LONDON, December 6, 2015
Fernando Gonzalez successfully defended his Champions Tennis title at the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday afternoon, coming from behind to beat Tim Henman 1-6, 7-6, 10-6.
‘’It’s been a brilliant week, I’ve had a lot of fun’, said Gonzalez, afterwards. ‘Tim probably comes to the net more in one game than I have in my whole career. I was lucky today, he was playing well and he makes me feel uncomfortable on court.’’
Early on it looked like being Henman’s afternoon. The former British No.1 ran away with the opening set, holding serve with ease and breaking his Chilean opponent on two occasions.
The second set was much closer. Gonzalez began to rip winners off both wings and won it on a tie-break.
In the first-to-ten point Champions’ tie-break, Henman edged ahead but Gonzalez struck back to win.
“I never liked his forehand when we played on tour, and I still don’t like it!” said Henman. “It was great to have the opportunity to play here again, the Royal Albert Hall is such an iconic venue. If I can still walk next year, I’ll be playing!’
Elsewhere on Sunday, there was an exhibition doubles win for Bahrami and El Aynaoui and John McEnroe overcame Henri Leconte 6-3 6-3.
Finally, long-time tournament referee Alan Mills was honoured for his years of service to the sport. Mills was referee at the Wimbledon Championships for 23 years and 2015 marks his final year as the referee for Champions Tennis. In a touching on-court presentation, he received warm applause from players and spectators.
‘’It is such a privilege to be able to retire in this way, here at the Royal Albert Hall’’, Mills said. ‘’I will miss every aspect of being here, all the players, the staff and this wonderful crowd that we have year after year.’’
John McEnroe led the tributes to Mills. ‘’You have always been a players’ referee. You did your best to keep me on the court when there were plenty of officials out there that did their best to get me kicked off it. I always appreciated that’’, he said, before giving Mills a hug.