Weekend "My Dad's in a Final!"
Six-year-old Mia ran around a dining table telling all who could hear, "My dad's in a Final! My dad's in a Final!"
Long before her existence, Lleyton Hewitt took over the No. 1 spot in the ATP Tour rankings from Gustavo Kuerten in 2001 and went on to dominate men's tennis for the next two years until injuries and competitors interrupted him. So, on July 14, 2012, minutes after Kuerten was enshrined into the International Tennis Hall of Fame on the same court, Hewitt was not going to lose. He beat American Rajeev Ram, 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, in a routine match, making his first tournament final since 2010 and posting his best result since the latest in a string of surgeries, this one on his foot.
Less than two hours before, Kuerten held on to his 5-month-old daughter, the Brazilian flag, and the Hall of Fame plaque as he made the rounds on the same court with fellow inductees. After the match, Hewitt was joined on the same court by the excited Mia and her younger siblings, their father also having a big day.
Reflecting on the Class of 2012 Inductees, Recent Player Category
Jennifer Capriati was already on the verge of tears when she walked into the Casino Theatre Saturday morning for the Class of 2012 Inductees’ media conference. It’s been a rocky road for Capriati since shoulder injuries forced her out of the game, and Capriati noted that the day would provide closure to a career that did not have a definite end point, making it difficult to let go.
Capriati said, “It was tough having to leave the game when I did. It was not by choice. It's like mourning a loved one gone, it's mourning a relationship gone, a part of yourself. It's not always easy when something is gone that you love to do and is part of who you are and you've done for so long."
She reflected, “It took a long while to accept that and let go. This is so great for me in a way because it's putting a lot of closure on my career and I'm able to move forward but give things, get the honor, just be honored. It means everything to me…”
In the day's first Singles Quarterfinal, defending champion John Isner faced South Africa's Izak van der Merwe. Like Isner, van der Merwe is tall (but not quite as tall), has a serve-based game (but his serve isn't as great), and is a product of college tennis – Isner, famously, of the University of Georgia and van der Merwe of Old Dominion. In fact, the two once faced each other in the Semifinals of the NCAA Championships in 2004, when Isner's team prevailed (Incidentally, another of Friday's quarterfinalists, Benjamin Becker, then of Baylor, won the men's singles event that year).
Isner won again this time, defeating the 155th-ranked van der Merwe, 6-4, 7-6(2). It wasn't easy, however, and Isner admitted he believed it was a "toss-up" and a fight, as the top seed's serve was a tad off in the match. It was not pretty, either. "When you have two big servers on the court, it's not going to be pretty," Isner told the media after advancing to the semifinals.