November 14, 2008
Bjorkman Retires After 17-Year Career
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Jonas Bjorkman retired from professional tennis after the popular Swede and his Zimbabwean partner Kevin Ullyett failed to qualify for the Tennis Masters Cup semifinals on Friday. The pair lost to Polish duo Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski 6-2, 1-6, 10-6 in their final Gold Group match.
"We were hoping to maybe get through [to the semifinals]," said Bjorkman. "I still think it's great to end my career in the biggest event of the year. But you can't get everything. I've been mentally prepared for this because I'm mentally very ready to retire.
"I've been very fortunate to be able to play for so long. It started as my hobby, and I've been able to do it for 17 years, which is great. I'm really looking forward for the next step in life."
Bjorkman enjoyed a glittering career in both singles and doubles. On November 3, 1997 he reached a career high of No. 4 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings, that same year winning three ATP titles, including the Stockholm title (d. Siemerink) in front of his home crowd, which he cites as one of his greatest memories.
Bjorkman’s career has spanned 17 years and some of his finest moments have come in recent years. At the age of 34, the right-hander reached the 2006 Wimbledon semifinals, where he fell to World No. 1 Roger Federer, who went on to claim his fourth title at the All England Club.
"I think definitely the locker room will be something that will miss because it's very unique," explained the Monte-Carlo resident. "You're all in a way enemies and everyone wants to win, but you can still sit next to each other preparing for a game. I think everyone treats each other with great respect. It's also a lot of fun to be around everyone. To listen to all the trash talk in the locker rooms will be something that I will miss."
In doubles Bjorkman has enjoyed huge success, highlighted by reaching the No. 1 spot in the Stanford ATP Doubles Rankings on July, 9 2001 and capturing nine Grand Slam doubles titles, including three successive titles at Wimbledon (2002-04 w/Woodbridge).
As Sweden's longest serving Davis Cup representative, Bjorkman had the honor of winning the coveted title three times in 1994 against Russia, in 1997 against the USA and in 1998, defeating Italy in the final.
"I think Davis Cup weeks are probably one of the best weeks during the year," said Bjorkman. "The whole camaraderie is something that I definitely will miss. But hopefully I'll come as a spectator to watch and maybe be part of it a little bit.
"I would probably say winning the Davis Cup was something that was huge to be part of. [I was] very proud to be representing my country.
"To win the Stockholm Open, to win at home, is always something that you dream about. You know, winning Wimbledon, the doubles titles with Todd Woodbridge. It's the most prestigious tournament you can play, to be part of. To win that is something that I will remember well."