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Veterans raise a smile as they roll back the years

Pat Cash (AUS) and Mark Woodforde (AUS) winning the Senior Gentlemen's Invitation Doubles title against Jeremy Bates (GBR) and Anders Jarryd (SWE) 6-3, 5-7, 1-0.
by Kate Battersby
Tuesday 3 July 2012

The second week sees the start of the enormously popular invitation
events, featuring some of the sport’s favourite names. The holders of
the Gentlemen’s Invitation Doubles are Jacco Eltingh and Paul
Haarhuis, who are back for another joust this year. In younger days
this Netherlands pairing won all four of the Grand Slam doubles
titles, including three of them in 1998 alone.

The event comprises two round robin groups of four, with each group
yielding one pair to go forward to the final. The matches are best of
three sets, with the third set comprising a 10-point tie break. Also
in Eltingh and Haarhuis’s group are the American pair of Justin
Gimelstob and Todd Martin. The former won the 1998 French Open and
Australian Open titles with Venus Williams, although in men’s doubles
he changed partner regularly. Martin, the former world No.4, was
of course a singles semi-finalist at Wimbledon in 1994 and 1996, as
well as runner-up at the Australian Open in 1994 and the US Open in
1999. The third pair are the gigantically popular 2001 men’s champion
Goran Ivanisevic and the Frenchman Cedric Pioline, 1997 Wimbledon
singles runner-up and also at the US Open four years earlier. What is
not so well-known about Ivanisevic is that he was twice runner-up in
the men’s doubles at the French Open (in 1990 with Petr Korda and in
1999 with Jeff Tarango). Rounding off that group are Britain’s Greg
Rusedski – a former world No.4 and 1997 US Open finalist – and Fabrice
Santoro of France, who won the Australian Open men’s doubles with
Michael Llodra in 2003 and 2004, and the French Open mixed doubles
with Daniela Hantuchova in 2005.

Group B in the gentlemen’s invitational doubles boasts Jonas Bjorkman
and Todd Woodbridge. Bjorkman, a singles semi-finalist here in 2006,
won nine men’s doubles Grand Slam titles – including five with
Woodbridge, three of which were at Wimbledon. The Australian, another
singles semi-finalist here in 1997, won 16 Grand Slam men’s doubles,
the first 11 of those of course with Mark Woodforde in the legendary
“Woodies” pairing. Next up are the former world No.4 Thomas Enqvist
and the 2003 Wimbledon singles Mark Philippoussis. The third pairing
are the former world No.6 Wayne Ferreira and Britain’s Chris
Wilkinson, who made the Wimbledon doubles quarter-finals in 1993.
Completing the group are the 1996 Wimbledon champion Richard
Krajicek and the British former Davis Cup player Mark Petchey.

The holders of the Gentlemen’s Senior Invitation Doubles are Pat Cash
and Mark Woodforde, who are also playing again this year. Cash was of
course Wimbledon champion in 1987, while Woodforde won 12 Grand Slam
doubles titles. (A prize of smugness goes to anyone who knows that the
first of those was with John McEnroe at the 1989 US Open.) He also won
four Grand Slam mixed doubles titles, including the 1993 Wimbledon
title in the company of one Martina Navratilova.Perhaps the most
popular pairing from either competition are also in this group –
Mansour Bahrami and Henri Leconte. Bahrami never became a household
name during his days on the regular Tour (despite being runner-up with
Eric Winogradsky in the 1989 French Open doubles) but when the
Champions Tour was created in 1993, he found his niche and has been
entertaining thousands ever since. His “specialist” shots include
serving while holding six balls (although he has been known to hold
21), catching the ball in his shorts pocket, deliberately missing a
smash, and playing a shot in elaborate slow-motion. Leconte, almost as
much of an entertainer, is also known as the 1988 French Open
runner-up and as 1998 doubles champion at Roland Garros with Yannick
Noah.

The third pairing in the group are the former US Davis Cup captain
Patrick McEnroe and Joakim Nystrom. McEnroe partnered Jim Grabb to the
French Open doubles title in 1989 (where they beat Bahrami and
Winogradsky); Nystrom and Mats Wilander won the Wimbledon
doubles in 1986. The last pair are another legendary team – Peter
McNamara and Paul McNamee. They won four Grand Slam titles together,
including Wimbledon in 1980 and 1982; McNamara additionally won the US
Open with Heinz Gunthardt in 1981, while McNamee won the Australian
Open with Mark Edmondson in 1983, and the Wimbledon mixed title with
Navratilova in 1985.

The second group begins with Jeremy Bates and Anders Jarryd. In the
company of Jo Durie, Bates won the Wimbledon mixed title in 1987 and
the Australian Open mixed in 1991; Jarryd won eight Grand Slam doubles
titles with four partners, including Wimbledon in 1989 and 1991, both
with John Fizgerald. Next up are Darren Cahill and the former world
No.4 Brad Gilbert. Cahill (nicknamed “Killer”) was runner-up with Mark
Kratzmann at the 1989 Australian Open, but like Gilbert he is best
known as a coach. Both have helped Andy Murray and Andre Agassi in
their time. The third pair are the former British No.1 Andrew Castle
and the former world No.4 Guy Forget. Castle won three Tour doubles
titles and was runner-up in the 1987 mixed doubles with Anne Hobbs;
Forget was runner-up at the French Open doubles in 1987 with Yannick
Noah and in 1996 with Jakob Hlasek. Rounding off the competition are
Kevin Curren and Johan Kriek. Curren, Wimbledon runner-up to Boris
Becker in his annus mirabilis of 1985, won the US Open doubles with
Steve Denton in 1982, where he also won the mixed with Anne Smith; he
also won the same event with her the year before. Kriek won the
Australian Open singles in 1981 and 1982.

Both gentlemen’s invitational events are always a hot ticket, and fun
is guaranteed.


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