“Super” Mario Ancic will officially announce his retirement from tennis Wednesday in a press conference in his hometown of Split, Croatia. The 26-year-old, who never quite got his mojo back after suffering from mononucleosis at the beginning of the 2006 (still so young!) has decided that he’s fighting a losing battle against a back injury.
Here’s Ancic via the ATP website:
Speaking to The Times, Ancic confessed, “It would not be me out there anymore. I knew I would never be 100 per cent fit again, and there was no real answer to it. It would have required a pretty serious operation even for me to have a chance to recover and I would never have been guaranteed a full motion again.
“On Wednesday I will do a formal press conference at my home club in Split. I have had to be fair with myself. My mind was fine but my body couldn’t compete and the way tennis is today, well I have to be sensible about it. I tried everything I knew to come back, but I couldn’t do it.”
Thanks to Judy for forwarding Simon Reed’s piece from Eurosport, titled Gutsy Ancic could have been great. It’s interesting and frustrating to think “what could have been”:
He could’ve been marketed as a big, big star on the ATP tour. I definitely think he would’ve been knocking on the door of the big four – up there with Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic.
For me, Ancic was a better player than Andy Roddick, so if you look at everything that Roddick has managed to do over the past few years – he was number one in the world, remember – then I think a fit Mario Ancic would have at least matched those achievements.
Of course, pro tennis isn’t exactly fair, and we can only imagine what our favorite players – Major champions or not – would or could have accomplished given perfect health. Stories like Ancic’s – not to mention those of Golovin, Kournikova, Henin, and to a certain extent even Tsonga and Nadal – make your appreciate what a miracle it is that anyone survives a successful year on tour, let alone makes a career of it.
A quick look at Ancic’s pretty dang successful career: He played his first Major at Wimbledon in 2002, where he beat 7th seeded Roger Federer in the first round. He lost to the (supposedly less talented) Roddick in the 2004 Wimbledon semifinals, won the bronze in doubles with Ivan Ljubicic in Athens, helped Croatia win Davis Cup in 2005 and reached a career high of of No. 7 in 2006. Then he got mononucleosis at the start of 2007 and was out of the game for 6 months. He dropped from No. 9 in January 2007 to No. 135 in January 2008. Despite making a push to the Wimbledon quarterfinals in 2008, illness and various injuries continued to plague him.
Ancic will return to the law career he started after graduating from the University of Split’s law school in Spring of 2008. His thesis was titled “ATP Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.” He’s since worked in a law office in Zagreb and has twice visited the Harvard Law School to talk about law, tennis, and doping.
So while I can hardly feel too sorry for him – the guy’s already achieved more at 26 years old than I could in three lifetimes – I do feel a little sorry for myself as a tennis fan. I liked his big game, classic Croatian serve, and mop of curly brown hair. Sigh. . .
Some video from last year, when Mario was still hoping for a comeback:
Any parting thoughts on Mario?