Wilander Will Return To Play Seniors Event
Mats Wilander, the only player in the Open Era to win four titles in Cincinnati and an International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee, will return for the 16th annual Western & Southern Financial Group Seniors event. The event takes place during the evenings of August 11 & 12 at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio.
Wilander joins the Seniors field in the year the competition reverts to a "men's only" event, as it was from 1991 to 1998. Joining Wilander in making his Cincinnati seniors debut will be former top-10 player Mikael Pernfors.
They'll be joined by Hall of Famer Guillermo Vilas and other fan favorites Luke Jensen, Mark Woodforde, Tom Gullikson, Brian Gottfried, and Owen Davidson.
Four "younger" Seniors will be paired with four "older" Seniors to create four doubles teams. The teams will be announced on Thursday, August 10.
"It'll be great to have a great champion like Wilander return and put on a show as a Seniors player," said tournament director Bruce Flory. "We know he and Pernfors are especially entertaining to watch, and Jensen, Vilas, Woodforde and all the other players have proven to be very popular with our fans as well."
Wilander, 41, won 33 career singles titles, including eight Grand Slams. He won singles titles in Cincinnati in 1988, '86, '84 & '83, and was a singles finalist in 1985. He was 18 years, 11 months old when he won the title in 1983, making him the second-youngest player to win the Cincinnati tournament in the Open Era behind only Boris Becker (who was 17 years and nine months in 1985). He is one of only three players ever to win four singles titles in Cincinnati (joining fellow Hall of Famers George Lott and Bobby Riggs).
Vilas, 53, is making his third Seniors appearance in Cincinnati. The International Tennis Hall of Famer won 62 singles titles in his career, including four Grand Slams. He reached the main draw singles final in Cincinnati in 1972, falling to fellow Hall of Famer Jimmy Connors.
Jensen, 40, is making his fourth Seniors appearance. During his playing career, he won 10 doubles titles, the biggest being the 1993 French Open (with his brother Murphy) and the Masters Series event in Monte Carlo in 1991 (with Laurie Warder). He was a two-time All-American at the University of Southern California (1986-87) and currently provides color commentary for ESPN and other networks.
Pernfors, 42, is making his first Seniors appearance in Cincinnati. During his career, he won three singles titles, the biggest coming at the Masters Series event in Canada in 1993. He was a singles finalist at the French Open in 1986 and was ranked as high as No. 10 in the world.
Woodforde, 40, is making his third Seniors appearance. During his playing career, he paired with fellow Australian Todd Woodbridge to win 61 doubles titles including 11 Grand Slams and 12 ATP Masters Series titles. Four of those AMS titles came in Cincinnati, the most doubles titles won by any team in the Open Era in Cincinnati.
Gullikson, 54, is making his 11th Seniors appearance. He won a total of 15 doubles titles during his career, and reached the doubles final at Wimbledon in 1983. He served as the U.S. Davis Cup captain and under his leadership the team captured the Cup in 1995.
Gottfried, 54, is making his eighth Seniors appearance. During his playing career, he won 25 singles titles and 54 doubles titles, and was ranked as high as No. 3 in the world in singles and No. 2 in doubles. He reached the singles final at the French Open in 1977. His doubles titles include two at the French Open, and one at Wimbledon. He paired with Ilie Nastase in 1979 to win the Cincinnati doubles title.
Davidson, 62, is making his tenth Seniors appearance. The Australian won the "Grand Slam" of mixed doubles in 1967. He reached 30 doubles finals in the Open Era, winning titles at 15. He also reached semifinals in singles at Wimbledon in 1966.
The Seniors event will be proceeded by the W&SFG Women's Open (which will be held July 15-23), and followed by the W&SFG MASTERS (August 12-20). World No. 1 Roger Federer is the defending champion of the men's event which should include all the stars of the men's tennis galaxy, including Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick, James Blake and Lleyton Hewitt, to name a few.