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Tennis News • Stepanek Hangs Up His Shoes, Retirement Could Lead To Coaching Djokovic

Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic in action against David Goffin of Belgium during their Men’s Singles second round match at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 19 January 2017. EPA/MARK R. CRISTINO



By Ricky Dimon


Radek Stepanek announced his retirement from the ATP Tour earlier this month. The Czech, who turned 39 a few days ago, last played at the Australian Open before undergoing back surgery in March. He aimed for a return later in the 2017 campaign but was unable to do so and eventually decided to hang ‘em up.


Stepanek captured five singles titles on the ATP World Tour to go along with 18 doubles titles–that latter including two majors with Leander Paes (2012 Australian Open and 2013 U.S. Open). He reached a career-high ranking of No. 8 in singles and a career-best ranking of No. 4 in doubles. Until his retirement, Stepanek was one of just four active men who reached the top 10 in both singles and doubles at any point in their careers (Jack Sock, Fernando Verdasco, and Jurgen Melzer are the other three). Stepanek also won back-to-back Davis Cup titles with the Czech Republic in 2012 and 2013 and played the clinching role in decisive fifth rubbers on both occasions–beating Spain’s Nicolas Almagro and Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic.


“I’m very proud of my achievements and the whole team who helped me throughout my career; they definitely have their signature on that,” he assured. “I think the suitcase (of awards) is packed. Obviously there is a trophy missing for a singles Grand Slam title, which I wasn’t that close to. But I’ve done a lot in my career, and it’s something that I can be proud of.


“Every day (my health) has been a question mark. I had small pain every day and that was painful. I didn’t have days when the pain was going away and after conversations with the doctors I started to practice 50, 60, 70 percent. But I didn’t get to more than that. I realized that the body was showing me that it had had enough.”


Coaching, however, appears to be on the table for Stepanek. There are ongoing rumors that he will join Novak Djokovic’s team for the upcoming 2018 campaign. Andre Agassi is still on board to work with Djokovic but is expected to travel to the four majors and perhaps just a few other big events.


“Why not? I’ve dedicated my life to tennis, it’s what I know best and I would like to pass on my knowledge and experience,” Stepanek said in a recent interview with Serbian media.


At least in some capacity, whether it is with Djokovic or in some other department, Stepanek has plans to stay in tennis.


“In what department will I be better than I am in tennis? Will it be in business? Will it be opening a restaurant? Maybe a car dealership? What will it be? The best I can be will always be in tennis. I think I know this sport up and down, inside out, and I have incredible experiences throughout my career. I’ve met such great people–incredible people that I’ve learned from and I’m a student of the game. I believe that with what I’ve been through I can pass it to somebody one day, and we’ll see how it goes, but my intention is to definitely be part of the game.”

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.


Editors Note: Tidbits run thru my mind. Radek always was a great fighter. On the court you really had to beat him to win. He was always fit. He wore some ugly tennis shirts. He Loved to do the “worm” on court after a victory. He Ruined many female players’ careers. Yes. We said it. He seemed to be a curse to so many talented chicks. Memories say he married Nicole Vaidisova. A really tall, talented, bright player who left the game far too young… Martina Hingis? Vague. All we know is he always worked hard and was quite an tough competitor. We wish him well. (LJ)

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