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  Monday, 9 July, 2001, 16:06 GMT 17:06 UK
Australia's favourite son
Rafter celebrates his victory over Agassi
Rafter was runner-up for the second year running
By BBC Sport Online's Saj Chowdhury at Wimbledon

Say the name Pat Rafter to any Australian and whether male or female, they are likely to swoon.

The men think he is is proper Australian male - likes his sport, beautiful partner and liable to swear.

The women think he is a god - good-looking, glamorous job, helps charities and boasts considerable wealth

Rafter picked up the racket at the age of five when his father Jim taught him basic elements of the game.

And after years of training in Queensland, he finally turned professional at the age of 19 in 1991.

Potential proven

After good performances in his homeland and the Far East during the first two years, Rafter reached his first ATP semi-final in Indianapolis as a qualifier in 1993.

He beat world number one Pete Sampras on his way to the last four and from that point never looked back.

Lara Feltham
Rafter's model girlfriend Lara Feltham

The following year, Rafter won his first singles (Manchester) and doubles title (Bologna) to set the ball rolling.

With the memory of Pat Cash now virtually faded from the minds of the most ardent of Australian tennis fans, it was up to Rafter to go and prove his potential on the big stage.

His positions in the Majors were improving year-by-year but up until 1996 he had not been further than the fourth round in any of the singles events.

That was to change in dramatic fashion the following year.

The Australian made people finally sit up and take notice when he reached the semi-final of the French Open.

After a relatively disappointing Wimbledon (fourth round), Rafter went on to reach his first Major final, the US Open.

He faced Briton Greg Rusedski, who was also playing his one and only Major final to date.

Wimbledon revenge

But Rafter outgunned the Briton in a year which saw him reach six other finals.

The year of 1998 was even better as he retained his US Open title and won all six of finals he reached.

With legendary status awaiting the Queenslander, Rafter suffered from a string of injuries which kept him out of action at the end of 1998 and the beginning of 1999.

Pat Rafter
Rafter celebrates his US Open title in 1998

During that year his major triumph came when he reached the semi-final of Wimbledon, only to be knocked out by Andre Agassi.

The following year he gained revenge on the Las Vegas showman at the same stage, only to be defeated by Wimbledon legend Sampras in the climax.

This year the likeable Australian was hoping to go one better.

But it was not to be and, with talk of the player retiring, he was unable to deliver the fitting end to an exciting career.

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