Daniel Nestor leaves Canadian tennis safe in the hands of youngsters


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Daniel Nestor leaves Canadian tennis safe in the hands of youngsters

Just a few days after he turned 46, Daniel Nestor ended his career last September while defending the national colors of Canada against the Netherlands in the Davis Cup, scoring a win in the doubles tie to end his glorious career with a flourish.

The Belgrade native is recognized as one of the greatest doubles players of all time, playing more than 1500 matches on the Tour (1062-488 score) and winning 91 ATP titles, including all four Majors, all nine Masters 1000 tournaments and the ATP Finals.

Nestor was a solid singles player as well but by the mid-90s he knew where to chase glory in his beloved sport, becoming one of the leading doubles figures on the Tour and spending some 24 years in the top-100! After winning everything he could on the Tour and embracing an Olympic glory in Sydney 2000, Daniel has decided to retire last year after just six wins, driving his marvelous career towards the final stage and leaving the sport as the living legend.

Nestor shifted his focus on his family and all the things he was missing while traveling around the globe on a regular basis. Spending his retirement days in Toronto with his wife and two daughters, Nestor often hits the court with his older daughter, also helping the local community and organizing charity events, something he has been doing for decades now.

Daniel has left the Canadian tennis with a bright future on the horizon, with Milos Raonic, Denis Shapovalov, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Eugenie Bouchard, Bianca Andreescu and Gabriela Dabrowski all playing well recently and keeping the Canadian flag high alongside the other big tennis nations.

With the Australian Open being just around the corner, the veteran who had played in Melbourne for 24 years also recalled his first trip to Melbourne Park almost 30 years ago when he was still 17, losing in the opening qualifying round despite leading 6-1, 5-2!

Like that wasn't enough, Nestor sprained his ankle during the practice for the junior action a few days later, flying back to Canada on crutches. He was the finalist in Melbourne in 1995 and won the title in 2002 together with Mark Knowles but he is not nostalgic or sad for not being in Melbourne as a player, saying he struggled a lot in the previous year and that his retirement came at the best possible moment.

"We've never had this many top players," Nestor said. "We did have depth in the late 80s and early 90s for a while there, but it's great to see that we have all these players. Not only that they're doing well but they're probably inspiring the next generation to do well and that's exciting for sure.

I feel like I got everything I could out of me and now I train with my daughter. I'm a little bit of a disciplinarian so she probably doesn't like that part of it. But she's still showing up every time we book a court, so that's good.

I still remember I played this guy and I was up 6-1, 5-2 in the first round of the Aussie Open qualifying in 1990 and I ended up losing. But I just remember the court was so warm that I could feel the heat through my shoes.

My feet were actually kind of burning during the match. I'd never felt that before. But it didn't really bother me then, I was a kid. "I remember getting wheeled into the locker room and being embarrassed because I was this junior and all these top players were in there.

It was the first time I'd ever really been exposed to that. So they treated me and then I had to fly home back to Canada on crutches. Two years later I have qualified at Grand Slam for the first time and then three weeks later I played Edberg.

I wasn't winning as much in 2018 and I don't miss the feeling of trying to win a match or two rather than trying to win a tournament, which I was more accustomed to earlier in my career. I'm very happy staying in one spot."