Rui Machado, one of Portugal’s most successful tennis players of all time, announced his retirement this Thursday morning (June 9).
The 32-year-old born and raised in Faro made history on October 2011 when he reached the 59th spot of the ATP men’s tennis ranking – at the time, the highest position a Portuguese tennis player had ever reached.
But after several injury-riddled years, Machado decided the time has come to lay down his racket.
“Even though I’m used to going beyond my body’s limits, I’ve realised that the time has come to respect the signs that my body has been giving me these last months,” he said in a press conference at the Jamor sports complex in Oeiras.
In an emotional statement, the Algarvean said that tennis taught him “humility” and that all the lessons he learned during his career will be useful for the rest of his life.
He guaranteed that he is proud not only of his achievements, but also of the difficulties he had to beat to build his career.
“When I moved to Barcelona at 15, I left home to follow a dream but also faced the pressure of all of those who had tried the same and failed,” he said, thanking his parents for supporting him throughout his journey.
During his 15 years as a pro, Machado won eight tournaments in the Challenger circuit – the ‘second tier’ of international tennis – and took part in ten Grand Slam tournaments, reaching the second stage of the US Open in 2008 and Roland Garros in 2009.
He was also Portuguese champion on four occasions and was called to Portugal’s national team 28 times.
“But more than these numbers, he will be remembered for his incomparable attitude on the court,” wrote Lusa news agency.
“He was the true ‘motor’ of the Portuguese national team on several occasions, and seemed to transcend when he played for and in Portugal, as he proved last year when he beat the current best Portuguese player João Sousa at the Estoril Open,” the agency added.
What comes next is a mystery even to Machado.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” he told reporters, saying nonetheless that he plans to continue working in tennis.