Mixed Feelings But No Regrets For Retiring Berdych And Cibulkova

WASHINGTON, November 14, 2019 (by Michael Dickens)

Tomas Berdych, long regarded by many as one of the best of the current Golden Age not named Federer, Nadal or Djokovic, and Dominika Cibulkova, who at just 5-feet-3 (1.6 meters) stood tall in women’s tennis, both announced their respective retirements from tennis this week.

On Wednesday, the 34-year-old Berdych, who is currently ranked No. 103, confirmed reports that surfaced in the Czech tabloid Blesk that he has planned some kind of retirement ceremony Saturday in London.

Berdych even tweeted a video confirming his pending retirement, saying: “Hi guys. If you want to have a little surprise, just don’t see any media and social networks, but you and I know it’s impossible these days.

“I had it planned as a little surprise on Saturday when I’m going to be in London but now it’s not even possible because it’s all over. But it’s fine.

“More information is going to come on Saturday. So stayed tuned.”

At 6-feet-5 (1.96 meters), Berdych was a one of the cleanest ball strikers on the ATP Tour, who won over 600 career singles matches after turning pro in 2002. He captured 13 ATP titles and achieved a career-high World No. 4 ranking in May 2015. Although Berdych never won any Grand Slam singles crowns, he had winning records in each of the majors. He defeated No. 2 Roger Federer and No. 3 Novak Djokokic before falling to No. 1 Rafael Nadal in his first Grand Slam final at the 2010 Wimbledon Championships.

The Czech Republic native, who led his country to back-to-back Davis Cup titles in 2012 and 2013, finished in the Top 10 in seven consecutive seasons (2010-16) and in the Top 20 for 12 straight seasons (2006-17). He qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals every year from 2010-15, losing to the World No. 1 in all six appearances and reached the semifinals in 2011. He retires with a 640-342 career win-loss record and is ninth on the all-time ATP prize money list.

Like Berdych, Cibulkova is also a former World No. 4, who won the 2016 WTA Finals singles championship and eight WTA titles overall. An eight-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist or better, she combined power with athleticism. Her best finish in a Grand Slam was reaching the finals of the 2014 Australian Open. The Slovakian native announced her retirement on Tuesday that coincided with the launch of her new book, a memoir titled Tennis is My Life.

“When I started to play tennis, people would tell me, ‘No, Domi. You are too little,’” she recalled during a recent interview with wtatennis.com. “It was something I was always hearing, and makes what happened in my career all the more unbelievable.”

The 315th-ranked Cibulkova, whose last match was a first-round loss to Aryna Sabalenka at this year’s Roland Garros, called planning her retirement “a long process.” She missed much of the current season because of a recurring Achilles injury. However, Cibulkova, 30, leaves with a sense of satisfaction and no regrets after compiling a career win-loss mark of 450-299 that began in 2004.

“I was already feeling like the tennis is really rough, with all the traveling and training, giving 100 percent every day,” Cibulkova said. “I was starting to get tired of it. In the end, I felt like I gave enough and achieved things I never dreamed of reaching in my career.”

Now that she’s retiring, Cibulkova’s post-tennis life includes investment in Love4Tennis, a Bratislava-based tennis academy, as well as a restaurant/night club called The Velvet.

Longtime New York Times tennis columnist Christopher Clarey watched both Berdych and Cibulkova throughout their respective careers. He shared his thoughts about both via Twitter this week. On Berdych, he wrote: “Still remember being astonished by his easy power the first time I watched him practice. In another era, he would have been a Slam champ.” On Cibulkova, he noted her as “a ferocious, often-airborne ball striker and fierce competitor. Retired at age 30, which seems young in this era. But she’ll always have her Aussie Open final in 2014 and WTA Finals victory in 2016.”