Just posting an article written by Dougles Hartley, a tennis historian in Australia. I have lost my contact details for Doug if anyone has them that would be great. I have a few new Rosewall DVDs I would like to discuss with him.
Unique in men’s tennis as the only person to have been regarded the world’s best player in all age groups from pre-teen through over 50 and to have achieved world #1 ranking in amateur, professional and Open competition. Born 1934 Sydney Australia. Career: Junior 1946-1952, Amateur 1952-1956, Professional 1956-1968, Open 1968-1979, Senior 1980-to date.
Nicknamed ‘Muscles’ while still a young teenager because he looked so skinny alongside close friend and rival Lew Hoad, he defeated Hoad 6-0 6-0 in front of the victorious 1946 US Davis Cup team of Jack Kramer and Ted Schroeder. Both Rosewall and Hoad were 11 years old at the time.
Rosewall was the youngest ever Australian junior champion at 15 in 1950. Two years later he repeated that victory and added the French junior title. The following year, he won the men’s events at the Australian and French titles, drawing comparison by the French with Rene Lacoste, and went to Wimbledon as top seed aged 18 – the youngest #1 seed in Wimbledon history.
Three years later, aged 21, Rosewall ‘retired’ from amateur tennis to compete against the best players in the professional game. By then he had won 2 Australian championships, 1 French and 1 US. Together with Hoad, he won a swag of doubles titles and had won the Davis Cup in 1953, 1955 and 1956. Only at Wimbledon had he been stopped, reaching two finals.
Rosewall was initially beaten regularly by Gonzales but as his experience and game strengthened, he progressed within three seasons to be undisputed world professional champion – and by implication best player in the world in any form of competition.
In the professional equivalent of Wimbledon – Wembley, also known as the London Professional Indoor – Rosewall set a record of 5 championships, one more than Laver would achieve. In limited visits to the USA, he won 2 US Pro titles. And, in what was described as the premier pro event – the French Pro – he won an incredible 8 singles titles, including seven in succession. Fifteen pro Majors were added to his amateur haul of 4.
When Open tennis allowed the pros to compete against amateurs in 1968, Rosewall at age 33 was ranked second behind Laver. Yet it was Rosewall who won the first open tournament and who decisively thrashed Laver in the first Major final, the French Open. Losing to Laver in the 69 French final, Rosewall seemed on the decline as Laver snared his second Grand Slam.
However, Rosewall burst back with a vengeance in 1970. After losing a 5 set final at Wimbledon to Newcombe, he went on to win the US title and was voted Martini and Rossi Player of the Year. In 1971 he won the Australian title and the first World Championship of Tennis (WCT) final in Dallas, defeating Laver. Pre ATP computer, Rino Tommasi ranked players on a statistical basis with all matches included in calculating the best win/loss records. Tommasi ranked Rosewall world #1 in 1970 and 1971.
Tennis politics in 1972 saw the ILTF ban all WCT professionals from tournaments sponsored by national tennis associations. This included the Majors and was announced the day prior to the Australian Open final for which Rosewall qualified and went on to win. Despite this restriction, Rosewall went on to defeat Laver in the second WCT Dallas final in a five set match described then as the best match in history. Rosewall, again playing near his peak, was 37 years old. US television telecast the match beginning to end, attracting a huge audience and setting off a boom in interest in the sport. Like other contract pros, Rosewall was also banned from Davis Cup play until 1973 when he teamed up with Laver, Newcombe, Anderson and others in what was described as the strongest Davis Cup side ever, inflicting a 5-0 loss on the USA in the final.
After a solid but unspectacular 1973, also affected by a player boycott of Wimbledon, Rosewall made a limited assault on the world tour in 1974, playing only a handful of tournaments. Incredibly, he reached his 4th Wimbledon final and then another US Open final. Despite losing both times to Connors, Rosewall defeated Newcombe and Smith in classic encounters en route. Ranked world #2 aged 40, he returned to Wimbledon in 1975 as second seed and lost a close match to Roche in the 4th round, in a match pivoting on a disputed line call awarded initially to Rosewall.
Rosewall has the incredible record of achieving top ten status WITHOUT INTERRUPTION from 1952 until 1975 inclusive. When he finally fell to #13 in 1976, he still had enough fight left in him to improve to #12 in 1977 – aged 43.
His 4 Amateur, 15 Professional and 4 Open Majors – complemented by the first two WCT titles – is without parallel. Likewise his #1 world ranking 1959-1965 and 1970/71.
At his 1960s peak, he was called The Doomsday Stroking Machine. He could return anything and seemingly keep going forever. With his signature ‘tired’ look, head lolling forward between points, commentators and opponents continually misread him. In 1973, Hoad exclaimed ‘Tired? He’s looked that way since he was 11!’ Rosewall was an undemonstrative player who relied on his shotmaking brilliance. His backhand was peerless, one of the great shots of tennis. His serve, never fierce, was a well placed varied weapon much more effective than generally conceded. A great counterpuncher, his speed around court, 20/20 vision, and fast reflexes helped make him a great player. His politeness and good sportsmanship made him a crowd favourite for a generation. Ken retired in 1979, still highly ranked in the top 100, aged 44.
Selectively remembered by some as a teenage prodigy and a veteran finalist, in between he held a claim on the title of world champion for 9, perhaps 10 seasons.
A strong candidate for any list of the best singles AND doubles players of all time. Read his autobiography Ken Rosewall. Twenty Years at the Top, by Peter Rowley with Ken Rosewall, 1976. International Tennis Hall of Famer. Honorary Member of the All England Tennis Club. MBE.
Fave players: .. Seles .. Hingis .. Serena .. Venus .. Molik .. Stosur .. Sharapova .. Federer .. Roddick .. Hewitt .. Haas .. Rafter .. Safin ..
70s: Evonne Goolagong .. Francoise Durr .. Chris Evert .. Margaret Court .. Nancy Richey .. Maria Bueno .. Billie-Jean King .. Virginia Wade .. Ken Rosewall .. Rod Laver ..
Entertainers: .. Diana Ross .. Dionne Warwick .. Shirley Bassey .. Roberta Flack .. Randy Crawford .. Burt Bacharach .. ABBA .. Woody Allen .. Maggie Smith .. Gena Rowlands .. Judy Davis .. Heath Ledger .. Little Britain ..
Inspiration: .. Jeshua Ben Josepth .. A Course in Miracles .. Conversations with God .. Abraham with Esther & Jerry Hicks ..