13 Nov 2017

Busby wins three golds despite a heavy heart

News Article

By Harvey Fialkov

Photo: Camerawork USAGlenn Busby (AUS)

At 60 years young, Glenn Busby looks like he should play James Bond in the movies, and he plays tennis as if he could give Swiss great Roger Federer a run for his money.

But on a hot Friday morning on the clay at North Shore Tennis Center, the muscular Aussie with Popeye biceps and tree-trunk legs, wasn’t his usual calm, cool, composed self.

Not only was his longtime rival Belgium’s Pierre Godfroid applying an old-school trademark serve-and-volley attack as well as a chip-and-return strategy when receiving, pressuring Busby into uncharacteristic ground-stroke errors, but Busby was also dealing with the recent death of his beloved father, Gordon.

Busby, who will be ranked No. 1 in his age division for the 10th time in the last 12 years, achieved a critical break at 2-1 of the third set and sailed from there to a 62 67(6) 61 victory over Godfroid to win his fourth consecutive ITF Seniors World Individual singles title.

Afterward, an emotional Busby, who dropped his first set of the year and is 18-0 in completed matches in 2017, broke down when talking about his father.

“He would’ve been 93 yesterday,’’ said Busby, who won his seventh Seniors World Individual singles title (2006, ’08, ’10, ’14-17). “He passed away the day before I came here. He did everything for me.

“He was hanging on for two weeks, so I kept changing my flights. Do I go? Do I not go? I arrive home on Tuesday and they [delayed] his funeral to Thursday. It was a little bit too [emotional] out there.’’

Godfroid, 60, knew his only chance was to rush Busby and it paid off in the second set. Despite holding two set points at 5-4, Busby came up with back-to-back backhand passing shots to eventually force a tiebreaker.

Godfroid, who did hand Busby one of his two defeats this year albeit a retirement when trailing 4-5 in the final of the German Open in August (his other loss was a walkover), played a flawless tiebreak to extend Busby to a rare third set.

“I already beat him on a hard court and grass but on clay it’s more difficult because he has time to go around his backhand,’’ said Godfroid, a retired, proud Belgian Air Force lieutenant colonel on Veteran’s Day in America.

“That’s OK. He’s better than me but I have some chances when I play like that. If I play perfect I can win.’’

Instead it was Busby coming up with the perfect passing shots in the decisive set as Godfroid was unable to keep up the grueling serve-and-volley kamikaze attack.

Godfroid is 3-5 against Busby, including a final loss in the 2010 Seniors World singles final in Mexico, and is still seeking his first World singles title.

Busby’s howitzer forehand and classic one-hand pulverizing backhand gave him consecutive breaks to go up 3-1 and 5-1 before ending the match with another forehand pass which evoked a fist pump and scream tinged with joy, relief and anguish.

“He’s such a good competitor,’’ said Busby, who also led Australia to gold in last week’s Seniors World Von Cramm Cup team event. “His first and second serve are no different and he changes up his serves so well I didn’t have a forehand to hit early on, my strength.

“But I had Dad on my side today.’’ 

Busby, the director of coaching at Kooyong Tennis Academy in Melbourne, also had American Ross Persons on his side in the doubles final which the third-seeded duo took 75, 64 over fourth-seeded Americans Daniel Waldman and Wesley Cash. 

Godfroid recovered in time to win the mixed doubles gold with Patricia Medrado.