The continuing Rafter 'unretirement': To play doubles at Australian Open [Archive] - MensTennisForums.com

The continuing Rafter 'unretirement': To play doubles at Australian Open

Tennis Fool
12-24-2003, 06:29 AM
Rafter to Play Doubles at Australian Open
By REUTERS

Published: December 24, 2003


Filed at 2:08 a.m. ET

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Pat Rafter is to play doubles at the Australian Open next month, the tournament's chief executive Paul McNamee said Wednesday.

McNamee's announcement came a day after Australian hard-court championships director Colin Stubs said the former world number one, who retired at the start of 2003, would play doubles as a wildcard entrant in that event next month in Adelaide.

However Stubs said Rafter, who turns 31 Sunday, was not planning a comeback to the professional circuit and McNamee refused to speculate on the topic Wednesday.

``He'll be a really good addition to the tournament and for the fans in particular. The fans will get a kick out of it,'' McNamee said.

``It's been on the cards for a while, especially when Pat was ordering the tournament balls a few weeks ago. That's always a positive sign.

``It'll be interesting to see how he goes. He and (doubles partner) Josh (Eagle) will have had a game in Adelaide (January 5-11) and that will have them in good stead for Melbourne (January 19-February 1).''

Rafter announced his retirement in January 2003, more than a year after he played his last competitive match when Australia lost the Davis Cup final to France 3-2 in Melbourne in December 2001.

``It's great that he has confirmed this early that he is playing. It's a real bonus for us,'' Australian Open spokesman John Lindsay said Wednesday.

One of the few genuine serve-and-volleyers to succeed in the modern game, Rafter won the 1997 and 1998 U.S. Open titles and briefly reached the top of the world rankings in July 1999.

Lindsayfan
12-24-2003, 12:45 PM
so he'll be back just for a doubles?

star
12-24-2003, 12:56 PM
Lucky Aussie fans. Rafter is beautiful to watch in doubles as well as singles.

star
12-24-2003, 02:52 PM
http://www.smh.com.au/ffxImage/urlpicture_id_1033538678738_2002/10/03/3spt_rafter.jpg
Pat Rafter ... ready to play doubles at the Aus Open

Related:
Pat Rafter - a career in pictures

Paul McNamee had a fair hunch three weeks ago Pat Rafter would contest next month's Australian Open when the former world No.1 ordered some tournament balls for his secret practice sessions.

In a major coup, Rafter was yesterday confirmed as a certain starter at Melbourne Park when his doubles partner revealed the dual US Open champion had accepted a wildcard into the year's first grand slam.

Rafter, who turns 31 on Sunday, hasn't played competitive tennis since Australia's Davis Cup final loss to France in December of 2001 and formally announced his retirement in January this year.

The serve-volleyer was trumpeted to make a cameo appearance in the doubles with fellow Queenslander Josh Eagle at the AAPT Championships in Adelaide from January 5-11. But Eagle yesterday said Rafter would "absolutely" also make a shock comeback to the Australian Open - three years after his epic five-set semi-final loss to eventual champion Andre Agassi.

"We just chatted. He had nothing else to do and he decided to have a game," Eagle said after a round of golf with Rafter on Queensland's Sunshine Coast yesterday.

"He had nothing on at the moment and he felt like it would be something fun to do.

"He knew that it would probably be my last Australian Open and last Australian summer circuit, so he thought we may as well go out in style."

Rafter will play fellow former world No.1 Mats Wilander in an exhibition match in Townsville on February 2 - the day after the Australian Open ends - but Eagle ruled out a permanent singles comeback for his good friend.

"Definitely not," he said. "This is purely something we're viewing as a bit of fun ... if we happen to win a match or two, so be it. That'd be a bonus."

Eagle said Rafter, last year's Australian of the Year, was ready for the intense media focus that would follow his decision to play again.

"He's fully aware of what to expect," he said.

"He knew his decision to play wouldn't be taken lightly by the press and media and by the public, and he understands. He's been involved in it long enough."

McNamee, the Australian Open tournament director, said Rafter's appearance at Melbourne Park would be a popular one.

"He'll be a really good addition to the tournament and for the fans in particular. The fans will get a kick out of it," McNamee said.

"It's been on the cards for a while, especially when Pat was ordering the tournament balls a few weeks ago. That's always a positive sign.

"It'll be interesting to see how he goes. He and Josh will have had a game in Adelaide and that will have them in good stead for Melbourne."

McNamee said he had been "in the business long enough to know" not to speculate on any possible long-term comeback for retired professional sportsmen.

tripthemighty
12-24-2003, 04:14 PM
Have Rafter and Eagle ever played doubles together before?

I was looking at Eagle's activity, and his partners of choice seem to have been Stolle, Florent, and at times Bhupathi.

Deboogle!.
12-24-2003, 04:21 PM
lol interesting... he can't make up his mind can he? :p Maybe he'll get far enough into the tourney so that it'll get shown here in the US..... HAHAHA AS IF

Experimentee
12-25-2003, 02:15 PM
Rafter's apparently good mates with Eagle, so hes probably hit with him and knows his game well, dont know if they've actually played together before though.
I dont expect much from this comeback, he hasnt played since DC 2001! He's sure to be rusty.

Action Jackson
12-25-2003, 02:58 PM
It will bring more fans in at the AO, hopefully people don't just sit at the one court for five hours and don't care about the matches until Rafter plays.

maratski
12-25-2003, 04:40 PM
Then why do I get the feeling that it's exactly what will happen? ;)

Action Jackson
12-25-2003, 04:46 PM
It will happen Ilhame and also Rafter needs some practice for the Wilander match, which should be fun for both of them as they are both classy guys.

maratski
12-25-2003, 04:52 PM
I hope eurosport will at least show some of it. I'm planning to tape again every night so who knows I might get a surprise in the morning ;)