The finals of the ATP Champions Tour were contested Tuesday night at the Delray Beach Stadium & Tennis Center between Australian Patrick Rafter and American tennis legend John McEnroe. The meeting between the two former majors winners was expected to be a display of serve and volley, both delivered. Rafter prevailed over McEnroe 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-1) in two highly competitive sets.
Although the ATP Champions Tour has been in existence since 1997, the four day event in Delray marked the Champions Tour’s inaugural stop on U.S. soil. McEnroe qualified for the finals by going undefeated in Group A (3-0) highlighted by wins over Mats Wilander and Andres Gomez. Despite losing to Ronald Agenor, in Group B, Rafter advanced by beating Aaron Krickstein and Pat Cash.
Rafter was favored in the final in light of his age. However, McEnroe held his own in the match. The difference was Rafter’s ability to raise his game level in the tiebreakers. McEnroe would later concede during the trophy ceremony that Rafter was “too good.” Also, McEnroe jokingly said that Rafter is “younger, faster, and better-looking than me.” The win places Rafter at the top of the rankings of The Champions Tour. The Champions tour moves next to Zurich on March 9.
Turning to the ATP Tour’s main draw, top seed Tommy Haas was upset on Monday night by Teimuraz Gabashvilli in straight sets. Despite dropping a set to Nicolas Lapentti, Evgeny Korolev, last year’s finalist, advanced. Mardy Fish, the 2009 champion, moved on when Christophe Rochus retired at 3 all in the third set. Second seed Ivo Karlovic ousted Philipp Petzschner while Kie Nishikori, 2008 champion, fell to third seed Benjamin Becker .