Australian tennis great Patrick Rafter, a two-time U.S. Open champion, made the most of his debut appearance on the PowerShares Series circuit by taking the title at the Champions Shootout held in Philadelphia.
The four player event saw Rafter first defeat Michael Chang 6-2 in their semifinal match earlier in the evening while John McEnroe beat Jim Courier 6-4 in the other semi after McEnroe came back from an 0-2 deficit early in the set.
Rafter then faced McEnroe in the eight game pro-set finals with both men putting on a serve and volley show full of chipping and forays to the net for the crowd on hand at the Wells Fargo Center. Rafter broke McEnroe’s serve to go up 6-4 and then went on to close out the match 8-4.
“I’ve not played too many competitive matches lately, but I’ve been doing a lot of fitness work at home,” said Rafter on the PowerShares site. “I feel like I’m still at an age where I can hit the ball well, so I want to enjoy it while I can, and it was really nice to win this first time out. John puts a lot of pressure on your serve and is always a difficult opponent. He’s just amazing – a real pleasure to go up against.”
Rafter, with his first title on the circuit, picked up 400 points and is now tied for fourth in the overall standings while McEnroe earned 200 points to move past Pete Sampras for the top spot in the series rankings. Players compete for points throughout the series with a $1 million dollars of bonus pool money up for grabs for those that finish in the top three at the end of the season.
Before the matches started, Rafter during a pre-match press conference was asked about the recent incident involving Australian Bernard Tomic being involved in a wrestling match during his 20th birthday party on top of a high-rise apartment building on the Gold Coast that eventually was investigated by local police. When asked if Rafter, who is captain of the Australian Davis Cup team, would have Tomic back on the team next year, Rafter replied, “No comment.”
The PowerShares Series will have its next event at Madison Square Garden in New York on November 5th.