MADRID (Reuters) - Former world number one Carlos Moya fought back tears on Wednesday as he formally announced his retirement from tennis at the age of 34 due to a recurring foot injury.
At a news conference in Madrid attended by family, friends and former players, including Manolo Santana and Albert Costa, the 1998 French Open champion said he would play one more event, in Seville in December, before ending his 15-year career.
Clad in a dark blazer, a white and blue-striped shirt open at the neck and blue jeans, the Spaniard welled up and had to make frequent pauses to compose himself as he announced his decision and thanked friends, family, his coaching and support staff, sponsors and fans.
The foot injury had plagued him for several years and he had been unable to shake it off despite consulting a host of different doctors, he explained.
“I wanted to say goodbye at some of the big tournaments, the grand slams, but that dream wasn’t to be,” said Moya, who was runner-up to Pete Sampras at the 1997 Australian Open.
“I am still young for life but for sport I am already knocking on a bit,” he said, adding that his immediate plans were to rest and spend time at home with his partner and baby daughter Carla, who was born in August.
He will also make an appearance at the ATP World Tour finals in London next week. “But not to play,” he joked.
Moya, a right-hander unlike his friend and current number one Rafa Nadal, who is also from Majorca, won the first of 20 career titles on his favoured clay in Buenos Aires in 1995.
In March 1999 he became the first Spaniard to rise to number one since the ATP rankings were introduced in 1973 and held the spot for two weeks.
One of his finest moments came in Seville in 2004 when he beat Andy Roddick to clinch the Davis Cup for Spain against the United States.
He slipped out of the top 10 in May 2005 and has suffered a string of injuries in recent years, including to ankle, shoulder and hip.
He last played on the ATP Tour at the Madrid Masters in May, when he lost to German Benjamin Becker in the first round. He ends his career with an ATP World Tour and grand slam record of 575 wins and 319 defeats. “Thanks to everyone for all these years,” he said. “We’ll see each other soon, I don’t know where but I hope it’s soon.”