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Australia,for a relatively small nation of just over 20 million,has produced an incredible array of hugely talented tennis players. Who can forget the great achievements of male players such as Rod Laver,Ashley Cooper, Lew Hoad, Ken Rosewall, Fred Stolle, John Newcombe, and Pat Cash ' Then there were great ladies such as Margaret Court and Evonne Goolagong,both Wimbledon champions.In recent years, another fine player from "Down Under" has graced the courts,yes, Pat Rafter,who has been Australia’s finest singles tennis player since John Newcombe.
Pat was born on 28 December,1972 at Mount Isa in Queensland. Rafter was the third youngest of 9 children and has five brothers and two sisters. From the age of five Pat displayed great ability at tennis and it was no surprise to those in the know when the young Aussie turned pro in 1991.
Pat Rafter is 6 ft 1 in tall and weighs in at 175 lbs. He started his career victories at the Manchester Open in 1994 and then had a lean spell until 1997. In that year he hit the scene in a big way by winning the US Open defeating big serving Briton Greg Rusedski in the final 6-3,6-2,4-6,7-5.
The following year he won the 1998 Gold Flake Open, the 1998 Heineken, Du Maurier Open,the ATP Championships,where he defeated the mighty Pete Sampras, the 1998 Hamlet Cup and again won the US Open,defeating Aussie compatriot,Mark Philippousis 6-3,3-6,6-2,6-0 in the final. In 1999 he won the Heineken Open again and lost in the semi final at Wimbledon to Andre Agassi.
Pat appeared in the 2000 and 2001 finals at Wimbledon and was beaten in both.In 2000 he lost to Pete Sampras whilst this year he was defeated in 5 sets by Goran Ivanisevic. However,he played very well and won loads of admirers for his undeniable sporting attitude. The Australian is a renowned serve and volleyer,plays very well from the baseline and is very agile around the court, but,unfortunately has suffered ankle and wrist injuries.It is a great tribute to him that after suffering all those injuries he was still able to make the final at Wimbledon two years running.
He is a very down to earth character and does a great deal of charity work.People on the ATP circuit regard the tall Aussie as Mr Nice Guy. After his recent semi final vistory over Andre Agassi he was sporting enough to say that Andre was the better player and deserved to win. He enjoys fishing and golf and now lives in Bermuda. Pat has talked of retirement and many of his friends hope that he will delay making that decision. Gentleman Pat Rafter would be badly missed if he left the ATP circuit.