Best of 2019: Player Retirements (Part One)
ATP Tour Season In Review: Player Retirements
David Ferrer (Retired: 8 May), career-high No. 3
Humble and hard-working, the Javea native gave his all throughout a 20-season professional career, which ended in May at the Mutua Madrid Open. Aged 17, his poor attitude frustrated Javier Piles so much that Ferrer’s long-time coach locked him in a cupboard. Ferrer returned one week later with a new attitude and resolve that ensured the majority of the 1,110 tour-level matches he contested became a battle of attrition, regardless of the surface or opponent.
Originally a clay-court specialist, Ferrer worked hard on his compact game to become one of Spain’s leading lights, highlighted by a run to the 2007 title match at the Nitto ATP Finals (l. to Federer) — one of seven season finale appearances; seven ATP Tour titles in 2012, including the Rolex Paris Masters (d. Janowicz); the 2013 Roland Garros final (l. to Nadal) and a career-high No. 3 in the ATP Rankings on 8 July 2013.
Gritty and determined, the perennial fans’ favourite helped Spain win three Davis Cups (2008-09, 2011) and he won 27 ATP Tour singles titles, for third on the national list, behind only Manuel Orantes (33) and Rafael Nadal (84). Read Tribute
Marcos Baghdatis (Retired: 4 July), career-high No. 8
Remember the smile, the sheer joy of playing and competing at the professional level. Regardless of when you first watched Baghdatis compete: as the world’s best junior in 2003; his rise into the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings with his run to the Australian Open final and Wimbledon semi-finals aged 20 in 2006, or the indifference he showed to mounting injuries that soon affected his peak-performance days, the Cypriot was box office.
With a game fashioned after former World No. 1 Andre Agassi, Baghdatis’ 22 wins over Top 10 opponents, including two Worlds No. 1s: Roger Federer (BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells) and Nadal (Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati) in 2010 were other notable highs in a career that reaped four ATP Tour singles titles, 348 match wins, and a legion of fans worldwide.
Today, with his wife, former WTA pro Karolina Sprem, and three young children, Baghdatis is already providing inspiration to another star, his good friend Stefanos Tsitsipas, who captured the Nitto ATP Finals crown last month. Read Tribute
Nicolas Almagro (Retired: 15 April), career-high No. 9
One of a long line of Spanish clay-courters, Almagro could often be fiery, a trait only heightened in long battling duels when his back was against the wall. But he also competed with a big heart and gave everything in a 16-season professional career.
Almagro contested 23 ATP Tour clay-court finals, from his very first ATP Tour title at Valencia (d. Simon) in 2006 to his 13th and final title at the Millennium Estoril Open (d. Carreno Busta) in May 2016, and reached the Roland Garros quarter-finals in 2008, 2010 and 2012. Back-to-back titles against Top 10 opposition at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC in 2008 (d. Nalbandian) and 2009 (d. Monfils) were high points, in addition to his 2014 quarter-final victory over World No. 1 Nadal at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.
Almagro, who also reached the 2013 Australian Open quarter-finals (l. to Ferrer), retired at his hometown ATP Challenger Tour event in April in Murcia, where he now serves as tennis academy director at La Manga Club. In a career cut short by a left knee injury, Almagro won 397 tour-level matches, rising to a career-high No. 9 in the ATP Rankings on 2 May 2011, during a season of three titles from five finals. Read Tribute
Tim Smyczek (Retired: 25 August), career-high No. 68
The American put down his racquets for the final time at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., wanting to spend more time with his young family. Now studying a two-year Master of Business Administration program at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Smyczek is best remembered for his fifth-set loss to Nadal in the 2015 Australian Open second round.
At 5’9”, he was never going to overpower an opponent with his serve and was realistic about the prospect of Grand Slam championship glory, but worked extra hard to make the most of his game. Milwaukee-born Smyczek reached four ATP Tour quarter-finals, highlighted by a run to the 2018 semi-finals at the Hall of Fame Open in Newport, but fell short of his long-held Top 30 goal, attaining a career-high No. 68 in the ATP Rankings on 6 April 2015. He won seven ATP Challenger Tour titles. Read Feature