Best of 2017: Player Retirements (Part One)
Continuing our Season In Review series, ATPWorldTour.com pays tribute to six players who retired in 2017. In part two of our two-part series, we will look back at the careers of five other players, including Radek Stepanek.
Juan Monaco (Retired: 15 May), career-high No. 10
Juan Monaco exhibited both great sportsmanship and charm, performing at his best on clay courts – where he captured eight of his nine titles – during a 14-season pro career. He rose to a career-high No. 10 in the Emirates ATP Rankings on 23 July 2012 and recorded 20 victories over Top 10 opponents, including over his good friend Rafael Nadal at the 2007 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. Together, they won the 2015 Qatar ExxonMobil Open doubles title – one of three team crowns for the Argentinean, affectionately known as ‘Pico’. “[There is] pride to have faced so many challenges over many years,” said Monaco. “Thanks for what tennis gave me: education, discipline, friendship and unforgettable moments. [There is] sadness, because I will really miss the tennis courts [and] happiness to have had the chance to work in what I really loved since I was a kid. Knowing that dedication, sacrifice, tenacity and compromise have always been my engine, I leave with the satisfaction that I gave all I had and I want to let you know that I enjoyed until my last match.”
Albert Montanes (Retired: 27 April), career-high No. 22
Albert Montanes, the archetypical Spanish clay-courter who often completed lengthy tournament schedules each season, brought the curtain down at home at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, where he’d made his debut in 2001. At 36 years of age, he accumulated 212 victories on red dirt – including six ATP World Tour crowns – and a career-high of No. 22 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. "It's a very special moment," said Montanes. "I wanted to finish my career in a special way. It couldn't have been anywhere else. You, the public, have been essential in my career. I feel really proud to have had a very long career." A career-best week for Montanes came at Estoril in 2010, when he beat then World No. 1 Roger Federer in the semi-finals – at a time when Rafael Nadal was the only Spanish to haven beaten the Swiss on clay – prior to an emotional victory over Portuguese hope Fred Gil in the final. "I will always remember that win over Federer," he said. "And then I was able to win the tournament, which made it even more special."
Grega Zemlja (Retired: 12 August), career-high No. 43
Grega Zemlja fulfilled his dream to play tennis professionally, recording a number of firsts for Slovenia – the first in the Top 50 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, and the first to play in the main draw of a Grand Slam championship – before calling it a career at the age of 30. In October 2012, he advanced to his lone ATP World Tour final, beating Tommy Haas and Janko Tipsarevic at the Erste Bank Open 500 prior to losing to Juan Martin del Potro. He won six ATP Challenger Tour titles and rose to a career-high No. 43 on 15 July 2013.
Somdev Devvarman (Retired: 2 January), career-high No. 62
Two days into the new year, the fighting spirit and passion for the sport flickered out for Somdev Devvarman, the smiling Indian, who at 31 years of age looked beyond the tramlines for a new career. The decision came 12 months on from his last ATP World Tour appearance in Chennai, where he reached the 2009 final (l. to Cilic). The sociology graduate from the University of Virginia, for whom he won back-to-back NCAA singles title in 2007 and 2008, rose to a career-high No. 62 in the Emirates ATP Rankings on 25 July 2011. That year he reached the Johannesburg final (l. to Anderson) but in 2012 he began to struggle to overcome a shoulder complaint, part of an injury-plagued career, which included five ATP Challenger Tour titles.
Giovanni Lapentti (Retired: 10 February), career-high No. 110
Giovanni Lapentti played close to 400 matches on the ATP Challenger Tour, winning 10 titles, but perhaps his finest achievement came just two weeks after 2000 Wimbledon. As a 17-year-old he fought back from a 0-2 sets deficit in the fifth and deciding rubber to beat Great Britain’s Arvind Parmar on No. 1 Court at the All England Club to record Ecuador’s first – and, to date, only – singles victory in the Davis Cup World Group. He’d also partnered his brother, Nicolas Lapentti, a day earlier to a straight-sets win in the doubles rubber. A year later, and yet to turn professional, the 6’4” Giovanni partnered Frank Dancevic to the 2001 Wimbledon junior doubles title.
Colin Fleming (Retired: 16 January), doubles career-high No. 17
Colin Fleming moved seamlessly from professional tennis to the position of National Coach for Tennis Scotland in January, after calling time on a 10-year professional career that included eight ATP World Tour titles from 19 finals. He reached a career-high No. 17 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings on 9 September 2013. Ross Hutchins, the Chief Player Officer for the ATP, who won three ATP World Tour doubles titles with Fleming, said, “I wish Colin all the success in his move away from playing professional tennis. He had many fantastic tennis achievements and performed extremely well on the biggest stages in our sport. I have no doubt at all that he is an outstanding fit in his new role and will help build something very strong in Scottish tennis.”
Return on Wednesday for Part Two: Stepanek, Mathieu, Becker, Chiudinelli and Fyrstenberg