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Beyond the Baseline

Adios, Gonzo: Fernando Gonzalez retires

Fernando Gonzalez, 11-time ATP winner, will retire after reaching a career-high No. 5 in the rankings. (David Callow/SI)

Fernando Gonzalez announced Thursday that next month's Sony Ericsson Open in Miami will be his last professional tournament. Yes, "Gonzo," the Chilean with the most destructive forehand in tennis, is retiring at the ripe old age of 31.

“I made the decision a couple of weeks ago to end my career at Miami,” he said in a press conference on Thursday. “It's 100 percent personal. I realized I don't have the energy to be where I want to be.

“I want to have a new start,” he said. “I'll still be working for tennis, it’s my passion. I’ll take some time to think what I will do.”

Gonzalez, one of Chile's most decorated athletes, was a 2007 Australian Open finalist (he beat Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals but ultimately lost to Roger Federer), a semifinalist at the 2009 French Open, and holder of three Olympic medals. He's won 11 ATP Tour titles and is currently 368-189.

You could always count on the hot-tempered giant killer for a big upset and an even bigger racket smash.

Gonzo is as Gonzo does. Here's a collection of some of our favorite Gonzo moments.

The Forehand: There has never been a bigger or more dangerous forehand than Gonzo's. He could hit it for pace, obviously, but he was also crazy enough to try to hit it from any position on the court, whether as a swinging volley, a half volley from the baseline, or a straight-forward "grip it and rip it" shot. All you need to do is watch these videos and hear the commentators express their awe in laughter.

*****

The Smash: Along with Marat Safin, Gonzalez was the king of the racket smash. He did it with violent force, yet somehow managed to find creative and entertaining ways to express his disappointment in his tools.

*****

The Temper: Gonzalez is a fiery guy. He never hesitated to show his displeasure when he felt like he was being wronged. The two most memorable instances of this? His decision to fire a shot right at Radek Stepanek when the Czech gamely tried to slow down Gonzalez's pace of play, and of course, the controversial line call at Roland Garros in 2009. The common theme in these clips? Gluteus maximus.

*****

The Talent: Gonzalez was always one of my favorite players to watch because you genuinely had no idea what to expect. His game could go off the rails -- and with it his emotions. But he could also look like a world beater when on his game. I'm a sucker for a big forehand, and Gonzalez's attempts to work a point to set up that forehand was always fun to watch. When he connected with the ball cleanly, the crowd reacted as if a lightning bolt had struck the stadium.

Some highlights from his memorable 2007 run in Melbourne:

*****

Thanks for the memories, Gonzo. Here's hoping you get the send-off you deserve in Miami.
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