Chris Lewis (NZL)
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- Age: 56 (09.03.1957)
- Birthplace: Auckland, New Zealand
- Residence: Irvine, CA, U.S.A.
- Height: 5'11" (180 cm)
- Weight: 165 lbs (75 kg)
- Plays: Right-handed
- Coach: Harry Hopman/Tony Roche
As of 20.05.2013
*Singles & Doubles combined
*Singles & Doubles combined
Auckland-born Chris Lewis is best remembered for reaching the 1983 Wimbledon singles final. He won three singles titles and attained a career-high World No. 19 ranking on 16 April 1984. He also led New Zealand to the 1982 Davis Cup semi-finals (l. to France 3-2 in Aix-en-Provence).
Ranked World No. 91, Lewis became only the second New Zealander after Tony Wilding, who won four Wimbledon titles from five finals between 1910-14, to contest a singles final at the All England Club. He was the seventh unseeded finalist in The Championships' history.
Under the guidance of Tony Roche, 26-year-old Lewis upset ninth seed Steve Denton 6-4, 4-6, 7-6, 4-6, 6-3 in the first round, despite hitting 13 double faults, and Mike Bauer 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, 6-7, 6-4 in the third round. Lewis recalls nerves began to emerge ahead of his Last 16 clash versus Niduka Odizor. "After a sleepless night I grabbed some sleep in the locker room - getting an hour and a half in the corner of the bathroom," said Lewis.
Lewis went on to rally from 0-3 down in the fifth set of his semi-final against Kevin Curren to emerge a 6-7, 6-4, 7-6, 6-7, 8-6 victor. He lost to an inspired John McEnroe 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 in the title-match. "The whole experience of reaching the final in 1983 is my best tennis memory and evening losing the final to John McEnroe does not diminish anything," remembers Lewis. "To play a final on the Centre Court is my most cherished sporting experience."
Lewis was the first man to reach a Grand Slam final using an over-sized tennis racquet, a Prince Original Graphite. Pam Shriver advanced to the 1978 US Open women's final. He was also one of the first players to wear custom-made grass-court shoes at Wimbledon.
His father, Jim, an avid club player in Lower Hutt, encouraged Lewis to take-up the sport aged six. "I grew up as a kid in New Zealand listening to the Wimbledon finals on the radio and painting an imaginary picture in my mind of the All England Club," said Lewis. "My fascination with the place meant that when I came to England [in 1974], the first thing I did was go straight there from the airport to see what it looked like."
In 1975, Lewis attained the World No. 1 junior ranking, won the Wimbledon boys' singles title (d. Ycaza) and was runner-up at the US Open juniors (l. to Schoenfield). Lewis beat Guillermo Vilas at Kitzbuhel in 1978 to lift his first ATP title, but later that year he suffered a serious shoulder injury, which he struggled for 18 months to overcome. He based himself at Harry Hopman's Academy from 1976-1981.
Lewis was generally regarded as being among the most fit players on the tour in the 1980s; his workouts were so gruelling and physically punishing that he was been forced to coax his countryman Jeff Simpson to come back out on the tour, just so he always had a practice partner. Lewis drilled incessantly on court, relaxed and then set off on long runs. He studied karate in an effort to improve his quickness, which was the heart of his scrambling, all-court game.
During his 12-season pro career, Lewis suffered from an occupational hazard. He did not like to fly, due to having been on three flights forced to make emergency landings. A solution was reached by maintaining cars in both Europe and the United States, so he could drive between tournaments, keeping his air travel to a minimum.
In retirement, Lewis coached Ivan Lendl for three years and Carl Uwe Steeb. He currently owns and operates Tennis-Experts.com, an online tennis equipment retailer, and coaches at the Woodbridge Tennis Club in Irvine, California. Lewis is married with three children. Bio: James Buddell
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