Jonas Björkman did it in Stockholm, when he came out of retirement to play doubles with countryman Robert Lindstedt. Today, we received another of those surprises with former number one and captain of the Australian Davis Cup team, Patrick Rafter.
Rafter, who retired in 2002, will be teaming up with Lleyton Hewitt in the Australian Open doubles.
The idea was Hewitt’s to begin with. “I actually asked him a little while ago”, said Hewitt when he met the press. “Yeah, he still hits a lot at the Davis Cup ties, works us out a bit. Yeah, it’s just a bit of fun. It will be nice on my off days, hopefully I’m still in the singles, on my off days to go out and play dubs with Pat. Just going to be a bit of fun for both of us. While we’re still able to move around the court together, it’s nice we can go out there and play in a Grand Slam.”
Rafter toned it down a little. Admitting to be a bit nervous at the perspective of playing on the Tour once more after so long out (although he is rocking it on the Champions Tour), he declared that it would all depend on Hewitt’s singles: “Nothing is happening just yet, to be honest. We’re in the draw, but it will all depend on how he goes. It’s really important for him to play great singles. That’s what it’s all about. He still likes playing competitive matches. He gets through the first singles, he feels comfortable, feeling he might want to play, it’s whatever Lleyton wants.”
Despite having good performances on the seniors tour, where he won the last event of the season, in London, Rafter declared that he will “definitely be the worst player in the competition out there.”
Hewitt and Rafter will play their first-round match against American Eric Butorac and South African Raven Klaasen. Rregardless of what Rafter mentioned in his press conference, we can be sure there will be a match, as everyone is excited at the prospect of seeing him back: fans, journalists, and players alike.
At 41 years of age, Rafter is four months younger than the oldest player in the doubles field, Canadian Daniel Nestor, who is still going strong. No pressure, Mr. Rafter, but when Björkman did his one-time comeback a couple of months ago, he and Lindstedt reached the final.
Coaching on the Tour in the future? Rafter rules it out.
At a moment when so many of his fellow legends took to coaching top ATP players, Pat Rafter was asked if he considered coaching a player himself in the future.
The Aussie was quick to rule it out: “That’s not going to happen. Davis Cup is enough for me.”