Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why Star Man Cowan Must Make Sure He Shine Again

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why Star Man Cowan Must Make Sure He Shine Again

Article excerpt


IF BARRY COWAN needs the slightest guidance on how to pursue his tennis career after his astonishing challenge to the Wimbledon reign of Pete Sampras, then Chris Bailey is a man he could ask.

Bailey did not have the chance to put the Wimbledon champion on the back foot as Cowan did so emphatically this week but, eight years ago, he had a classic Centre Court confrontation with Goran Ivanisevic, then the most feared server in the game.

Like Cowan, he became a household name overnight. Ivanisevic had been runner-up at Wimbledon the year before and nearly everyone walked cautiously when the Croatian lefthander's serve was coming their way. Those who did not included Bailey, who could look the 6ft 4ins Ivanisevic in the eye. The battle raged for five sets of brutal serving and such was the pace of the chase that at one stage Bailey had to leap the chair of the net-cord judge.

Bailey, himself, was at match point in the final set. Ivanisevic saved that point with a second service ace and remains one of the legends of Wimbledon.

Bailey was gone but, like Cowan, not forgotten.

By the next day, Bailey was heading towards new sponsorship offers, an interview on the Davis Frost show, and a heavy postbag which included offers of marriage. Like Cowan, Bailey was committed to play in a small tournament in Bristol after Wimbledon.

Bailey, now a TV commentator, says: "I never thought Barry would stretch Sampras to five sets and you have to admire him for playing the way he did in front of a big crowd and in that situation. It was incredible, he had never been there before, never experienced anything like it, and just went for it.

"By the next morning he would still have been on a high, obviously, and he should realise he will now be in the public eye for the next two or three weeks. In playing terms he has got to back it up now, it is a major opportunity for him.

"It's not easy. This is a big test. It starts in the Bristol Challenger straight after Wimbledon - I was on the same Tennis By Barry Newcombe schedule as Barry and went there and won the tournament.

"I was staggered at the amount of interest there was in me because of what had happened at Wimbledon.

"But I hope that will be the making of Barry and that he knows there is work to be done.

"He is very down to earth and when he moves on to Brazil for his next tournament there will be five people watching him, nobody will know who he is. It is a totally different event and it will come as a real shock if you are not prepared for it. Let's hope he goes on from here and gets through the Challenger levels. He has to do that."

Cowan's Wimbledon kicked off memories of other valiant performances by British players. Like that of John Lloyd, now a TV analyst and coach, who stopped the dangerous left-arm serve of Roscoe Tanner in 1977. …

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