Best Of 2019: Player Retirements (Part Two)
ATPTour.com looks at more of the biggest names who called time on their playing careers this year
Tomas Berdych (Retired: 16 November), career-high No. 4
For the best part of 30 years, Berdych dedicated his life to tennis, leaving no stone unturned in his pursuit of excellence, impressive consistency and a beautiful game. Hard work off the court paid dividends on court with 13 ATP Tour titles, including a career-best performance aged 20 at the 2005 Rolex Paris Masters, where, as World No. 50, he became the lowest-ranked ATP Masters 1000 champion since No. 57-ranked Chris Woodruff at the 1997 Coupe Rogers in Montreal.
Perhaps his finest achievement came in defeat, when he beat Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic en route to the 2010 Wimbledon final, but Rafael Nadal kept Berdych dreaming of Grand Slam championship glory. He played 52 straight Grand Slams — reaching seven semi-finals (or better) — before withdrawing from the 2016 US Open (appendicitis), and 64 straight Masters 1000 events (four finals) before withdrawing from 2017 Montreal (rib). Berdych broke into the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings for the first time in October 2006 and rose to a career-high No. 4 on 18 May 2015. He finished seven straight seasons in the Top 10 (2010-2016), earned 50+ wins in five straight years (2011-2015) and recorded 640 tour-level match victories. With Radek Stepanek, he led the Czech Republic to the 2012 and 2013 Davis Cup titles.
When a back injury began to hamper his peak-performances days in 2018, forcing him outside of the Top 50, the Czech’s time on court was numbered. In making the Qatar ExxonMobil Open final and Australian Open fourth round in January 2019, there was hope, however fleeting. Aged 34, Berdych ended his career in an on-court ceremony at the Nitto ATP Finals in London, the scene of his six straight season finale appearances. Read Tribute
Janko Tipsarevic (Retired: 18 October), career-high No. 8
As a big fish in a small pool, Tipsarevic was the world’s best junior with a 33-match winning streak. But as the Serbian freely admitted, his transition through to the upper echelons of pro ranks was a little more complex. By the time the astute and Dostojevski-reading intellectual Tipsarevic broke into the Top 10 in 2011, largely inspired by the performances of Stan Wawrinka, he was on borrowed time.
For two years, Tipsarevic’s star burned bright, taking his aggressive, counter-punching game to the world’s best to earn two 50+ match wins years and a career-high No. 8 in the ATP Rankings in April 2012. He helped Serbia clinch the 2010 Davis Cup and beat his good friend Novak Djokovic, then ranked World No. 1, at the 2011 Nitto ATP Finals and 2012 Mutua Madrid Open — among 15 Top 10 victories. Tipsarevic also reached the 2011-12 US Open quarter-finals.
For five years, Tipsarevic’s career was in limbo as he underwent seven different lower body surgeries. Would he retire? No, he fought back and recorded his first tour-leve match win in 570 days this March at the Miami Open presented by Itau. As a long-time role model for a generation of Serbian players, including Djokovic, Tipsarevic played his final ATP Tour event at the Stockholm Open in October, ending his career with four ATP Tour titles and 286 tour-level match wins. He has already begun work on franchising his tennis academy internationally. Read Tribute
Victor Estrella Burgos (Retired: 9 October), career-high No. 43
It could all been very different for the ‘King of Quito’. Seven years ago, he was nursing an elbow injury and contemplating retirement with 28 tour-level match wins to his name — all from Davis Cup Group II play for the Dominican Republic. Estrella Burgos never could believe his luck, forever playing with a smile on his ATP tournament debut aged 29; when he broke into the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings aged 33 or when he won three straight ATP Tour titles on the clay of Quito between 2015, the year he rose to a career-high No. 43 (13 July), and 2017. He earned the respect of his peers and, aged 39, retired at an ATP Challenger Tour event on home soil in October. Read Tribute
Marcin Matkowski (Retired: 31 July), career-high doubles No. 7
As one-half of the world-class ‘Polish Power’, Matkowski partnered Mariusz Fyrstenberg (who retired in 2017) to become one of ATP Tour’s most marketable doubles teams, winning 15 titles — including the 2008 and 2012 Mutua Madrid Opens. The pair also finished runner-up in 2011 at the US Open (l. to Melzer-Petzschner) and the Nitto ATP Finals (l. to Mirnyi-Nestor). Rising to a career-high No. 7 in the ATP Doubles Rankings on 9 July 2012, Matkowski won 472 match wins and lifted 17 trophies. He retired aged 38 at the BNP Paribas Sopot Open in August.