Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci retires at age 35 after Rio Open defeat

Getty Images
1 Comment

RIO DE JANEIRO — Thomaz Bellucci, Brazil’s main flagbearer on the men’s tour for the last decade, retired after losing in straight sets to sixth-seeded Sebastian Baez 6-3, 6-2 in the first round of the Rio Open.

The 35-year-old Bellucci is now preparing to transition into coaching.

Bellucci won 200 professional matches in his career, lifted four titles and reached a career-high No. 21 in the ATP rankings. He’s one of the five players to win a set 6-0 against Novak Djokovic on clay. He beat Top 10 players six times in his career, including then No. 4-ranked Andy Murray at the Madrid Open in 2011.

Bellucci turned pro in 2005 at a time his sports hero, three-time French Open champion and former No. 1 Gustavo Kuerten was active. Brazilians had high expectations the younger player could reach as high as Kuerten, but he almost always fell short – often because of injuries.

“(You have) the historic second position among Brazilian male players,” Kuerten said in a video played on the Rio Open arena’s big screen after Bellucci’s last match. “It is no joke, my boy. I will continue cheering for you. I applaud you and I thank you.”

Bellucci played eight finals at the elite level and won titles at Gstaad (2009, 2012), Santiago (2010), and Geneva (2015).

Still, for many years, he developed a love-hate relationship with Brazilian tennis fans who had no one else but him to place the country’s hopes in big tournaments.

“When people expect a lot from you, you feel it. When you have several sports heroes in a country, that is diluted among all the athletes. That’s what we see in Argentina, Spain, the United States. All have many players. In Brazil it was me playing Grand Slams,” Bellucci said at a press conference. “That wasn’t good for me. I pressured myself a lot to advance in the tournaments.”

He currently ranks No. 915 after almost a full year on the sidelines with an injured left knee.

“I will miss entering a court with Brazilians all around me, cheering for me from the start. These feelings don’t come in any other job,” Bellucci said. “But I won’t miss the rest of it!”

At French Open, Francisco Cerundolo is mad at chair umpire over Holger Rune’s double-bounce

Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

PARIS – Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina was devastated about losing his French Open fourth-round match to Holger Rune of Denmark in a fifth-set tiebreaker Monday. He also was mad at chair umpire Kader Nouni for missing a double-bounce of the ball on a point that was awarded to Rune early in his 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (10-7) victory.

They were tied at a set apiece and on serve at 2-1 for the No. 6-seeded Rune early in the third at Court Suzanne Lenglen when the point of contention happened. Cerundolo, who was serving at deuce, hit a forehand that skidded low at the baseline and quickly bounced a second time – which normally would have meant that the point was his.

But Rune went ahead and got his racket on the ball, sending it back over the net. At about the same time, No. 23 seed Cerundolo was saying “sorry” to apologize for the odd way his forehand made the ball skim across the clay. Nouni was not immediately aware of the double-bounce, thought the ball was still in play and called Cerundolo for hindrance for talking during a point. That meant Rune got the point, and when he won the next one, too, he had a service break.

“It was unbelievable, because it was a clear double-bounce. I was mad at the umpire because he has to see it,” Cerundolo said. “It’s his fault.”

In tennis, electronic line-calling is used at many tournaments to make line calls, but replays are not used to check things like double-bounces or whether a point should be lost because a player touches the net, which is not allowed.

And while Cerundolo put the onus on the official, he also thought Rune could have ceded the point because of the double-bounce.

“For sure, I wish he would have done that, because it was a big moment,” Cerundolo said.

Rune, who moved into a matchup against No. 4 Casper Ruud in the quarterfinals, said he saw a replay after the following point, and “saw it was a double bounce. But the point already happened, and he called the score. So I felt sorry.”

But, Rune added: “This is tennis. This is sports. Some umpires, they make mistakes. Some for me; some for him. That’s life.”

Gael Monfils withdraws from French Open with wrist injury

Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

PARIS — A thrilling five-set victory took a toll on Gael Monfils, whose withdrawal from the French Open handed No. 6 Holger Rune a walkover to the third round.

The 36-year-old Frenchman said he has a strained left wrist and can’t continue.

He battled Sebastian Baez for nearly four hours on Court Philippe Chatrier before beating the Argentine 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 in a first-round match that ended at 12:18 a.m. local time.

The victory was Monfils’ first at tour level this year, as the veteran was coming back from heel surgery.

“Actually, physically, I’m quite fine. But I had the problem with my wrist that I cannot solve,” he said. “The doctor say was not good to play with that type of injury. Yesterday was actually very risky, and then today definitely say I should stop.”

Monfils reached the semifinals at the French Open in 2008 and made it to the quarterfinals on three other occasions.