Frenchman Julien Benneteau will walk off the court for the final time at the US Open with no regrets.
The 36-year-old, like most players when they reach retirement, wishes he could have accomplished a bit more. Benneteau’s 0-10 record in ATP World Tour singles finals has stung him in the past.
But the Frenchman has done so many other things that most players will never be able to claim, including twice beating Roger Federer, winning a Grand Slam doubles title (2014 Roland Garros, with Roger-Vasselin) and celebrating 11 other tour-level doubles crowns, that he’s made peace with his career.
“It’s a good feeling to end the career without a regret,” Benneteau told ATPWorldTour.com. “Of course I wish I could have won a singles title on the tour, but this is the way it is. I had beautiful success in doubles with a [Roland Garros] title, the bronze medal in the Olympics. I didn’t want to trade one of these titles against a singles title on the tour.”
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Benneteau played his final ATP World Tour singles match on Monday at the Winston-Salem Open (l. to Berrettini). He will retire after the US Open, which begins Monday.
The Frenchman was an automatic entry into the main draw in New York because of his ATP Ranking of No. 58. He will meet 22nd seed and Roland Garros semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato of Italy.
The veteran had simple goals coming into 2018, what he knew would be his final year: “My main goal at the beginning of the year was to be 100 per cent physically fit for the tournaments I wanted to play,” he said.
His semi-final run at last year’s Rolex Paris Masters, which included wins against Denis Shapovalov, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, David Goffin, and Marin Cilic, let Benneteau pick and choose his final tournaments. The run in his home ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event also ranks among his career highlights.
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The Bourg-en-Bresse native requested a wild card from tournament organisers because he knew it would be his final time playing in Bercy. “I had my moment in Paris last year. I had incredible feelings and incredible emotions, and it was something very special with the crowd, and to share this moment with my family, my friends, my coach, my wife and my little boy,” he said.
Benneteau’s win against then-No. 1 Federer in Paris in 2009 and his 2013 Rotterdam upset against the Swiss also sit among his favourite memories. “To be able to beat the No. 1 in the world at home in Bercy was a special moment,” he said.
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Benneteau, who also helped his home nation win the 2017 Davis Cup, is a Masters 1000 titlist as well, having won two doubles titles at the level – 2009 Rolex Shanghai Masters (with Tsonga) and 2013 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (with Zimonjic)
After the US Open, Benneteau will shift his attention to France’s Fed Cup team, which he will captain. He also plans to spend more time with his wife, Karen, and their 3-year-old boy, Ayrton.
“When you are a little boy and you dream to become a professional tennis player, you dream to… become No. 1 in the world, to win a lot of tournaments,” Benneteau said.
“After that when you start on the juniors tour, the Futures, the [ATP] Challenger Tour, you start to realise it’s tough and it’s very difficult to be able to play at the very high level. I realised my childhood dream to win the Davis Cup, to be a professional tennis player. I could have had maybe more success, but I tried to do my best and I gave everything every time.”