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Ancic “In a Great Place” Post-Career

A three-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist, Mario Ancic is pursuing a Master's degree in law at Columbia University.© Getty ImagesA three-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist, Mario Ancic is pursuing a Master's degree in law at Columbia University.

A tennis racquet bag in one hand, a law school book in the other, Mario Ancic sat on the Court 7 bleachers at the US Open on Sunday afternoon, with 16-year-old countryman Borna Coric fighting for the boys’ championship in front of him.

Nestled in the shadow of Arthur Ashe Stadium, the outer court venue was as unassuming as the former World No. 7’s current lifestyle. The Croat, who took the tennis world by storm after stunning Roger Federer at the 2002 Wimbledon Championships, switched his attention to earning a law degree at nearby Columbia University after his career was cut short by injury and illness in 2011. He is embarking on his second year of studies this week.

As Coric came back to win in three sets, it was evident that Ancic's passion for the game has never wavered and his support for Croatian tennis remains strong. From being submerged in the spotlight of competing for major championships to now being inundated with exams and mounds of reading material, the career change has been rather drastic, but Ancic has no regrets.

“I just finished my first year of law school. I stopped (playing tennis) very early and was looking for a new path and I have to say that even though it was hard not to play in the beginning, now I’m extremely happy. Being at Columbia Law School is the best fit. The students are great and the professors are amazing and it’s a great place to be. I’m looking to staying around for a couple years.”

A Wimbledon semi-finalist in 2004, Ancic was forced to hang up his racquet seven years later, at the ripe age of 26. Already holding a doctorate in law from his hometown University of Split, in Croatia, and having served as a guest lecturer at Harvard University, he moved to New York City to further his education at the prestigious Columbia University.

With a career in corporate law on the horizon, Ancic’s passion for the legal world runs as deep as his love for tennis. “Both professions are very intense. Obviously they both have their differences, but it’s not a huge difference. You have to work extremely hard, you want to do your best, there’s a lot of pressure to do well. It’s very rewarding. It keeps my competitive drive as well. Even though on paper it looks way different, it’s much more similar than even I thought in the beginning.”

To this day, Ancic cherishes his time playing at the pinnacle of professional tennis and appreciates the foundation and life lessons it has provided him.

“I always say, if someone told me five or six years ago that I would be here, it would have been hard to believe. I’m still a huge fan as you can see. I love watching junior matches and seeing new talent. Playing was a great period of life and you learn so much about yourself. My character is comprised of everything I learned from sports and I love to give back.”

Ancic couldn’t pinpoint his most memorable career accomplishment and with a trio of ATP World Tour titles to go along with his Wimbledon successes and ascendency to the Top 10, he certainly has plenty to choose from. His victory in the deciding rubber of the 2005 Davis Cup Final clinched the title for Croatia.

Ancic still plays an active role in the tennis community and has been a fixture at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center all tournament. “I stay in contact with all my peers. I saw Roger, I spoke to Novak and all the guys. I saw Rafa. It’s great.”

Considering classes begin on Monday, Ancic won’t be in attendance for the blockbuster final but he anticipates a massive battle between the two former champions. When asked to pick the winner, he joked, “I’m really bad at making predictions.” 

He gives Djokovic, the very man who upset him in four sets in the second round eight years ago, a slight edge, but believes it’s going to be a very tight affair.

“Watching this week, I felt Rafa was more convincing coming into the final, but I don’t think he went through as many tough matches as Nole did, which can be an issue. These two guys always go at each other and with Nole playing his fourth final here I would give him the advantage.”

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