Tennis Prose



Biofile: Todd Martin Interview

Note: This Biofile interview was done with Todd Martin at the US Open in 1993.

Status: Winner of eight career ATP singles titles. Played in the 1994 Australian Open and 1999 US Open finals. Reached a career high of no. 4 in 1999. Retired in 2006 and is now the CEO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, RI.

Ht: 6-6 Wt: 190

DOB: July 8, 1970 In: Hindsdale, IL

Childhood Heroes: My dad (Dale) was about as good a man as I ever knew. My grandfather Henry Hopper. Coach Rick Ferman. They’re fairly similar in sense of humor, stubborn, hard-working.

Favorite Movies: On Golden Pond, when I was younger. Field of Dreams – recently.

Best Book I’ve Read: World According To Garp. I have trouble staying awake reading books. I thought it was extremely exciting. Interesting. A very intellectual book dealing with some serious topics.

Nicknames: Marty. Jughead. Thumper. Toad. The Wet Sprocket. The Wet One. None of them too flattering.

Pre-Match Feeling: Hopefully anxious, nervous and excited. It’s always exciting to complete. Anxious because it’s my job. Nervous because I want to do well. I visualize playing out points in my mind…of what I think will repeat itself over and over throughout the match…if I’m successful.

Greatest Sports Moment: Making it to quarterfinals at Wimbledon (1993). Winning fraternity league basketball. Intramural league (while at Northwestern). One of my best friends made a turnaround jumper to win the game. That was exciting. I wasn’t an integral part of the team but I shot well that game – three for three from three-point land.

Closest Tennis Friends: Jim Courier. David Witt. Jonathan Stark. Jared Palmer. Stan Smith. Tom Gullikson. Jose Higueras.

Funniest Players Encountered: Scott Davis. Witt – hilarious.

Hobby: Billiards. I play for a couple of hours a day back home. Been my number one hobby for five or six years.

Early Tennis Memory: Fourth of July. I was seven or eight. We were at my parents’ friends’ house. The kids were setting off fireworks outside, the adults were watching Wimbledon. It was Borg and McEnroe. The real amazing match. I was going back and forth between the match and fireworks.

Interesting Fact: I’ve actually written a little poetry.

First Car: 1979 light blue Buick Skylark.

First Job: Volunteer tennis teacher at my coach’s club (age 17).

Favorite Athletes To Watch: Michael Jordan. Fred Couples. Lee Janzen.

Musical Tastes: Toad The Wet Sprocket, REM, Peter Himmelman, Simon and Garfunkel, John Denver.

Favorite Meal: A hot dog, kielbasa, when I don’t care how I’ll feel for a couple days. Lasagna.

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Vanilla.

Favorite Breakfast Cereal: Mushed up Graham crackers and milk. Special K.

Updated in 2000…

Greatest Career Moment: There’s no one moment. There are moments where I lost that I’ll remember forever. Losing to Agassi in the final of the US Open in 1999. Losing to Patrick Rafter that same summer in Boston in the 100th anniversary of the Davis Cup in five sets. Those two matches are two of the better matches and more memorable and impactful moments of my career. And then there’s a tournament I won in Barcelona (1998), which was the first tournament I’d won after I had elbow surgery and after my dad had passed away, and on my worst surface and against some of the best clay courters in the world. And then a number of other matches that were really impactful, but it’s really hard for me to single one out.



  • Scoop Malinowski · November 30, 2020 at 2:08 pm

    For some reason Todd Martin is not mentioned in that ‘Best player to never win a major’ debate. It’s usually Rios, Nalbandian, Coria, Davydenko, Corretja, Haas, but Martin is never mentioned. Maybe Todd Martin is the best player to never win a major.

  • Nicola Lyapchev · December 4, 2020 at 1:06 pm

    For some reason I consider Martin and Edberg AO’94 SF my first tennis memory as my Dad is a huge Edberg fan…I was 8 at the time and I remember Todd’s good and intelligent face. Both players working hard on the court. I hope some day soon I will be able to go to THF and meet him somehow. After that I became a huge Rafter fan. My childhood hero. I admire a lot these hard working tennis players. Class players on and off the court!Stay safe! 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 4, 2020 at 1:42 pm

    Nicola, you have high quality taste in picking your favorite players. Martin, Rafter and Edberg are three of the nicest people you could ever meet in pro sports. I have great memories from interviewing all three that I can write an article about. All three personify the best sportsmanship in pro sports, consistently throughout their careers. No exceptions. Did you read my previous article about Rafter’s examples of extreme sportsmanship? If not I will share the link. Thanks for your comments and welcome to the site.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 4, 2020 at 1:46 pm

    Nicola, Martin’s intelligence always impressed me greatly. Like his pre-match feeling answer – he said that on the spot, spontaneous without knowing what my questions were going to be about, as our interview was not set up it was spontaneous. That reply he gave me has always stuck in my mind, such an honest intelligent answer. I’m a big fan of Todd Martin, he is a throwback player from the 20s and 30s and I believe his impeccable sportsmanship example alone is worthy of him being inducted into the Hall of Fame. I believe the criteria focuses too heavily on major title wins, other qualities and attributes should be valued also, such as Todd Martin’s example of sportsmanship.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 5, 2020 at 8:38 am

    Nicola, the (at least) three displays of incredible sportsmanship by Rafter…

  • Nicola · December 5, 2020 at 12:53 pm

    Hi Scoop, Thank you for your comments. I follow the site for 4-5 years already. I appreciate your work a lot as well other guys who write here or comment! I have read the Rafter article before! Thank you!Very detailed stories and a lot throwback articles. I really hope more junior players can read here, they have to know that there was tennis before Big 3 or the young guns! Not to say that some of the junior guys take them too seriously and do not understand that tennis is not only fun game, but it comes with responsibilities on how hard you have to work in order to succeed or how noble many of players were back in ’80 and ’90.

    Thank you once again for all the great approach and way to give information about tennis. Unfortunately I am not able to follow the site as often as I would like due to the time difference, as I am in Europe. Sometimes I miss some good posts for sure. I hope I will be able to catch up some day thou 🙂

    Wish you best of luck! Nicola 🙂

  • Nicola · December 5, 2020 at 1:15 pm

    Just to get how important Pat Rafter was for me as a kid…at some point things were that serious that my coach was “begging”me to play at least one game on the base line. Imagine a 11-12 year old rushing to net every game he serves. I was loosing and still very happy to practice my first flat and second kick serve and also my reaction on the net! I laugh now sharing this….crazy memory. The wardrobe in my room was all posters of him. 😀

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 5, 2020 at 2:32 pm

    Thanks Nicola, good point for juniors to follow and study former greats of the game, and there are some top juniors who read this site. All the great champions have attributes and qualities to inspire and help a young player edify their games and their attitudes from. We know Sampras emulated and admired the great Aussies Laver Hoad Rosewall Emerson. We know Nadal loved Hewitt. We know Federer loved Sampras, Edberg, Becker and Rios. You must have been one confident fearless player to rush the net every point, hope it worked out for you ) There is no more satisfying way to win a point than to hit a big serve and knock off a volley. But it’s the most difficult way to win a point, too many ways to lose it too )

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 5, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    Nicola I’m surprised you were such a fast player, serve and attack but it took you 4-5 years to make a comment here ) Thanks and best wishes for you too.

  • Nicola · December 5, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    Hi Scoop, you are right as we a are all heroes of our time. Every generation has its champions for a reason and great role models. Hopefully after 10-20 years we will be able to speak with great admiration of Thiem, Stefanos, Medvedev, Janick, Felix…Just got the feeling that the emphasis should be on the effort and the joy of this hard effort and determination on daily bases.

    As for me…just an average results player on national level with fast left hand, good structure and fell of joy playing tennis who to this day is a tennis coach and enjoys it as much as nothing else in the world.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 6, 2020 at 10:50 am

    Nicola, I agree Hall of Fame puts too much emphasis on just winning totals, it should concentrate on other aspects like Martin’s sportsmanship, unique games like Santoro and Hsieh, players who exemplify the love and joy of playing like Hsieh, Paes, Nestor, players who overcome about ten surgeries and still kept on trying, Christian Harrison, Brian Baker, players who suffered terrible losing streaks or failures but kept on trying, Spadea, Estrella Burgos. It should be about more than just slam totals.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 6, 2020 at 10:54 am

    I am a Hall of Fame elector. Just voted last week on the 2021 inductees. I have discussed nominating Marcelo Rios for the Hall of Fame and was greeted with derision. Which I think was a strange reaction. Later on I asked Federer face to face in a press conference, if he would vote for Rios for the Hall of Fame if he was a voter and he said he didn’t know exactly what the criteria was to be in the Hall of Fame but he would vote Yes. Rios really appreciated this by Federer and said it meant more to him than actually being inducted into the Hall of Fame. So that tells you a lot. Wilander said being no. 1 carries more weight than winning a major title. So yes I think Rios and other similarly uniquely accomplished players are deserving of the Hall of Fame honor.



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