Czech tennis star Štěpánek calls time on glittering court career
One of the legends of Czech sport, tennis player Radek Štěpánek, has finally announced that he is hanging up his tennis racket as a competitive player. But other roles in the game could still be beckoning for the two times Davis Cup winner.
And in Czech memories it will always be Štěpánek who will be chiefly remembered for those wins as he clinched the key points in both finals that brought the Salad Bowl home. But, the memories should also include the frequent doubles duels alongside Tomáš Berdych where the Czech team picked up so many points and became formidable foes.
As through much of his injury interrupted career, 38-year-old Štěpánek admitted that it was health concerns that had finally prompted his to call it a day. He has been trying to recover from a back injury and surgery since the Spring of this year. And up to a few weeks ago, the player had still been considering a comeback in 2018. He explained his decision at a press conference in Prague on Tuesday.
"I realised that I didn’t want to risk my health for the further stages of my life to come. I have to be realistic about what my body can and can no longer do. I can no longer push it to the limits, which I have done for a long time. "
It is probably on the doubles court that Štěpánek’s career peaked with Grand Slam triumphs at the 2012 Australian Open and 2013 US Open, both times alongside Indian doubles specialist Leander Paes. And in the mixed doubles at the Rio Olympic in 2016 he picked up a bronze medal for the Czechs in the mixed doubles competition.
Off court as well, Štěpánek was a colourful, if sometimes controversial, character and was also an enthusiastic fan of the Czech women’s game as well.
As for his future, Štěpánek says he will time to reflect on that but could look at being a tennis trainer or travelling away from the gruelling routine of the top tennis circuit.
"I really like to travel and I hope that travelling will be part of my future life. I don’t see any real difference if that travelling is linked to work as a trainer as just travelling as an ordinary tourist with a backpack."