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Ellis Ferreira: The Biofile

Ferreira© Getty ImagesEllis Ferreira and Rick Leach won the 2000 Australian Open doubles title.

Ellis Ferreira, winner of the 2000 Australian Open doubles title with Rick Leach, talks with Scoop Malinowski for this Biofile...

First Tennis Memory:  "Going into the tennis club with my parents on the weekend."
 
Tennis Inspirations:  "John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Wimbledon classics of 1978, 1979."
 
Last Book Read:  "Talent Code."
 
Current Car:  "Mercedes (silver)."
 
Greatest Sports Moment: "Playing Centre Court Wimbledon. (Over winning the Australian Open?) Yes. Just because, again, like I said, my inspiration came from those Wimbledon finals. And so I was saying it would be a dream to actually play there. So being able to play there was pretty cool considering I had dreamt of it at eight years old and it actually happened. I played with Rick Leach against Patrick Rafter and Jonas Bjorkman in the quarter-finals. We lost in five sets but it was the best experience of my life. Loved it."
 
Most Painful Moment:  "I'd probably say the US Open final in 2000 that we lost 7-6 in the third. We'd won the Australian Open that year and got to the finals of the US Open, playing great. We had a great opportunity to win that. We played Lleyton Hewitt and Max Mirnyi and we really felt confident we should win that one. Should never have let it get to a tie-breaker. So it was kind of disappointing that we kind of allowed that to kind of happen through chance."
 
Favourite Tournament:  "Wimbledon. There's a theme here [smiles]."
 
Best You Ever Felt On Court:  "It was one match Rick and I played in Indian Wells, I think it was a quarter-final. We played Goran [Ivanisevic] and I think Daniel Vacek. Huge servers. And it was an evening match. I don't know what I had for dinner but I was hitting clean winners off Goran's serve. So it got to where we were just laughable. And I wasn't even trying and it was just so funny. My returns are terrible. But, anyway, it was just one of those days or nights, and when you talk about being in the zone type of thing. It was an evening match, it was centre court, the crowd had good energy. I'm an extrovert so I was feeding off that energy. It was wonderful. Unbelievable."
 
Closest Tennis Friends:  "Rick Leach. I spent a lot of time with Rick, we really bonded well as a team. We used to laugh that we used to spend more time with ourselves than our wives, it was funny. And then David Adams - he and I grew up together; we played each other when we were eight. Then we played Davis Cup together on the same courts that we played when we were eight. And that was pretty cool."
 
Funniest Players Encountered:  "I always thought Jonas Bjorkman was a funny guy. I enjoyed hanging out with him. There was a guy called Justin Bower, a South African guy - very, very funny. Most of the guys were a lot of fun to be with."
 
Toughest Competitors Encountered: "The Woodies. I played Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde many a time. I just really felt that every time I played them, they really believed that they were going to win. And I was very, very proud of myself once I was able to beat them. Because that was a real testament that you knew how to play doubles. And you knew how to compete because they never...they obviously fought, they never gave it. That's why they have so many records."
 
Embarrassing Tennis Memory:  "Probably losing that US Open. Not so embarrassing, but it was disappointing that we should have won that one."
 
Favourite Sport Outside Tennis:  "English football. I'm a huge Manchester United fan."

Funny Tennis Memory:  "Playing on Suzanne Lenglen day, the day before Roland Garros starts, when everybody comes in and it's a charity day. And I played on Court 2 with Mansour Bahrami. That was a ton of fun. It was right before a huge Grand Slam, you get to play for fun. That was awesome. He'd sit on like a sideline chair and we had to hit a smash at him. And he'd sit in the chair and hit it back. It was a lot of fun, I enjoyed that."
 
Strangest Match:  "One of the weirdest matches we played was in Rome in the finals against Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi. It was a rain delay and everybody had gone home. We ended up playing at 10 o'clock at night. The only people watching were the cleaning ladies going through the seats picking up the trash. The umpire, the lines people, us, and a few cleaning ladies at night. For the Italian Open. It was pretty weird. We lost 7-6 in the third."
 
Favourite Player(s) To Watch:  "I love to watch [Roger] Federer. Obviously, he's a friend of mine and I love to see his kind of creativity and how he gets himself out of jams. And I love watching [Rafael] Nadal. I guess any pro loves to see the passion and see it in other people. So I enjoy watching him."
 
Why Do You Love Playing Tennis: "I guess it's that I enjoy doing something that I'm good at, and I feel and believe that I am good at it. And I love the uniqueness of it; it's very dynamic. Each shot is different and I've got to think. When I was a little boy my mom and grandmom used to always say I was like a general on the court. Trying to figure out how to hit this one here; I'm the youngest of three boys and they used to beat on me. Just the uniqueness of it. Figure it out. A puzzle."
 
Personality Qualities Most Admired:  "I was brought up pretty old-fashioned. I like people that respect other people. And really give 100 per cent. And just understand the whole concept that you have to have civility. And if you're with someone and you have respect for that person, then it's a privilege to be in their presence. People who don't get that, I can't understand, I don't relate to."

Courtesy of Scoop Malinowski, tennis-prose.com

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