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Biofile: Justin Gimelstob Interview


Justin Gimelstob

I did this Biofile with Justin in Newport in July 2010. This was the second or third time we did an interview. First met him when he was about 14 at US Open when he was already a hyped USTA Eastern prospect. Found him always to be a pretty friendly, cooperative, intelligent guy with a fierce competitive streak. This Biofile brings out the best in Gimelstob, which may seem out of character for him considering the latest controversies and alleged violent crimes he’s been accused of…

By Scoop Malinowski
Status: Former ATP Player and current Tennis Channel commentator. Highest singles ranking was #63. Had career wins over Agassi, Muster, Korda, Murray, Lopez, Santoro, Kuerten, Corretja, Martin, Massu, Philippoussis.
DOB: January 26, 1977 In: Livingston, NJ
Greatest Sports Moment: “Tough to say. Maybe beating Rafter in L.A. when he was 2 in the world. He had a great summer that year, he won the U.S. Open. He didn’t lose that many matches that summer. I remember beating Agassi in L.A. early on in my career. Just because it was right after I left UCLA. But also some of the moments – some of the five-setters I had at the Open. Beating Andy Murray here (Newport), late in my career, 1 and 6. Tough to say just one match.”
Most Painful Moment: “Emotionally or physically? (Both.) Emotionally, I had a few. Lost some tough matches with match point. I lost to Lleyton Hewitt one year in Bangkok with match point. Probably losing in L.A., losing semifinal to Chang, I was up 6-3 3-1 in the semifinal and a chance to win my hometown tournament UCLA. That was tough.”
Strangest Match: “Early in my career I was playing in the first round of a tournament, I was down 6-4 5-2. The guy was serving, had 40-love and I ended up coming back and winning the match and winning the tournament. Against Jordi Burillo in Andorra, Spain. That was an interesting one. (How did you manage to turn that around?) I hit a forehand topspin lob down match point, broke serve, then he got a little nervous and then just turned it around. I lost plenty of matches like that as well [smiles], unfortunately.”
Funniest Players Encountered: “Like, best sense of humor? …Patrick Rafter was quite funny. I played doubles with him a couple times. He was quite funny. He’s the kind of guy, right up to the start of the match, would be playing jokes, very laid back, but then right when he’d play, would be so intense. Mardy Fish has a great sense of humor. Roddick is quite witty.”
Embarrassing Tennis Memory: “One year at the French Open, early on, my partner hit a short lob and I got hit with a point blank overhead right on the most vulnerable spot for a man – and it was horrifying.”
Match You Felt At Your Best: “Probably against Rafter. I was just in the zone that night, 4 and 3. And just the cliche, the ball feels like a beach ball and your timing is right, your body feels great. The ball is coming off your racquet and going where you want it to go. It’s just everything slows down a little bit. It happens a couple of times. It didn’t happen to me enough [smiles].”
Last Book Read: “Outliers.”
Current Car: “An Escalade (black).”
Favorite Sport Outside Tennis: “Love basketball.”
Why Do You Love Playing Tennis: “I think tennis is the greatest sport in the world. Because, first of all, it’s based on merit on the court. It’s a combination of physical, mental, technical and tactical skills. It’s one on one. It’s international. And it’s just a great feeling hitting that ball cleanly and purely.”
People Qualities Most Admired: “Work ethic. Honesty. Generosity. Sensitivity. Those are good ones to start with. Philanthropic.”
Career Accomplishments: Winner of the 1998 Australian Open and French Open mixed doubles titles with Venus Williams; Winner of 13 doubles titles; Member of United States Davis Cup team in 1998 and 2001.


  • Dan Markowitz · December 6, 2018 at 9:47 pm

    Wow good answers. And the guy read Outliers not just Winnie the Pooh. I forget how good he was for a short time, beating Agassi and Rafter and being up on Chang in the LA semis.

    You didn’t include in your bio-file that right after you asked your final question, Gimel hit you over the head with his racquet bag.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 7, 2018 at 7:16 am

    Got nothing but respect from Gimel since he was 14. I like the guy despite this disaster he’s involved in and the other disasters. His dad was hard on him, very hard. They had fist fights, a personal friend of his told me from Livingston. Having a terrible divorce and then your dad tying is enough for anyone to snap but it doesn’t excuse the other incidents. Rios once punched out a guy in the bathroom at his Miami no. 1 victory celebration the night he became no. 1.

  • Dan Markowitz · December 7, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    You wonder or I do why Gomel didn’t hire ditto break this guy’s knees if he didn’t like himself so much. He shouldn’t have done it himself. Maybe he could’ve hired someone like Wayne Odesnik.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 7, 2018 at 5:51 pm

    Im no Doctor but I will play one regarding Gimelstob. I was told his father invested heavily in Justin as a tennis player, like Rusedski, who was from a wealthy family and his dad got him all the best coaches and Greg got to 4 in the world. Gimelstob also had all the best coaches money could buy but only became 63 in the world though he won a mixed major. Maybe Gimel feels like a failure in his tennis career, like he should have been so much more? Like he was born on third base and with all his advantages and privileges, failed to really make it big as was expected of him. Then his dad passing was just too much to endure. But he should feel proud because he became a very good TV commentator.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 9, 2018 at 10:45 am

    Zane Khan, remember him? The 14s herr winner and 12s finalist, is in the Orange Bowl 18s final vs 13 seed Otto Virtanen of Finland. Khan lost in the Kalamazoo 16s final to Martin Damm.



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