Bogomolov: "I'm Very Thankful For The Game"
Alex Bogomolov Jr, who beat four members of the Top 10 in the Emirates ATP Rankings during his career, has decided to retire.
Bent, and nearly broken, Alex Bogomolov Jr. has dedicated his life to fostering a successful career on the ATP World Tour. Tennis has given Bogomolov everything and now, he says, it is time to give back.
The man they affectionately call "Bogie" announced his retirement from professional tennis ahead of the 2015 season, revealing a significant back injury that had plagued him for many years as the culprit.
“I’ve had some back problems in the past and they’ve gradually gotten worse,” said the Moscow native, who won 70 tour-level matches, including four against Top 10 opposition. “During the US Open, I went to see some doctors. They told me I needed to have a serious surgery [to insert] screws in my lower back. To tell the truth I was afraid of the surgery. There are a lot of risks. You might lose feeling in your legs because they remove a disc between two vertebrae and attach them together.”
The recipient of the Most Improved Player of the Year honour in the 2011 ATP World Tour Awards presented by Moët & Chandon, Bogomolov ascended to a career-high World No. 33 in the Emirates ATP Rankings that year. The 31 year old reached a pair of ATP World Tour semi-finals in Los Angeles and St. Petersburg and earned what he refers to as the biggest victory of his career, stunning then World No. 5 Andy Murray in the second round of the Miami Open, presented by Itau.
“To have it voted on by all the guys in the locker room was really special,” Bogomolov added, referring to the Most Improved Player award. “A lot of those guys I went head-to-head against and battled for [Emirates ATP Rankings] points and prize money. It’s such an individual sport and it’s hard to swallow your ego sometimes. For them to put everything aside and actually vote for me was huge.”
A former top-ranked USTA junior and winner of the Boys’ 16s National Championship (d. Roddick), Bogomolov coronated his ascent to the professional ranks in 2002 with a stunning victory over top seed Tommy Haas as a qualifier in Los Angeles. At World No. 278, it was just his second match played on the ATP World Tour.
Bogomolov’s early-career surge would prove to be unsustainable, however, and the right-hander would teeter on the brink of early retirement after falling out of the Top 300 following wrist surgery in 2009. But the word ‘quit’ was never part of Bogie’s vocabulary. A warrior - a survivor - he would put in his time on the ATP Challenger Tour as well, grinding to 219 match wins and 10 titles in 19 finals, before eventually reaping the fruits of his labour with his breakthrough 2011 campaign. He even took up a position as Director of the Gotham Tennis Academy in New York City just to pay the bills while he rehabbed his wrist, commuting by train from his home in New Jersey each day.
Working at kids’ clinics in New York City gave Bogomolov extra motivation to continue fighting to achieve his dreams and the birth of his son Maddox provided an added incentive.
He may be retired now, but the former World No. 33 is never leaving the tennis court and he says he applies the same principles learned during his 13-year career to coaching, as part-owner of a state-of-the-art facility in Mooresville, North Carolina. The Lake Norman Tennis Center, a brand new 16-court, $3.3 Lake Norman million complex includes both hard and clay courts and two Stadium courts.
“When we first saw it, the roof on the indoor courts wasn’t even on yet,” Bogomolov said. “We came in at the perfect time, because they gave us the opportunity to invest and become part owners of this whole new project. We decided that was best for us, with the hopes that this is going to be an academy-themed complex.
“I hope we’ll have all kinds of students and divide them in different categories, with adult clinics in the morning and junior clinics in the afternoon, with tournaments, exhibitions and events. We’re going to hopefully have a strong 10-and-Under program. Hopefully we’ll have an exhibition during the Winston-Salem Open to get the hype up too.
“Going from being No. 1 in juniors to having expectations, grinding through the Challenger circuit and reaching the Top 100 at 19 years old, I’m very happy I did it. I think the hardest thing in sports is to get to the Top 50 in the world (in the Emirates ATP Rankings). I’m thankful for the game. It taught me a lot of important life lessons. It almost broke me a couple of times and I don’t want to count out the possibility of coming back."