Schuettler Retires From Professional Tennis After 17-Year Career
by James Buddell|
The 36-year-old German exclusively told ATPWorldTour.com, "Overall I am very happy. I did everything you can imagine. I had a lot of success and also some tough losses, but that applies to life and to tennis. I was very lucky to have Dirk Hordorff, a great adviser and coach, by my side. He guided me throughout my career and was someone who I could trust and guide me. I had a great career, a great time and met a lot of people, who I could share wonderful experiences with.
"I played my last match in January and due to a groin injury and fitness problems I have decided to retire. I would have liked to have played in the London Olympics at Wimbledon this summer, but I will now concentrate on future projects."
ATP Executive Chairman and President Brad Drewett said, "My congratulations go to Rainer on a remarkable 17-year career in professional tennis. Rainer was renowned as one of the toughest competitors on the ATP World Tour, reaching a career-high ranking of No. 5 in 2004, as well as capturing four career singles titles. He was a true gentleman on and off the court. In addition, I would like to thank him for his time serving as President of the ATP Player Council from 2003-2004. Always well respected by his peers, Rainer will be missed on the Tour. We wish him the very best for the future."
Schuettler, one of the fittest players on the ATP World Tour, based his game on a terrific work ethic to reach a career-high No. 5 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings on 26 April 2004.
"With my kind of tennis, I had to be fit," he said. "I am not two metres tall, so I didn’t have a big serve like Roger [Federer] or [John] Isner. I had to work for my points and of course my base was always my fitness. I worked hard to not get tired and remain aggressive from the baseline. Even now, in retirement, I still work out a lot, run and go to the gym. I have always liked the physical work. It helped for my tennis career."
A winner of four ATP World Tour singles and four doubles titles, he was voted the ATP's Most Improved Player of the Year in 2003 and Comeback Player of the Year in 2008.
The 2008 Wimbledon semi-finalist admitted, "I have a lot of special memories, but I think partnering Nicolas Kiefer to the doubles silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics stands out. It was not only emotional and one of my best moments, but it was also one of my toughest losses as we had four match points for the gold medal against Fernando Gonzalez and Nicolas Massu."
Arguably, tennis fans will best remember him for his run to the 2003 Australian Open final. He arrived at Melbourne Park in peak physical condition and beat Richard Krajicek, James Blake, David Nalbandian and Andy Roddick en route to his only Grand Slam championship title match.
"During the two weeks, I didn’t think too much," Schuettler recalled. "I was playing match-by-match, I was trying to go on court and play as well as I can. One memory that stands out is when I won match point in the semi-finals against Andy Roddick. I felt how cleanly I hit the backhand down the line to win the match. It was unbelievable during the night session, the stadium was full. The spectators were on their feet for a standing ovation. The next memory is the final against [Andre] Agassi with a capacity crowd. Although I lost in straight sets, it is still a wonderful memory."
Schuettler also represented Germany in the Davis Cup between 1999 and 2009. In 2005, he helped his country he helped his country win the ATP World Team Championship in Düsseldorf. "It was always special for me to represent my country," he said. "With the players we had, we travelled around the world together and it was very special."
In 2002, he served as a member of the ATP Player Council and the following year he became its President in a two-season term of office. “I enjoyed my time on the ATP Player Council and later as its president.
"I have to thank Dirk Hordorff for pushing me to do it. It took time away from my own tennis and made me get to know what happens behind the scenes and the bigger picture. It was interesting to learn about the decisions the ATP and players have to make. Knowing about the relationship between players and tournament will definitely will help me now in future." The experience fuelled his future ambitions.
In sporting retirement, Schuettler has been busy. "Mr Ion Tiriac and I have bought the tournament membership in Düsseldorf, so from next year on there will be an [ATP World Tour] 250 tournament the week before Roland Garros," he admitted. "For me, it is great to come from the tennis playing side to now getting involved in tournament organisation. Dietloff von Arnim, long-time tournament director in Düsseldorf, will organise the event, so we have great experience in this partnership. I am looking forward in the years to come to build a great event there.
"Toni Nadal, Alberto Castellani, Dirk Hordorff and I also opened the Global Professional Tennis Coaches Association (GPTCA) this year. It has been certified by the ATP and we will provide our help and knowledge to coaches from different backgrounds in more than 20 countries."
When asked what he would like fans to remember him for, Schuettler said, "I hope tennis fans will remember me as a player who tried his best on court. Who showed he enjoyed and loved to play tennis, giving 100 per cent on the court and ensuring the crowd enjoyed watching me play."
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