Tennis Channel Selects Tennis’ Top-Five ‘Chokes’ Ever

March 25, 2009

*LOS ANGELES, March 25, 2009 – *Tennis Channel, the only 24-hour, television-based multimedia destination dedicated to both the professional sport and passionate lifestyle of tennis, will count down the top-five “chokes” in the sport’s history on Best of 5: Chokes. The latest episode in the network’s Best of 5 countdown series takes a look at some of the most remarkable, high-stakes meltdowns to ever occur on a tennis court.

Tennis Channel’s Best of 5: Chokes is scheduled to air Sunday, March 29, at 7 p.m. ET. Following its premiere, the show will appear on the network throughout the next month. Viewers can visit for complete listings. Well-known tennis personalities including Brad Gilbert, Jim Courier, Tracy Austin, Justin Gimelstob and Rafael Nadal provide commentary and their perspective on the act of choking. In addition, Gilbert and Chanda Rubin share personal stories of chokes they were involved in while on the professional tennis tour.

“Just like watching a player raise their level of performance in the big spot, sports fans are intrigued when players crack under the pressure,” said Laura Hockridge, vice president, original programming. “We know fans will enjoy reliving these moments, many of which are some of the most historic in the sport.”

Former player, coach and broadcaster Brad Gilbert sums it up best in the show when he says, “players love to watch it (someone choke), but not to talk about it.”

The top-five chokes in Tennis Channel’s Best of 5: Chokes are as follows (player who choked is listed first):

5) John McEnroe vs. Ivan Lendl: 1984 French Open final – Best known for his Grand Slam titles and emotional outbursts, McEnroe was also guilty of one of the worst Grand Slam finals losses ever. In the 1984 French Open championship match against the stoic but young Lendl, McEnroe, who had not lost a match all year, let a two-set lead disappear to lose in five sets 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5. McEnroe’s famous temper led to the meltdown which began immediately after he confronted a noisy cameraman in the third set.

4) Gabriela Sabatini vs. Mary Joe Fernandez: 1993 French Open quarterfinal – In the 1993 French Open, the heavily favored Argentine, Sabatini, held a 6-1, 5-1 lead over the 22-year-old American. Sabatini started double faulting and could not stop. Fernandez saved five match points, and in a three-and-a-half hour marathon, defeated the future Hall of Famer 1-6, 7-6, 10-8.

3) Todd Martin vs. MaliVai Washington: 1996 Wimbledon semifinal – After a series of upsets knocked out all top seeds including Pete Sampras, the stage was set for American Todd Martin to win the 1996 Wimbledon title. Leading by two sets, Martin could not put Washington away. In the fifth set Martin took a 5-1 lead and twice served for the match. Washington again tied the match at 5-5. After a rain delay, Washington went on to win the match and a spot in the final against eventual champion Richard Krajicek.

2) Guillermo Coria vs. Gaston Gaudio: 1994 French Open final – After winning the first two sets at the 1994 French Open men’s final in convincing fashion, third-seed Coria complained of cramps. The “phantom cramps,” as some called them, coincided with his game falling apart. By the time his cramps had subsided, Coria dropped three straight sets to the 44th ranked Gaudio and his only chance at a Grand Slam title 0-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 8-6. Despite being one of the most dominant players on clay at that point (37-2 heading into the match), Coria would never reach a Grand Slam final again.

1) Jana Novotna vs. Steffi Graf: 1993 Wimbledon final – After losing the first set of the 1993 Wimbledon final, Novotna went on to dominate Graf, taking 10 of the next 12 games and hold a 4-1 lead in the third set. At 40-30 she hit two of the worst serves of her career for a double-fault. From there, Novotna completely collapsed as Graf won five straight games to take the title 7-6, 1-6, 6-4.