at Glen Cove, N.Y., and Providence. Trailing Alfred Chapin, one of few to hold a win over him, 3-4 in the final, he ran it out, 6-4, 6-0, 6-0. Staying in tune on the next stop, he won three straight 6-0, 6-0 matches, then 6-0, 6-1. Another 6-1 set made it 75 of 77 games.
When he first won Wimbledon in 1920, over defender Gerald Patterson 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4, he was 27 years old, an advanced age for a champion. But he had a long and influential career, and at the age of 52 in 1945, he was still able to push the 27-year-old Bobby Riggs to the limit in a professional match.
Tilden, a right-hander, born Feb. 10, 1893, in Philadelphia, had the ideal tennis build, 6-foot-2, 155 pounds, with thin shanks and big shoulders. He had speed and nimbleness, coordination and perfect balance. He also had marked endurance, despite smoking cigarettes incessantly when not playing. In stroke equipment, he had the weapons to launch an overpowering assault and the resources to defend and confound through a variety of spins and pace when the opponent was impervious to sheer power. Surface didn’t matter. He won the U.S. Clay Court singles seven times: 1918 and 1922–27.
Nobody had a more devastating serve than Tilden’s cannonball, or a more challenging second serve than his kicking American twist. No player had a stronger combination of forehand and backhand drives, supplemented by a forehand chop and backhand slice. Tilden’s mixture of shots was a revelation in his first appearance at Wimbledon. Patterson found his backcourt untenable and was passed over and over when he went to the net behind his powerful serve.
The backcourt was where Tilden played tennis. He was no advocate of the “big game”—the big serve and rush for the net for the instant volley coup. He relished playing tennis as a game of chess, matching wits as well as physical powers. The drop shot, at which he was particularly adroit, and the lob were among his disconcerting weapons.
His knowledge and mastery of spin has hardly ever been exceeded, as evidenced not only on the court but also in his Match Play and the Spin of the Ball—a classic written more than half a century ago. Yes, Tilden was a writer, too, but he longed to be an actor above anything else. Unsuccessful in his efforts to the point of sinking most of his family wealth, his tennis earnings and his writing royalties into the theater, he was happiest when playing on the heartstrings of a tennis gallery.
Intelligent and opinionated, he was a man of strong likes and dislikes. He had highly successful friends, both men and women, who were devoted to him, and there were others who disliked him and considered him arrogant and inconsiderate of officials and ball boys who served at his matches. He was constandy wrangling with officers and committeemen of the USTA on Davis Cup policy and enforcement of the amateur rule, and in 1928, he was on the front pages of the American press when he was removed as captain and star player of the Davis Cup team, charged with violating the amateur rule with his press accounts of the Wimbledon Championships, in which he was competing. So angry were the French over the loss of the star member of the cast for the Davis Cup challenge round—the first ever held on French soil—that the American ambassador, Myron T. Herrick interceded for the sake of good relations between the countries, and Tilden was restored to the team.
When Tilden, in the opening match, beat René Lacoste, 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, the French gallery suffered agony and cursed themselves for insisting that “Teel-den” be restored to the team. It all ended happily for them, however as the French won the other four matches and kept the Davis Cup. On Tilden’s return home, he was brought up on the charges of violating the rule at Wimbledon. He was found guilty and was suspended from playing in the U.S. Championships that year.
Eligible for the U.S. title again in 1929, after the lifting of his suspension, he won it for the seventh time, defeating his doubles partner, Frank Hunter, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4. In 1930, he won Wimbledon for the third time, at the age of 37, over countryman Wilmer Allison, 6-3, 9-7, 6-4. After the U.S. Championships, in which he was beaten in the semis by champion John Doeg, he notified the USTA of his intention to make a series of motion pictures for profit, thus disqualifying himself for further play as an amateur. He was in the world’s Top 10 from 1919 through 1930, No. 1 a record six times (1920-25)—equalled by Pete Sampras in 1998—and in the U.S. Top 10 for 12 straight years from 1918, No. 1 a record 10 times, 1920–29.
In 1931, he entered upon a professional playing career, joining one-time partner Vinnie Richards, Germans Hans Nusslein and Roman Najuch, and Czech Karel Kozeluh. Tilden’s name revived pro tennis, which had languished since its inception in 1926 when Suzanne Lenglen went on tour. His joining the pros paved the way for Ellsworth Vines, Fred Perry and Don Budge to leave the amateur ranks and play for big prize money. Tilden won his pro debut against Kozeluh, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4, before 13,000 fans in Madison Square Garden.
Joining promoter Bill O’Brien, Tilden toured the country in 1932 and 1933, but the Depression was on and new blood was needed. Vines furnished it. Tilden and O’Brien signed him on, and in 1934 Tilden defeated Vines in the younger man’s pro debut, 8-6, 6-3, 6-2, before a turnaway crowd of 16,200 at Madison Square Garden. That year, Tilden and Vines went on the first of the great tennis tours, won by Vines, 47-26.
The tours grew in the 1930s and 1940s, and Tilden remained an attraction even though he was approaching the age of 50. For years he traveled across the country, driving by day and sometimes all night and then going on a court a few hours after arriving. At times, when he was managing his tour, he had to help set the stage for the matches.
Tragically, his activity and fortunes dwindled after his conviction on a morals charge (a time less understanding of homosexuality), and imprisonment in 1947, and again in 1949 for parole violation (both terms less than a year). He died of a heart attack under pitiful circumstances, alone and with few resources, on June 5, 1953, in Los Angeles. His bag was packed for a trip to Cleveland to play in the U.S. Pro Championships when perhaps the greatest tennis player of them all was found dead in his room.
MAJOR TITLES (21)—Wimbledon singles. 1920, 1921, 1930; U.S. singles, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1929; Wimbledon doubles, 1927; U.S. doubles, 1918, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1927; French mixed, 1930; U.S. mixed 1913, 1914, 1922, 1923. OTHER U.S.TITLES (19)—Indoor singles, 1920; Indoor doubles, 1919, 1920, with Vinnie Richards; 1926, with Frank Anderson; 1929, with Frank Hunter; Indoor mixed, 1921, 1922, with Molla Mallory; 1924, with Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman; Clay Court singles, 1918, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927; Pro singles. 1931, 1935; Pro doubles, 1932, with Bruce Barnes; 1945, with Vinnie Richards. DAVIS CUP—1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 25-5 singles, 9-2 doubles. SINGLES RECORD IN THE MAJORS—French (14-3), Wimbledon (30-3). U.S. (69-7).
With Rod Laver in attendance, Roger Federer advanced into his 18th career major singles final Thursday defeating Andy Roddick 6-2, 7-5, 7-5 in the semifinals of the Australian Open, played in the arena that bears the Australian tennis legend’s name. The 2009 season marks the 40th anniversary of Laver winning his unprecedented second “Grand Slam” sweep of all four major titles – and Federer is seeking his own notch in tennis history – a win in Sunday’s Australian Open final giving him a 14th career major singles title – tying him with Pete Sampras for the all-time lead for men’s singles major titles.
Federer and Laver have a special kinship as documented by Rene Stauffer in his book THE ROGER FEDERER STORY, QUEST FOR PERFECTION ($24.95, New Chapter Press, www.rogerfedererbook.com). The following exclusive book excerpt discusses Federer and Laver’s emotional moment at the 2006 Australian Open.
Rod Laver is such a modest person that people tend to overlook him. Even the organizers of the Australian Open didn’t come up with and implement the idea of re-naming their Centre Court the Rod Laver Arena until 2000-twelve years after the opening of the facility.
Laver is still the only man to win the Grand Slam twice-in 1962 as an amateur and again in 1969 in the Open Era open to amateurs and professionals. The short, red-haired left-hander is considered by fellow tennis players to be a epitome of a tennis legend. However, when asked how Roger Federer compares to him, in typical modest fashion, Laver said, “I would be honored just to be compared with Roger. Roger could become the greatest tennis player of all time.”
The “Rockhampton Rocket” went even further in an interview before the Australian Open in 2006 when he stated, “I firmly believe that Roger is capable of winning the Grand Slam this season. He is such a wonderful player and has such unbelievable talent…Of all the players who I have seen since winning the Grand Slam, he is probably the only one that has the talent to do it.”
To Laver and most followers of the sport, winning the Grand Slam in the modern day game carries much more value than it did in Laver’s time. “The demands are much greater now than back when I was playing,” Laver said. “The opponents are stronger and quicker and the racquets allow balls to be hit with incredible power. We just had wood racquets. There are also so many more young talented players on the tour now that have no fear of the top players.” While Laver’s comments where well-intended, they did, however, have a boomerang effect of Federer. They increased the already heavy pressure weighing upon him as the 2006 season began.
As was the case at the Tennis Masters Cup in China, injuries affected the first Grand Slam tournament of the year in Melbourne. Defending champion Marat Safin was not in the field. Rafael Nadal and Andre Agassi also were not fully recovered from their injuries to make the trip “Down Under.” Federer, by contrast, recovered from his torn ligaments even if the right foot was still somewhat stiff and he wore a support bandage as a precaution. With Safin, Nadal and Agassi out of the field, Federer was more clearly favored than any player if the bookies’ odds were any indication. Whoever bet on Federer to win the event would only receive 1-5 odds.
Federer rolled through his first three matches with the form of the overwhelming favorite-surrendering only 22 games in three straight-set victories. But he ran into difficulties in the round of 16 against a difficult opponent-Tommy Haas-who beat him previously in the same round at the Australian Open in 2002 and who beat him in the semifinals of the Olympics-also in Australia. After winning the first two sets decisively, Federer lost the third set and soon found himself in a five-set struggle. Federer, however, came through in the clutch to win 6-4, 6-0, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2-his first five-set win at the Australian Open. In the quarterfinals, Federer again encountered more difficulties than usual against Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko. He fought off five set points in the third set-that would have had him trail two-sets-to-one-before registering the 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (5) victory. Nicolas Kiefer offered some initial stiff resistance in the semifinals, but after two sets of drama, Federer advanced into the Australian Open final for a second time with a 5-7, 7-5, 6-0, 6-2 win.
In his six matches en route to the final, Federer lost four sets-more than previously surrendered while reaching a Grand Slam final. The man from Basel, however, was still the overwhelming favorite to win the title when he faced unseeded upstart Marcos Baghdatis-a 200-1 outsider to win the title. The 20-year-old bearded maverick from the island of Cyprus was the major story of the tournament-defeating Andy Roddick, Ivan Ljubicic and David Nalbandian in succession to become an unlikely Grand Slam finalist. Cyprus, a small island nation off the Greek and Turkish coast in the Mediterranean with no tennis history whatsoever, was suddenly stricken with tennis fever as busnesses closed and children skipped school to watch his matches. Baghdatis was unseeded, ranked No. 54 in the world and had never won an ATP tournament in his career at the time. To boot, he held an 0-3 record against Federer and Federer had never lost a Grand Slam final-let alone to an unseeded player.
The Melbourne Age newspaper carried the headline “The Wizard And The Apprentice” before the final, but as the match began, the question was which was which. Baghdatis, supported throughout the fortnight by the many Greeks in Melbourne who created a soccer-stadium atmosphere with chants, cheers and flag-waving, continued to play boldly, aggressively and on the offensive-as he had the entire tournament-while Federer struggled, particularly off the forehand side. Federer lost the first set 7-5 and saved two break points to prevent a double-service-break 0-3 deficit in the second set. After he held serve, Federer then broke the Cypriot’s serve in the next game to square the set at 2-2. After the two players exchanged service holds, a stroke of good luck benefited Federer late in the set as an overruled call on set point gave Federer the second set 7-5. The momentum immediately turned in Federer’s favor and the challenge to his supremacy ended. Federer’s 5-7, 7-5, 6-0, 6-2 victory secured him his seventh Grand Slam title-tying him with such legends as Richard Sears and William Renshaw-heroes of the 1880s-as well as John McEnroe, John Newcombe, Mats Wilander and two of four French Musketeers, Rene Lacoste and Henri Cochet.
Federer showed no exuberance as the award ceremony began, but when Rod Laver bestowed the Norman Brookes Trophy upon him, he was overcome with emotions. “I don’t know what to say,” he said at the start of his victory speech, before he fell silent. He barely managed to congratulate Baghdatis and thank his entourage and sponsors. When he mentioned Laver and that the title meant a great deal to him, his voice cracked, just like at his first Wimbledon victory, and he could no longer hold back his tears.
“I was terribly nervous,” Federer told Swiss television commentator Heinz Günthardt after he left the court. “It was an immense burden to be so clearly favored against a newcomer.” With seven Grand Slam titles, Federer began to compete not only against his contemporaries on the other side of the net, but against the ghosts of tennis history, including Pete Sampras and Rod Laver, who was standing next to him on this day.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – New Chapter Press has announced the publication of its latest book – On This Day In Tennis History -a calendar-like compilation of historical and unique anniversaries, events and happenings from the world of tennis through the years – written by Randy Walker, the sports marketing and media specialist, tennis historian and former U.S. Tennis Association press officer.
On This Day In Tennis History ($19.95, 528 pages), is a fun and fact-filled, this compilation offers anniversaries, summaries, and anecdotes of events from the world of tennis for every day in the calendar year. Presented in a day-by-day format, the entries into this mini-encyclopedia include major tournament victory dates, summaries of the greatest matches ever played, trivia, and statistics as well as little-known and quirky happenings. Easy-to-use and packed with fascinating details, the book is the perfect companion for tennis and general sports fans alike and is an excellent gift idea for the holiday season. The book features fascinating and unique stories of players such as John McEnroe, Don Budge, Bill Tilden, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, Jimmy Connors, Martina Navratilova, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Anna Kournikova among many others. On This Day In Tennis History is available for purchase via on-line book retailers and in bookstores in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. More information on the book can be found at www.tennishistorybook.com
Said Hall of Famer Jim Courier of the book, “On This Day In Tennis History is a fun read that chronicles some of the most important-and unusual-moments in the annals of tennis. Randy Walker is an excellent narrator of tennis history and has done an incredible job of researching and compiling this entertaining volume.” Said tennis historian Joel Drucker, author of Jimmy Connors Saved My Life, “An addictive feast that you can enjoy every possible way-dipping in for various morsels, devouring it day-by-day, or selectively finding essential ingredients. As a tennis writer, I will always keep this book at the head of my table.” Said Bill Mountford, former Director of Tennis of the USTA National Tennis Center, “On This Day In Tennis History is an easy and unique way to absorb the greatest-and most quirky-moments in tennis history. It’s best read a page a day!”
Walker is a writer, tennis historian and freelance publicist and sports marketer. A 12-year veteran of the U.S. Tennis Association’s Marketing and Communications Division, he served as the press officer for the U.S. Davis Cup team from 1997 to 2005 and for the U.S. Olympic tennis teams in 1996, 2000 and 2004. He also served as the long-time editor of the U.S. Open Record Book during his tenure at the USTA from 1993 to 2005.
More information on the book can be found at www.tennistomes.com as well as on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1627089030&ref=name and on myspace at http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=428100548
People mentioned in the book include, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, Goran Ivanisevic, Andre Agassi, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Monica Seles, Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic, Maria Sharapova, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, Amelie Mauresmo, Anna Kounikova, Jennifer Capriati, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Martina Hingis, Gustavo Kuerten, Svetlana Kuznetsova, James Blake, Wilmer Allison, Mal Anderson, Arthur Ashe, Juliette Atkinson, Henry “Bunny” Austin, Tracy Austin, Boris Becker, Kark Behr, Pauline Betz, Bjorn Borg, Jean Borotra, John Bromwich, Norman Brookes, Louise Brough, Jacques Brugnon, Butch Buchholz, Don Budge, Maria Bueno, Rosie Casals, Michael Chang, Philippe Chatrier, Dodo Cheney, Henri Cochet, Maureen Connolly, Jimmy Connors, Jim Courier, Ashley Cooper, Margaret Court, Jack Crawford, Allison Danzig, Dwight Davis, Lottie Dod, John Doeg, Laurence Doherty, Reggie Doherty, Dorothea Douglass Lambert Chambers, Jaroslav Drobny, Margaret duPont, Francoise Durr, James Dwight, Stefan Edberg, Roy Emerson, Chis Evert, Bob Falkenburg, Neale Fraser, Shirley Fry, Althea Gibson, Pancho Gonzalez, Evonne Goolagong, Arthur Gore, Steffi Graf, Bitsy Grant, Darlene Hard, Doris Hart, Anne Jones, Gladys Heldman, Slew Hester, Bob Hewitt, Lew Hoad, Harry Hopman, Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman, Joe Hunt, Frank Hunter, Helen Jacobs, Bill Johnston, Perry Jones, Bob Kelleher, Billie Jean King, Jan Kodes, Karel Kozeluh, Jack Kramer, Rene Lacoste, Bill Larned, Art Larsen, Rod Laver, Ivan Lendl, Suzanne Lenglen, George Lott, Gene Mako, Molla Mallory, Hana Mandlikova, Alice Marble, Dan Maskell, Simone Mathieu, Mark McCormack, John McEnroe, Ken McGregor, Kitty Godfree, Chuck McKinley, Maurice McLoughlin, Frew McMillian, Don McNeill, Elisabeth Moore, Angela Mortimer, Gardnar Mulloy, Ilie Nastase, Martina Navratilova, John Newcombe, Yannick Noah, Jana Novotna, Betty Nuthall, Alex Olmedo, Rafael Osuna, Frank Parker, Gerald Patterson, Budge Patty, Fred Perry, Nicola Pietrangeli, Adrian Quist, Patrick Rafter, Dennis Ralson, Vinnie Richards, Nancy Richey, Cliff Richey, Bobby Riggs, Tony Roche, Mervyn Rose, Ken Rosewall, Elizbeth Ryan, Gabriela Sabatini, Pete Sampras, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Manuel Santana, Dick Savitt, Ted Schroeder, Gene Scott, Richard Sears, Frank Sedgman, Pancho Segura, Vic Seixas, Frank Shields, Pam Shriver, Stan Smith, Fred Stolle, Bill Talbert, Bill Tilden, Tony Trabert, Lesley Turner, Jimmy Van Alen, John Van Ryn, Guillermo Vilas, Ellsworth Vines, Brian Gottfried, Virginia Wade, Holcombe Ward, Watson Washburn, Mal Whitman, Mats Wilander, Tony Wilding, Helen Wills Moody, Sidney Wood, Robert Wrenn, Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan, Todd Woodbridge, Marat Safin, Leslie Allen, Sue Barker, Jonas Bjorkman, Mahesh Bhupathi, Donald Dell, Albert Costa, Mark Cox, Owen Davidson, Pat Cash, Mary Carillo, John Isner, Roscoe Tanner, Vijay Amritraj, Mark Woodforde, Tim Henman, Richard Krajicek, Conchita Martinez, Mary Joe Fernandez, Cliff Drysdale, Mark Edmondson, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Zina Garrson, Roland Garros, Wojtek Fibak, Tom Gullikson, Andres Gimeno, Vitas Gerulaitis, Fernando Gonzalez, Tim Henman, Goran Ivanisevic, Andrea Jaeger, Ivo Karlovic, Richard Krajicek, Petr Korda, Luke Jensen, Murphy Jensen, Rick Leach, Iva Majoil, Barry MacKay, Ivan Ljubicic, Cecil Mamiit, David Caldwell, Alex Metreveli, Nicolas Massu, Todd Martin, Gene Mayer, Thomas Muster, Tom Okker, Charlie Pasarell, Mary Pierce, Whitney Reed, Leander Paes, Renee Richards, Helen Sukova, Michael Stich, Betty Stove, Ion Tiriac, Brian Teacher, Wendy Turnbull, Richards, Fabrice Santoro, Ai Sugiyama, Patrick McEnroe, Camille Pin, Phil Dent, Jelena Dokic, Mark Edmondson, Gael Monfils, Xavier Malisse, Dinara Safina, Barry Lorge, Stefano Pescosolido, Fabrice Santoro, Roscoe Tanner, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Roger Smith, Erik van Dillen, Gene Mayer, Tamara Pasek, Stefan Koubek, Jie Zheng, Gisela Dulko, Kristian Pless, Chuck McKinley, Marty Riessen, Brad Gilbert, Tim Mayotte, Andrea Petkovic, Klara Koukalova, Bobby Reynolds, Dominik Hrbaty, Andreas Seppi, Christopher Clarey, Casey Dellacqua, Anders Jarryd, Janko Tipsarevic, Nadia Petrova, Christian Bergstrom, Ramesh Krishnan, Emily Sanchez, Marcos Baghdatis, Mark Philippousssis, Wally Masur, Paul McNamee, Daniela Hantuchova, Gerry Armstrong, Younes El Aynaoui, Thomas Johansson, Pat Cash, Lisa Raymond, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Chanda Rubin, Tony Roche, Alex O’Brien, Petr Korda, Karol Kucera, Amelie Mauresmo, Juan Gisbert, Pablo Cuevas, Jim Pugh, Rick Leach, Julien Boutter, Larry Stefanki, Chris Woodruff, Jill Craybas, Sania Mirza, Mike Leach, Maggie Maleeva, Guillermo Canas, Guillermo Coria, Donald Young, Dick Stockton, Johan Kriek, Milan Srejber, Zina Garrison, Slyvia Hanika, Karin Knapp, Laura Granville, Kei Nishikori, Scott Davis, Paul Goldstein, Alberto Martin, Nicolas Kiefer, Joachim Johansson, Jonathan Stark, Jakob Hlasek, Jeff Tarango, Amanda Coetzer, Andres Gomez, Richey Reneberg, Francisco Clavet, Radek Stepanek, Miloslav Mecir, Jose-Luis Clerc, Colin Dibley, Mikael Pernfors, Martin Mulligan, Robbie Weiss, Hugo Chapacu, Victor Pecci, Charlie Bricker, Greg Rusedski, Robin Finn, Kimiko Date, David Nalbandian, Goran Ivanisevic, Mikhail Youzhny, Nicole Pratt, Bryanne Stewart, Novak Djokovic, Rennae Stubbs, Corina Morariu, Marc Rosset, Kenneth Carlsen, Kimiko Date, Ryan Harrison, Richard Gasquet, Jimmy Arias, Jim Leohr, Felix Mantilla, Cedric Pioline, Annabel Croft, Brooke Shields, Jaime Yzaga, Slobodan Zivojinovic, Alberto Mancini, Peter McNamara, Andrei Chesnokov, Fabrice Santoro, Bud Collins, Mardy Fish, Sebastien Grosjean, Donald Dell, Petr Kuczak, Magnus Norman, Hicham Arazi, Nduka Odizor, Lori McNeil, Horst Skoff, Karolina Sprem, Ros Fairbank, Linda Siegel, Chris Lewis, Kevin Curren, Thierry Tulasne, Guy Forget, Fred Tupper, Jaime Fillol, Belus Prajoux, Ricardo Cano, Georges Goven, Ray Moore, Charlie Pasarell, Paul Annacone, Tomas Smid, Dmitry Tursunov, Elena Dementieva, Arnaud DiPasquale, Carl Uwe Steeb, Bill Scanlon, Jose Higueras, Jay Berger, Jana Novotna, Bill Dwyre, Lisa Dillman, Sean Sorensen, Paul McNamee, Jiri Novak, Benjamin Becker, Ion Tiriac, Neil Amdur, Tim Gullikson, Jan-Michael Gambill, Taylor Dent, Bryan Shelton, Vijay Amritraj, Martin Verkerk, Brian Gottfried, Carlos Moya, Jacco Eltingh, Adriano Panatta, John Feinstein, Aaron Krickstein, Wilhelm Bungert, Derrick Rostagno, Torben Ulrich, Daniel Nestor, Ray Ruffels, Cliff Drysdale, James Reilly, Andy Murray, Leander Paes, Alicia Molik, Barry MacKay among others.
New Chapter Press is also the publisher of The Bud Colins History of Tennis by Bud Collins, The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection by Rene Stauffer and Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli and the soon to be released title The Lennon Prophecy by Joe Niezgoda. Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press is an independent publisher of books and part of the Independent Publishers Group. More information can be found at www.newchapterpressmedia.com
Rafael Nadal has a fourth straight Roland Garros title within his sight, which would place him in a tie for second for most French men’s singles titles with France’s Henri Cochet. The French Musketeer won at Roland Garros in 1926, 1928, 1930 and 1932 and is considered by some as the greatest French player of all-time. Nadal stands tied with Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander, Rene Lacoste and Gustavo Kuerten with three men’s singles titles. (Bjorn Borg, with six titles won, stands as the top dog in men’s singles in Paris.) Bud Collins, in his upcoming book THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS (order here for special 39 percent off discount), profiles Cochet – Nadal’s marked man.
It could be said that Henri Jean Cochet had as pronounced a gift for playing tennis as anyone who attained world supremacy. A racket in his hand became a wand of magic, doing the impossible, most often in a position on the court considered untenable, and doing it with non-chalant ease and fluency. He took the ball early, volleys and half-volleys rippling off the strings. His overheads invariably scored, though his serve seemingly was innocuous.
He developed his skills early in Lyon, France, where he was born Dec. 14, 1901, and his father was secretary of the tennis club. Henri worked at the club as a ball boy and practiced with his friends and sister when nobody was using the courts. In 1921, he went to Paris where he and Jean Borotra, both unknowns, reached the final of the indoor championship, Cochet the winner.
The next year, he and Borotra played on the Davis Cup team, and in 1923 they joined with Rene Lacoste and Jacques Brugnon in the origin of the Four Musketeers. Cochet won 10 successive Davis Cup challenge round matches from the time the Musketeers wrested the Cup from the U.S. in 1927.
A sensitivity of touch and timing, resulting in moderately hit strokes of genius, accounted for the success the little Frenchman (5-foot-6, 145 pounds) had in turning back the forceful hitters of the 1920s and early 30s. Following a stunning victory over Bill Tilden, 6-8, 6-1, 6-3, 1-6, 8-6, in the quarterfinals of the 1926 U.S. Championships, ending Tilden’s six-year, 42-match streak, and a Cup-snatching triumph over Bill Johnston in the 1927 challenge round, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, the right-handed Cochet established himself in 1928 as the world’s foremost player. Winner of the U.S., over Frank Hunter, 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, and French, over Lacoste, 5-7, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3, that year, and runner-up at Wimbledon to Lacoste, he became more of a national hero than ever as he scored three victories in the Cup defense, 4-1 over the U.S.
With Lacoste’s retirement from international play in 1929, Cochet was France’s indispensable man. He led his country to Cup-holding victories over the United States in the challenge round in 1929, 1930 and 1932, and the British in 1931.
The “Ballboy of Lyon,” as he was called, was champion of France four times after it was opened to non-French citizens in 1925), and won two Wimbledons (1927, 1929) and one U.S. (1928). Probably justifiably, he felt unfairly treated in trying for a second U.S. in 1932. Darkness shut down his semifinal win over Wilmer Allison at 2-2 in sets. He had to complete that victory, 7-5, the following day, and then, after two hours rest, face the final in which the weary Frenchman was no match for a fresh Ellsworth Vines, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
In his last three matches in winning the Wimbledon title in 1927, he was a singular Henri Houdini. No one has concluded a major in such spectacular escapes, and all at the expense of three future Hall of Famers. Down two sets, the No. 4-seeded Cochet beat Frank Hunter in the quarters, 3-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4. Trailing the great No. 2 seed Tilden, three points from defeat at 1-5, 15-all in the third, he reeled off 17 straight points, also survived a service break to 3-2 in the fifth and won the last four games to seize their semi, 3-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-3. For an encore magnifique in the final, he lagged again and had to repel six match points to beat No. 3 seed Borotra, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5: Hurdling a match point at 2-5, and five more with Borotra serving at 5-3!
He ranked No. 1 from 1928 through 1931. After France lost the Davis Cup to Great Britain in 1933, Cochet turned professional. He did not have much of a career as a pro, however, and after the war, in 1945, one of the most naturally gifted tennis players in history received reinstatement as an amateur, a role in which he had once ruled the tennis world. He continued playing well. Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1976, he died April 1, 1987, in St. Germain-en-Laye, France.
MAJOR TITLES (15) — French singles, 1926 1928, 1930, 1932: Wimbledon singles, 1927 1929; U.S. singles, 1928; French doubles, 1927, 1930, 1932; Wimbledon doubles, 1926, 1928; French mixed, 1928, 1929: U.S. mixed, 1927. DAVIS CUP — 1922, 1923, 1924, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930. 1931, 1932, 1933, 34-8 singles, 10-6 doubles. SINGLES RECORD IN THE MAJORS –French (38-4), Wimbledon (43-8), US (15-3).
Throughout the French Open fortnight, hardly an hour passes with mention of the famed four French Musketeers. Their victory over Bill Tilden and the United States in the 1927 Davis Cup Challenge Round – that brought the Davis Cup to France for the first time – necessitated the construction of Roland Garros stadium for the 1928 Davis Cup Challenge Round and eventually for the French Championships. Their success and domination of tennis in the late 1920s and early 1930s was a major reason why the French Championships achieved its status as one of the four major championships in tennis – the national championships of the first four nations to win the Davis Cup – the U.S., Britain (Wimbledon), Australia and France – were recognized as “the majors.” The French Open men’s singles trophy is also called the “Coupe de Mosquetaires” and the area between Court Chatrier and Court No. 1 is called the “Place des Mosquetaires” with statues of all four champions. Many people are quite aware of Rene Lacoste, the most famous of the Musketeers due to his major titles and his well-known Lacoste sports brand, Henri Cochet and Jean Borotra are the next most famous of the “Fab Four” for their singles victories in majors. But what of Jacques Brugnon – the least known of the four? Bud Collins, in his upcoming book THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS (order for 39 percent off by clicking here), profiles “Toto” Brugnon, the oldest of the four great champions.
Jacques “Toto” Brugnon was the elder of France’s celebrated Four Musketeers who won the Davis Cup in 1927 from the U.S., and kept it six years. He preceded the other three – Jean Borotra, Henri Cochet, René Lacoste – as an internationalist, playing first on the Cup team in 1921. A master at doubles, he won Wimbledon four times, 1926 and 1928 with Cochet and 1932 and 1933 with Borotra, and appeared in three other finals. He won the French five times, three with Cochet, two with Borotra, and the Australian with Borotra, plus two French mixed for a dozen major titles.
Although doubles expertise overshadowed his singles, the small (5-foot-6, 139 pounds), neatly mustachioed and courtly, Toto had many fine moments alone. He was ranked world Nos. 10 and 9 in 1926 and 1927, golden years for the French: They were 40 percent of the Top 10, his fellow Musketeers occupying places in the first four, Lacoste at No. 1. In his greatest singles moment, his clever volleying took him to the Wimbledon semis of 1926 and five times a match point away from joining Borotra in the championship round. American Bob Kinsey got away from him, though, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 9-7, slipping from 4-5, 15-40, and 5-6,15-40 and ad out in the last set. Wallis Myers, the connoisseur, wrote: “Brugnon is a player of rare stroke variety and delicacy of touch.” He was a quarterfinalist in 1927, and stands fourth among all male Wimbledonians in wins with 129: 37-19 in singles, 69-16 in doubles, 23-16 in mixed.
His Davis Cup career ran 11 years, and he had a hand in four of the Cup triumphs as a right-handed left-court player. For a time, he was a teaching professional in California. He was born May 11, 1895, in Paris, and died there March 20, 1978.
MAJOR TITLES (12) — Australian doubles, 1928; French doubles, 1927-28, 30, 32, 34; Wimbledon doubles, 1926, 28, 32-33; French mixed, 1925-26. DAVIS CUP — 1921, 23-24-25-26-27,30-31-32-33-34, 4-2 singles, 22-9 doubles. SINGLES RECORD IN THE MAJORS — Australian (1-1), French (21-13), Wimbledon (37-19), U.S. (12-11).
The United States and France will renew their storied Davis Cup rivalry this week in the quarterfinals in Winston-Salem, N.C. as captain Patrick McEnroe’s U.S. squad – Andy Roddick, James Blake, Bob and Mike Bryan – will look to continue their run towards a second consecutive Davis Cup title against French captain Guy Forget and his nominated team of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet, Paul-Henri Mathieu and Michael Llodra.
Interestingly, this 15th meeting between the two Davis Cup superpowers (series tied 7-7) comes 80 years after one of the most famous and most-politically involved Davis Cup matches in the history of the competition, in which, perhaps appropriately enough, the great, great uncle of President George W. Bush – Joseph Wear – was a central figure.
In the spring of 1928, Wear, a former player who medaled in tennis at the 1904 Olympic Games, was the Davis Cup Committee Chairman for the United States Lawn Tennis Association – now the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA). The United States was, for the first time since 1919, not in possession of the Davis Cup after the four French Musketeers – Rene Lacoste, Henri Cochet, Jacques Brugnon and Jean Borotra – snatched the Cup from Bill Tilden and the U.S. team the previous year in Philadelphia – ending the U.S. record seven-year stranglehold on the Cup.
Wear met with USLTA President Sam Collom and the Davis Cup Selection Committee to decide which Americans would represent the United States in Davis Cup play. The United States were due to meet Italy in the Davis Cup Inter-zone Final in Paris, and presumably, in the Davis Cup Challenge Round against the French in what would be the christening event for its’ new tennis stadium, Stade Roland Garros (now the site of the French Championships). On the agenda of the Davis Cup Selection Committee and the USLTA Executive Committee was whether Tilden, regarded as one of the world’s most famous athletes at the time, had violated his amateur status when he filed newspaper reports from Wimbledon, for which he was paid. Wear, and USLTA President Sam Collom, reviewed the evidence at the USLTA Davis Cup Selection Committee and no suspension or discipline was discussed in depth.
Wear and Collom set sail on July 6 for Paris and the Davis Cup matches on the S.S. France. While on board, radio dispatches were sent to Colom and Wear of the meeting of the USLTA’s Advisory Committee, where charges were, in fact, filed against Tilden for a breach of his amateur status. Collom advised the USLTA’s Advisory Committee that no suspension would be issued until Collom would get to speak to Tilden in person. While Collom and Wear were on board the S.S. France, the USLTA’s Advisory, Davis Cup and Amateur Rule Committee met in New York – minus the USLTA President and Davis Cup Committee Chairman – and voted to suspend Tilden as the playing captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team. The Committees also voted to have Wear replace Tilden as captain of the U.S. team. Under USLTA rules, Collom and Wear were helpless to overrule the committee. Wear, upset at the committee members’ decision, cabled the USLTA in New York and resigned his post as USLTA Davis Cup Committee Chairman upon setting foot back on U.S. soil upon his return from France.
At the draw ceremony to announce the line-ups for the Inter-zone Final between the United States and Italy, Collom announced publicly Tilden’s suspension from the team. Headlines in the world press resulted as Tilden was regarded as one of the world’s most famous sports personalities. The story was particularly sensitive in France, where the French Tennis Federation had invested significant financial resources in the construction of Stade Roland Garros, expecting to reap a financial windfall to help pay for the stadium’s construction with the match-up between the Tilden-lead U.S. team and their “Four Musketeers.” Without Tilden, the French Tennis Federation would not have its’ marquee match-up for the opening of its stadium and would face a severe financial crisis. Fans that already had purchased tickets for a potential U.S. vs. France Challenge Round had already requested refunds upon learning of Tilden’s suspension from the U.S. team.
The French Tennis Federation contacted the French Foreign Ministry to inquire whether the issue of Tilden’s suspension could be turned over to the American Ambassador to France, Myron Herrick. It is believed that Herrick brought the issue as far as the White House, where President Calvin Coolidge endorsed Tilden’s reinstatement. (Coolidge had an interest in the Davis Cup since his Secretary of War from 1923-1925 was none-other than Dwight Davis, the event’s founder). Herrick allowed the USLTA to devise some sort of punishment after the conclusion of the Davis Cup in exchange for re-instatement to the team “in the interest of international good feeling.”
While the diplomatic gears moved in full motion, Wear captained the Tilden-less U.S. team to a 4-1 win over Italy to advance the United States into the Davis Cup Challenge Round against France. Tilden rejoined the U.S. team for the Challenge Round, while Wear remained as U.S. Captain. The French went on to defeat Tilden and the U.S. by a 4-1 margin in front of overflowing and enthusiastic French crowds at Roland Garros.
Wear returned to the U.S. Davis Cup captaincy in 1935, when he steered the United States into the Davis Cup Challenge Round with a 4-1 victory over Germany. The United States would then lose to the Fred Perry-led British team 5-0 at Wimbledon, but Wear did have the opportunity to coach an up-and-coming young red-headed future champion by the name of Don Budge. Wear, in fact, is the only U.S. Davis Cup Captain to captain both Bill Tilden (1928) and Don Budge (1935). The uncle of George W. Bush’s grandmother Dorothy, was himself an accomplished tennis player himself having won a bronze medal in men’s doubles at the 1904 Olympic Games in St. Louis, Mo.
“No one in tennis is held in higher regard than the Philadelphian,” wrote Allison Danzig in The New York Times in 1931, who noted that Wear won the 1914 “Racquets” championship with Dwight Davis. (Racquets is a sport similar to court tennis or squash.) “His appointment as Davis Cup chairman in 1928 was hailed as the entry of one of the country’s most representative sportsmen into its lawn tennis councils and was forseen as a guarantee of the maintenance of the association’s international relations upon their high plane of noblesse oblige…From the beginning, he won the confidence of the candidates for the team and became their warm friend, and no one was ever a more welcome or respected figure in an American Davis Cup camp.”
We hope that the drama in this week’s United States vs. France Davis Cup series remains only on the court.