x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Nalbandian announces retirement from tennis

David Nalbandian, a former world No 3, was runner-up to Lleyton Hewitt in the 2002 Wimbledon final. Tito la Penna / EPA
David Nalbandian, a former world No 3, was runner-up to Lleyton Hewitt in the 2002 Wimbledon final. Tito la Penna / EPA

BUENOS AIRES // David Nalbandian, the 2002 Wimbledon finalist, said he would quit tennis next month, citing physical problems that have sidelined him for most of the year.

“It’s not easy what’s happening to me now, my shoulder is not helping me to train as I should for the circuit,” the 31 year old told a news conference on Tuesday.

“It’s a tough day to [have to] announce my retirement today,” said the former world No 3, winner of 11 ATP Tour titles including the season-ending ATP Championship in Shanghai in 2005 when he beat Roger Federer in the final.

Nalbandian, who had right shoulder surgery in May, said he would quit tennis after playing two exhibition matches against his friend Rafael Nadal, the world No 2, in November, one in Buenos Aires and the other in his birthplace, Cordoba.

A fierce competitor, Nalbandian said the emotional highs during his career had been playing for Argentina in the Davis Cup including three finals between 2006 and 2011.

“The closest was the final in Mar del Plata. It’s not easy to win the Davis, it’s the only title Argentina lacks,” he said after the Argentine team blew their best chance at home to a Spanish side without Nadal in 2008.

Nalbandian, who climbed to No 3 in the ATP rankings in March 2006, turned professional in 2000 and ends his career with a 383-192 win-loss record.

The junior US Open champion in 1998, he reached the semi-finals of the four grand slam tournaments after a surprise appearance in the 2002 Wimbledon final which he lost to Australian Lleyton Hewitt.

He is also remembered on the grass courts of London for an incident in last year’s final at Queen’s against Marin Cilic when he kicked in frustration at the board surrounding a line judge’s chair, injuring him, and was disqualified.

In 2009, when the ATP named the top five players of the decade as Federer, Nadal, Hewitt, Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick, Nalbandian was given a special mention for having finished in the world’s top 10 in five consecutive seasons from 2003.

Nalbandian helped Argentina to upset France in their Davis Cup quarter-final in April as a doubles player, before his shoulder operation.

Asked whether he might one day become Argentina’s Davis Cup captain, he said: “I’m not thinking about the future beyond my present state.”

Novak Djokovic, the world No 1, is also going to play Nadal in an exhibition match in Buenos Aires and Nalbandian said he might call the Serbian “to arrange something”.