This week sees the start of the US Open in Philadelphia which made me reminisce back to my playing the event – from Brown University in 1994 through to my final appearance at Symphony Hall, Boston in 2004. The event has changed dramatically in that time, starting as a smaller prize-money and regular court event to what is now a World Series event with glass court in a 2,000 seat auditorium. I played in Rhode Island, Minnesota and Boston with my favourite moments and memories coming in the latter venue. I wanted to share some stories from my time playing the event, if I can remember that far back now – they started 19 years ago!
However, as Adrian started to slow down physically, I turned up the pace and after a tense and close 3rd game, I went on to win comfortably in 5. It was another reminder (and one I talk a lot about today) that the match is over the course of 5 games and it doesn’t matter how outplayed or embarrassed you may be initially; there are normally always solutions and opportunities down the line, you just have to be aware and ready to take advantage of them – keep focussed and alert to the possibilities!
The next two rounds were tough but uneventful as I made my way to the final to come up against Chris Walker (English team captain and highest world ranking of 4) in an all left handed affair.
I remember a company trialling a camera in the front of the court and thought to myself how cool it was to be involved in something so new and revolutionary(!). Chris and I had a ding dong battle that went all the way, with my finally winning in a close 5th game to become US Open Champion – the first major title in my career.
I’ve thought a lot about the first round and my match against Adrian Davies and how marginal differences change games, matches and careers. I had another one not long after in 1997, when having thought I lost in the first round of the British Open (again!) the referee made a decision which kept me in the match. I eventually won that match and then went on to lose in the final against Jansher in over 2hours.
There are so many others I can remember throughout my career and other players around me but I do notice one particular trait of players who take advantage of those situations – they always believe and never, ever give up. I’m sure this year’s US Open will see many close matches but will there be one that changes a career?
Part two next week with my favourite matches played at the US Open – Rodney Eyles in 1997 & Jonathon Power in 2001/2