Former Pros Mayer, Sa, Muller Honoured At Nitto ATP Finals
ATP Alumni gather at The O2 in London this weekend
Florian Mayer, Andre Sa and Gilles Muller, who all retired from professional tennis in 2018, were presented with commemorative photographs of personalised Moët & Chandon bottles by Ross Hutchins, the ATP Chief Player Officer, on Friday at the Nitto ATP Finals. This year, former players from the 2000s involved in the season finale will be welcomed to The O2 in London as part of the Finals Club, which reconnects current and former players.
Mayer, who achieved a career-high No. 18 in the ATP Rankings on 6 June 2011, and former World No. 21 Gilles Muller both retired after the US Open in September, while Sa ended a 23-year pro career in March. The trio joined ATP alumni for a tour of The O2 and a meal in the Tennis Family Restaurant, prior to watching Friday evening’s doubles and Novak Djokovic’s round-robin match against Marin Cilic. “The O2 really is amazing and witnessing the atmosphere first-hand in London really showcases why it’s proved so popular with fans,” said Muller, who has commentated this week at the Nitto ATP Finals. “Being around some of the players I competed with and against in the past has been memorable.”
In reflecting on his career, Mayer, the 2004 ATP Newcomer of the Year and a two-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist, told ATPWorldTour.com, “Having gone 0-4 in my first four finals, I began to question whether I was good enough to win a coveted ATP title. I needed to wait until 2011 in ‘s-Hertogenbosch to lift a trophy, but my final victory over Alexander Zverev in 2016 [at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle] will be the one I always remember as it was on my comeback from injuries, after almost two years on the sidelines.” The German recorded 12 Top 10 wins during his career and went 2-5 in ATP World Tour finals. Read & Watch 2016 Halle Final Report
Muller, who won his first ATP World Tour singles title in his 17th season as a pro in January 2017 at the Sydney International, admitted to ATPWorldTour.com, “I needed to wait a long time from my first ATP final in Washington in 2004 to my first title in Sydney. I was match point down against [Alexandr] Dolgopolov, so to go on and win the tournament was amazing especially in front of my two sons. It wasn’t a good feeling knowing I had lost five previous finals, but I felt calm and afterwards I was so relieved. I received my trophy from Rod Laver, who is a legend of our sport, and the 13-year wait was over.
“Coming from Luxembourg, with little tennis tradition or infrastructure, I went against my parents wishes aged 15 and moved to France and then Spain to develop as a player. It taught me a lot about myself and forced me to work hard. I’m now commentating and getting involved with coaching in Luxembourg at a few clubs.” Muller reached the 2008 US Open quarter-finals and beat Rafael Nadal en route to the last eight at Wimbledon in 2017. Read August 2018 Tribute: Muller's Magical Ride
Sa, a popular and respected member of the ATP Player Council from June 2012-16, “I miss the chat in the locker room and being around players since retiring, but I reconnect in my role with the ITF. I first moved away from Minas Tênis Clube, one of Brazil’s best tennis facilities, which included Daniel Melo, Marcelo Melo, Marcio Torres and Bruno Soares, at the age of 13 and developed my language skills and grew up on the tennis tour. As a singles player my career-high was reaching the 2002 Wimbledon semi-finals, and I reached the doubles semi-finals there in 2007, but I also take great delight in winning two Brasil Open titles.” The Brazilian retired with a 11-19 record in doubles finals. Read March 2018 Tribute: Farewell, Andre
This weekend, the 2000 Nitto ATP Finals champion Gustavo Kuerten, 2001 and 2002 winner Lleyton Hewitt, 2005 titlist David Nalbandian and 2009 winner Nikolay Davydenko will join almost 30 former players to reminiscence about their memories of competing at the Nitto ATP Finals in the 2000s.