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Old 01-24-2010, 07:45 PM   #1
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Default Best & Worst: John Newcombe

From The Sunday Times

January 24, 2010

Best & Worst: John Newcombe


What was the best moment of your career?

Although I’d already won two Grand Slam titles, winning Wimbledon for a second time in 1970 meant the most to me. In the final I faced Ken Rosewall, who I’d grown up revering as a legend, so that really meant something to me. My two previous major finals were straight-set wins (against Wilhelm Bungert at Wimbledon in 1967 and Clark Graebner at the US championships a couple of months later) but it took five sets to overcome “Muscles” — 5-7 6-3 6-3 3-6 6-1 — even though the little guy was 35 years old. Tony Roche and I also took the doubles title and as tennis had turned professional by then, I walked away from the All England Club with £3,500, which is about one-third of what a first-round loser pocketed last year, though it seemed a good pay day back then.

And the worst moment?

I got really annoyed when losing in the first round of the 1971 US Open to Jan Kodes. I was the top seed and the world’s No 1-ranked player but committed the cardinal sin of underestimating my opponent. I knew he was a good player on clay, he’d won the French Open two years in a row, but in those days the US event was played on grass at Forest Hills. I grimace at the memory.

What was the best thing about being a player in your era?

The camaraderie was far better. Until the late 1960s, most of us played as amateurs so were out there for the love of the game. As Aussies, we travelled around together as one group and got together over a few beers in the evenings. Back in those early days we were away from home for 10 months of the year. Money became a factor later but I think the mate-mentality among us Australians stayed the same, and that was special.

And what was the worst?

It was disappointing to miss successive Wimbledons in 1972 and 1973 because I was probably at my peak and may have added to my seven Grand Slam singles titles and 12 doubles titles. Things were very political in those early years of Open tennis and in 1972 I was banned because I had signed up with the World Championship Tennis professional troupe and there were big quarrels between its co-founder, Lamar Hunt, and the International Tennis Federation. I was a member of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) who boycotted Wimbledon in 1973 because we felt so strongly about Niki Pilic’s ban for supposedly refusing to play Davis Cup for the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. 81 top players refused to play.

Who was the best coach you had?

Harry Hopman is synonymous with Australian tennis during the 1950s and 1960s and introduced a great work ethic that produced many great players. I had only one coach when I was learning the game and that was Henry Lindo, who worked with me at a club close to my home in Sydney from when I was very young until I was 16. He instilled into me so many things that held me in good stead.

Who was the best player you faced?

Rod Laver. Every match I played against the Rocket was a tough one.

What was your favourite venue?

Wimbledon. I always felt so comfortable there. I was one of the first players to rent a house in the area during the championships and now travel back with great affection. The place has moved forward with the times but has not changed in terms of its very special atmosphere. Only the English could achieve such a thing.

Who is the best player today?

Roger Federer stands head and shoulders above anybody else.

What is the worst thing about the game today?

There’s next to no variety because modern rackets make it possible to hit the hell out of ground strokes, which means coming to the net can be suicidal. Learning the game with wooden rackets taught you guile and improvisation. I like Justine Henin, who still has that beautiful one-handed backhand, and Andy Murray, who can come up with the unexpected.

WHERE ARE YOU NOW?

I celebrate my 66th birthday in May so clearly things aren’t quite as hectic as they were a few years ago and I’m booked in for hip replacement surgery in a couple of months, which I’m really looking forward to because I will be able to play more golf and hopefully even get back on the tennis court. I still run a marketing company in Sydney, have a farm about an hour and a half out of the city and still own my tennis ranch in New Braunfels, Texas, where I used to spend about half my time and still visit about six weeks every year. The academy that has been built up there over all the years since I opened the place back in the 1970s has become one of the best in the world and I’ve got great hopes for one of the kids who came through it , 17-year-old Ryan Harrison, who was awarded a wild card into the main draw of the current Australian Open.

Source: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/spo...cle6999639.ece
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Old 01-25-2010, 01:24 AM   #2
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Default Re: Best & Worst: John Newcombe

Nice read.

Newcombe vs. Kodes in the 1st round... strange...
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Old 01-25-2010, 10:23 PM   #3
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Default Re: Best & Worst: John Newcombe

It's sort of funny that Rosewall could beat Newcombe anywhere but at Wimbledon. Two years later, at 37, Ken beat Newk in the semi's of the USO. A week, or so, after that Wimbledon Ken beat John in the finals of the Irish Championships. I saw John beak Ken in the semi's of the USO, I think in 73 after the Women's final in which Court beat Goolagong in three exciting sets. The women played great, but it was interesting to see how much harder the men hit the ball. Newcombe is rather underrated for a 7 time Slam winner, IMO.
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Old 01-28-2010, 10:01 AM   #4
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Default Re: Best & Worst: John Newcombe

Quote:
Originally Posted by thrust View Post
It's sort of funny that Rosewall could beat Newcombe anywhere but at Wimbledon. Two years later, at 37, Ken beat Newk in the semi's of the USO. A week, or so, after that Wimbledon Ken beat John in the finals of the Irish Championships. I saw John beak Ken in the semi's of the USO, I think in 73 after the Women's final in which Court beat Goolagong in three exciting sets. The women played great, but it was interesting to see how much harder the men hit the ball. Newcombe is rather underrated for a 7 time Slam winner, IMO.
YOu were so lucky to be at the USO for that Womens final and the mens semis Thrust! I envy you, although I have them on DVD so am happy to relive them.

Ken did beat John at Wimbledon in the 74 QFs though didn't he? Pretty comfortably too if I recall.

I am sure he would have beat up a lot more on him had he have played him more in the 60s and also if he wasn't giving away so many years to him. I know he beat Newcombe in 7 finals in the open era - so would have also beaten him a lot in other rounds I imagine. Rosewall is one of the very greatest legends IMO. Astonishing!
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Old 01-31-2010, 09:05 PM   #5
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Default Re: Best & Worst: John Newcombe

Yes I think Rosewall beat Newk at both Grand Slams in 1974 and I was also surprised to see there was a 1st round match between Newcombe and Kodes in Forest Hills.

Newcombe reminds us of an important fact here; that is the early so called open era was only "semi open", mostly between 1970 and 1972. The players that were in contract with NTL and then WCT were kept from many tournaments, GS more particularly. Laver and Rosewall, for example, were kept from every RG in the seventies but 1973, I think (which was no problem for Rosewall who anyway did not intent to play it because he then focused on Wimbledon). From 1974 on they chose to play WTT and hence were kept from RG (but that's their fault, in my opinion). And in 1973, the conflict between the ITF and the WCT led the AO organisation to move their tournament to the Christmas period, which was suicidal for the tournament.
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Old 09-24-2010, 07:45 AM   #6
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Default Re: Best & Worst: John Newcombe

well, it's quite an interview. well done!
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Old 12-25-2010, 06:28 AM   #7
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Default Re: Best & Worst: John Newcombe

[quote=thrust;9554693]It's sort of funny that Rosewall could beat Newcombe anywhere but at Wimbledon. [quote]

Funny thing is, Muscles did beat Newcombe at Wimbledon in 1974 but that was in the Quarters. However, Rosewall lost to Jimmy Connors in the finals.
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