Pat Rafter Turns Padel Pro

By Vanessa Taylor

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Padel has wooed and won Pat Rafter.

As a tennis pro, he claimed the singles championship at the US Open in 1997 and ’98 and was runner-up at Wimbledon in 2000 and 2001 – the latter one of the classic finals of the modern era, on a Mad Monday when Goran Ivanišević won the title, 6-3 3-6 6-3 2-6 9-7.

An unfashionable serve-volleyer with deft hands at the net, Rafter won the doubles at the 1999 Australian Open with Jonas Bjorkman. His doubles prowess is a definite bonus in the padel game, which is typically played in pairs.

He joins several other retired tennis players who have transitioned into Padel, including Carlos Moya and Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Pat Rafter playing padel in Melbourne. Photo: Docklands News

Now Rafter will represent Australia in a team of four in the 50-54 age group at the Senior Padel Championships in Alicante, Spain.

To be held by the International Padel Federation in April, the tournament will see Australia compete against 15 other national teams.

Rafter played 18 Davis Cup ties for Australia, as the nation twice made the finals. Unfortunately, when Australia won the Cup in 1999, he was unable to play in the final due to a shoulder injury.

He was appointed team captain in acknowledgement of his commitment to playing for his country.

That passion will undoubtedly continue in April in a different competition in a slightly different sport.

Title photo by Tennis Australia

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