David Nalbandian, the only Argentine to reach the Wimbledon men's singles final, has announced his retirement from professional tennis due to a nagging shoulder injury.
"It's a tough day because I'm retiring from the activity that's given me everything," the former world No. 3 said Tuesday in Buenos Aires.
"My shoulder has given out on me. It's not responding well. And I can't compete like this."
The 31-year-old underwent hip surgery four years ago and another operation this year for his shoulder injury, which he sustained in February and kept him out of Argentina's Davis Cup semifinal last month against the Czech Republic.
"The images that make me teary-eyed are those from Davis Cup. The affection of the people, the atmosphere you get there is unlike anything anywhere else," he said.
Besides reaching the Wimbledon final in 2002, when he lost in straight sets to Australia's Lleyton Hewitt, Nalbandian's biggest career highlight was his five-set victory over Swiss great Roger Federer in the final of the 2005 Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai.
He also reached at least the semifinals of all the Grand Slam tournaments, a testament to his ability to play effectively on clay, grass and hard courts.
Although his fondest memories are of Davis Cup, Nalbandian suffered the biggest heartache of his career in that international team competition
The 2008 final was a particularly bitter pill to swallow, as the heavily favored Argentines, led by Nalbandian and Juan Martin del Potro, were stunned at home by a Spanish squad playing without Rafael Nadal.
Nalbandian won his opening singles match versus David Ferrer, but he and Agustin Calleri lost the all-important doubles point as Spain rallied for a 3-1 victory.
During that Davis Cup final, Nalbandian criticized Del Potro for playing in the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai rather than staying in Argentina to prepare for the tie against Spain.
Nalbandian, a top 10 player between 2003 and 2007 who has seen his ranking fall out of the top 200 due to his injury woes, will play two exhibition matches against Nadal in Argentina next month.