Challenger legend Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo set to retire at the end of 2016

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Challenger legend Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo set to retire at the end of 2016

38-year-old Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo from Spain announced he will retire at the end of 2016, despite he is still playing some solid tennis. He is ranked 253 of the world at the moment, and also the oldest in Top 800, but he obviously reached the end of the road.

Speaking for Planeta Tennis he said: “I played a lot of team competitions in 2015. I competed in the German Bundesliga, in which we won the title, but also in Italy, Switzerland, Spain and France last November. For that reason, I did not compete in so many Challenger tournaments, like before.

The reason is simple. Playing team competitions is just more profitable in terms of earning money. I love tennis, but as much as I like it – if it does not financially compensate the costs, I will have to quit. If everything goes well, 2016 will be my last year and I want to finish the season as good as possible.

Wednesday was my birthday, turning 38. This is a good age to retire and start to enjoy other things in life. Last year I had knee troubles, playing with a lot of pain. Now I have started to train at full strength again in October, November and December, feeling no pain and it gives me hope I can play good tennis in 2016 from the start of the year until the end.

After retirement I will continue to be in the sport, I have my own tennis academy in Alicante, called Tennis Alicante and will devote my time and knowledge to it.” His long tennis journey (mostly spent on clay) started way back in 1993 at Satellites qualifications, and for quite a while it looked he choose wrong sport! Ruben struggled even to make Satellites main draw, and at the age of 21 and a half he was still ranked outside Top 500.

Change ensued in 2000, when he had constant results and ranking inside Top 400, winning Futures title in Casablanca. Next year he achieved some serious Challenger results and played his first ATP event in Bucharest, winning one match.

In 2002 he finally showed full potential, crowned with two Challenger titles in Brasov and Barcelona. From that moment on, he played numerous Challenger events (more than 250), becoming one of the legends of that rank of competition.

Starting from Manerbio in 2000, Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo won record 378 Challenger matches (369 on beloved clay), 52 more than Paolo Lorenzi in second place. He played in 22 finals (only one on hard), winning 11 titles with last one in Panama City back in 2013.

This number of titles and finals are far from small, but with so many victories under his belt we could have expect more. It"s all clear when we see his record in semi-finals, where he is on poor 22-41! Thus, he missed chance to play in many more finals, to win more titles, ranking points and of course money, but it is how it is.

Being ranked in Top 100 for a solid number of weeks, Ruben also participated in 20 Grand Slams and more than 130 ATP tournaments. He won 4 Masters 1000 matches, 5 in Grand Slams and 68 on higest level in general. He reached 14 quarter-finals (last one in Houston in 2013) and 5 semi-finals, all on clay.

Just like on Challenger level, semis matches were nightmare for him on ATP Tour too, never making final. His best ranking came in October 2006, when he was 50th best player in the world.