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Player Farewells In 2012 - Part One


Roddick© Getty ImagesFormer World No. 1 Andy Roddick retired from professional tennis at the US Open in September.

There were a number of players who retired from professional tennis in 2012. In part one, 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 – Andy Roddick (Retired: 3 September)
Andy Roddick blessed with flair, intelligence and star power, retired on his 30th birthday. By giving himself wholly to the sport, he finished in the Top 10 of the South African Airways ATP Rankings for nine straight years (2002-2010). His charisma and gravitas, character and engaging personality enabled him to absorb the highs and lows of life as one of the most successful, influential and quotable players in professional tennis. Aged 21, Roddick became the poster boy for American tennis when he beat Ferrero to clinch his only Grand Slam championship title at the 2003 US Open. The triumph, in one of his five major final appearances, paved the way to him becoming No. 1 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings on 3 November 2003. His tenure as World No. 1 was short-lived – 13 weeks in total. The foundations of Roddick’s game lay in his devastating serve – one was timed at 155 mph in a 2004 Davis Cup tie – and his fluent forehand. Roddick won 32 tour-level singles titles, including five ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns, and four times finished runner-up to Federer in Grand Slam finals: Wimbledon (2004-'05 and '09) and US Open ('06). Arguably, his most devastating loss came three years ago when he lost 16-14 in the fifth set at the All England Club. As a patriotic American, he led the nation to its 32nd Davis Cup victory in 2007. His 33 singles rubber wins in the competition for the United States is second only to John McEnroe's 41. He is expected to play more of a hands-on roll with the Andy Roddick Foundation, established in 2001, which has raised more than $10 million for charities to provide children in need with quality education and economic opportunities.

Visit Special Roddick Tribute Section

Gonzalez with Massu, Athens Olympics 2004No. 5 – Fernando Gonzalez (Retired: 21 March)
"El Bombardero de La Reina", one of the great South American tennis personalities in recent years, retired at the Sony Open in Miami, after two years of injury woes. With an atomic forehand, feared by his rivals, the 32-year-old Chilean won 11 ATP World Tour titles. He finished runner-up to Roger Federer at the 2007 Australian Open, which enabled him to break into the Top 5 on 29 January 2007. He also captured the doubles gold medal with Nicolas Massu and the single bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics and silver in singles four years later in Beijing. ATP Executive Chairman & President Brad Drewett said, "Fernando has been one of the most exciting and charismatic players on the ATP World Tour over the last decade. He is a wonderful person off the court and popular with everyone involved in the sport, including his fellow players, tournaments and all of us at the ATP.”

DEUCE Magazine: Farewell Fernando

Gaudio, Paris 2004No. 5 – Gaston Gaudio (Retired: 31 August)
On a sunny afternoon in Paris, more than eight years ago, Gaston Gaudio achieved the defining moment of his career. Aged 25 and ranked World No. 44, he challenged fellow Argentinean Guillermo Coria, generally considered at the time as the fastest man in the game on clay, in the 2004 Roland Garros final. In a dramatic encounter, Coria began to suffer 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. 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. He was the first Argentinean to win a Grand Slam championship since Guillermo Vilas at the same tournament in 1977. 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.'' Turning pro in 1996, "Gato" (The Cat) won eight tour-level clay-court titles and rose to a career-high No. 5 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings on 25 April 2005. At 5'9", he developed a world-class single-handed backhand and deft touch. 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. He last match came at Kitzbühel in August 2010.

Agassi with Schuettler, 2001 MelbourneNo. 5 – Rainer Schuettler (Retired: 11 October)
Rainer Schuettler could have claimed, with justification, he was the fittest of any ATP World Tour player at the 2003 Australian Open. The German, with an appetite for hard work, produced a magical two weeks to reach his lone Grand Slam final, where he lost to Andre Agassi, and went onto reach a career-high No. 5 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings. A gentleman on and off the court, Schuettler also served as President of the ATP Player Council from 2003-2004. Looking back on a 17-year professional career, which ended on 11 October, Schuettler admitted, "Overall I am very happy. I did everything you can imagine. I had a great career, a great time and met a lot of people, who I could share wonderful experiences with.” He will still be involved in the tennis world as part of the Power Horse Cup in Düsseldorf and the Global Professional Tennis Coaches Association (GPTCA).

Schuettler Retires After 17-Year Career

ChelaNo. 14 – Juan Ignacio Chela (Retired: 3 December)
Sporting a baseball cap turned backwards during a 14-year pro career, Juan Ignacio Chela was a powerful server, who plied his trade from the baseline. He won all six of his ATP World Tour titles on clay, his favourite surface, and rose to a career-high World No. 14 on 9 August 2004. Known as “El Flaco” (The Skinny One), he reached three major quarter-finals at Roland Garros in 2004 (l. to Henman) and 2011 (l. to Murray), and the 2007 US Open (l. to Ferrer). His best performance at an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event was a semi-final exit at 2007 Hamburg. He ended his career, aged 33, by announcing his retirement on social network site Twitter.

LuczakNo. 64 – Peter Luczak (Retired: 20 January)
Peter Luczak quietly bowed out at the scene of his best Grand Slam championship results, the Australian Open, where, in 2003 and 2006, he reached the third round. The Australian, who once hit a 148 miles per hour serve at 2010 Wimbledon, reached the Top 100 in both singles and doubles. “I think I'm pretty proud with what I've achieved,” he said. “I wasn't a great junior growing up and I'm happy that I was able to represent my country in Davis Cup and play in all the Grand Slams, be a Top 100 player for the small occasion that I was in there.” In June 2008, he was elected to a two-year term on ATP Player Council. He now has a coaching role with Lleyton Hewitt.

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