Tennis

5 star players who contemplated quitting tennis but stayed

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal. Photo/Business Insider
  • Tennis is stressful, and some players have in the past spoken about their thoughts to quit
  • Among them is Novak Djokovic, and Rafael Nadal
  • They both won a Grand Slam the following year after fighting hard not to quit
  • Tennis pressure, injury, and mental wellness forces players to quit

It is not a secret anymore that tennis is stressful, and some players have in the past spoken about their thoughts of quitting tennis.

Besides, tennis is highly emotive. Loses are never easy to take in, and this also contributes to the high number of tennis players contemplating quitting.

German tennis player Andrea Petkovic while back painted a grim picture of the five stages of grief tennis players go through.

Petkovic is vocal that tennis players have a grief routine. It starts with denial, anger bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

All these factors have, at some point, pushed tennis players to quit. So, who are these players who once considered looking the other way?

RAFAEL NADAL

Rafael Nadal foot problem

Rafael Nadal of Spain receives medical treatment on his foot. Photo/REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

The 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam champion nearly let it go. Nadal recently admitted that he contemplated quitting tennis in 2021.

He says he had discussions on this with members of his staff and family during the worst days of his six-month injury hiatus in 2021.

According to The Guardian, the foot injury drained his hope in tennis all Nadal saw was dark days and impossibilities.

“I went through a lot of challenging moments, a lot of days of hard work without seeing a light there,” noted Nadal.

Recurrence of a long-standing foot issue that Nadal has had since childhood made him withdraw from the tour.

It was for the better half of 2021 – after losing the French Open in June. In August, he entered the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., with the intention of competing, but he withdrew shortly thereafter.

He says that he couldn’t practice for a long period. Sometimes he was able to practice for 20 minutes, sometimes 45 minutes. Other times, he couldn’t practice for over two hours.

Imagining that he would play at the best-of-five level of the Australian Open 2022 was a mirage.

However, the 35-year-old attributes his stay in the game to support and encouragement by his team.

“But still working and still receiving plenty of support from my team and from my family, too, without a doubt. A lot of conversations with the team, with the family about what can happen or what’s going to happen if the things continue like this, thinking that maybe is a chance to say goodbye,” he said.

STEFANOS TSITSIPAS

Players quitting tennis

Stefanos Tsitsipas. Photo/Netral.News

An elbow injury that the Greek player suffered at the end of the 2021 ATP Tour campaigns nearly pushed him out of tennis.

The fifth seed says he felt demotivated and frustrated that he couldn’t play and all he thought about was ‘I should quit tennis’.

With only one match left before his season ended, Tsitsipas opted out before his second-round match and underwent surgery at the end of November 2021.

His doctor told him that he would not make it to the Australian Open but he sailed through to the quarter-finals.

He was, however, defeated by Daniil Medvedev in the semi-finals.

“I remember being at the Nitto ATP Finals a few days before the surgery and I was thinking of quitting. I didn’t think back then that anyone would be able to help me heal and get back to where I wanted.”

NOVAK DJOKOVIC

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic. Photo/Netral.News

It sounds like a riddle that Djokovic thought about quitting tennis, but it is a reality that he did think about it in 2010.

Djokovic said he considered quitting tennis in 2010 due to the pressure of expectation, after his first major victory in 2008.

The feeling to quit was exacerbated by his French Open loss to Jurgen Melzer from Austria in 2010. He cried and saw no reason to continue playing tennis.

However, the following year was good for him as he won three of the four major Grand Slams.

NICK KYRGIOS

Players quitting tennis

Nick Kyrgois.  Photo/Daily Sabah

There were difficult moments when Nick Kyrgios pondered quitting tennis because of the burden of being labelled a bad boy.

He told Stellar Magazine that he struggled mentally because he wakes up to insensitive comments and too much pressure.

“Every year for the past five years, I’ve woken up to comments like, “You’re a wasted talent,” “You’re the most talented player to never win a slam”

The Australian says he felt at peace after defeating fellow Aussies Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell in the Australian Open men’s doubles final with Thanasi Kokkinakis.

This pushed away the thoughts to quit.

ASHLEIGH BARTY

Ashleigh Barty.

Ashleigh Barty. Photo/The Independent

The 2022 Australian Open champion bid goodbye to tennis in 2014 after a streak of losses.

Barty could not take any more defeats. So bad was it that she had to take anti-depressants. She tried cricket for a while but went back to tennis.

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