Tennis (Life) Birthdays – April 14, 2019

Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP), 31

Too often overlooked because of his low-profile personality, Bautista Agut has been one of the steadiest performers on Tour in recent years.

He’s been in the top 30 (and often in the top 20) every single week since May 5, 2014.

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Occasionally a great result. Almost always a good result. And always a full-out effort.

Do that week after week, and you’re going to have both a solid ranking and cash in the bank. Bautista Agut likely will top the $10 million mark in Monte Carlo this week.

In his 15th year as a pro, Bautista is currently at No. 23. His career high of No. 13 came in October, 2016.

He has won two tournaments a year for the last three years. In 2019, he’s already a champion in Doha.

And it should be pointed out, because he’s a Spaniard, that eight of his career titles have come on hard courts. The other – his first, back in 2014 – came on grass.

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Bautista Agut has been in the top 30 every single week for the last five years. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

Bautista Agut is 14-4 on the season going into Monte Carlo, where he’s unseeded and will play John Millman in the first round. The winner gets Rafael Nadal in the second round. And given there are hints that Nadal is not at 100 per cent, who knows what could happen?

The two, a bit surprisingly, have only met twice, with Nadal winning both.

Bautista Agut opened 2019 with a title in Doha, beating Stan Wawrinka, Novak Djokovic and then Tomas Berdych in the final. 

And he supplied plenty of drama in reaching the quarterfinals at the Australian Open. Bautista Agut was the protagonist in Andy Murray’s emotional five-set loss in the first round. He also defeated Marin Cilic and homeboy Millman in five sets. Ultimately, he lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in four close sets.

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Bautista also reached the quarterfinals at the Miami Open – again defeating Djokovic after losing the first set 6-1.

The Spaniard will come into this year’s French Open with a heavy heart, after he lost his mother just before last year’s tournament.

Mourning his mother, Bautista-Agut perseveres

Jan Siemerink (NED), 49

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The Dutch lefty reached the top-20 in both singles and doubles during his career.

He won four ATP Tour titles and more than $4.3 million in prize money, despite having a career won-loss record one match over .500 at 273-272.

In doubles, he won 10 titles, including the Miami Open and Monte Carlo Masters.

Siemerink was captain of the Dutch Davis Cup team until 2016, and also technical director of the Dutch Tennis Federation.

And in Feb. 2018, he was named team manager of the Amsterdam professional football club AFC Ajax, a team he had long supported.

Jim Grabb (USA), 55

JimGrabb
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Grabb was another versatile player.

But although he reached an impressive No. 24 in the world in singles, he got to No. 1 in doubles in 1989.

Grabb won the French Open and the year-end championships with Patrick McEnroe, and the 1992 U.S. Open with Richey Reneberg.

He was captain of his tennis team at Stanford, and played on two NCAA Championship teams. He also played Davis Cup, and he served as vice-president of the Player Council.

What else? He graduated from Stanford with a degree in economics, became a chartered financial analyst and worked in the investor relations department of a global hedge fun firm.

He also coached.

And these days, he’s a Mindfulness Institute Accredited Teacher, who helps athletes (and corporations) with elite performance training

He also had – and presumably sill has – a massive head of hair.

Josselin Ouanna (FRA), 33

Why do two players, similar in height and build, similarly touted, end up on the opposite ends of the tennis success spectrum?

This Frenchman is a living, breathing example that junior success doesn’t necessarily translate into success on the ATP Tour.

Ouanna was a very, very good junior in the time of his friend and compatriot Gaël Monfils. He came along in a pretty great French tennis generation that included Gilles Simon, Jérémy Chardy, Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

He got to No. 9 in the ITF junior rankings in 2004, after he beat Novak Djokovic in the semis of the junior Australian Open before losing to Monfils in the final.

He also got to the semis of the Orange Bowl late in 2003, coming within a point or two of beating Marcos Baghdatis in straight sets before going down in three.

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Where is he now?

Ouanna  played most of his junior doubles with Monfils, although he also teamed up with current pros Chardy and Simon. And all the other guys made it.

He didn’t.

The 6-4, 200-pound Ouanna cracked the top 100 at No. 88, late in the 2009 season. It was brief. He ended up playing 26 matches at the ATP Tour level, winning nine of them.

OuannaHis last singles matches were first-round losses at Futures in France, both by retirement, in 2015. He played one Futures in doubles in 2016. But that was it for his pro career.

According to this piece last year, he has continued to play the money tournament in France.

“I was never a big fan of travelling. If the circuit was only in France, I’d have continued. But that’s not the case,” he said, noting that on the Futures circuit, you’re responsible for all your expenses while in these French events, you get food and accommodations in addition to (smaller) prize money.

True fact: Ouanna seemed to play his best tennis in France (that’s true of many of the French players). 

At the French Open in 2009, the beneficiary of a wild card, he beat good clay-courter Marcel Granollers in five sets in the first round, and then pulled off a five-set, 10-8 in the fifth win over Marat Safin on the big court.

He went down to Fernando Gonzalez in three competitive sets in the third round.

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Ouanna reunited with his old partner Monfils in 2011 at the French Open. They played on Court 7, losing to Daniel Nestor and Max Mirnyi 7-6, 6-3.  

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