Gaston Etlis, from Argentina, has already captured two doubles titles during his career, and is one of the best doubles players in the world. As of July 8, 2004, Etlis is ranked No. 19 in the world in men's doubles (the highest ranking of his career was 18 in May, 2004) and No. 278 in singles. His highest singles ranking was No. 114 in May, 2000. After competing as a singles player at the 1996 Australian and French Opens and in the 1997 French Open (he reached the second round at Roland Garros in 1997), Gaston switched to doubles, which he has played in Grand Slam events ever since. In 2000, he reached the third round of the French Open, lost in the first round at Wimbledon, and the second round at the U.S. Open. In 2001, Etlis was scheduled to play doubles at the French Open, but pulled out because of a back injury.
At the 2002 U.S. Open, Etlis reached the second round in the singles competition before losing to No. 7 seed Juan Carlos Ferrero in four sets, 2-6, 7-5, 0-6, 5-7. Seeded No. 16 in the doubles event with partner David Adams of South Africa, Etlis was upset in the first round of the competition. Along with countryman Lucas Arnold, Gaston was seeded No. 16 at Wimbledon in 2002, but they were upset in the first round. He also competed in the mixed doubles competition where he was seeded No. 9 with countrywoman Paola Suarez, but they were also eliminated in the first round. In other 2002 Grand Slam events, Etlis reached the second round in doubles at the Australian Open and the third round at the French Open.
Etlis competed in the 2003 Australian Open in the doubles competition; he and partner Martin Rodriguez were the No. 16 seed and reached the semifinals. After defeating the No. 9 seeded team of Leander Paes and David Rikl (6-3, 6-3) in the quarterfinals, Etlis and Rodriguez played No. 1 seed Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor and lost the match, 3-6, 4-6. Nevertheless, it was the best Grand Slam result of Gaston's career.
Etlis also competed in mixed doubles and in the singles qualification tournament. As a singles player, he lost in the first round of the qualifying tournament to Ricardo Mello of Brazil. In the mixed doubles, he and partner Silvia Farina Elia of Italy also lost in the first round.
Etlis and Rodriquez were seeded No. 16 in the men's doubles event at the 2003 French Open. After easily winning their matches in the first two rounds (without dropping a set), they upset the No. 1 seed Mark Knowles and Daniel Nester in the third round. In the quarterfinals, however, they lost to No. 11 seed, Paul Haarhuis and Yevgeny Kafelnikov.
At Roland Garros, Etlis also competed in the mixed doubles with Clarisa Fernandez. They won their first round match and then defeated Leos Friedl of the Czech Republic and Israeli star Anna Pistolesi in the second round. In the quarterfinals, Etlis and Fernandez lost to No. 4 seed Cara Black and Wayne Black, 6-3, 6-3.
Etlis and partner Martin Rodriguez were seeded No. 13 in men's doubles at the 2003 Wimbledon tournament and reached the third round. In the first round, they defeated Richard Bloomfield and Mark Hilton in straight sets (6-4, 6-4, 6-4). In the second round, Etlis and Rodriguez defeated Devin Bowen and Ashley Fisher in five sets (4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, and 6-1). They then faced No. seeded Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi and lost in three sets, 6-7 (4-7), 3-6 and 3-6.
At Wimbledon, Gaston also competed in the mixed doubles event with Caroline Vis of the Netherlands. In the first round, they defeated Ashley Fisher and Catherine Barcley of Australia, 7-6 (6-4), 3-6, and 7-5. In the second round, Gaston and Vis lost to No. 2 seeded Mike Bryan and Lisa Raymond of the U.S., 5-7 and 5-7. At the 2003 U.S. Open, Etlis and partner Martin Rodriguez were seeded No. 11. In the first round, they were upset by Robbie Koenig and Petr Pala, 3-6, 4-6. Etlis also competed in the mixed doubles with Els Callens, but they lost in the first round.
A semifinalist at the 2003 Australian Open and quarterfinalist at the 2003 French Open, Etlis and partner Martin Rodriguez were seeded No. 9 at the 2004 Australian Open. After defeating Americans Jan-Michael Gambill and Brian MacPhie in the first round (6-2, 6-4), they defeated Wayne Ferrera and Rick Leach in the second round, 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3. Gaston and his partner continued their good form as they beat Karsten Braasch and Sargis Sargsian 7-5, 6-2 in the third round. The quarter finals were a difficult hurdle for the duo but they battled past favorites Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor 7-6 (7-3), 6-7 (8-6), 6-3. In qualifying for the semifinals Etlis and Rodriguez had matched their achievement in the 2003 Australian Open. The fine run came to an end in the semi-finals. Michael Llodra and Fabrice Santoro defeated Rodriguez and Gaston 6-2, 7-5 and thus sunk their dream of reaching a grand slam final.
Etlis and Rodriguez were seeded ninth and considered among the favorites for the 2004 Roland Garros. They defeated Irakli Labadze and Jurgen Melzer 7-5, 6-1 in the first round. The tougher team of Karol Beck and Jiri Novak were beaten easily 6-3,6-2 in the second round. Gaston and Rodriguez were heavily favored to beat Alexander Peya and Rogier Wassen in the third round and did so 6-1, 3-6, 6-1. They fell to the Belgian team of Xavier Malisse and Olivier Rochus in the quarterfinal 6-4,6-4. Etlis and his partner Marion Bartoli of France were defeated 0-6, 6-3, 2-6 in the first round of the mixed doubles event.
Etlis and Rodriguez came into the 2004 Wimbledon mens doubles event ranked ninth overall. They beat the British team of James Auckland and Lee Childs 6-4, 6-3 to advance to the final 32. They were outfought, however, by Nikolay Davydenko and Ashley Fisher 5-7, 6-7 in a tough match and were eliminated.
Source: Jews in Sports