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Andujar Retires After Living His Dream

Spaniard brought an end to his career last week at 37
November 28, 2023
Pablo Andujar after playing his last professional match in Valencia.
Copa Faulcombridge
Pablo Andujar after playing his last professional match in Valencia. By ATP Staff

Editor's note: This article was translated from ATPTour.com/es

Surrounded by his loved ones, Pablo Andujar brought his professional career to an end last week at the Copa Faulcombridge, an ATP Challenger Tour event played in Valencia.

At 37 years old, Andujar said his farewell on court on Tuesday, playing his final match against his compatriot and tournament wild card Martin Landaluce, before being sent off with an emotional tribute on Saturday.

Andujar leaves the game with four ATP Tour titles (Casablanca 2011 and 2012, Gstaad 2014 and Marrakech 2018) and a further five finals (Bucharest 2010 and 2011, Stuttgart 2011, Barcelona 2015 and Marrakech 2019).

In 2015, in the midst of his strongest period, he peaked at No. 32 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

“On balance my career has been positive,” Andujar told ATPTour.com. “There have been a lot of experiences and adventures throughout all these years that have led me to be the person I am. Tennis-wise, I think it’s been a career in which better things could have happened, but also in which everything I did was thinking that it was the most positive option. It's been a decent career, that's the word."

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Having played over 400 tour-level matches since turning professional in 2003, Andujar says goodbye to tennis after living the dream of being a professional and playing in the biggest tournaments on Tour.

“I wouldn’t say I’ve had so much success,” said the Cuenca native. “I used to watch all the tournaments as a boy and I always thought I could compete in them. The fact that I was able to compete in them means my dream came true. I don’t think I went that far, but in some way playing in the best tournaments in the world... I don’t know if it surprised me, I don’t know if that’s the word, but it was a dream come true.

“When you start out, you’re not so aware of how tough it is, you’re not aware of what a career brings with it, you’re not aware of how difficult things are. You’re really not aware of all the work it takes to achieve the goal of playing at a big tournament, for example.”

So many years, of course, are packed with moments and memories, experiences of a life travelling around the world to hit a tennis ball. What are the Spaniard’s three greatest career highlights?

“First, when I won my first ATP tournament in Casablanca; second, the defeat to Rafa [Nadal] in Rio, which I think was the best match of my career; and third, when after two and a half years sidelined by injury, I came back and won in Marrakech." he recalled. "They are the three moments.”

The first corresponds to the title he claimed in Morocco in 2011, when he beat the Italian Potito Starace in the final to cap a week in which he left Florent Serra, Jeremy Chardy, Pere Riba and Albert Montanes in his wake before winning the title decider.

The second moment was a semi-final clash with Nadal in Rio de Janeiro in 2014. Andujar was on the cusp of victory and had two match points, but he was unable to convert them and eventually bowed out in a final-set tie-break that he lost 10-12 to the 22-time Grand Slam champion.

The third memory is a reference to the ordeal he had to go through after three elbow operations over two and a half years. When it looked like hanging up his racquet might be the only option, Andujar picked himself up, rediscovered his 'A' game and broke back into the Top 100 in 2018 by becoming the second-lowest ranked player (No. 355) to win an ATP Tour title. (Lleyton Hewitt was World No. 550 when he won in Adelaide in 1998.) The Spaniard’s comeback was complete when he returned to the Top 50 in 2019.

“My greatest success was being able to compete after the injury, for five years. Competing to the end, with a good level of tennis," acknowledged Andujar. "The biggest disappointment... the Davis Cup, not having won ties. I won a match, but no ties. You have the pressure of playing for your country. Personally I would have liked [to have had more success].”

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On top of those moments, Andujar left tennis fans with some great victories (for example, he defeated Roger Federer in Geneva in 2021), but also with an attitude that will surely provide an example for players of the future.

“I don’t know if I’m leaving behind a legacy. I think that’s for players who were better than me,” he said. “I’d like to be remembered as someone who has always tried to be well-mannered, who gets on well with everyone, and who made no enemies. Tennis, despite being a solitary sport, is also a sport in which we’re all colleagues. That’s how I see it.

“The greatest lesson tennis has given me is to learn to appreciate things and respect everyone,” added Andujar, who will remain in the world of tennis as a player representative on the ATP Board. “Above all, coming through the challenges that often stand in your way. I think that’s the biggest learning.”

One of the good guys, both on and off the court, is moving on.

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