Rafter nominated for Hall of Fame
NEW YORK, Sept 2 AAP - Patrick Rafter, the last man to win back-to-back US Open crowns, is one of seven nominees for induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Revered universally for his sportsmanship, entry to the Hall of Fame alongside the likes of fellow Australians Rod Laver, John Newcombe, Ken Rosewall, Roy Emerson, Lew Hoad, Harry Hopman and his former coach Tony Roche would be fitting recognition of his playing talents.
Rafter's record should not be underestimated. World No.1 Roger Federer is the latest player trying to match the Queenslander's heroics in New York, where he lifted the trophy in 1997 and 1998.
All-time greats Pete Sampras (1995-96), Stefan Edberg (1991-92), Ivan Lendl (1985-87), Jimmy Connors (1982-83) and John McEnroe (1979-81) are the only other players in the professional era to have successfully defended their US Open men's title.
Apart from his twin triumphs at Flushing Meadows, Rafter also reached consecutive Wimbledon finals in 2000-01 and held the game's top ranking for a week in July, 1999.
Newcombe and Lleyton Hewitt are the only two other Australians to have reached No.1 since rankings were introduced in 1973.
The announcement of the 2006 induction class will be made early next year, with the induction ceremony taking place on July 15 in Newport, Rhode Island.
The 32-year-old Rafter, who officially retired in January of 2002 after more than a year out of the game, would be the 25th Australian to enter the Hall of Fame if accepted. Only the United States boasts more members.
The other 2006 nominees are German Michael Stich, Swede Sven Davidson, Argentine Gabriela Sabatini, Briton Christine Truman Janes, Italian Gianni Clerici and Eiichi Kawatei of Japan.
Stich won Wimbledon in 1991, Davidson became the first Swede to win a grand slam event with success at the 1957 French Open and Sabatini won the 1990 US Open final.
Janes won the French Open at age 18 in 1959, becoming the youngest women's champion at Roland Garros at that point, while Clerici and Kawatei are nominated as contributors to the sport.