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Player Farewells In 2012 - Part Two

Retirements

Ferrero© AFP/Getty ImagesFormer World No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero retired from professional tennis at the Valencia Open 500 in October.

There were a number of players who retired from professional tennis in 2012. In part two, we recall their career highlights, listed below according to their career-high position in the South African Airways ATP Rankings.

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No. 1 – Juan Carlos Ferrero (Retired: 15 October)
Juan Carlos Ferrero always let his tennis do the talking, remaining intensely private and loyal to those he trusted throughout his career. When his mother, Rosario, died in 1998, he started his journey to become a champion, working diligently to fine-tune his natural abilities – particularly on clay courts. Between 2000 and 2003, he compiled a 111-25 match record on clay courts – winning three of his four ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophies – and went 23-2 at Roland Garros, where he finished runner-up in 2002 and captured the 2003 crown. El Mosquito was slight of stature, but his speed, finesse and ability to conjure winning strokes from nothing delighted the purists. Aged 23, he became World No. 1 on 8 September 2003, replacing Andre Agassi. Ferrero reigned for eight weeks until Roddick, his conqueror in the US Open final, unseated him. In total, he spent 176 consecutive weeks in the Top 10 of the South African Airways ATP Rankings until 13 September 2004. He also won two Davis Cup titles with Spain. Away from the spotlight, Ferrero eschewed a millionaire's lifestyle and still resides at the academy, which harnessed his dreams as a teenager. At 32, Ferrero is involved in La Fundación de la Comunidad Valenciana Juan Carlos Ferrero, which promotes sports for youth in and around Valencia, owns a 12-suite hotel and is joint-owner of the Valencia Open 500, an ATP World Tour 500 tournament each October. He will work as Nicolas Almagro's part-time coach in 2013.

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Ljubicic, Monte Carlo 2012No. 3 – Ivan Ljubicic (Retired: 15 April)
Through sheer dedication, Ivan Ljubicic battled hardship to become a professional player. As a great server, he was a dangerous opponent for anyone. He reached a career-high No. 3 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings and won 10 ATP World Tour titles, including an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown at the 2010 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells (d. Roddick). His best major result was a semi-final exit at 2006 Roland Garros (l. to Nadal), but perhaps he will be best remembered for how he went 11-1 in 2005 Davis Cup play to help Croatia to the title. Ljubicic served on the ATP Player Council and was the European player representative on the ATP Board of Directors from August 2008 until January 2009. He was the first active player to serve on Board since Paul Annacone in 1993. ATP Executive Chairman & President Brad Drewett said, “As impressive as his achievements were on the court, Ivan will also be remembered for the way he carried himself away from the court. A true gentleman and ever popular amongst his peers, we thank Ivan for his first-rate contributions to the sport throughout his career, and wish him the very best for the future.” His long-time support of the Special Olympics was recognised when he was named 2007 ATP Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of Year.

DEUCE Magazine: Ljubicic – The Journey Continues

Clement with Llodra, London 2007No. 10 – Arnaud Clement (Retired: 5 July)
To his French compatriots, Arnaud Clement was always a favourite. With his trademark sunglasses, even on the darkest of days, and bandana he had crowds chanting, “Allez, Arnaud… Allez, Arnaud…” in every match he played. Short of stature at 5’8”, but with a mighty heart he maximised his talent to reach a career-high No. 10 on the back of appearing in the 2001 Australian Open final. Posting wins over Roger Federer, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Sebastien Grosjean – saving two match points in their semi-final match – he fell to Agassi in the title match. “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.” A fine doubles exponent, he also won the 2007 Wimbledon doubles title with Michael Llodra. In retirement, he followed in the footsteps of Guy Forget as captain of France’s Davis Cup team.

AcasusoNo. 20 – Jose Acasuso (Retired: 23 February)
Jose Acasuso, who was a natural left-hander but played right-handed, renowned for his strong serve and groundstrokes, retired at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club aged 29. The former World No. 20 won three ATP World Tour singles titles from 11 finals, all on clay, and reached an additional 11 doubles finals, lifting the trophy five times. He represented Argentina in two Davis Cup finals, and also led his country to the title at the 2007 ATP World Team Championship in Dusseldorf. “I gave my best to be a professional player and do what I liked the most,” said Acasuso, who had suffered from a long-term knee injury. “The two Davis Cup finals I played, the first professional tournament I won against [Franco] Squillari in Sopot (2004), also my victory over [Lleyton] Hewitt in Davis Cup (2006 semi-finals) was a match that had a great influence in my career.”

WaskeNo. 89 – Alexander Waske (Retired: 21 October)
Alexander Waske was once ranked No. 199 in the German singles rankings. The chances of forging a successful professional career were slim. But John Nelson, the head coach of San Diego St., where Waske studied for three years, believed he could break into the Top 100 of the South African Airways ATP Rankings. Under the guidance of Dirk Hordorff, he achieved that goal. Waske believes one of his best victories came over Rafael Nadal at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle in June 2005. “Before the match, I was asked what I felt about the draw when it came out,” said Waske. “I called my Mum first and she said, ‘Oh my gosh, boy, come home!’ She was scared he was going to tear me apart.” As a good serve-volleyer, he rose to a career-high World No. 16 in doubles, largely on the back of his performances with Michael Kohlmann and Andrei Pavel. He struggled with an elbow injury from 2007 to 2011. Waske, now aged 37, joined forces with Schuettler to form the Schuettler-Waske Tennis Academy in 2010, became an official consultant of the MercedesCup in Stuttgart and President of the GPTCA.

Retiring On His Own Terms

Knowles, Paris 2007Doubles No. 1 – Mark Knowles (Retired: 7 September)
Mark Knowles was one of the best doubles players of all time. Boasting a great mind, an incredible backhand return, solid hands and an exquisite drop volley he won 55 men’s team trophies – including three majors and 17 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns – giving him at least one doubles title in 19 of the past 20 years. Knowles ascended to the No. 1 ATP Doubles Ranking on 24 June 2002, spending a total of 65 weeks atop the chart, and finished as the year-end No. 1 in 2002 and 2004. He ended the season ranked inside the Top 10 on 11 occasions and along with Nestor in 2002 and 2004, was named ATP Doubles Team of Year. From 2002 to 2004, Knowles served as Vice President on the ATP Player Council, at a crucial time for the future of doubles. “It has been an incredible journey and one that I look back on with no regrets, except for maybe a few match outcomes. I still have a love for the game and enjoy the thrill of competition and feel that I could still win a few more titles,” said Knowles. With a vast knowledge of the game and adeptness in scouting players, Knowles now works with Mardy Fish.

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