On Sunday, following the BNP Paribas Masters doubles final, longtime tennis veteran Cedric Pioline, 33, announced his retirement from competitive tennis on court in front of the Parisian fans. Pioline, who together with partner Gustavo Kuerten lost to France's Nicolas Escude and Fabrice Santoro in straight sets, said the time was right to make this decision.
"Yesterday, I told myself it would be a good opportunity to [retire] here in Paris and to do it in Bercy," said Pioline. "Win or lose I had a good week with Guga. It was nice to end this way against two friends instead of against two players that I don't know. For the past two weeks I've been thinking about this. Now that I am not as competitive, I felt it didn't make sense for me to travel and play qualifying at small tournaments."
Pioline is probably best remembered for reaching the singles finals at both the 1993 US Open and 1997 Wimbledon, losing to Pete Sampras both times. He also collected one Tennis Masters Series title during his career (2000 Monte Carlo), and played on two Davis Cup-winning French teams in 1996 and 2001.
During a decade in which men's tennis moved more towards a power game, Pioline remained a player who relied on touch and feel to win matches. In May 2000, he reached a career-high of fifth in the ATP Rankings. And by reaching the doubles final in Paris, Pioline proved he could still play with the world's best until the very end.
"It was a little difficult to stay focused on what I had to do in this match, but I think we played a good match," he said. "And it was also exciting for me playing, knowing I was going to do this." Pioline said he has no immediate plans for his future.