THE CHAMPIONSHIPS 2012
Clement Steps Into Retirement, Looks Ahead To Davis Cup Captaincy
by ATP Staff|
The 34 year old and teammate Michael Llodra fought back from a two-sets-to-love deficit in their third-round match, but ultimately came up short against defending champions Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, 7-6(5), 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2.
“Great feeling on the court yesterday,” Clement shared Thursday on Facebook. “I am very happy to have finished playing at a good level against a great team. Now, some rest to sit back and reflect after so many things happening in the last couple of weeks.”
Clement, a winner of four singles and 12 doubles titles, had captured his lone Grand Slam crown at Wimbledon in 2007 when he and Llodra teamed to upset the defending champions Bryans in the final. In celebration, the pair threw their racquets and shirts into the crowds.
“It was unbelievable,” remembered Clement, who borrowed a shirt from his brother Bruno for the trophy presentation. “I had always considered myself to be a calm person, but to play the match together and to share the victory was an emotional moment for us. It wasn’t just the way we played, but also the setting, the chance to play in the final on Court Number 1; the court was full to bursting, there was a great atmosphere. It was the only doubles Grand Slam that I’ve won and to do it with him was great. I am glad it was here and with him.”
In addition to his success on the doubles court, Clement rose to a career-high No. 10 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings in April 2001. He reached the Australian Open final that season, posting wins over Roger Federer, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Sebastien Grosjean - saving two match points in their semi-final match - before falling to Andre Agassi in the final.
“It’s definitely something I am very proud of,” he said. “It was an unbelievable, quite special time. It was 2001, and so whilst it was a long time ago the memories are very fresh – I had 15 fantastic years. I wasn’t surprised to lose to Andre in the final because he was much stronger than me on the day. I didn’t play my best tennis, I wasn’t playing at a level good enough to beat that sort of a player. I was really proud, to reach the finals of the Australian Open.
Clement finished his singles career with a 316-327 match record, making his final main draw appearance at Roland Garros. He was honoured on court by French Tennis Federation president Jean Gachassin and former World No. 4 Guy Forget in a special ceremony following his five-set loss to David Goffin in the second round.
“I made the decision having given it a lot of thought, so it wasn’t actually difficult and now it is time to do other things,” he said of his retirement. “It has been good to play at Roland Garros and Wimbledon one more time.”
Clement said that he would use these next months to spend time with his family and relax, but also to “prepare for the next Davis Cup season” when he will assume the captaincy previously held by Forget.
“The most important thing to me is that France wins back the Davis Cup. Becoming captain is not the most important thing, it is the success of the players and the staff who are faced with this challenge. If we win, I will be proud. I am following on from Guy Forget who was an amazing captain. I respect him, he’s a good friend. It is another page in French tennis history and I will do my best.”