While the current generation of Indian tennis fans may have missed out on watching live the champions from previous years, the Champions Tennis League or CTL provides them with an excellent chance to witness the legends from the past competing in a high-stakes, high-profile event.
Each team in the CTL has drafted a ‘legend’ to the roster and today, we profile some of the remarkable achievements of these stars who are competing in the inaugural edition of the tournament.
JUAN CARLOS FERRERO (IRONKILL DELHI DREAMS)
Juan Carlos Ferrero, nicknamed ‘Mosquito’ for his tremendous speed and movement around the court, was among the first Spaniards who managed to play top-flight tennis on surfaces other than clay. Ferrero won the French Open in 2003 (one of three Grand Slam finals he reached during the 2002-2003 stretch), the same year he also peaked at No. 1 in the rankings.
Like most of his countrymen, Ferrero was an integral member of the Davis Cup squad for Spain and was part of three Davis Cup winning campaigns (2000, 2004 and 2009). The Spaniard, now 34 years old, also reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon on two occasions, which was not common for a Spaniard in the pre-Nadal era. He won 16 ATP titles and nearly $14 million in prize money.
SERGI BRUGERA (IRONKILL MUMBAI TENNIS MASTERS)
Sergi Bruguera was the pioneer of the Spanish clay-court specialist in the modern era. He became the first Spaniard in 18 years to win a Grand Slam when he won the French Open in 1993, setting the stage for the likes of Costa, Moya, Ferrero and Nadal, all of whom followed in his footsteps and went on to win at Roland Garros.
Bruguera repeated as French Open champion, peaking at No. 3 in the world, winning 14 ATP singles, three ATP doubles titles and $11 million in his career. Bruguera also won the silver medal at the Olympics in 1996 where he was beaten by Andre Agassi. In 1997, when he was voted ATP Comeback Player of the Year, he reached his third French Open final where he came second-best to Gustavo Kuerten.
Bruguera is among the few players to hold a winning record over both Pete Sampras (3-2) and Roger Federer (1-0), and is currently coaching Frenchman Richard Gasquet.
THOMAS ENQVIST (BANGALORE RAPTORS)
Sweden’s Thomas Enqvist is a former World No. 4, whose big moment came when he reached the final of the Australian Open in 1999, where he was beaten by Yevgeny Kafelnikov. Unlike other famous Swedes like Stefan Edberg and Jonas Bjorkman, Enqvist played from the baseline, using his powerful groundstrokes to outhit opponents.
Enqvist won 19 ATP singles, 1 ATP doubles title and more than $10 million in prize money during his career.
MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS (HYDERABAD ACES)
Mark Philippoussis could have, and probably should have, been a Grand Slam champion. But fate had other plans for the strapping Australian, better known as the Scud for his missile-like serve and bazooka groundstrokes.
Philippoussis reached the final of the US Open in 1998 and at Wimbledon in 2003, besides winning 11 ATP singles and three ATP doubles titles and helping the Australians win the Davis Cup in 1999 and 2003. He peaked at No. 8 in the rankings but his career was hampered by several knee injuries which required surgeries and limited his playing schedule in the latter years of his career.
PAT CASH (PUNE MARATHAS)
Early on in his career, Philippoussis was coached by countryman Pat Cash. It’s hard to figure out if Cash is more famous for winning Wimbledon (he also reached the Australian Open finals in 1987 and 1988) or for climbing into the stands to hug his team after that. And while Cash may have ruffled some of the feathers of the All England Club traditionalists back then in 1987, his celebration routine is now a common occurrence at most Grand Slams.
Cash peaked at No. 4 in the world but unfortunately his career was also hampered by several injuries. He still managed to win seven ATP singles and 12 ATP doubles title (peaked at No. 6 in the doubles rankings), as well as help the Australians win the Davis Cup in 1983 and 1986.
This article was originally published on the Champions Tennis League website here.