The Career of Daniela Hantuchova: What Will Be Next?

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34-year-old Daniela Hantuchova has announced her retirement from professional tennis on July 6, 2017, via a video message from the Wimbledon grounds. Hantuchova is visiting Wimbledon as a spectator.

Hantuchova’s Career

Hantuchova was a former World No. 5 in both singles and doubles. Let’s start with her singles achievements. The Slovak won seven WTA titles in her career and acquired a win/loss record of 555-399 (58.18%). Her biggest titles were her wins in Indian Wells in 2002 and 2007. Hantuchova’s most recent title was Pattaya City in 2015. Hantuchova peaked at No. 5 in January of 2003, and reached the year-end championships twice. Despite her venture into Top 5, Hantuchova never reached a Slam final. Her best result was a semifinal at Australian Open 2008, but also reached a US Open quarterfinal in 2013.

In doubles, Hantuchova also reached No. 5 in the rankings, but also had more Grand Slam success. She managed to reach two Australian Open finals and one French Open final. Hantuchova played at 2002 Australian Open with Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and the other two with Ai Sugiyama. Hantuchova never really came close to winning them, losing somewhat easily in all the finals.

Her success came mostly in mixed doubles. Hantuchova managed to complete the Career Grand Slam in mixed between 2001 and 2005. She won every Slam with a different partner–2001 Wimbledon with Leos Friedl, 2002 Australian Open with Kevin Ulyett, 2005 French Open with Fabrice Santoro, and 2005 US Open with Mahesh Bhupathi. Hantuchova also won Hopman Cup for Slovakia with Dominik Hrbaty in 2005.

Hantuchova has only recently been overtaken by Cibulkova in the conversation for the greatest Slovak player, but she has been incredibly impactful and well-liked. Her signature backhand down the line is truly a sight to see, the precision with which Hantuchova changed the direction.

Fed Cup has been a huge part of Hantuchova’s tennis career, and winning the title in 2002 was only the beginning. Hantuchova was a reliable Fed Cup player, and she would often play her best tennis for her country. In the latter stages of her career, this often warranted her a nomination, even if her ranking wasn’t really there. One of the most memorable moments for her with Fed Cup recently was the Slovak upset over Italy. Hantuchova took lead for 2-1 and set the stage on Day 2 with a 6-2 6-0 win over Sara Errani before Rebecca Sramkova finished the job.

Hantuchova withdrew from Madrid qualifying with a rib fracture, which is her career-ending injury. Her last competitive match was a 6-7(7) 3-6 loss to 2017 French Open Mixed Doubles champion, Gabriela Dabrowski. Her biggest result this year was a 2nd Round at Acapulco, where she beat Yanina Wickmayer.

Life After

A retirement from such a well-known tennis star begs the question: “What will she do now?” Well, there are several options in front of the 34 year old Slovak.

The first and probably most likely will be that Hantuchova will settle down in Monte Carlo and start a family. She was asked on the popular gaming/talkshow Lvl Lama whether she has considered having children, to which Hantuchova answered enthusiastically.

A career in modeling could also be an option for Hantuchova at the age of 34. She takes an active interest in modeling and occasionally does photo shoots and magazine spreads.

A final and I think the best option would be for Hantuchova to replace Matej Liptak as Fed Cup captain. I believe this change would be very welcome as many Slovak tennis fans believe that Liptak as overstayed his welcome and should be replaced. I think that someone of Hantuchova’s recognizability and impressive player resume could not be a bad move to please the fans and inspire young kids.

Along with her duties as Fed Cup captain, Hantuchova could pass on her experience to the next generation by coaching. I think that she should either pick a junior prospect and mold them to greatness (like Viktoria Morvayova or Barbora Matusova) or take a player and get the best out of them (like Jana Cepelova or Anna Schmiedlova). Of course Hantuchova could also coach a non-Slovak player, but I find it less likely.

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