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Lapentti Puts Retirement Plans On Hold After Davis Cup Inspiration

Nicolas Lapentti© Getty ImagesEcuador's Nicolas Lapentti teamed with his brother, Giovanni, to defeat Brazil in the Davis Cup World Group play-offs in September.

Former World No. 6 Nicolas Lapentti has put on hold his plans to retire from professional tennis. The 33-year-old Ecuadorian had planned to hang up his racquets at the end of the 2009 ATP World Tour season but, inspired by his country’s elevation to the 2010 Davis Cup World Group, now intends to play for at least one more season.

Lapentti and his younger brother, Giovanni Lapentti, spearheaded Ecuador’s defeat of Brazil away from home in the Davis Cup World Group play-offs in September, lifting Ecuador into the elite 16-team group for the first time since 2001. Ecuador will now face Croatia in the first round in March 2010.

"The win over Brazil was important for many reasons, especially the situation I found myself in,” Lapentti said from Santiago, Chile, where he is contesting an ATP Challenger Tour event this week. “I had considered retirement. It depended on where my ranking was at the end of the year. My participation in The Copa Petrobras tour (a series of ATP Challenger Tour events in South America) relied heavily on the outcome of the Davis Cup tie. Reaching the World Group is a big motivation, not only to continue playing next year, but also to approach the tour with a different mindset.”
Lapentti, currently No. 122 in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings, explained that his motivation and love for tennis are the reasons he continues competing, "The main reason is my love of the sport. Tennis has been my life. As long as I have the motivation to work, travel and play, I will continue. For me that is the most important thing. "

The Guayaquil native, who won his last ATP World Tour title at the Interwetten Austrian Open Kitzbuhel, when it was held in St. Polten in 2002, explained that, at this stage "I try not to set myself goals. I focus on the short term. Right now, Davis Cup was the most important thing and to finish the year as high as possible in the rankings. Now I will look at how I’m going approach next year. It won’t be the same as before when I felt I had to go to Australia (at the start of the season). If I feel like going, I will. If not, I won’t.”

Lapentti won his first ATP World Tour title in 1995 in Bogota and, after 14 years on tour, is able to make valued comparisons between the tour when he started out, and the present depth in standard now. "It is more difficult now because there is more competition, more players. There are more and more players trying to reach the top. It is harder, but at the same time there are more tournaments. It evens things out a little bit, but I think nowadays it is more difficult. "

The victory over Brazil, that the Lapentti brothers and team captain, Raul Viver brought about, was lauded as a massive achievement in Ecuador. But it is not their only Davis Cup achievement: "I think the victory over Great Britain in 2000, when we beat them on No. 1 Court at Wimbledon was our most significant achievement,” said Lapentti. “Before we played Brazil, I knew we would have a chance. We saw that tie in London as being almost impossible"

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