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Wimbledon Preview and Stories of Matches Past

Aired June 20, 2013 - 05:30:00   ET


PAT CASH, CNN HOST: It's a strawberries and cream edition of OPEN COURT.


CASH (voice-over): Coming up on the show, the Wimbledon greats are talking to CNN.

BJORN BORG, TENNIS PRO: And I sat him down, John, listen, don't call me anymore. Yes, I'm going to retire from tennis.

CASH (voice-over): An emotional Andy Murray plays for more than Wimbledon glory.

ANDY MURRAY, TENNIS PRO: Thank you very much (inaudible).

CASH (voice-over): See how he's helping his best friend in the fight of his life.

Plus the most successful wild card in (inaudible) history shows the beautiful game (inaudible).


CASH: Here we are at Wimbledon, the most prestigious tournament of them all. Over the years we've been lucky enough at OPEN COURT to talk to several champions.

For me, my dream came true on a sunny day in 1987 when I grabbed the title. But for seven-times champion Pete Sampras, it was far from love at first sight.



PETE SAMPRAS, TENNIS PRO: I didn't like grass at all. People would ask me about grass and I -- when I first went over there, I hated Wimbledon.

CASH: So you didn't --

SAMPRAS: I hated the surface. I loved Wimbledon and what it meant, but the surface I was uncomfortable. I didn't like the bad balances. I didn't -- I just didn't -- I didn't like it and I was a hard court guy. And grass, as you know, you have to adjust. And for the first 2-3 years, I struggled. I didn't like it. I came out with a bad attitude. I was negative.

I finally broke through (inaudible) one year loss so go on (ph). He served like 35 aces or something. So you know, (inaudible). But I finally break through a little bit. Mentally, I felt a lot better. And then by '92, '93, came around; I really felt comfortable. I was the owner of the place for about 7-8 (ph) years.

CASH (voice-over): Sampras' rival throughout his career was Andre Agassi.

SAMPRAS: Andre certainly, I think, out of all the players I played, was pretty special.

CASH (voice-over): It also took the Las Vegas Kid a long time to warm to Wimbledon. At one point in his career, Agassi didn't pay at the All- England Club for a three-year stretch. The prim, proper formality didn't suit the superstar, who favored jean shorts and neon T-shirts.

ANDRE AGASSI, TENNIS PRO: I felt very overmatched by cultures and I didn't understand the English culture. I felt very intimidated, very overwhelmed.

CASH (voice-over): Agassi eventually came to appreciate the tradition at the world's oldest tennis club. In 1992, he arrived at Wimbledon believing he could win it.

AGASSI: When I got to the finals at Wimbledon, I was the underdog against the big serving Croat, you know, Goran Ivanisevic. He serves 38 aces that day. I knew I was up against it and I said, if I'm going to win, I got to play a perfect match.

But more importantly, I got to go for it. I started to let my shots fly and I think I learned that day that if you really want to win a big one, you can't hope that your opponent loses and you can't hope not to lose. You got to go out and take it.

CASH: Well, there's no doubt that Pete and Andre played some memorable matches. And in my era, there was a rivalry just as competitive between the athletic and cunning Swede Stefan Edberg and a powerful German known as Boris Boom-Boom Becker.


CASH (voice-over): Boris Becker now lives in London, not far from the All-England Club. We caught up with him as he was showing his wife the court where he made tennis history.

BORIS BECKER, TENNIS PRO: You seen the match Nidal and Federer and I was commentating in that booth. I'm sitting (inaudible). (Inaudible).

CASH (voice-over): In 1985, he became Wimbledon's youngest-ever champion. He went on to play seven finals and won three of them

Stefan Edberg stopped him from winning more.

BECKER: When my toughest opponent was Stefan Edberg -- and I liked playing him -- it doesn't make sense. But my record against him is very good. But in three Wimbledon finals he got me twice. So -- and I liked him because he was a true sportsman.

And it wasn't about personal issues we've had. But you know, for the years on top, he's a bit older. We played juniors (ph) together where the -- I would call him; he was my toughest opponent. But I liked playing him.

STEFAN EDBERG, TENNIS PRO: I think Wimbledon is very, very special in many, many ways because the most fascinating thing about Wimbledon is when you got match point at Wimbledon, it's in the final. You can actually bounce the ball and it's dead quiet. There's nobody saying anything.

And how can you get 17,000 people to keep quiet? You can get 17,000 people to scream but to have 17,000 being totally quiet, that's one of the magic moments I feel.

CASH (voice-over): There were plenty of magic moments here at the All-England Club when Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe took the court.

CASH: Borg won the title in 1980, beating McEnroe in the final. And a year later, McEnroe got his revenge. There was no hesitation when we asked Johnny Mac what the highlight of his career was.

JOHN MCENROE, TENNIS PRO: Wimbledon's final 1981 when I finally beat Borg.


MCENROE: I was the guy that played the touch. He was a guy that, you know, like in the thins now (ph) of our day, you know, just taking big swings.


MCENROE: The best of him is natural. It's just -- we just went out there and all of a sudden, it was -- right away I was -- felt like, wow, this is -- I know one thing, it's going to make me a better player. And I hope that, at some point, it made him a better player.

And then all of a sudden there was this incredible interest which was like, OK. This is amazing. This is -- and then it got to be really fun.

CASH (voice-over): The friendly rivals still reunite for the occasional promotional appearance.


CASH (voice-over): Bjorn Borg retired from tennis at the age of 26. No one took the shock retirement harder than McEnroe.

MCENROE: So I mean, I obviously wish it had kept going on. I just kept waiting for him to come back, kept -- every time I saw I said when are you coming back?

BORG: John was something special. I mean, the rivalry we had, me and John, was special thing, not only on court but we respected each other off the court, too, so..


CASH: (Inaudible).

BORG: That was very unusual for John (ph). And not only that but when I stepped away and John was calling me and said, listen, John, do whatever you want, but don't quit tennis.

He felt a little bit like me, but I was a few years older. But he felt like this guy is going to give me motivation, is going to give me something extra to bring out my best --


CASH: So he really didn't want you to --

BORG: No, no. And I sat him down, John, listen, don't call me anymore. Yes, I'm going to retire from tennis. Don't.


CASH: And you just had enough?

BORG: I just said no.


CASH: Well, we've really enjoyed talking to these Wimbledon greats. And we've selected some more special moments to put on our website.


CASH (voice-over): You can access the interviews at


CASH: If you're fortunate enough to win the singles championships at Wimbledon, you become a member for life. Now I love this club, but there's more to it than meets the eye. I'll let you in on a couple of secrets.



CASH: So as we walk from the hill of Spectators' Hill up in those Henman Hill, this is the main walkway between the Court 1 and the Centre Court. And there's always something happening here on all outside courts, including Court 18, the world's longest match between Mahut and Isner.


CASH: Sorry, you can't come in here and have a look. But what I can show you is the Walk of Fame, the walk of the champions, walk the players will make on finals day for all history of Wimbledon down here.

Bjorn Borg -- recognize that headband?

Oh, there's a good-looking guy. Look at that hairstyle.

This is the royal box here, and as a player, when you get to this stage, you're pretty nervous because the Centre Court is just down these stairs.

And here is the trophy cabinet. Now this is the actual trophy. Unfortunately, you don't get to take it home, but you get a replica that here is the top section of the original section that where my name is and because it's run out of space, the bottom section here is where they're adding the new names.

And the little bit on top of the trophy, of all things, is a pineapple.

And this lovely trophy is the Venus Rosewater dish that the women get.

And right here is the famous Kipling saying that players walk under court.


CASH: And as you come out here, you know that, as a young player, for your first time, is just electric. Your dream has come true. But imagine playing for another final, well, the awe and the atmosphere here is something that I will never forget.




CASH (voice-over): Still to come on OPEN COURT, the power of (inaudible), Andy Murray reaches out to help his best mate. Their inspiring story after the break.




CASH: Welcome back to OPEN COURT.

Andy Murray is putting the finishing touches on his game, preparing for the grand slam he wants to win more than any. Obviously, great expectations follow the World Number 2 whenever he comes to SW 19. But for the moment, he's focusing on helping his best friend. Alex Thomas has their story.


ALEX THOMAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR (voice-over): The charity exhibition match at Queen's Club in London, a day filled with laughs and misfits. But behind these smiles is a tale of Andy Murray's dedication to an old friend.

We begin at the start of 2013, when players were preparing for the Australian Open. Murray won the title in Brisbane. Fans listened as a routine acceptance speech took an emotional turn.

MURRAY: And I'd like to dedicate this victory to one of my best friend. Thank you very much. He's back home watching and you're going to get through. Thank you.

THOMAS (voice-over): And normally, very private Andy Murray goes public with his support of Ross Hutchins, his long-time friend who's battling cancer.

HUTCHINS: I was watching the speech and then, you know, just I was thinking oh, you know, I'm so pleased he's won, you know, and (inaudible) this trophy and this title for him, which meant the world to me. It was something that lifted me up.

THOMAS (voice-over): Hutchins is a professional doubles players on the ATP Tour. He first met Murray when he was 13 years old. They played junior tournaments and later teamed up as Davis Cup doubles partners.

MURRAY: Once we both got in the tour, (inaudible) spend a lot more time together again and we used to do training blocks in Miami together, played some doubles together on the tour and, you know, there's not loads of Brits around in the major events. So the ones are, we stick together.

NEIL HARMAN, TENNIS CORRESPONDENT, "THE TIMES": Ross is a quiet lad, too, and I don't know whether it's that together that drew them -- that drew the association into being.

THOMAS (voice-over): Neil Harman is a tennis correspondent for "The Times" newspaper. He's followed Murray and Hutchins' careers closely.

HARMAN: And I think it's -- I think Andy is -- it's, in a sense, given him something else to aim at as well. He's almost playing for more than one -- for more than one person.

THOMAS (voice-over): Hutchins first noticed that something was wrong a little over a year ago.

HUTCHINS: September-October time, it started getting really bad, no sleep, average two hours' sleep a night for about a month, sleeping on the floor, rolling around trying to sleep in the bathroom on the wooden floor because it wasn't -- I thought it was the beds. Liked falling asleep on a foam roller, on tennis balls, trying to just take the pain away from the back to give it into my legs somewhere.

And so it became tough. And you know, it's literally I was talking to Andy about, saying that I'm really struggling here.

THOMAS (voice-over): Hutchins was diagnosed with cancer just two days after Christmas.

HUTCHINS: When I opened the door, my brother and my sister were outside the door. I went to my brother, I cried for about 10 seconds with him, because we're very close. And then I spoke to my sister, (inaudible) saying I'm OK, you know, we're going to get through this.

So I called Andy first. I spoke to him about it. Andy was, you know, you're going to be better after this. You're going to be stronger. You're going to be, you know, (inaudible) person. You're going to be a better person and tennis player.

HARMAN: At this particular moment in both of their lives, and certainly where Ross has been in you know, the last six months or so, I think that friendship has blossomed even more and has strengthened even more than it was before.

THOMAS (voice-over): Hutchins has spent the last six months undergoing a series of chemotherapy treatments at the Royal Marsden Hospital near London.

MURRAY: I mean, everyone I've spoken to tell me he's handled the whole situation incredibly well. You know, he has a great family behind him as well. They've dealt with it so well, too. They've been very supportive and incredibly positive.

THOMAS (voice-over): To raise money and to thank medical staff, Hutchins organized a rally against cancer exhibition events at the Queen's Club in London on the day of the Aegon Championships final.

HUTCHINS: (Inaudible) dinner, we chatted as we always do and then I said, "I've got this idea," and he was -- I mean, count me in, no matter when.

THOMAS (voice-over): The exhibition featured the Brits versus the Czechs. Murray teaming up with British great Tim Henman --

(UNKNOWN): (Inaudible).


THOMAS (voice-over): -- while Murray's coach, Ivan Lendl was paired with World Number 6, Thomas Burdick.

The pairing allowed Andy Murray the rare chance to compete against his coach.



THOMAS (voice-over): The event raised more than 150,000 pounds and Murray quietly contributed his prize money for his title at Queen's.

MURRAY: You know, hopefully, in a few weeks when he gets the scans everything will be clear and (inaudible) probably or hopefully one of the worst periods of his life and come out the other side a lot stronger.


HUTCHINS: It honestly, one of the happiest days of my life and certainly I'll never forget.



CASH: Well, I'd like to wish Ross and the Hutchins family all the best. They're a passionate tennis family and I'm sure I'll see Ross back on the practice court here at the club soon.

For more information on this story, visit our website. We'll be right back after the break.




CASH: Welcome back to OPEN COURT.

In 2001, Goran Ivanisevic showed the world that dreams really do come true. That was the year that he became the first wild card in history to win Wimbledon.

Croatia's favorite son has returned to his roots to raise his family.

Here's Pedro Pinto.


PEDRO PINTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The tennis star who once rivaled Pete Sampras and Patrick Rafter now faces off against a much friendlier foe.


PINTO (voice-over): Goran Ivanisevic's 5-year-old son shares his father's passion for the pitch.

GORAN IVANISEVIC, TENNIS PRO: He's a funny, funny guy, but very talented. I don't want him to play tennis, to be honest, because it's enough one crazy person in the family.


IVANISEVIC: (Inaudible) for me, please, no crying, OK?


PINTO (voice-over): The Ivanisevics love their football, but tennis is still the family trade. Goran serves as the co-director of Zagreb's ATP Tournament. The tournament carries a special meaning for Ivanisevic. He won it himself in 1997. Here, he tries to attract top players and sponsors to the capital city.

IVANISEVIC: It's important not only for Zagreb. It's important for Croatia to have a tournament.

PINTO (voice-over): Ivanisevic is keeping a watchful eye on the next generation of Croatian tennis stars.

Croatia's best tennis player is Marin Cilic. He has been ranked as high as number 9 in the world and has beaten Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal.

IVANISEVIC: (Inaudible) to (inaudible) like I say, OK. I'm warming up and (inaudible).


IVANISEVIC: My great touch. You know, we are a country of 4.5 million. We are extremely lucky that these tennis players look at the countries like Great Britain, USA, Australia, enormous budgets of the money and the -- no players. They cannot produce any tennis players. You have Andy Murray (inaudible).


PINTO (voice-over): Ivanisevic is mentoring 16-year-old Borna Coric. The young Croat is one of the tour's most promising juniors.

IVANISEVIC: Huge potential. He knows his huge potential. He's one of the best there.

Nice! Did you feel that? Come on.

My dream for him is to be better than me. So that means he has to be number one. I was number two. He has to win at least two grand slams.

I think that the top (ph) is important. (Inaudible) better than that. (Inaudible) go. Bye-bye.

PINTO (voice-over): During his 16 years on the tennis tour, Ivanisevic lived out of a suitcase, traveling from tournament to tournament. But now Croatia's favorite son has unpacked for good and has chosen to raise his family here in the city of Zagreb.

IVANISEVIC: I'm living here 14 years already. I like the life here. Nobody is bothering me. I have (inaudible) that everybody knows me. Tennis is always going to be in my life because it's just me. I am -- I was born playing tennis. All my life I spent on the court. This is my life.



CASH: Croatia is Goran's home, but for a fortnight each year, his adopted address is right here at Wimbledon, a place very close to his heart.



IVANISEVIC: I have no idea how I won at Wimbledon. I don't know how -- because I played -- two days before, I played badly. And nothing was going on. I was 128. What happened on that Monday when they opened the gates, I'm never going to know.

That Monday final was just -- the atmosphere. Never going to be atmosphere that ever, because now they have a roof, so they can always finish on Sunday and it was just (inaudible) atmosphere was really something that is tough to forget. But (inaudible). Another great guy and good friend will be making the final. Both nervous.

I was a little bit less nervous I won the first set. He won second. I won third. He won fourth. And then this unbelievable fifth set, fourth match point. I could not put a serve in the court and during the match point. And I just said to myself, put it, serve in the corner. Maybe he's going to miss. You can't miss if you don't put a serve in the court.

So I managed to put a serve in the court. He missed it. Unbelievable. Unbelievable feeling. But the best feeling is when I hold the trophy. That trophy is just something.



CASH: Well, I'm not sure if we're ever going to see another day like that. I have to say it's my favorite -- well, second favorite Wimbledon finals day of all time.

Well, that's all we have for this month's show. I hope you enjoyed the Wimbledon fortnight and we'll look forward to seeing you next month.

In the meantime, I'm tucking into the strawberries.


CASH: (Inaudible).