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18 January 2011

Lapentti announces retirement


Photo: Daniel MaurerNicolas Lapentti (ECU)

Davis Cup legend Nicolas Lapentti has finally decided to hang up his rackets after an illustrious career that has seen him loyally represent Ecuador for 17 years.

“As many of you already know, I have had an injury in my left knee and I’ve played with pain for the last couple of years,” said Lapentti. “I’ve worked with great doctors but there is nothing they can do.

“It has been very difficult to take this decision. It makes me very sad to leave but I’m satisfied and proud because I’ve dedicated my career to play for Ecuador.”

Lapentti made his Davis Cup debut in 1993 and twice led the team into the World Group with play-off wins on away soil, against Great Britain in 2000 and Brazil in 2009.

The 3-2 victory over a British team that included both Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski was made even more special because it was played on the lush grass of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon.

Lapentti defeated Greg Rusedski in five sets and then partnered his brother Giovanni to triumph in the doubles and put the visitors 2-1 ahead. Despite Nicolas losing to Henman on the final day, Giovanni sealed Ecuador’s place in the top tier for the first time since 1986 by defeating Arvind Parmar in the deciding rubber.

It was a one-man show when Ecuador gained promotion for the second time, as Lapentti won all three rubbers to hand his team a 3-2 victory over Brazil. On the last day, he held his nerve to win yet another epic encounter in five sets, this time against Marcos Daniel.

Lapentti is currently in the Davis Cup history books for winning the most five-set singles rubbers. He possesses a 13-5 win-loss record, a fine example of what a gutsy performer he has been for Ecuador over the years.

His overall record stands at 61-34 (singles 41-16 and doubles 20-18) from 38 ties, although he’s not completely given up hope of adding to this total if his fitness improves.

“I’d love to play Davis Cup in the future if I recover and my level is good enough for the team,” he said. “I’ll try to enjoy doing some of the things that I haven’t done because I was busy with the calendar. Tennis will always be my greatest passion.”

As an individual, Lapentti won five singles and three doubles titles, and reached a career-high ranking of No. 6 in 2000. He is also a former Australian Open semifinalist and Wimbledon quarterfinalist.

The 34 year-old is planning to make one final appearance before calling it a day, but he's not yet decided when and where it will be.

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