Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Only Memories Remain for Martin, Washington

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Only Memories Remain for Martin, Washington

Article excerpt

If things were the same as a year ago, Todd Martin would be

preparing for an easy workday that ends with a straight-sets

pummeling of South Africa's Marcos Ondruska on a faraway side

court.

And fellow Ponte Vedra Beach resident MaliVai Washington would

be starting a fortuitous fortnight, the highlight being a

dramatic five-set victory over Martin and center stage as the

first African-American in the Wimbledon final since Arthur Ashe

in 1975.

Unfortunately, Martin and Washington won't find a reservation

in the 128-player field when the world's biggest tennis

tournament starts today at the All-England Club. Wimbledon '96

has been replaced by Withdrawal '97.

Both have been surgically removed from the Grand Slam

competition. Martin has been elbowed out. Washington's

rehabilitation on his left knee is now up to 50 days and

counting.

How crazy is this? One year, two Marsh Landing homeowners play

one of the most memorable Wimbledon matches in history, a

two-day, rain-delayed semifinal in which Washington overcomes a

1-5 deficit to beat Martin 10-8 in the fifth set. They share a

memory that will stay with them forever. A year later, they

share the same physical therapist -- Jodi Fizer of Orthopedic

Rehab and Sports Medicine.

"I'm finally serving every other day, but only a few balls,"

said Martin, who underwent elbow surgery in February. "I

actually played a few points off my serve [Thursday], but I had

to pay for it by popping some Advils. It [the elbow] is sore and

weak."

But for the next 13 days, the greater pain belongs to

Washington, who becomes the first Wimbledon finalist since Bjorn

Borg in 1981 not to return the following year. At least Borg's

retirement was his own choice. Washington, who turned 28 on

Friday, must sit helplessly as an injury prevents him from

having the chance to push the greatest moment of his career one

step further. …

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