Super Mario - Super tennis player with a law degree
People called him a wunderkind, a golden boy of Croatian tennis, the most handsome guy among tennis players... They enjoyed watching his matches, they were thrilled with his performances, and they were in disbelief when he was forced to withdraw. Mario Ančić, the 25-year-old Split native, began his way to the top of the world in Belgrade, exactly eight years ago. He reached the position no.7 in ATP Rankings (10.07.2006), he won three ATP titles, played semi-finals of Wimbledon and won a bronze medal in doubles for Croatia at the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, paired with Ivan Ljubičić.
In April last year, Mario graduated from the Faculty of Law in Split, with a thesis entitled ''ATP - Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.'' Where was Mario yesterday, where is he today and where will he be tomorrow?
''It’s a new beginning. I have beautiful memories from Belgrade , it all started here - it was a wonderful week, I won my first Challenger title. During these eight years there were many a fantastic result, but also problems with health. I remember that the Belgrade audience was phenomenal''- said Ančić about his previous stay in the capital of Serbia.
For Mario, 2002 was a special year in many ways - after winning Gemax, he entered history as the first teenager to win on his Wimbledon debut on Center Court since Björn Borg triumphed in 1973 (he defeated world no.9 at that time and no.7 seed Roger Federer in the first round and he was the last player to beat the Swiss on London grass in the next five years until Nadal’s domination), and reached the top 100 best players in the world, and was the youngest among them.
Winning the Olympic medal marked his career. ''It was the biggest thing at that time. The medal brought me a lot of confidence. ''
But then in 2007 everything changed. ''Life was going in another direction and I couldn’t do anything about it. I did not lose faith, but it was tremendously difficult. I had more free time and I dedicated it to another purpose - studying. I took my books, the way I take my racquet when I want to improve my forehand or service, I set the new goal and achieved it.''
''I'm allright now, but I have to start all over. I’m gradually returning my form. After Belgrade, I’ll go to America, and after that I’ll play clay tournaments.''
Ančić is one of the few players who recorded outstanding results both in junior (he was no.1 junior in the world) and senior competition. ''You could say that I am an exception in this regard. The transition from one stage to another is difficult, like they are the two different sports.''
After graduation, Mario gained practice in a law office in Zagreb. '' Law is an individual work, there’s lot of adrenalin. As a professional athlete, I have good work habits, this time I focused on the job, instead of tennis.''
In addition to all obligations, Mario spoke two times at the Harvard Law School about his law and tennis experiences, and the second time about doping cases in tennis.
''These are interesting subjects. Doping and betting are the two greatest evils of modern sport, endangering all that sport is about- fair play, rivalry, competition ...''
Ančić has little opportunity to enjoy the moments of spare time. He uses it in his own way. ''Sailing has been a pleasure to me in recent years. I follow sports - the Croatian league, Champions League, Davis Cup, Vancouver Games... Books and music are always with me''- concluded Mario.
In 2004 Boris Becker said:''The future has arrived and his name is Mario Ančić.'' Six years later, some new kids are on the scene, but the future is again impatiently waiting for Mario Ančić and his good ‘old’ form.