Zemlja Hangs Up His Racket

Grega Zemlja after his last professional tennis match

PORTOROZ, August 12, 2017

Grega Zemlja played his last match as professional tennis player on Wednesday evening. The former World No. 43 has been Slovenia’s best tennis player in history, becoming the first one from the small country to win an ATP Challenger event in 2008 in Cancun and reaching a final on the ATP World Tour in Vienna in 2013. He was also the first to reach the main draw of a Grand Slam in Wimbledon 2009. Zemlja lost to Filip Krajinovic of Serbia in straight sets.

“Tennis has always been part of my life and it always will be. However, the feeling on the court is not the same anymore. When you do not have that much of energy left in your tank, you struggle in tournaments and practices. When you do not enjoy and can not be satisfied with what you are doing, then it is tough to continue this way,” the 30-year-old, who earned $1,2 million in prize money, explained his decision to stop. Zemlja captured six ATP Challener career titles.

“I will probably be involved in some projects helping young Slovenian tennis players to improve. I think the young generation is not that promising as it should be. The transition from junior’s level to the senior’s tour is actually a big problem and I think that I could be a big help in this area.”

Final Exhibition Match


Blaz Kavcic, Grega Zemlja, Kaja Juvan and Aljaz Bedene during Zemlja’s official retirement in Portoroz (photo: Vid Ponikvar / Sportida)

On Friday evening, Zemlja competed in an exhibition match together with Slovenian-born Briton Aljaz Bedene, World No. 87 Blaž Kavčič as well as the current European Women’s Junior Champion Kaja Juvan.

“Today I was honored to play Grega’s last match. At the beginning of my journey, he stood by me, supported me and helped me with advice. I admire him as a player and as a colleague, and congratulate him on all his achievements. I thank him for defeating me five times,” said Bedene after the match.

Currently top-ranked Slovenian player Blaz Kavčič added: “I am sorry that the tennis court loses such a player, because Grega is a role model to the younger generations as well as for us. We practiced and competed a lot together, which I always enjoyed. However, his decision must be respected and I really wish him all the best.”