It was probably inevitable, given how little former world No. 10 Juan Mónaco – best known as Pico – has played this season.
Still, his retirement announcement Monday morning was a shock.
The 33-year-old Argentine won nine ATP Tour titles during his career, and earned more than $10 million as he reached a career-high singles ranking of No. 10 in 2012.
Not many players in tennis reach the top 10. It’s a tremendous accomplishment largely based on some of the qualities he outlines in his statement.
But in later years, the Argentine had trouble staying healthy.
Another wrist injury victim
The right wrist bothered Mónaco as early as 2013. He had surgery on it midway through the 2015 season and was sidelined for more than six months. He returned in April, 2016 at the clay-court event in Houston, Texas – and won it. His ranking at the time was No. 148.
Among the other ailments that forced him to pull out of tournaments in 2016 were the back and knee. He’s also had hip issues.
Mónaco played just three tournaments this season – actually, just three matches. He lost in the first round at Indian Wells to Adrian Mannarino and in the first round in Miami to Federico Delbonis. As defending champion, he played the Houston tournament. But he lost in the first round there to Dustin Brown.
Here he is on the practice court at Indian Wells in March. Who knew it would be one of his last tournaments.
The points from Mónaco’s quarterfinal effort in Rome last year (he gave Lucas Pouille a walkover after upsetting No. 4 Stan Wawrinka in the third round) came off Monday. That dropped his ranking from No. 120 down to No. 196.
Popular player, changing hairstyles
Mónaco was never a rock star. But he was a very good player – and a very popular one because of his pleasant demeanour, good looks and passing resemblance to Bruce Springsteen.
That he eagerly shucked his shirt on the practice courts whenever the weather permitted only added to his cult-like popularity.
Here’s a look at some of Mónaco’s fashion stylings, and the evolution of his lion’s mane into something a little more corporate as he matured.
But most of all, he was a quality player during a quality era, who always gave it full effort.