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The End of a Record Service

There are two ways I could start this article that would mislead you to think I was talking about someone else.

I could say, “The last man to beat Pete Sampras on the ATP Tour may have just played his last match.” Or, I could say, “The U.S. Open could have been the last tournament for another record-setting legend.” But I won’t.Wayne Arthurs, who beat Sampras at Cincinnati in 2002, his final tournament before winning the U.S. Open, may call it quits.

The oldest man on tour since Andre Agassi’s retirement, Arthurs has claimed all year that his entire focus has been on winning the Davis Cup for Australia and that only once it was over would he think about retiring. But after getting swept 5-0 in the semifinals in Argentina, now retirement can become a possibility.

Arthurs rallied to qualify for the singles’ main draw at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon earlier this year, extending his streak to an impressive 29-consecutive Grand Slams participated in. However, the streak ended when he was eliminated in the second round of qualifying at the U.S. Open, the first time he failed to participate in singles at a slam since Roland Garros in 1999 and the first time he missed the Open since 1997. Arthurs has now not participated in a main draw singles match since the end of July.

But there is a reason I’m writing about an obscure doubles-specialist who didn’t make a dent in singles until he was almost 30.

In 2005, just before his 34th birthday, Arthurs became the oldest man to win his first title since the formation of the ATP Tour in 1990 when he defeated Mario Ancic in the finals at the Tennis Channel Open in Scottsdale, Ariz. During that tournament, he began a streak of 109 consecutive service games held, and he wasn’t broken until his second round match against Andre Agassi at the Pacific Life Open. That was good enough for the second longest streak of all time.

But who holds the record?: Wayne Arthurs.

In 1999, Arthurs held a remarkable 111 consecutive games through Wimbledon qualifying and all the way to the third set of his fourth round match against none other than Andre Agassi before finally being broken and eliminated from his first splash into the world’s eye.

The 6’3″ lefty would occasionally make headlines thereafter, reaching his first final in 2002 at the age of 31 and leading the Aussie doubles team in the Davis Cup to two titles in the last decade, but he never broke through to become one of the world’s most known and recognized players.

And although he never was one of the best, he was always reliable to give it his all, regardless who he was playing.

Until he won his first and possibly only title in 2005, his biggest win was easily when he defeated Sampras in the second round at Cincinnati, the final time Sampras would lose an ATP match.

Sampras would come back three weeks later and pound through the U.S. Open, winning his record 14th Grand Slam title, which is one more than the cumulative sum of Arthurs’ 13 singles and doubles titles, providing the final link of his greatness.

But Arthurs was never good enough to win a slam, and until recently, to even win a tournament. Everything had to be on and everything had to go right for him to win his only title. And after taking three months off this spring because his wife gave birth to the couple’s first child, Arthurs could never get his game back together.

He’s 6-8 in singles this year with just one trip to the quarterfinals, which happened before he took three months off. In doubles, he hasn’t been passed the quarterfinals yet, which could end his streak of 12 consecutive years reaching at least one final. His record is just 8-11.

Arthurs has said that retirement “is always on the back shelf,” but now with a family to take care of and his best days clearly behind him, it may be time for Arthurs to walk away.

He says he’ll reconsider everything after the season, but the end has basically come. He was never the most well known player, yet he never needed to be. He was a silent pillar for the Aussies, but now his time has passed.

“We have had a good run from these guys,” Davis Cup captain John Fitzgerald said Sunday in reference to the possibility of mass retirements, Arthurs’s amongst them.

But with two Davis Cup titles and a couple of records and interesting accomplishments, I’d say the run was great.

Heck, it might be legendary.

By bsd987

I have written for SportsColumn.com since 2004 and was named a featured writer in 2006. I have been Co-Editor of the site since January 1, 2009. I also write for BleacherReport.com where I am a founding member of the Tennis Roundtable and one of the chief contributors to both the Tennis and Horse Racing sections.

I am "Stat Boy" for Sportscolumn.com's weekly podcast, Poor Man's PTI.

I am currently a Junior at Rice University majoring in History and Medieval Studies. My senior thesis will focus on the desegregation of football in Texas and its affect of racial relations.

Please direct all inquiries to [email protected].

Thanks,
Burton DeWitt
Co-Editor of Sportscolumn.com

2 replies on “The End of a Record Service”

This is good… I’ve never heard of this guy, although I’m a very casual follower of tennis, like…who won the grand slams? oh, Federer again? Shit. Boring. Ok. and that’s it.

Always good writing from you, though. I love to read stuff about the obscure and unknown players and stories, so good job. I hoped that you also submitted this to some kind of tennis magazine or website, because I’m sure they would love to have this. We tend to be very football-brained around here, you know?

I know this is the wrong thread, but I totally agree with your other comment about voting…stop being lazy, people!! Drop a line on why you voted down! Or even anything…we all love the feedback…

hey Thanks, I try my best.

I remember liking your stuff, although I haven’t been here in a while so I can’t put a finger on anything you’ve done. I look forward to seeing some of your articles.

And yeah, this site needs OCD assholes like myself to force everyone to discuss things like why they voted down the article.

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