A former No. 1; a back-to-back Roland Garros champion; a Wimbledon winner and fan favorite; a three-time Olympic medalist: no matter who emerges from this year's ballot for 2020 induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, they will be deserving selections.
On Wednesday it was announced that Jonas Bjorkman, Sergi Bruguera, Goran Ivanisevic and Conchita Martinez will be candidates for enshrinement.
“They achieved success at tennis’ highest levels as Grand Slam champions, top-ranked ATP and WTA competitors, Olympic medalists, and Davis and Fed Cup champions. They've represented their nations and the sport very well, and it is a pleasure to announce their nominations to receive tennis’ ultimate honor, induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame," said Hall of Fame President Stan Smith.
(All photos from AP; bios from International Tennis Hall of Fame.)
Former world No. 1 doubles player Jonas Björkman of Sweden won nine major titles and achieved a doubles career Grand Slam. He was twice a champion at the ATP Tour Year-End Championships, and captured 54 doubles titles in all. In singles, Björkman reached a career high of world No. 4 and was a semifinalist at both the US Open and Wimbledon. A dedicated team player, Björkman played a major role on three Swedish Davis Cup championship squads.
Spanish clay court great Sergi Bruguera accomplished a massive feat when he won back-to-back titles at Roland-Garros in 1993 and 1994. His first title came against two-time defending champion Jim Courier, after Bruguera came back from being down 2-0 in the fifth set. Bruguera reached a career high ranking of world No. 3 and won 14 titles in all. He was a silver medalist at the 1996 Olympics.
Croatia’s Goran Ivanišević’s serve-and-volley style of play led him to great success on the grass courts of Wimbledon where he was a quarterfinalist once, semifinalist twice, and finalist three times, before winning the title in 2001. That year, ranked world No. 125, the big-serving lefty was granted a wildcard into the tournament. In a magical run to the trophy he knocked out three players who were former or future world No. 1s en route to a five-set battle with Patrick Rafter in the final. Ivanišević is a two-time Olympic medalist, having won a singles bronze and doubles bronze, both in 1992.
In her 15-year career on the WTA Tour, Conchita Martínez won 33 singles titles and 13 doubles titles. She was the 1994 Wimbledon champion, defeating nine-time champion Martina Navratilova in the final. She was also a finalist at the Australian Open and French Open. Martínez reached a career high of world No. 2 and spent 190 weeks ranked inside the world top 5. The Spanish great represented her country with much dedication and success. She was a key member of five championship Fed Cup teams and a three-time Olympic medalist in doubles.
The next step in the process will see the four players' accomplishments go before the ITHF Player Voting Group. Their estimations will be incorporated into the vote, along with a Fan Vote, which earns players bonus points toward induction. Fan Voting will open on Monday, August 26 at vote.tennisfame.com, and run through September 29.
To be elected into the Hall of Fame, a candidate must receive an affirmative vote of 75 percent or more from the Player Voting Group result, or a combined total of 75 percent or more from the Player Voting Group result and any bonus percentage points they earn through the Fan Vote.
“Tennis fans around the globe responded to last year’s invitation to be part of the International Tennis Hall of Fame enshrinement process, with votes coming in from 148 nations,” said International Tennis Hall of Fame CEO Todd Martin. “Our intent behind Fan Voting is to offer a unique way for tennis fans to engage with the sport’s history and its most inspiring players.”