13 Mar 2018

Obituary: Ken Flach

News Article

Photo: Richard OsbornKen Flach (USA)

Former world No. 1 Ken Flach has died at the age of 54 following a short illness.

Flach, a six-time Grand Slam champion in doubles and mixed doubles and the 1988 Olympic men’s doubles champion, was reportedly taken ill with Bronchitis, which turned into pneumonia and then septic shock.

Flach reached a career-high ranking of No. 56 in the world in singles, progressing to the fourth round at the US Open in 1987 following wins over Darren Cahill and Emilio Sanchez, but it was in doubles that he truly made his name.

He forged a hugely successful partnership with Robert Seguso and the pair won 28 doubles titles together – including the US Open in 1985 and Wimbledon in both 1987 and 1988, and, later that year, the gold medal in Seoul.

“That was such a huge moment in my career, kind of a defining moment,” Flach said, back in 2016, of Seoul. “There are a lot of tournaments I don’t even remember winning, but Wimbledon, the US Open and, for sure, the Olympics… you don’t forget those.

“Getting to meet Carl Lewis and walk with him at the ceremonies was pretty amazing. You don’t imagine that those kinds of things could become a reality.”

Flach won 34 men’s doubles titles overall, including his second US Open crown – and fourth and final men’s doubles Grand Slam title - alongside Rick Leach in 1993.

Flach also won two mixed doubles titles at the Grand Slams, claiming the 1986 Roland Garros and Wimbledon crowns alongside fellow American Kathy Jordan.

He represented his country in Davis Cup in 13 ties between 1985 and 1991, compiling an impressive 11-2 win-loss record in doubles rubbers. He played in the 1991 Davis Cup Final in his last appearance in the competition, suffering just his second Davis Cup defeat in a four-set loss, alongside Seguso, to Guy Forget and Henri Leconte as France ran out 3-1 winners in Lyon.

Flach retired from tennis in 1996 but remained involved in the game as a coach, guiding Vanderbilt University to its first-ever NCAA championship finals appearance in any sport in 2003.

“It is with great sadness that we learnt of the passing of Ken Flach," said ITF President David Haggerty. "Ken enjoyed a hugely successful career in tennis, highlighted by six Grand Slam titles and an Olympic doubles gold medal, and represented his country with distinction for many years. He will be sorely missed by the tennis family. Our thoughts go to his loved ones at this sad time.”