Class of 2005
World No. 1 (1992)
Grand Slam Results
4-time major champion, and 3-time finalist
Overall: 630- 334
Member of the U.S. Davis Cup Team 1991-1992, 1994-1995, 1997-1999
Member of the U.S. Championship Davis Cup Team 1992, 1995
Captain of the U.S. Davis Cup Team 2011-Present
Overall Record: 17-10
Singles Record: 16-10
Doubles Record: 1-0
Under the stern and watchful eye of coach Nick Bollettieri, Jim Courier won the prestigious Orange Bowl in 1987, at age 16. At 18, the Nick Bollettieri’s Tennis Academy graduate, and one-time roommate of Andre Agassi at the complex, turned professional. By the time he turned 22, Courier had reached the singles finals of all four majors, becoming the youngest player in history to accomplish that feat, a record that remains today.
In his 12-year career, Courier won four majors – two French Opens and two Australian Opens – all coming from 1991-93. He earned 23 ATP singles titles (was a finalist in nine others) and six playing doubles. He ascended to the No. 1 world ranking for 58 weeks in late 1992 and throughout 1993. Only seven players in the Open Era managed to reach a major singles final at Melbourne, Paris, London, and New York, and Courier’s name is among that elite group.
Wearing his ever-present baseball cap, possessing a fierce inside-out forehand and a compact two-handed backhand, Courier was a battler and a fighter. What he may have lacked in pure talent, he nullified with hard work, grit and a pounding baseline game. Power was the essence of Courier’s game. He was part of a generation of big hitting young American players along with Agassi, Michael Chang, and Pete Sampras. He more than held his own against each, and won his first major title at the 1991 French Open, defeating Agassi in a slugfest, 3-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4.
Courier launched his career by winning an ATP tournament in Basel, Switzerland on October 9, 1989, defeating Stefan Edberg in five grueling sets. The hallmarks of Courier’s game, a powerful forehand that he pounced on early – he preferred to hit the ball on the rise – combined with his length strength, enabled him to comeback from a 2-1 sets deficit to defeat the Swede, 7-6, 3-6, 2-6, 6-0, 7-5.
Courier’s racquet head speed made him one of the best service returners in the world, and he was particularly explosive on second serve opportunities. He’d pounce on short balls, driving his power shots deep into the corners. He was a strong volleyer when his approach shots were returned, which wasn’t often. When Courier was hitting the ball cleanly, there was little his opponent could do but hang on and hope his sizzle would fizzle. John McEnroe, who Courier defeated in the fourth round of the 1992 US Open said that Courier had an underrated serve. He was correct. Courier would regularly blast serves 105 miles per hour, instantly putting himself in attack mode.
Courier’s 1991 French Open title came as the No. 9 seed over the No. 4 seed Agassi. He defeated No. 1 seed Edberg, who he enjoyed a 6-4 career record against, in the quarterfinals, and outlasted Germany’s Michael Stich in a long, four-set semifinal for the right to pound away with Agassi in a victorious three hour match. At the 1991 US Open, Courier made a valiant run toward a championship, continuing a string of major finals against Edberg. He defeated wildcard Jimmy Connors in the semifinals. Edberg denied Courier his one and only opportunity for a US title, 6-2, 6-4, 6-0.
Courier began the 1992 tour season by winning the Australian Open and defeating Edberg in a second major final, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. After winning his first Australian, Courier celebrated the victory by jumping fully clothed in his match-worn tennis clothes into Melbourne’s murky Yarra River. When he defended his Australian championship the following year over Edberg again, 6-2, 6-1, 2-6, 7-5, Courier repeated his dive into the Yarra; it was the last major victory in his career.
Courier’s second French title (and third major at the time) in 1992, did not come at Edberg’s expense, as the No. 2 seeded Swede was upset in the third round. As the top seed, Courier swept Agassi in straight sets in the semifinals and then routinely defeated Czech Petr Korda, 7-5, 6-2, 6-1. Courier would play himself into four major semifinals, the 1992 US Open (where he was seeded No. 1), the Australian and French in 1994, and the US Open in 1995. Though he was unable to win another major title, a tall task given how competitive men’s tennis had become in the 1990s, he did advance to the 1993 French Open final (6-4, 2-6, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 loss to Spain’s Sergi Bruguera) and Wimbledon in 1993 (7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3 loss to Sampras).
Courier went a perfect five-for-five in Master Series tournament finals from 1991-1993 and was a year-end championship finalist in 1991 and 1992, losing to Sampras and Boris Becker, respectively.
Courier was an integral part of seven U.S. Davis Cup teams in 1991-1992, 1994-95, 1997-99, helping the Americans win 1992 and 1995. Since retirement from the ATP Tour in 2000, Courier has served as television tennis analyst and commentator. He founded InsideOut Sport & Entertainment, an event production company that includes operation of the Champions Series pro tennis circuit. He has been the United States Davis Cup Captain since 2011.
Australian Open: W 1992, 1993
French Open: W 1991, 1992
Wimbledon: F 1993
US Open: F 1991