ANTWERP/WASHINGTON, October 17, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)
Belgium’s Ruben Bemelmans finished eight straight seasons ranked in the ATP Top 200 between from 2009-16, but never in the Top 100. He reached a career-high ranking of No. 84 in September 2015 following a run to the third round at the US Open after breaking into the Top 100 in April of the same year.
In 2019, the left-handed Bemelmans made Open Era history by qualifying for a Grand Slam main draw through for the sixth time at Wimbledon. He also represented his country in Davis Cup.
On Sunday, the 34-year-old Bemelmans, born in Genk and residing in Maasmechelen, retired from pro tennis following a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 first-round qualifying draw loss to 147th-ranked Geoffrey Blancaneaux of France, 10 years younger than his Belgian opponent, at the European Open in Antwerp.
Bemelmans, whose singles ranking had slipped to No. 537, received a wild card into the European Open qualifying event after announcing his retirement via social media last June.
“The time has come for me to end a big chapter in my life,” Bemelmans wrote on Instagram. “It’s time for me to retire from playing tennis. I have been playing since I was 3 years old and now, almost 30 years later, it’s time for the next generation to take over. My time may be over but I’m more than happy to guide new talent … “
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Bemelmans has recently spent time working with fellow Belgians Zizou Bergs and Michael Geerts. It’s a passing of tennis wisdom from one Belgian generation to the next.
Bemelmans ended his final year of pro tennis with an 8-15 win-loss record in all singles competitions. His ATP Tour-level career win-loss in singles was 30-61. His final win came last April in the quarterfinal round of an ATP Challenger Tour hard-court event in Nottingham, England against Charles Broom of Great Britain.
On Monday afternoon, Bemelmans will team with fellow Belgian Alexander Blockx in the doubles draw. The wild card duo will play Hugo Hys of Monaco and Jan Zielinski of Poland in a first-round main-draw match.
Monday’s European Open order of play
🚨ORDER 🎾 OF 🎾 PLAY🚨
— European Open (@EuroTennisOpen) October 16, 2022
European Open notes
• All three Belgians competing in the qualifying draw were ousted on the first day of play Sunday. Besides Bemelmans, No. 840 Yannick Mertens lost to No. 6 seed Jesper de Jong of the Netherlands, ranked 225th, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1; and the unranked wild card Blockx fell to No. 2 seed Dominic Stricker of Switzerland, ranked 139th, 6-4, 6-4. Seven of eight seeded qualifiers, led by 116th-ranked Tim van Rijthoven of the Netherlands, moved into Monday’s second round of qualifying.
• No. 48 Andy Murray of Great Britain, the 2019 European Open titlist – his only singles title following two hip surgeries – withdrew from the European Open Sunday evening, citing fatigue. Murray, 35, was a quarterfinalist last week in Giron, Spain, losing to eventual-finalist Sebastian Korda in three sets. He played a total of eight sets of tennis spread over his three matches.
• There are three main-draw singles matches on Monday’s order of play at Lotto Arena: No. 50 Jack Draper of Great Britain will play No. 42 Jenson Brooksby of the United States; No. 5 seed Daniel Evans, ranked 25th, faces 54th-ranked Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands; and 196th-ranked Swiss wild card Stan Wawrinka, a 2019 European Open finalist, will oppose No. 83 Richard Gasquet of France in the evening’s featured match.