I translated an interview with Stefan from Austrian media:
„You notice in the do-it-yourself store that the people look at you“
INTERVIEW | CHRISTIAN HACKL, 29th July
Stefan Koubek ends his career is Kitzbühel. The 34 years old one can’t and doesn’t want to continue anymore. He makes up the balance, talks about his childhood dreams and his friendship with Roger Federer.
How difficult was it for you to put an end to your career? Was it deciding for you not being able to keep up with the opponents anymore?
Koubek: It got easier with the time to say: Ok, that was it. I lost so many points at the start of the season and dropped out of the Top 200. Then I knew: You are not going to be able to fight back once more, your body and soul won’t endure it.
Are you afraid of the retirement and the void?
Koubek: I’m relaxed, even though I don’t have concrete offers yet. I’m going to play a bit in the national league, but this is only for fun and not a life task. I don’t know if I’m going to fall into a hole. I heard from players who spent the days after their retirement to sit on the sofa and not being able to fill the day. I hope it won’t be that bad for me.
An alternative would be to party, to feast, to drink alcohol. Even Thomas Muster nearly duplicated his weight for a little while.
Koubek: I’m not really a party-goer, don’t drink, already had those expeirences. I’m looking forward to have an own family, that is a huge task and the real responsibleness.
What remains of Koubek?
Koubek: The career which I had. I can’t form an opinion though how long the people will remember it.
Were you able to satisfy your own claims?
Koubek: When I was a kid I wanted to reach the Top 100. I managed to go to #20 and fullfilled my childhood dream more as I could have hoped for.
Did you actually love tennis?
Koubek: I had to learn to love it. At the beginning I thought I would bury my rackets when I would retire one day and never take them again. But now I want to go out on the court on every occasion – with friends, to have fun. Don’t forget that tennis is a lot of work. Nobody likes to go to the office every day. Just now I’m able to appreaciate what I was allowed to experience. I travelled around the world a few times. Even in Australia people are waiting for me. Friends, acquaintances, who I can visit whenever I want. They would be happy about it.
They say that top athletes have to be egoists, nearly pigs. Have you just been a piglet?
Koubek: Maybe. They said about me that I would be arrogant as well. Sometimes you just don’t look beside you and have a tunnel view. You can’t please everyone, especially in times of success. Then it is difficult to judge people correctly. Who is backslapping you? Who is honest?
The name Thomas Muster has followed you in your career and you got compared to him. Was his success stimilus or skid?
Koubek: Both. You couldn’t live up to his achievements, he was an exception.
Have you made it financially?
Koubek: No. Everyone can look it up that I won 3.4 Mil. $ prize money in 10 to 15 years. 30 % of it are taxes, which you don’t see and which get discounted from the tournaments. Then you have to pay taxes at home and pay for your coach, advisors, charges. That are about 100 000 € a year. Then you have to live somewhere. I have an appartment in Vienna. But I don’t complain. I can’t build castles in the air. Bollocks. Everyone can build castles in the air. I can’t afford a real castle. I have paid off for a row home and have money in reverse. But I need and want to work.
What are you going to miss?
Koubek: The excitement, the competition, the moments of success. When you have won the last point in Davis Cup your teammates carry you on their shoulders. From now on nobody is going to carry me off the court.
You are good friends with Roger Federer. What characterize this man?
Koubek: He is like he appears. There is no facade. He is extremely friendly and respects everyone. He plays incredible tennis. Roger is the proof that a top athlete doesn’t have to be a pig. He is a world star but then you go to him, he sits on the ground and plays with his twins. I can tease him. He is just more successful as me and has a bit more money.
Has Federer opened the eyes for you?
Koubek: Roger taught me realism at every common practice. I never belonged to the league of the Top 10. I was talented but that goes for many players. Maybe it could have been 5 tournament victories instead of 3.
Is Jürgen Melzer better than Koubek?
You never made your way into the gossip columns. How known and popular have you been or still are?
Koubek: That depends if I have been on TV the day before. In the town centre of Vienna not even this is enough because there are a lot of tourists. No Japanese knows this Koubek. But you can notice in the do-it-yourself store that the people look at you. Is it him or not? But I have always been respectfully recognized.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Koubek: Somewhere in tennis. And as a father who likes to go to the Parent-Teacher-Evening.
Original article can be found here: http://derstandard.at/1311802303380/...-Leute-schauen