Novak Djokovic says he has plenty of respect for former Olympic tennis champion Nicolas Massu who retired yesterday.
33 year old Massu has finally announced his retirement after years spent toiling around the outposts of the tour on the challenger and futures circuits. The high point of his career came in 2004 when he reached the world's top ten and won both singles and doubles gold at the Athens Olympics.
Massu is currently the only male tennis player to have won both singles and doubles gold at an Olympics though Andy Murray came close to repeating his feat in London last summer, winning singles gold and silver in the mixed doubles.
Djokovic was still a teenager when Massu was at his peak but he has fond memories of watching the Chilean in action. At his best, Massu was one of the most powerful ball strikers on the tour, renowned for his venomous forehand.
"He struggled last few years with injuries and everything," Djokovic said after his first round victory at the US Open. "He was a very successful player. He was a top 10 player. I think he achieved something that nobody achieved in history of tennis in terms of Olympic Games, winning singles and doubles gold medal, which was incredible in Athens."
"I remember that time he was playing extremely well. I had a great relationship with him. He's one of the best competitors that I know. Big fighter on the court. He left a great legacy in the sport, in Chilean sport. I think people respect him very much there. I wish him the best in his life after his career."
"After discussing it for months with my team, my heart and body, I decided to end my professional career being aware that it wasn't possible to get back to a top level and exhausted from the effort it takes to be an elite sportsman,” Massu said in a press conference in Santiago.