Monday, February 8, 2016

A Memphis Tennis Top 40

Posted By on Mon, Feb 8, 2016 at 9:01 AM

click to enlarge Jimmy Connors - MEMPHIS OPEN
  • Memphis Open
  • Jimmy Connors

This week’s Memphis Open marks 40 years of professional tennis at the Racquet Club of Memphis. With thoughts of the late, great Casey Kasem, here’s a countdown of the top 40 players to visit our annual stop on the ATP Tour.

40) Vijay Amritraj — Won the 1976 Memphis Tennis Classic, a precursor to the U.S. National Indoor Championship, which arrived at the Racquet Club the next year.

39) Luke Jensen — Ranked 419th(!) in the world, the doubles specialist upset Andre Agassi in the 1996 tournament.

38) Marcelo Rios — The top seed in 1998, Chile’s favorite son lost to Mark Philippoussis in the semifinals.

37) Yannick Noah — The 1983 French Open champ reached the final of the ’85 U.S. National Indoor, where he lost to Stefan Edberg.

36) Eliot Teltscher — Reached the quarterfinals four straight years in Memphis (1982-85), but never got beyond the semifinals (1984 and ’85).

35) Gustavo Kuerten — Known as Guga by his adoring fans, the Brazilian upset Agassi in a 1997 three-set thriller. Four months later, he won the first of his three French Open titles.

34) Joachim Johansson — Won the 2004 championship in Memphis, one of only three career ATP titles for the unseeded Swede.

33) Kenneth Carlsen — Like Johansson before him, the Danish lefty won the 2005 title at the Racquet Club despite not being seeded. One of only three ATP titles for him, too.

32) John Isner — The towering American entered the 2012 Regions Morgan Keegan as the top seed but fell to unseeded Jurgen Melzer in the quarterfinals.

31) Steve Darcis — The Belgian beat Robin Soderling for the 2008 Memphis championship, one of only two ATP titles to his credit.

30) Jurgen Melzer — Ranked 38th in the world, the Austrian upset Canada’s Milos Raonic for the 2012 championship. At age 30, he was the oldest Memphis champ in 21 years.

29) Marin Cilic — The top seed in 2013, Cilic fell to then-unknown Kei Nishikori in the quarterfinals. A year later, Cilic gained some revenge (and then some) by beating Nishikori for the U.S. Open championship.

28) Milos Raonic — Reached consecutive finals at the Racquet Club, but lost to Andy Roddick in 2011 and Jurgen Melzer in 2012.

27) Magnus Larsson — This Swede only reached one Grand Slam semifinal (the 1994 French Open), but beat Byron Black for the 2000 Memphis championship.

26) Johan Kriek — The South African upset John McEnroe for the 1982 championship and reached the final again seven years later when he lost to Brad Gilbert.

25) Sam Querrey — The 8th seed beat John Isner for the 2010 singles championship then teamed with Isner to win the doubles title.

24) Mats Wilander — The winner of seven Grand Slam titles made two appearances in Memphis but failed to reach the semis both times.

23) Todd Woodbridge — Reached the 1997 final, where he lost to Michael Chang. With partner Mark Woodforde, won a record four doubles titles at the Racquet Club (1992, ’93, ’98, ’99).

22) Vitas Gerulaitis — Two years after winning the Australian Open, Gerulaitis reached the Memphis semifinals in 1979 where he lost in three sets to Jimmy Connors. Reached the quarterfinals here in 1982.

21) Guillermo Vilas — The big Argentinian reached the quarterfinals of the 1977 U.S. National Indoor, the same year he won both the French Open and U.S. Open.

20) Taylor Dent — Upset Andy Roddick in the final to win the 2003 Memphis championship, one of his four career ATP titles.

19) Gene Mayer — Beat Yannick Noah in the semis and Roscoe Tanner in the final to win the 1981 championship, one of his 14 career ATP titles. Lost in the 1982 semifinals to John McEnroe.

18) MaliVai Washington — The only black player to win a Memphis title, Washington beat Michael Chang and Jimmy Connors on his way to the 1992 crown. Reached the final at Wimbledon four years later.

17) Brad Gilbert — Known today for his work as a TV analyst, Gilbert won 20 ATP titles and was crowned champion twice in Memphis (1986 and ’89). Upset Stefan Edberg for his first championship here.

16) Michael Stich — The unseeded German beat Wally Masur to win the 1990 championship at the Racquet Club. The next year, he beat countryman Boris Becker for the Wimbledon title.

15) Mark Philippoussis — The Aussie won 11 career titles, two of them in Memphis (1998 and 2001). Reached the semis as the 10th seed in 1996.

14) Todd Martin — Reached the final in Memphis three straight years and won the 1994 and ’95 championships, two of his eight career titles.

13) Ivan Lendl — The eight-time Grand Slam champ only appeared in Memphis twice, but beat Michael Stich for the 1991 title.

12) Tommy Haas — One of three men to win three Memphis titles (1999, 2006, ’07). Playing for Germany, won a silver medal at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

11) Arthur Ashe — The groundbreaking legend reached the Memphis final in 1979 where he lost in three sets to Jimmy Connors.

10) Kei Nishikori — The first player to win three consecutive titles at the Racquet Club (2013-15).

9) Andre Agassi — Two months shy of his 18th birthday, Agassi won the Memphis title in 1988. In five other appearances at the Racquet Club, he never reached the final.

8) Jim Courier — In six Memphis appearances, the four-time Grand Slam champ reached two finals and won the title in 1993.

7) Michael Chang — Appeared in Memphis 16 consecutive years (1988-2003), winning the 1997 championship and reaching the final in ’98.

6) Bjorn Borg — The five-time Wimbledon champion won the first official Memphis title at the 1977 U.S. National Indoor (a few months before winning his second title at the All-England Club).

5) John McEnroe — In the most star-studded final in Racquet Club history, beat Jimmy Connors (7-6, 7-6) for the 1980 Memphis title. In three other Bluff City appearances, reached one more final (a loss in ’82 to Kriek).

4) Stefan Edberg — Raised the trophy in Memphis the same two years he won the Australian Open (1985 and ’87). The six-time Grand Slam champion lost to Brad Gilbert in the 1986 final.

3) Pete Sampras — Won 14 Grand Slam titles and appeared in Memphis six times, beating Todd Martin for the 1996 championship.

2) Andy Roddick — Appeared in 12 consecutive Memphis tournaments (2001-12), the top seed for nine straight years (2003-011). Won three titles (2002, ’09, ’11).

1) Jimmy Connors — Reached at least the semifinals in eight of his ten Memphis appearances, winning a record four titles at the Racquet Club (1978, ’79, ’83, and ’84). The event’s top seed six times.

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