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Gaudio Retires From Professional Tennis

Barcelona, Spain

Gaudio, 2004 Paris© AFP/Getty ImagesGaston Gaudio won the Roland Garros title in 2004.

Gaston Gaudio, the 2004 Roland Garros champion, has taken the difficult decision to retire from professional tennis.

"It's a tough choice...it is the sport that I practised for a lifetime," said Gaudio. "I will still continue to play exhibition tournaments, but for sure I'm not going back to playing competitions."

Gaudio started playing tennis aged six at the Temperley Lawn Tennis Club, near Buenos Aires. As a pro since 1996, the 5'9" right-hander developed a world-class single-handed backhand and deft touch which, in an era of big hitters, enabled him to maximise his talent. 

Nicknamed "El Gato" ("The Cat") in his native Argentina, Gaudio rose to a career-high No. 5 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings on 25 April 2005. He won eight tour-level singles titles (8-7 record) and three doubles trophies - all of which came on his beloved clay courts.

The defining moment of his career came at the age of 25. Gaudio came into 2004 Roland Garros, having reached the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell final (l. to Robredo) during the spring European clay swing, ranked World No. 44. He recorded two five-set wins in his first two rounds, over Guillermo Canas and Jiri Novak, before surprisingly beating his compatriot and World No. 8 David Nalbandian 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-0 in the semi-finals.

In the final he challenged Guillermo Coria, another Argentinean and pre-tournament favourite, considered at the time as the fastest man in the game on clay. In a dramatic encounter, on a hot day in Paris, Coria - suffering from leg cramps - could not convert two match points at 6-5 in the fifth set. Gaudio seized his chance to win 0-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 8-6 in three hours and 31 minutes.

GaudioHe was the first Argentinean to win a Grand Slam championship since Guillermo Vilas at the same tournament in 1997. Later, Gaudio admitted, "When I was match point down, I was thinking, 'This is done, it's over.' I was fighting, but without much belief.''

It was the first time in 70 years that a male player had saved a match point in a Roland Garros final and gone on to win. In 1934, Germany's Gottfried Von Cramm made his great escape against Jack Crawford of Australia.

Gaudio finished in the year-end Top 10 in 2004 and 2005, appearing at the season-ending championships in Houston and Shanghai. By the end of 2007, he had drifted outside of the Top 100 for the first time since 1998 as injuries began to take their toll.

His last match on the ATP World Tour came in August 2010 against Pablo Andujar at the Bet-At-Home Cup Kitzbühel, where he had won the 2005 title. Overall he compiled a 270-196 singles record and a 26-39 doubles record.

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