Class of 1986
Singles: World No. 2 (1969)
Doubles: World No. 1 (1965)
Grand Slam Results
16-time major champion, 10-time finalist
Overall Record: 534-235
Singles Record: 324-140
Doubles Record: 210-95
Member of the Australian Davis Cup Team 1964-1967, 1974-1978
Member of the Australian Championship Davis Cup Team 1964-1967, 1977
Overall Record: 14-5
Singles Record: 7-3
Doubles Record: 7-2
Anthony “Tony” Dalton Roche had as fine a tennis pedigree as any player in history, having been coached by Hall of Famer Harry Hopman, who also mentored fellow Australian contemporaries Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall. The left-handed Roche was buoyed by such expertise, winning 16 major championships, 15 coming in doubles. Roche was broad-shouldered and thick in the chest, attributes that didn’t hamper his mobility, but rather enhanced his punishing serve and enabled him to possess one of the greatest backhand volleys in tennis history.
Roche relied on his serve-and-volley game, but it was his all-court prowess that propelled him to a No. 2 world ranking in 1969, a year after he officially became a professional after five years as an amateur. Although Roche was most comfortable playing on grass courts – and his matches at the U.S. Nationals/US Open and Wimbledon against rivals Laver and Rosewall are tennis classics – the southpaw won the 1966 French Nationals on clay, a testament to his versatile game. Roche lost the 1968 Wimbledon and 1969 U.S Nationals finals to Laver (the 1969 match going four sets) and the 1970 US Open to Rosewall (another hard-fought four-setter). In total, Roche was a singles finalist in five major championships.
His most heralded singles victory came in the 1977 Davis Cup when he upset and dismantled Italian Adriano Panatta in three-sets, fostering a 3-1 Australian victory, his fifth playing for his country. Doubles was Roche’s forte though, winning 13 career titles and possessing a 210-95 record. Twelve of his 13 major men’s doubles titles came alongside fellow Aussie John Newcombe, who appropriately entered the Hall of Fame with Roche in 1986 – the other was the January 1977 Australian with Arthur Ashe – and the Roche-Newcombe combination won all four majors. The five Wimbledon titles with Newcombe (1965, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1974) was the best mark of any 20th century male team until fellow countrymen Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge earned a sixth title in 1997.
Roche teamed with Newcombe to win Davis Cup-clinching matches in 1965 and 1967. Roche also won a pair of mixed doubles titles at the Australian Championships in 1966 and Wimbledon in 1976. Roche played Davis Cup for Australia between 1964-1978, posting a 7-3 singles record and a 7-2 doubles mark. Although, hampered by shoulder and elbow injuries, Roche still enjoyed a lengthy career, and was ranked in the world Top 10 six straight years (1965-70).
In 1968, Roche signed professionally with World Championship Tennis, joining other pros Newcombe, Dennis Ralston, Butch Buchholz, Pierre Barthes, Cliff Drysdale, Niki Pilić, and Roger Taylor to form what was referred as the "Handsome Eight.” Roche parlayed his playing acumen into a successful coaching career, first as a player-coach with Denver Racquets and Boston Lobsters in World Team Tennis, leading the Racquets to the inaugural WTT Championship over the Philadelphia Freedoms in 1974.
Australian Open: SF 1965, 1967, 1969, 1975
French Championships: W 1966
Wimbledon: F 1968
US Open: F 1969, 1970
Australian Open: W 1965, 1967, 1971, 1976, 1977
French Open: W 1967, 1969
Wimbledon: W 1965, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1974
U.S. Nationals: W 1967
Australian Nationals: W 1966
Wimbledon: W 1976