And so it is. Baby Goran, MANcic, Super Mario, will retire at the age of 26 to The Ordinary Life of Mario Ancic, Esq. (the title of a movie I would totally watch). It's a sad day. The dude best known for being the last man until Rafa to beat Roger at Wimbledon (as a teenager in 2002 in his Grand Slam debut on Center Court, no less) was beset with injury through much of his career, most notably the mono he contracted in 2007 that took him out for over two years. Unfortunately there was always something going with Mario's body. He was a fragile flower.
But when he was healthy he was a fun guy to root for and to watch. Playing the classical big serve and volley game that made Goran famous, Mario reached the semis of Wimbledon, the quarters of the French, and capture three ATP titles. He was also a member of the 2005 Croatian team that took home the Davis Cup, and he holds a bronze medal in doubles with Lubey. I mean, he was so good that ESPN picked him as a "sleeper pick" for WImbledon in 2009, WHEN HE WASN'T EVEN IN THE TOURNAMENT.
He was that good!
That pretty much sums it up. He had dedicated fans who appreciated that he was a good guy with a big game. And he was pretty. Very pretty.
I'm glad I finally got to see him play in person last year in Indian Wells. He didn't have the form of the Mario of old, but it was still nice to see his brand of tennis on the courts. Did I mention he looked REALLY good?
Happy trails, Mario, and thanks for the memories. You were a pleasure.
Feel free to leave your favorite Mario moments in the comments. As for me, he's still the subject of one of my favorite tennis pictures of all time.
I remember sitting in my office staring at this picture for a very, very, very long time.
(Pics: Getty, AP)