When Is the Right Time To Retire?

Mar 7, 2012

With the latest announcement that Ivan Ljubicic will retire at the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters this year and Fernando Gonzalez recently announcing that he will hang up his racquet at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami this month, these two players pending retirements has focused the spotlight on another popular and well known figure in our game, none other than Andrew Stephen Roddick.

Andy or A-Rod, as he is more commonly referred to, has lacked the usual spark that we have come to expect from him this season and many are now questioning whether or not the drive, hunger and determination is still there to make his way back up the ATP rankings.
Roddick has seen his world ranking drop to No.31, his lowest ranking since July 2001 and he no longer appears to be enjoying himself the way he once did, this could well be because he has been carrying niggling injuries though or it also could also have something to do with the fact that Andy turns 30 in August of this year.
I believe that the game has now evolved past the era of Andy Roddick, while he does still possess his booming serve it has become even more apparent that the game is more about dictating play with big groundstrokes and punishing rallies nowadays, players are also now more adept on the return of serve which nullifies Roddick’s biggest asset.

There have been players in recent history though who would suggest that all is not lost just yet for A-Rod, Andre Agassi is the obvious one who springs to mind but Roddick is certainly no Agassi and he certainly does not possess the groundstroke prowess of Andre either, one player Roddick could look to for inspiration though is the charismatic Croatian Goran Ivanisevic.
Ivanisevic fell to his lowest ranking at the end of the year 2000, he struggled with injury throughout the season and one could have forgiven him if he had decided to retire, however he soldiered on and played in ATP challengers and qualifying to get into the main draws of events, he was however awarded a wildcard into the 2001 Wimbledon Championships.
Of course history shows us that Goran Ivanisevic went on a fairytale run at Wimbledon in 2001, culminating in him being crowned Wimbledon Champion after winning an epic five set final over popular Aussie Pat Rafter, Ivanisevic was 29 when he won his one and only Grand Slam title, the same age as Andy Roddick is now.

I’m not for a moment suggesting that Roddick will win at SW19 this year but what I am suggesting is that maybe he is not finished with the game just yet, one thing in Andy’s favour is that he doesn’t have too many points to defend before the grass court season so any good results in the next few months could indeed see him climb up the rankings once again.
It would be sad for fans of the popular American if he continues to be bundled out early in the bigger tournaments and the talk of retirement will only get stronger if that eventuates, nobody should know more than the player himself when the right time to retire is, but actually announcing it and making it final is never easy to contemplate.
Ljubicic summed it up best just recently by saying “It’s never an easy decision for any professional athlete to retire.”

There are many reasons for retiring from the sport that you love, if players are fortunate enough to stay injury free then most will retire when they are either too old or no longer capable of competing at the level they desire, some will retire earlier than expected due to injury and some will just disappear from the game well before their time, Bjorn Borg being a case in point.
Loss of enjoyment is a major factor too in helping many athletes decide to hang up the tools of their trade, when a player no longer enjoys competing in the sport they love the decision to retire becomes somewhat clearer and easier to make, many of us will have our opinions on when certain players should retire but ultimately the decision is solely their choice and their responsibilty.
So when is the right time to retire then?
I’m thinking that there really is no right or wrong answer to this question, every individual case is different, as fans we want to see our favourite players go out on top but that’s the exception rather than the rule, we all know that most players aren’t fortunate enough to display their best tennis in their twilight years but every so often we do get a fairytale finish at the end of one’s career,  just like we did back in 2001 when a 29 year old big serving Croat realised his lifelong dream by winning on the famous grass courts at Wimbledon.

Written by: Tono

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