December 3, 2013 by Parveer Mann
Originally published on Back Row Sports.
All December long, the blog will take a look back at the highlights, lowlights and moments that defined the 2013 Tennis season.
Nothing lasts forever. The joys and triumphs of being a professional athlete can be ever fleeting. It is something that these players came to realize when they announced their retirement from the sport in 2013.
James Blake (Career High Ranking: No. 4 in 2006) – Along with Andy Roddick, Blake came to define the post-Sampras/Agassi era of American men’s tennis. Whereas Andy had all the pressure to win, many were just excited to watch Blake put on a competitive match. Some of his late-night battles during the US Open made him a fan favourite and it was fitting that he would announce his retirement their this year.
Blake won 10 ATP Tour titles over the course of his career and made three Grand Slam quarterfinals. However, his best result may have been his runner-up finish at the 2006 World Tour Finals in Shanghai where he lost to Roger Federer.
Marion Bartoli (Career High Ranking: No.7 in 2012) – The most surprising and maybe the least permanent retirement belonged to 2013 Wimbledon champion, Marion Bartoli. Only weeks after winning her breakthrough Slam, she abruptly walked away from the game after a second round loss to Simona Halep on a secondary court in Cincinnati. Not exactly the grand exit you would envision from a Wimbledon champion. However, Bartoli always did things on her own terms.
Known for her uncanny intelligence and on-court eccentricity, Bartoli operated at a different wavelength than most of the WTA. She rose to prominence with her run to the finals at Wimbledon in 2007 and she had been a Top-15 stalwart ever since. Bartoli won eight WTA titles in her career and this year became the first French woman to win a Slam since Amelie Mauresmo.
Read more about my take on Bartoli’s retirement that I wrote in August.
David Nalbandian (Career High Ranking: No. 3 in 2006) – The ‘Angry Argentine’ may have been the most talented player to retire this year on both tours. In 2007 alone, he was able to capture the Madrid and Paris-Bercy Masters after defeating both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the same tournament (one of a select few do so). He came into the tennis mainstream in 2002 with his run in Wimbledon where he and fellow ‘grinder’ Lleyton Hewitt seemed to be ushering in a new generation of superstar. Even if he did not live up to those high expectations, he was still one of those players you looked for in a draw because he could beat anybody on any given day. However, as his career went on, he became more known for his sour attitude and his occasional on-court blow ups including this ‘now famous’ kicking the line judge incident.
Overall, Nalbandian won 11 ATP Titles including the World Tour Finals in 2005.
Rebecca Marino (Career High Ranking: No. 38 in 2011) – Her retirement in early February made national headlines in Canada (hard to do as a tennis player). The reasons behind the attention were not necessarily focused on her tennis career but the other circumstances surrounding her retirement. At the age of 22, Marino elected to leave the game because she had suffered enough emotional turmoil in her short years on tour. She cited her bout with depression, the prolonged separation from family and the cruel world of social media. It was a startling reminder how fragile the world of a professional athlete can be.
Read what I wrote about Rebecca Marino and the Lonely World of Tennis.
Other notable players who retired this year: Mahesh Bhupathi, Jill Craybas, Nicolas Massu, Anna Chakvetadze, Agnes Szavay