Very few tennis professional manage to stay on the tour for 26 years. Canadian doubles standout Daniel Nestor is one of those rare few.
In fact, Nestor remembers a time when he was playing the singles draw at the Canadian Open (now Rogers Cup) and was one match away from facing then world No. 1 John McEnroe in the second round.
He was just 16 years old at the time.
“I just remember being in the singles draw. If I would have won I would have played John McEnroe. For some reason I thought I was going to play him. So I was all nervous about that.
“Obviously at 16 you’re not going to win too many matches in any main draw. I lost my first match. It wasn’t even an issue. I remember playing a good doubles match and taking Mecir and Srejber to three sets. Pretty good team.”
Since Nestor has been around long enough to remember a potential encounter with McEnroe, that also makes him old enough to have witnessed a significant amount of changes in tennis technology over the past two and a half decades. He believes it has impacted doubles in exactly the same way that it had singles competition.
“It is something similar to singles, the fact that they slowed the courts down, the balls down. A lot of guys are playing much more from the baseline. They’ll serve and stay back, and it’s almost like women’s doubles sometimes with the cross-court rallies from the baseline.
“Guys are bigger, stronger, just like in singles, serving bigger, returning better, and more athletic for sure.”
While players tend to retire in their thirties, Nestor is now well into his forties and still winning titles and making deep runs in tournaments. While he suggested that his extra work in the gym has allowed him to stay in shape and hang with the younger generation, he is also aware that doubles competition is far less strenuous than singles action.
“I think from my standpoint just spending more time in the gym has enables me to hang in there. It’s obvious that doubles is less physical than singles. You can play a little bit longer.”
The Canadian does not know how many more years he has on the tour. All he knows is that he is not ready to call it quits just yet.
“I don’t know. It obviously would be nice. Right now I feel good and healthy. I’m enjoying it. So I can’t really answer that. It depends on health, for sure.”