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Ancic Awarded Wild Card As Illness Nightmare Ends At Last

London, England

Mario Ancic© Getty ImagesMario Ancic will compete at The Queen's Club for the fifth time.

The 2004 Wimbledon semi-finalist Mario Ancic has been awarded the first wild card into the AEGON Championships at The Queen’s Club, 7-13 June, as he seeks to continue his comeback from an illness that almost finished his career.

The Croatian, who missed the last seven months of 2009 because of mononucleosis (glandular fever) - his second such stint out of the game because of the illness - has made steady progress since his return, and can’t wait to get back on his favourite surface.

“I am really looking forward to playing on grass at The Queen’s Club again,” said Ancic. “The tournament was always really good to me - the Tournament Director gave me a wild card when I was 18 and now again, and we have always had a great relationship. Coming to Wimbledon again this time is going to be an exceptional feeling for me after missing it last year. Grass is where I had my best results and I feel I can do a lot of damage. I believe I have a shot to go a long way.”

For Tournament Director Chris Kermode, the decision to award Ancic a wild card was a simple one.

“Mario is a hugely talented tennis player who has endured some terrible luck,” said Kermode. “When fully fit and in top form, he is capable of challenging for the AEGON Championships title and going deep in to the second week at Wimbledon. We are really looking forward to welcoming him back to The Queen’s Club. It’s great news for the tournament to be able to add Mario to an entry list that already includes eight of the World’s Top 11 players.”

The first time that illness struck Ancic, in 2007, it confined him to bed for much of the year, but he came back to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals in 2008. That was the last meaningful tournament he played before being struck down by the virus again. He missed almost the whole of 2009, and even began to work in a law firm as question-marks over his future in the game began to grow. The virus left him fatigued, unable to train, and deeply frustrated.

“I hoped and prayed that I would be able to play again,” said Ancic. “Of course there was fear that I would not be able to play again, so when at the end of the year the medical tests showed that I could, I was so happy. It was difficult to see the AEGON Championships and Wimbledon on TV last year and not to be there. It made me even more hungry to come back. I feel good now.”

Ancic, who graduated from law school in 2008 and gave a talk at the Harvard Law School last year, spent much of 2009 in an office. Although he enjoyed the experience and plans to pursue law as a career after tennis, he knew, at the age of 26, that he wanted to be somewhere else.

“Working in a law firm was good for me,” said Ancic. “There was less stress, and no traveling. It was tough work, a lot of hours every day, but I liked it. It was similar to tennis in a way - individual and competitive, so my tennis career helped my law career. But I still wanted to come back to tennis.”

Rafael Nadal (No. 2), Novak Djokovic (No. 3), Murray (No. 4),  Juan Martin Del Potro (No. 5), Andy Roddick (No. 8), Fernando Verdasco (No. 9) and Jo Wilfried Tsonga (No. 10) have all entered the AEGON Championships, along with the current World No. 11, Marin Cilic.
The AEGON Championships has four more wild card invitations to award. The tournament will be broadcast live, every day, on BBC Television and Eurosport.

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