Chang, Kafelnikov and Washington Join the BlackRock Tour of Champions
Former French Open champions Michael Chang (pictured) and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, and the 1996 Wimbledon finalist Malivai Washington are the latest star names to join the BlackRock Tour of Champions after the recent additions of Pete Sampras and Stefan Edberg.
Chang, who memorably won the Roland Garros title as a 17-year-old in 1989, and Kafelnikov, a former World No.1, will take on many of their old rivals when the Tour arrives in Eindhoven in October. Washington has also been invited, and could have the chance for revenge against Richard Krajicek, who beat him in the 1996 Wimbledon final.
The event in Eindhoven - the AFAS Tennis Classics - is run by former doubles greats Jacco Eltingh and Paul Haarhuis. They have put together a strong field which includes two former Wimbledon champions - Krajicek and the 2001 titlist Goran Ivanisevic. The tournament, which takes place 2-5 October, also features two-time French Open winner Sergi Bruguera.
In a career spanning 15 years, Chang played almost one thousand singles matches and reached three further Grand Slam finals at the 1995 French Open and the 1996 Australian and US Opens. Standing just 5’9” (1.75m) tall, he was known for being one of the fastest men on court and always impressed with his ability to take on, and beat, players much taller than himself.
Kafelnikov won two Grand Slam titles (the 1996 French Open and the 1999 Australian Open) and an Olympic gold medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. During an 11-year career, he also played more than 900 matches and was well known for his endurance, often playing more matches in a year than any other player. Both Kafelnikov and Chang retired from the ATP circuit in 2003.
Washington reached the 1996 Wimbledon final in stunning style when he fought back from the brink of defeat against Todd Martin in the semifinals. The American also shared a special moment in Wimbledon history with final opponent Richard Krajicek. As the pair lined up for a photo-shoot, the first-ever ‘streaker’ interrupted proceedings on the Centre Court.
Chang, Kafelnikov and Washington join seven-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras and former World No.1 Stefan Edberg in adding their names to the BlackRock Tour of Champions. John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg also compete on the circuit of former World No.1’s, Grand Slam finalists and Davis Cup winners.
The 2008 Tour kicked off in Belfast with Anders Jarryd taking the title. Marcelo Rios won in Barcelona, Thomas Muster in Rome and Michael Stich in Hamburg. Pete Sampras will make his debut June 19-22 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Sampras and Edberg will both play at the BlackRock Masters Tennis in London in December.