With the 2022 season reaching its climax this week at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin, the ATP Tour took the opportunity to honour some of its recently retired stars with a special ceremony on Friday at the prestigious season finale.
Those whose stellar achievements were recognised included former Top 10 French stars Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon. The 14-time tour-level titlist Simon played his last professional tournament in November at the Rolex Paris Masters, and he was pleased to be in attendance on an emotional night in Italy.
“It’s an honour to be here,” Simon told ATPTour.com. “I have been part of this Tour for more than 20 years now. I had the chance to play the Masters (now the Nitto ATP Finals). It was not here but in Shanghai [in 2008]. I had the chance to play this fantastic event once in my life and I’m really happy to come and have this ceremony here. It’s really a great feeling.”
Joining Tsonga and Simon on court was another former Top 10 player, Tommy Robredo. The Spaniard won 12 tour-level titles and reached a career-high No. 5 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in 2006.
“It’s a pleasure,” said Robredo, when asked about the ceremony. “When they sent me an email telling me that they wanted to invite me here to celebrate my retirement, it was a pleasure to realise that they still remember me.
“Being here with the players that retired this year and also being in the best place for the tennis world, the [Nitto ATP Finals], for a small recognition, it’s something amazing and I really want to thank the people for doing this.”
Eight-time ATP Tour champion Philipp Kohlschreiber was happy to make an exception to his post-retirement break from tennis to participate in the ceremony, during which the players were greeted by ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi.
“When I first got the email from our [Chairman] that I was invited, of course I said ‘Wow’,” said Kohlschreiber. “My first thought was I don’t want to have to do anything with tennis this year, but I said it is a great honour to be here with the best players in our sport and also to be in such a big stadium and with this special atmosphere, to be part of the celebration. Also, to say thank you and goodbye, I think it’s just a great honour and I’m very happy that I am here today.”
Also in attendance was four-time ATP Tour singles champion Sergiy Stakhovsky, who has taken up arms in Ukraine’s war effort and walked on court as the Pala Alpitour was lit up in his country’s national colours.
“It’s pretty special of course,” said Stakhovsky. “Gilles Simon and Tsonga, and [Robert] Lindstedt and [Horia] Tecau, and all these great doubles players, it’s a great bunch of individuals. We spent tonnes of time together on the Tour, playing against each other and competing, and spending time on the [ATP Player] Council with Gilles a lot. Of course, it’s great, it’s nice, but in my given circumstances I feel a little out of place here.”
World-class doubles stars who recently called time on their professional careers were also recognised at the Pala Alpitour. They included 38-time tour-level titlist Horia Tecau and 35-time tour-level doubles titlist Bruno Soares, as well as former World No. 5 and 2013 Nitto ATP Finals champion David Marrero, 23-time Tour titlist Robert Lindstedt, former Wimbledon men’s doubles champion Frederik Nielsen, and seven-time tour-level titlist Ken Skupski.