With Fernando Gonzalez to retire after the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, we look back at some of his more memorable moments.
As someone once noted, “whoever noted that tennis is not a contact sport has never stood in the line of fire of a Gonzalez forehand”.
Winning Olympic singles bronze and doubles gold.
Gonzalez won a couple of medals at the 2004 Athens Games. The first, a bronze in the singles, came through winning a 16-14 third set against Taylor Dent. The second came in the doubles with his childhood friend, Nicolas Massu. The victory was greeted by street parties in Chile, with Gonzalez describing the victory as “a very beautiful moment, indeed.”
Controversy at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Once again, he went deep into the draw at the Olympics. During his semi-final with James Blake, the American hit a backhand pass which landed long, but which appeared to have hit Gonzalez’s racket on the way through. Blake complained to the umpire and expected Gonzalez to concede the point. But the Chilean kept the point. Blake said afterwards: “That’s a disappointing way to exit the tournament when you not only lose the match, but you lose a little faith in your fellow competitor.” Gonzalez would lose the gold medal match to Rafael Nadal.
One of the great racket-trashers of tennis is about to retire.
The appointment of Larry Stefanki.
Stefanki managed to get the best out of Gonzalez, encouraging him to play with greater control, rather than trying to smash winners from anywhere on the court. Without Stefanki, would Gonzalez have had the run he did at the 2007 Australian Open?
Reaching the final of the Australian Open.
Gonzalez played the best tennis of his life at the 2007 Australian Open. He beat Rafael Nadal in straight sets, and made just three unforced errors in the semi-final against Tommy Haas. Only Roger Federer could stop Gonzalez, who was playing in his first slam final.
Raising funds for the victims of an earthquake in Chile.
Having missed a tourmament to visit the victims, Gonzalez organised an exhibition to raise money.
Saving a dog.
He saved a dog that had been hit by a car. The dog was later reunited with its owner. “Although I never got to meet the real owner, the press visited the family and got their story and I felt really good to know that I had helped,” Gonzalez said.
Ending a run of defeats against Federer.
Playing Federer for the 11th time, with 10 losses under his belt, Gonzalez produced a performance to remember and beat the Swiss in the opening match of the year-end championships in 2007. “No one beats me 11 times in a row,” joked Gonzalez.
Davis Cup resignation.
Gonzalez resigned from the Chilean Davis Cup team in 2009 after the Chile Tennis Federation disclosed confidential information about him. He rejoined the team after the resignation of the director of the CTF. Gonzalez announced that he would donate all his future Davis Cup proceeds to “the benefit and development of young players.”