While all the focus at the moment seems to be on Novak Djokovic’s US Open disqualification and Nick Kyrigos’s social media schadenfreude, we thought we’d do something different while Grand Slam Tennis is back in our lives.
Today we’re paying tribute to the forgotten heroes of Australian Tennis.
You know, the Little Aussie Battlers that captured our imaginations on the Tennis court for everything else bar their results.
From cult heroes to the honest goers, we’ve picked eight of the forgotten stars of that the proud Tennis nation of Australia has produced from over the years that will have you saying “Oh yeah, I remember him/her”
The likes of Laver, Newcombe, Court, Rosewall, Hewitt, Emerson, Rafter and co have had their time in the sun.
It’s time for these forgotten heroes to shine once more!
(1) Andrew Ilie
While Ilie never progressed past a fourth round in a Grand Slam, he certainly progressed in the hearts and minds of the Australian sporting public.
Known for his creative and sometimes outrageous shots, Ilie’s signature move was the rip his shirt off with the glee.
Who will ever forget when he jagged a five-set win over ninth seed and future world number 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero at the 2001 Australian Open?
He even managed to find himself a set up against Andre Agassi on a Sunday night at the 2001 Aussie Open.
Injury got the better of him, but he’s still a hero in our minds of Aussie Tennis.
(2) Wayne Arthurs
His serve was strong and had the likes of Jim Courier and Andre Agassi regard it as “the best in the world”
Arthurs would win 12 ATP doubles titles during his career and in 2005 finally broke through in the mens singles wining an ATP event in Scottsdale USA at the Tennis Channel Open with a straight-sets win over Mario Ančić.
No other player in history had won their first ATP singles titles at an advanced age with Arthurs being 34 at the time.
Arthurs can also lay claim to having beaten no fewer than six players that have reached the number 1 world ranking.
Peter Sampras, Marat Safin, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Pat Rafter, Andy Roddick and Gustavo Kuerten all were beaten by this Aussie hero.
While not at Wimbledon, Arthurs did beat Stefan Edberg in a money tournament on grass in England.
At the time, Arthurs singles ranking was 364 and Edberg was number 3 – making it the biggest difference in ranking between winner and loser for the 1994 tour.
He retired after the third round of Wimbledon in 2007.
(3) Casey Dellacqua
Known for her doubles career and being Ash Barty’s best mate these days, Dellacqua was a fine player in her own right.
At some stages during her career, Dellacqua was criticised for her weight and appearence from pundits including high-profile coach Roger Rasheed.
Most of them pipped down when she reached the fourth round of the 2008 Australian Open and produced a similar performance in 2014.
Doubles was were the West Australian had her best performances with seven WTA doubles titles, 23 ITF titles and one Grand Slam title with a win in the mixed doubles at the 2011 French Open.
In September 2014, Dellacqua achieved her career-high singles ranking of world number 26 and a career-high doubles ranking of 3 in February 2016.
Dellacqua would suffer a major setback in October 2015 when she suffered a fall at the China Open leaving her on the sidelines for a year, she would still play Doubles but not return to singles until early 2017.
She would retire in 2018 to spend more time with her young family.
(4) Richard Fromerg
A staple of the Aussie Tennis scene in the 1990s-early 2000s, Fromberg was the ultimate honest goer that fans loved.
His career achivements would include four singles titles and two doubles.
In 1990, Fromberg would reach his career-high singles rating of World number 24.
Fromberg also had the honour of playing in two Davis Cup finals for Australia in 1990 and 1993 (both losses).
Australia was right behind Fromberg as he took own Patrick McEnroe in the final of the 1995 Peters International at White City in Sydney.
Unfortunaley, the other McEnore won beating Fromberg 6-2, 7-6.
When it came to Grand Slams, he would save his best for the Australian Open reaching the fourth round in 1993 and 1998.
He is also a member of the Tasmanian Sport Hall of Fame.
(5) Scott Draper
There’s nowhere near enough said about Scott Draper.
We are talking about an Australian Open mixed doubles champion – Scott Draper, who took out the crown with our own Sam Stosur back in 2005!
Not only that, Draper was also participating in the 2005 Victorian Open Golf being played at the same time.
In one day, Draper played the first round of Golf in the morning, followed by the mixed doubles later that afternoon.
Draper managed to reach the fourth round of the 1995 and 1996 French Open, and at the 1997 US Open.
And while the Woodies owned the domain of Doubles, Scott Draper also did doubles with his brother Mark for a period of time.
Scott Draper can also lay claim to having been the first player to be beaten by Andy Roddick in the main draw of a Grand Slam at the 2001 French Open.
(6) Liz Smylie
More people tend to remember Liz Smylie for her efforts in her ads for Extra Chewing gum, but she was a fine tennis player.
Maybe not forgotten, and probably says more that the advertising campaign did work but Smylie can lay claim to four Grand Slam titles – one in women’s doubles, three in mised.
She can also lay claim winning three singles titles and 36 doubles throughout her career.
Smylie was also a long time commentator on Channel 7’s Tennis coverage.
Along with fresh breath and healthy gums from her sugar-free gum chewing, Smylie is very much one of the greats of Australian Tennis that needs a bit more love for her actions on the court.
(7) Chris Guccione
How can anyone not remember the Gooch?!?
The bloke won five ATP Tour doubles titles and reached career high rankings of world number 67 back in 2008 and in 2014 was the doubles world number 38.
At Wimbledon in 2005, Guccione hit 50 aces in a three-set qualifying game to which Mark Phillipousus described him as a “Wayne Arthurs Clone”
It was in doubles where Chris Guccione did his best work, often paired up with Carsten Ball or Sam Groth.
A carrer highlight for the Gooch has to be his efforts in the 2011 Davis Cup Australia v Switzerland tie when he teammed up with Lleyton Hewitt to beat the combo of Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka.
(8) Evie Dominikovic
Evie Dominikovic can look back at her career with an amazing sense of achivement.
She boasts a record of 12 ITF singles titles and 16 doubles.
Along with that, she acheived her career-high singles ranking of 64 in 2001 and 52 in doubles in 2002.
When it came to Grand Slams, Dominikovic did her best work infront of a home crowd reaching the third round of the 2001 and 2003 Austraian Open.
She also reached the third round of the 2002 French Open.
Dominkovic retired from the pro tennis circut in 2007.