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Kiefer quits tennis to focus on family

Germany's Nicolas Kiefer is saying goodbye to tennis after 15 years playing on the ATP Tour.
Germany's Nicolas Kiefer is saying goodbye to tennis after 15 years playing on the ATP Tour.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Nicolas Kiefer retires from professional tennis at the age of 33
  • Former world number four wants to spend more time with his partner and baby daughter
  • German is currently ranked 722 after suffering wrist problems over the last couple of years
  • Kiefer reached semifinals of Australian Open and won an Olympic silver medal in doubles

(CNN) -- He was once hailed as the next Boris Becker. But, more than a decade later, Nicolas Kiefer has called time on his tennis career after failing to build on the promise that took him to the heights of fourth in the world rankings.

"It is time to start a new chapter in life," the 33-year-old, who became a father for the first time in 2010, said in a statement on his official website on Thursday.

The German made headlines in 1997 when he reached the quarterfinals of Wimbledon at the tender age of 19, and won his home tournament in Halle two years later -- the third of his six titles on the ATP Tour as he earned more than $7 million on the circuit.

He went on to claim an Olympic silver medal in doubles in 2004 with compatriot Rainer Schuttler, before progressing to the last four of the Australian Open in 2006 -- his best performance in a grand slam.

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However, after suffering a wrist injury that year, the player tipped to follow in the footsteps of six-time major winner Becker has struggled to get back to the top of the game, playing on the lowly Challenger Tour and slipping to a world ranking of just 722.

Every evening I fall asleep next to my daughter. Every morning I wake up next to her. Those are moments I don't want to miss
--Nicolas Kiefer
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"That's going to follow me around my whole life, but that's okay," Kiefer said of the comparisons in an exclusive interview with German newspaper Die Welt.

"There can only be one Boris Becker. He was my biggest motivator. I learned the most from him, and I'm very grateful to him for that.

"Sometimes I just missed out by a pinch. But that's what makes the difference between a Boris Becker and someone not so successful."

Despite having previously said he wanted to continue playing until the 2012 Olympics in London, Kiefer is now looking forward to a new life away from the court with girlfriend Anna and five-month-old daughter Mabelle Emilienne.

"A couple of days ago I looked in the mirror and said to myself -- come on, you've had a great career, you've met lots of great people, traveled to lots of countries, and learnt so much. Enough. You're a father now, you have a daughter," he said.

"The last few times I was away, I've known what I've been missing. Every evening I fall asleep next to my daughter Mabelle. Every morning I wake up next to her. Those are moments I don't want to miss."

Known as "Kiwi" to his fans, Kiefer will have more time to concentrate on interests away from tennis, including his favorite football team Hanover 96 -- for whom he scored a goal while playing in a friendly match in 2005.

Kiefer is also studying for a degree in sports management, and he told Die Welt that he may return to tennis in the future utilizing his newfound skills.

"It will be something exciting, interesting for me," he said. "Maybe in tennis, as a manager or consultant. Why not?"