Mario Ančić (Croatian pronunciation: [mâːrio âːntʃitɕ]; born 30 March 1984) is a retired Croatian professional tennis player. He won three singles titles and five doubles titles. His career-high singles ranking came during the 2006 ATP Tour, when he reached World No. 7. Apart from his success on the ATP Tour, Ančić helped Croatia to win the 2005 Davis Cup and at the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, he and Ivan Ljubičić won a bronze medal in doubles for Croatia.

As a teenager making his Grand Slam debut at the 2002 Wimbledon Championships, he defeated seventh-seeded Roger Federer. His best performance at Grand Slams came at the 2004 Wimbledon Championships, when he reached the semifinals. Due to his success at Wimbledon and grass courts, many saw in Ančić a successor of Goran Ivanišević, the 2001 Wimbledon Champion and a former No. 2 in singles, earning a nickname New Goran and Baby Goran.

During 2007 and 2008, mononucleosis and minor injuries forced him to miss many major events, and his ranking dropped from No. 9 in January 2007 to No. 135 in January 2008. He was coached by Fredrik Rosengren from August 2005 – October 2008.

Personal life

Ančić was born in Split to Stipe and Nilda Ančić. His father owns a supermarket chain, and his mother is a financial adviser. His older brother Ivica and younger sister Sanja were also professional tennis players. Ivica achieved a career high ATP Ranking of No. 378 in 1997, while Sanja, was a world top-10 junior in 2005 and achieved a ranking of No. 159 on the WTA Tour in 2006. Ančić was raised in a Catholic family and states that his faith is very important to him. He is very close to his uncle who is a priest, ex missionary.

From 2002 to 2008, Ančić was a law student at the University of Split; he graduated from its law school on 14 April 2008, with a thesis entitled "ATP Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow", describing the legal foundation and organization of the ATP Tour.

Illness forced Ančić to be off courts in much of the 2009 tennis season, and he started his residency in the law office of Turudić in Zagreb; but he announced he would freeze his residency for some time due to his tennis career. In 2009, he spent several months at Harvard Law School on a research project under Peter Carfagna, an adjunct professor who had previously been the top lawyer at sports management giant IMG. During his time at Harvard Law, he spoke twice at the school—the first about his law and tennis experiences, and the second time about doping cases in tennis. Ančić completed his project with a paper on the legal aspects of doping in tennis which Carfagna considered to be publication quality. After his experience at Harvard Law, he decided to pursue a master's degree, and enrolled in 2012 at Columbia Law School. In a 2012 interview, Ančić indicated that he might stay in New York City to work in corporate law before returning to Croatia. In May 2013, he was appointed to a job in the legal department of the National Basketball Association. In May 2015, he graduate with a JD from Columbia Law School. He is currently an investment banking associate at Credit Suisse in the Financial Sponsors Group in New York

Tennis career

First steps

Ančić grew up two doors away from the Firule tennis club, where he started playing at age seven. From age 10 on, Ančić practiced there with Goran Ivanišević, with whom he played doubles matches later in his career. In 1996, he served as a ball boy when Ivanišević played in the Croatia-Australia Davis Cup tie in Split.

Early career (2000–2002)

As a junior Ančić rose to No. 1 in the junior world-rankings, on 2 January 2001, compiling a singles record of 62–20. He made the finals in the Boys' Singles at the 2000 Australian Open (losing to Andy Roddick) and the 2000 Wimbledon Championships (losing to Nicolas Mahut).

Junior Slam results:

Australian Open: F (2000)
French Open: QF (2000)
Wimbledon: F (2000)
US Open: SF (2000)

Ivanišević was his doubles partner in both his Croatian Davis Cup Team debut and at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in doubles. The duo lost in the opening round at the Olympics. At first, Ančić mostly played Futures and Davis Cup tournaments, winning one title in Zagreb; and from August 2001 he started to play Challenger tournaments, winning four in singles and one in doubles. He compiled a record of 30–16 in Challenger play in 2002.

ATP Tour career (2002–2005)

His ATP debut was at Miami Masters, where he drew a wild card, but he lost in the opening round. The highlight of his Grand Slam debut at the 2002 Wimbledon Championships was the major upset of his first round defeat of Roger Federer, the seventh seed, 6–3, 7–6(2), 6–3 in just under two hours. In so doing he became the first teenager to win on his Wimbledon debut on Center Court since Björn Borg triumphed in 1973. After the match, he confessed to having received a few pointers from Ivanišević, and the British media dubbed him the New Goran. However, in the next round, he lost to Jan Vacek. His second Grand Slam appearance was the US Open, where he made it into the main singles, being drawn as a lucky loser, but he retired in the fifth set of the opening round against Dominik Hrbatý because of leg cramps. He finished the 2002 season in the top 100 in singles, with ten wins in two straight weeks at two Challengers in Prague and Milan.

Ančić kicked off 2003 with his Australian Open debut, losing to Juan Carlos Ferrero in the fourth round. The following week, he won his last Challenger tournament in Hamburg, defeating Rafael Nadal in the final. After that, Ančić started to play on ATP Masters Series events, but could not get past the first rounds. In late May, after nine straight losses, he got as far as the quarterfinals at St. Pölten. He also made the quarterfinal at the Stockholm Open in September. He had more success with doubles. In July, with Andy Ram, he won his first ATP Tour title at Indianapolis Tennis Championships; and a few week later, with Ivan Ljubičić, he reached the quarterfinals at the US Open, losing to Bob and Mike Bryan. He was the first player to be beaten by Rafael Nadal in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament, at Wimbledon in 2003.

At the ATP Indesit Milano Indoor, in February 2004, Ančić made it into his first singles ATP final, beating on the way sixth seed Rafael Nadal and third seed Tommy Robredo, before losing the third set in tiebreak, to Anthony Dupuis in the final. In June and July, he posted his best-ever results on grass with a third round showing at Queen's Club Championships, losing to Andy Roddick, and a semi-final at Ordina Open, losing to Guillermo Coria. At the 2004 Wimbledon Championships, Ančić made his best-ever Grand Slam result, reaching the semi-finals. On the way, he defeated three seeded players, including British Tim Henman in the quarter-finals, in straights sets; and finally, he again lost to Roddick, 4–6, 6–4, 5–7, 5–7. In reaching the Grand Slam semi-finals, he jumped 36 places on the ATP singles ranking, to No. 27. In doubles, he teamed up with Ivan Ljubičić, and represented Croatia at the 2004 Summer Olympics. They won a bronze medal, losing to González and Nicolás Massú in the semi-final, and winning against Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes, with a score of 16–14 in the third set. In three straight weeks from 7 February 2005, he had awin-loss score of 10–3, reaching two semi-finals and one final, in Marseille and Rotterdam, where he lost to Ljubičić and Federer in the semi-finals, and in Scottsdale, where he lost in the final to Wayne Arthurs. Although he could not repeat the previous year's performance at Wimbledon, he won his first ATP singles title at the Ordina Open, beating the defending champion, Michaël Llodra; and on clay courts, together with Julian Knowle, he won his second doubles title at the BMW Open. His 2005 highlights also include the final at the Japan Open Tennis Championships, losing to Wesley Moodie.

Career apex (2006)

Ančić started on the 2006 ATP Tour with strong note in his second tournament of the year in Auckland, where he defeated top seed Fernando González on his way to the final. However, he could not repeat his form in the final, going down in straight sets to Jarkko Nieminen. In February, he also reached the final in Marseille, losing to Arnaud Clément. He made in the quarter-finals at two Masters and two Grand Slams tournaments. Ančić was defeated twice by David Nalbandian, at Miami and Rome; and two times by Roger Federer, at Grand Slams, the French Open and Wimbledon. He also reached his career high at Master Series event, reaching the semi-finals at Hamburg Masters. A week before Wimbledon, Ančić successfully defended his 2005 title at ‘s-Hertogenbosch. After Wimbledon, Ančić reached No. 7, his career high in singles.

At the 2006 French Open, he had a shoving incident with Paul Capdeville at the end of his second-round match. Ančić was bothered by the Chilean's repeated complaints to the chair umpire, including just before the post-match handshake. Ančić told Capdeville to drop it, and Capdeville shoved him. Both of them were fined $3,000. He reached quarter-finals before losing to Federer.

Ančić missed the US hard-court season due to a knee injury received in a jet skiing accident, and just before the 2006 US Open, a back injury. In September, in the first event after the summer injuries, he reached the final at the China Open, losing to Marcos Baghdatis. Ančić also teamed up with Mahesh Bhupathi and won two doubles titles in Beijing and Mumbai. In October, he won his third singles title at the St. Petersburg Open. At the Paris Masters, Ančić lost to Nikolay Davydenko in the quarterfinals. If Ančić had won, he would have secured the final spot in the field, narrowly missing a spot in the eight-man Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai.

Mononucleosis, and return to the Tour (2007–2010)

After a successful 2006 season, Ančić began the year by representing Croatia with his younger sister, Sanja Ančić, at the 2007 Hopman Cup, but they did not advance from the group stage. He then entered the 2007 Australian Open as the ninth seed, and advanced to a fourth round, where he played against Andy Roddick, seeded sixth. He lost the match after Roddick broke Ančić in the fifth game of the fifth set, then held that advantage, serving out the match and winning with the final result 3–6, 6–3, 1–6, 7–5, 4–6.

In Marseille, Ančić retired in the first round and was diagnosed with mononucleosis. Later, he confessed that he was playing sick a week before in a match against Germany in the Davis Cup, and the virus had almost certainly started to affect him at the Australian Open. Due to his illness, Ančić spent most of the next ten weeks in bed and missed six months from the Tour.

Ančić started training in June with his Swedish coach, Fredrik Rosengren, in the Slovenian Alps. After he withdrew from two tournaments in July, Ančić returned in August at the Canada Masters and the Cincinnati Masters, where he lost in the second rounds. He was offered a wild card for the main draw in the Pilot Pen Tennis tournament in New Haven, but he turned it down with the explanation that he needed matches. Ančić fractured a small bone at the gym a week before the US Open, which was the third Grand Slam he missed in 2007. In October, he made his first big result after the illness, making it into the quarterfinals at Madrid Masters beating eighth seed James Blake and Paul-Henri Mathieu on the way, before losing to Novak Djokovic in straight sets. In 2007, he dropped 74 places, from No. 9 to No. 83 at the end of the year.

Ančić started the 2008 season again with illness and was forced to withdraw from the tournaments in Australia, missing his fourth Grand Slam in a row. His first 2008 event was in Marseille in February, where he beat the 2008 Australian-Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Marcos Baghdatis. He eventually lost in the final to Andy Murray. At the Indian Wells Masters and Miami Masters, Ančić entered the main draw by receiving wild cards, where he beat three seeded players. Like in 2006, he was beaten by Roger Federer twice, at the French Open in the third round, and at Wimbledon, where he reached the quarterfinals. On the way to the quarterfinals, he beat 32nd seed Michaël Llodra and fifth seed David Ferrer, and had a comeback win against 22nd seeded Fernando Verdasco in the fourth round, coming from two sets down to win, 3–6, 4–6, 6–3, 6–4, 13–11. For the second time in three years, Ančić lost in the quarter-finals to Roger Federer, after which he alluded to his 2002 victory over Federer by saying: "He was not Roger Federer at the time". By reaching the quarter-final, he jumped 19 places, to No. 24 on the ATP singles rankings. In doubles, he won his fifth title at s'Hertogenbosch with Jürgen Melzer.

Having lost in an opening round at the Canada Masters and having skipped the Cincinnati Masters, as the fatigue intensified and the weight loss mounted, Ančić withdrew from the 2008 Summer Olympics, and later the US Open, due to a recurrence of mononucleosis. Ančić returned in September, playing for the Davis Cup. After a good start at the beginning of the 2009 season, in May, Ančić announced that he would pull out of the French Open, Wimbledon, and the Davis Cup semifinal match, again because recurrence of mononucleosis.

Ančić announced in October 2009 that he planned to start at the end of January 2010 on a couple of European ATP Challengers. His best result was a runner-up spot in a futures event in the USA.

Ančić's comeback was complete when he returned to the main tour level at the 2010 BNP Paribas Open. He made it to the third round, after beating, Bobby Reynolds and surprisingly Julien Benneteau, and lost to Nadal, 2–6, 2–6. He did not have so much success the week after at the Sony Ericsson Open, where he lost in the first round to Jérémy Chardy. Ančić continued to play Challengers without success. He also lost a tight first-round match to Koellerer in a 250 event in Munich. He then received a wild card to Queen's on his favoured surface of grass.

Davis Cup career

Mario Ančić started his Davis Cup career in 1999 at a young age of 15, when he lost to Portuguese player João Cunha Silva. He played an important role in the Croatia Davis Cup team that reached Euro/African Group I in 2002, and the World Group from 2003–2006, and also in 2009. He was part of the Croatian team that won the 2005 Davis Cup title. In singles, his major wins came against Michal Mertiňák in 2005, when Croatia played a decisive fifth match against Slovakia for the title, and against Simone Bolelli in 2008, when Croatia defeated Italy for the World Group play-offs. In doubles, his major wins include beating the United States team of Bob and Mike Bryan in the United States in 2005, and the Austrian Team of Julian Knowle and Jürgen Melzer in Austria in 2006, all with Ivan Ljubičić. Paired with Ljubičić, he holds six wins and one loss in the Davis Cup doubles matches.

Retirement

On 21 February 2011, Ančić announced his retirement from professional tennis due to recurring mononucleosis. He ended his career with three titles, 208 wins and 135 losses. On 23 February 2011, Ančić held a press conference at the Firule tennis club, where he officially retired from professional tennis. He stated that; "[My] heart wanted, but [my] body couldn't, this is the toughest moment of my life. I have never ran away from responsibility. I always strived for perfection, and when I realized that my body cannot provide the kind of tennis I can play, there was no other solution".

ATP Tour titles

Singles titles (3)

Legend (pre/post 2009)
Grand Slam tournaments (0)
Tennis Masters Cup /
ATP World Tour Finals (0)
ATP Masters Series /
ATP World Tour Masters 1000 (0)
ATP International Series Gold /
ATP World Tour 500 Series (0)
ATP International Series /
ATP World Tour 250 Series (3)
Titles by Surface
Hard (0)
Clay (0)
Grass (2)
Carpet (1)
No.DateTournamentSurfaceOpponent in the finalScore
1.13 June 2005‘s-Hertogenbosch, NetherlandsGrassFrance Michaël Llodra7–5, 6–4
2.19 June 2006‘s-Hertogenbosch, NetherlandsGrassCzech Republic Jan Hernych6–0, 5–7, 7–5
3.23 October 2006St. Petersburg, RussiaCarpet (i)Sweden Thomas Johansson7–5, 7–6(7–2)

Doubles titles (5)

No.DateTournamentSurfacePartnerOpponents in the finalScore
1.23 July 2003Indianapolis, United StatesHardIsrael Andy RamUnited States Diego Ayala &
United States Robby Ginepri
2–6, 7–6(7–3), 7–5
2.25 April 2005Munich, GermanyClayAustria Julian KnowleGermany Florian Mayer &
Germany Alexander Waske
6–3, 1–6, 6–3
3.11 September 2006Beijing, ChinaHardIndia Mahesh BhupathiGermany Michael Berrer &
Denmark Kenneth Carlsen
6–4, 6–3
4.26 September 2006Mumbai, IndiaHardIndia Mahesh BhupathiIndia Rohan Bopanna &
India Mustafa Ghouse
6–4, 6–7(6–8), 10–8
5.15 June 2008's-Hertogenbosch, NetherlandsGrassAustria Jürgen MelzerIndia Mahesh Bhupathi &
India Leander Paes
7–6(7–5), 6–3

Singles finalist (8)

Singles performance timeline

Key
W F SFQFR#RRQ#ANH
(W) Won tournament; reached (F) final, (SF) semifinal, (QF) quarterfinal; (R#) rounds 4, 3, 2, 1; competed at a (RR) round-robin stage; reached a (Q#) qualification round; (A) absent from tournament; or (NH) tournament not held.
Tournament199920002001200220032004200520062007200820092010Career
SR
Career Win-Loss
Grand Slam Tournaments
Australian OpenAAAA4R3R3R3R4RA3RA0 / 614–6
French OpenAAALQ2R3R3RQFA3RAA0 / 512–5
WimbledonAAA2R1RSF4RQFAQFAA0 / 617–6
U.S. OpenAAA1R1R1R2RAAAAA0 / 41–4
Grand Slam SR0 / 00 / 00 / 00 / 20 / 40 / 40 / 40 / 30 / 10 / 20 / 10 / 00 / 21N/A
Grand Slam Win-Loss0–00–00–01–24–49–48–410–33–16–22–10–0N/A43–21
Olympic Games
Summer OlympicsNHANot Held1RNot HeldANot Held0 / 10–1
Year-End Championship
Tennis Masters CupAAAAAAAAAAA0 / 00–0
ATP Masters Series
Indian Wells MastersAAAA1R1R2R4RA3R2R3R0 / 76–7
Miami MastersAAA1R1RLQ4RQFA4RA1R0 / 610–6
Monte Carlo MastersAAAALQA2RAA2RAA0 / 22–2
Rome MastersAAAALQ1R1RQFA2RAA0 / 44–4
Madrid MastersAAAAA1R2R2RQFAAA0 / 43–4
Hamburg MastersAAAALQA3RSFAANMS0 / 26–2
Canada MastersAAAA1RA3RA2R1RAA0 / 43–4
Cincinnati MastersAAAALQA4RA2RAAA0 / 23–2
Shanghai MastersNot HeldAA0 / 00–0
Paris MastersAAAAA1R2RQF2R2RAA0 / 54–5
Career statistics
Year199920002001200220032004200520062007200820092010N/A
ATP Tournaments Played000718222420101673127
ATP Runners-up0000012301108
ATP Tournaments Won0000001200003
Hard Win-Loss0–00–00–02–69–136–1025–1525–1212–1018–713–62–2111–80
Clay Win-Loss0–00–00–00–03–46–66–513–50–06–50–10–135–26
Grass Win-Loss0–01–00–01–12–310–39–29–10–08–30–00–040–13
Carpet Win-Loss0–12–01–00–01–15–54–57–11–10–00–00–021–14
Overall Win-Loss0–13–01–03–715–2127–2444–2754–1913–1132–1513–72–3208–1351
Win (%)0%100%100%42%30%53%62%74%54%68%65%40%61%
Year End Ranking1037547294897429219853695478N/A
  • NMS – from 2009, Hamburg Masters is not Masters Series event
  • Davis Cup and World Team Cup matches are included in the statistics.
  • 1 – before 2002, he had 4–1 (Carpet: 3–1, Grass: 1–0) score in Davis Cup matches.

Challengers and Futures titles (7)

Singles

Legend (Singles)
Challengers (4)
Futures (1)
No.DateTournamentSurfaceOpponent in the finalScore
1.21 February 2000Zagreb, CroatiaClayCroatia Ivo Karlović7–6(14), 6–4
2.4 February 2002Belgrade, YugoslaviaCarpetSerbia and Montenegro Nenad Zimonjić6–2, 6–3
3.18 November 2002Prague, Czech RepublicCarpetFrance Jérôme Golmard6–1, 6–1
4.25 November 2002Milan, ItalyCarpetFrance Gregory Carraz4–6, 6–3, 7–6(10)
5.27 January 2003Hamburg, GermanyCarpetSpain Rafael Nadal6–2, 6–3

Doubles

No.DateTournamentSurfacePartnerOpponents in the finalScore
1.14 February 2000Zagreb, CroatiaClayCroatia Ivica AnčićCroatia Roko Karanušić &
Croatia Željko Krajan
6–4, 5–7, 7–5
2.17 November 2002Helsinki, FinlandHard(I)Croatia Lovro ZovkoRepublic of Macedonia Aleksandar Kitinov &
United States Jim Thomas
7–6(6), 4–6, 6–3

ATP Tour career earnings

YearMajorsATP winsTotal winsEarnings (US$)Money list rank
2002000101,122165
2003000277,74379
2004000579,37538
2005011702,67027
20060221,276,2659
2007000209,610146
2008000600,32644
2009000197,818133
201000052,464284
Career0334,024,686