Marco Chiudinelli’s career never panned out the way most thought it would, the biggest reason being chronic knee issues.
And still, he persevered. He turned 36 last month.
On Monday night in Basel – a prime night-session match – Chiudinelli said goodbye after a 6-2, 7-6 loss to Robin Haase of the Netherlands.
In a way, it would have been something special had he drawn his lifelong friend Roger Federer in this final singles match.
But the draw gods weren’t kind enough on this night.
Federer was in the crowd with wife Mirka, and looked pretty emotional. The two are a month apart in age. Along with them was another Swiss player of their vintage, Michael Lammer, who retired two years ago at age 33 and was Chiudinelli’s doubles partner for most of his junior career.
— SCAR19TT (@Scarlett_Li) October 23, 2017
Solid player, never a star
It’s always amazing to process how random tennis stardom is. To have two young players from the city of Basel, population (then and now) less than 170,000, make the big time on the ATP Tour is against all odds.
In Chiudinelli’s case, even longer odds.
He played just half a dozen junior events above a Grade 2, and never made the main draw of a junior Slam.
And yet, he reached a career high in singles of No. 52 in 2010. But it’s been a rough go, health-wise, since then. The wraps on his knees seem surgically glued on.
Chiudinelli won one title, in doubles, on the ATP Tour, in Gstaad with Lammer in 2009. And he got close to another with Federer. They reached the Halle final in 2014 – only to lose 12-10 in the match tiebreak. It was one of only three times they played doubles together in their careers, which is kind of surprising.
That Gstaad event was the Swiss class of 1981-82’s reunion back in 2009.
You would think Federer might have played doubles with him in his career finale in their town. But it wasn’t to be. Chiudinelli did get a wild card with another Swiss player, Luca Margeroli and will play his first round Wednesday.
Despite his fairly ordinary career, Chiudinelli has always been a popular player in Switzerland.
And you can only imagine how much patience he has had to have the last 15 years or so.
How many people sucked up to him because he was one of Federer’s nearest and dearest friends? How many people tried to get to Federer through him?
He seemed to handle it all with very good grace.