"Mentally and physically I'm no longer at my best. Plenty of strong career moments will stay with me forever and I hope to end the year in a nice way." Steve Darcis had said casually. At 35, the Belgian has had his share of peaks and pits of tennis and wants to go out on a great note.
He will call it quits on his home turf with the European Open at Antwerp, Belgium and end his entire tour in January with the ATP Cup and the Australian Open. He had gotten the nickname of 'Mister Davis Cup' being that he won many fifth rubber matches at Davis Cups and was literally Belgium's 'go-to guy.'
In 2007, he won his first ATP World Tour at the Dutch Open, achieving his first Top 100 ranking by a Challenger win in Finland. He had big wins one at the 2012 Summer Olympics defeating Tomas Berdych in the first round.
But for Darcis his forte must have been opening rounders because the following year at the 2013 Wimbledon Championships he dismantled Rafael Nadal's game in straight sets at the first round. He played with such fever that he wasn't able to play the second round due to a shoulder injury he sustained playing Nadal.
Darcis had put forth good efforts in grand slams with the 2017 Australian Open where he blasted Sam Groth and Diego Schwartzman both in 4 sets for the victory but at the third round bowed by Andreas Seppi despite winning the first set.
It was a few years ago he'd suffer an elbow injury in his tendon and last year 2018 called the entire season a miss. "I will come back stronger in 2019, I don't want to stop like this," he would say and struggled to enter some tournaments this year.
He used his protected ranking of no. 76 but still paining off an on from the elbow injury of two years ago. In January it was the Maharashtra Open in Pune, India after a year nearly of inactivity. Remarkably he won 6-3, 6-4 in the first round defeating Spain's Roberto Carballes Baena.
The elbow had kept Darcis out of matches and he explained that "When you don't play for 400 days, it is long and to me here and have the first win of the year...I feel great." The Belgian joked about his winning as he not only defeated Baena but 20-year-old Michael Mmoh in a 3-hour match and the 4th seed Malek Jaziri.
"I feel tired", Darcis had said after the 3 matches. He went on to say that "Even if you train very hard it is not the same to play 3 matches in a row." he still had the passion but knew his time was limited not only mentally but physically in keeping up with the younger and older opponents.
"I need to be really clever because if I play too much, I am going to kill myself. Take my time and enjoy, that's the best thing I can do", he had said. As time went on Steve Darcis knew that he could not consistently play anymore and so that's when he decided that it was retirement for him. He wanted to go out in a nice way and his way may be either at his hometown in Belgium or the 2020 Australian Open.