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22 March 2012

Gonzalez retires from professional tennis


Photo: Maximiliano Salvador Luis FaillaFernando Gonzalez (CHI)

Chile’s Fernando Gonzalez has retired from professional tennis after a successful career spanning 14 years. He called time following his defeat to Nicolas Mahut at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, Florida.

During the mid-2000s, Gonzalez finished the season ranked in the Top 20 for five successive years, reaching a career-high of No. 5 in 2007. He finished runner-up at the Australian Open in the same year and, in total, won 11 tour singles titles.

However, many people will remember the charismatic Chilean for when he was passionately representing his country, both in Davis Cup and at the Olympics alongside teammate Nicolas Massu.

In Davis Cup, Gonzalez made his debut in 1998 and went on to compile an impressive 31-15 win-loss record in 23 ties. He led the team to the World Group quarterfinals in 2006 when Chile narrowly lost to USA 3-2 in Rancho Mirage, California.

The Santiago native opened the tie with a typically gutsy performance as he came from two sets down to defeat James Blake in a memorable first rubber that lasted 4 hours 20 minutes. The visitors couldn’t capitalise, however, and the Americans eventually prevailed.

Gonzalez also enjoyed a distinguished Olympic career. He won the singles bronze and doubles gold, with Massu, at Athens 2004, and then went one better with the singles silver at Beijing 2008.

After his final match against Mahut, the 31-year-old was presented with a commemorative plaque by ATP Executive President Brad Drewett and Tournament Director Adam Barrett, while a farewell video tribute from the game’s leading players was also shown.

“At the end, the video was great,” said Gonzalez. “It's not only about tennis, it's also about friends. I mean, we've been playing against each other many times, but at the end of the day we are friends. We're really far away from Chile, and there were little flags. There was my family here. I had a lot of friends, and I really enjoyed the moment.”

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