An emotional Xavier Malisse addresses the crowd after his final match. (Denis Vasilov/Zumapress)
Former Wimbledon semifinalist Xavier Malisse retired this week after 15 years on the ATP Tour.
The 33-year-old called it a career after losing to Sergiy Stakhovsky in the first round of the Mons Challenger on Wednesday in Belgium, which Malisse represented in 15 Davis Cup ties.
“I liked the pressure of the game, but I'm also relieved,” Malisse said. “Now I'm going to relax with my family and friends. It is hard to leave, but we have to stop one day.”
Malisse was ranked as high as 19th. He won three ATP titles, including two at the Delray Beach Open. His first career tour-level match was a three-set loss to top-ranked Pete Sampras in Philadelphia in February 1998. "I think this kid is going to be around a while," Sampras said of his 17-year-old opponent.
The Belgian made the Wimbledon semifinals in 2002, when he lost a five-setter to David Nalbandian, who also announced his retirement this week. In the quarterfinals, Malisse beat former champion Richard Krajicek 9-7 in the fifth set.
Malisse thanked his fans in a video: