Tribute: Zimonjic Celebrates 700th Doubles Match Win
ATPWorldTour.com pays tribute to Nenad Zimonjic, who has recorded his 700th doubles match win.
Twenty-three years into his professional career, the body may creak a bit, but the mind of Nenad Zimonjic remains ambitious. A long-time custodian of doubles and its promotion, Zimonjic is a fervent and proud ambassador. Today, in his 42nd year, the Serbian has become the 10th player to record 700 doubles match wins (or more).
The feat encompasses an 18-year span from his first tour-level match win with Nebojsa Djordjevic in a Davis Cup zonal tie in May 1995 to his 700th victory today with Marcin Matkowski in the German Tennis Championships 2017 first round (d. Berlocq-Schwartzman).
“It’s nice to play in Hamburg again, for the first time since 2012, and to achieve the 700th match win in a country of such rich tennis tradition,” Zimonjic told ATPWorldTour.com. “It means a lot to join this ‘Club’, it’s a lot of wins and I want to thank all my partners over the years.”
DOUBLES MATCH WINS LEADERS (Since 1973)
|Career Doubles Match Record||Career Titles|
2) Mike Bryan (USA)
|6) Max Mirnyi (BLR)||743-414||49|
Zimonjic started playing tennis in Belgrade at the age of nine under a bubble, at two clubs with a total of five courts, often at 11 o’clock at night. "It was freezing cold because that was the only time we could get a court and there were a lot of travel restrictions," Zimonjic remembers.
For many years, ‘Zimo’ competed as a singles and doubles player, and whilst the Serbian remains proud of his four ATP Challenger Tour titles and his lone Top 10 win over then No. 6-ranked Andre Agassi at 2004 St. Pölten in Austria, it is on the doubles court where he continues to build his legacy.
Zimonjic has ranked among the finest doubles players of the past 13 years, a product of dedication, commitment and longevity, and, most importantly, desire to adapt and evolve. In 10 of the past 12 years he has ranked among the Top 15 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings – including one year-end No. 1 finish in 2008.
“The reason why I still play is definitely because I love the sport and I love tennis,” said Zimonjic. “I still enjoy it and enjoy playing in front of big crowds and having the best opponents on the other side of the net. I love being part of this incredible generation, where tennis has been at the highest level. I love the life and travelling. I would love to keep playing as long as I can, as long as my body lets me.”
Whilst Zimonjic has played successfully with Leander Paes, Fabrice Santoro and Michael Llodra, his greatest achievements came with Canada’s Daniel Nestor between October 2007 and November 2010, when the pair took the team game to new heights in their battles with Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan. Fans still fondly remember how the 2008 Nitto ATP Finals – one of two year-end tournaments that Nestor and Zimonjic won (also 2010) – and the year-end No. 1 went down to the wire with the American twins.
“For three years, we were meeting in a lot of big finals, and it was either us winning the title or them winning the title,” Bob Bryan told ATPWorldTour.com. “In 2008, 2009 and 2010, doubles tennis was pretty much dominated by us and them. We consider him probably one of the two or three biggest rivals of our career.”
During that period, Nestor and Zimonjic captured three crowns (2008-09 Wimbledon, 2010 Roland Garros) from six Grand Slam championship finals and went 22-10 in title matches. Overall, the team won 26 titles – from their first at the 2001 Open Sud de France in Lyon (d. Eagle/Stolle) to the 2014 Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome (d. Haase/F. Lopez).
“We know we always have to bring our best stuff against him, because he always does the same against us,” Mike Bryan told ATPWorldTour.com. “He's stood the test of time. He's seen a lot of generations pass, and he's still out here, 20 years later, which is pretty cool. The longevity is pretty awesome.
“It's amazing to see. Now guys are lasting until 40, which was unheard of 10 years ago, so he's kind of set the bar – him, Nestor and Leander – for us to look up to and try to shoot for that mark.”
Zimonjic has harnessed a powerful serve with precise volleys, and an amazing backhand return, to first rise to No. 1 on 17 November 2008. He stayed at the top of the team game for 50 weeks over five stints (through to August 2010) and to date has won 54 titles (54-37 final record). In an age where doubles strategy is often determined by the dexterity of singles players competing alongside experienced doubles exponents, 41-year-old Zimonjic remains ambitious.
“The key for me now is to get back into the Top 30 in order to have a regular partner,” said Zimonjic, who is currently at No. 48 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings. “It would be a great honour to play once with Roger [Federer] or Rafa [Nadal] for one week, but I don’t have any plans to stop yet. I’m having too much fun playing the sport I love.”