Todd Martin had no problem admitting that he “stacked the deck” for himself in Sunday’s Invesco Legends series event in Newport, RI.
The CEO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame wanted to exploit any advantage he could create, which is understandable for a competitor playing in a field alongside a trio of Hall of Famers—Mats Wilander, Jim Courier and 2019 inductee Yevgeny Kafelnikov.
The exhibition was not only held on grass, favoring Martin by far in comparison to the other three’s surface strengths, but also mandated players to go old-school by using either wooden or steel racquets.
“I hope the home court advantage allows me to walk off the court upright,” Martin said before play began. “I really like to play with wood racquets. I’m using my Jack Kramer Prostaff with diamond inlays. My first real racquet.”
As it turned out, Martin’s strategy paid off. The two-time Grand Slam finalist defeated Kafelnikov, 6-4, to move into the championship, before Wilander eased past Courier, 6-2. In the winner-take-all match, Martin got the best of Wilander, 6-2, to come out on top.
“It’s a bookend win for me,” Martin said. “I beat [Mats] the first time we played and now the last time. I will hold it over him as long as he still keeps coming to the Hall of Fame. If he ever says no I can’t make it, I’ll stop holding it over him.”
All wasn’t lost for Wilander, who Martin declared, “a wonderful man and probably the best ambassador for our sport in the world.”