Radek Stepanek is possibly one of the most gifted tennis players to have ever played the game. Even at age 35 he can still push the World's best as he showed in his second round match at Wimbledon against Djokovic. I believe he can still do it because he is a thinker, his shot making is some of the finest you will ever see , still fit and hungry, he may do a 'Connors' and still be playing at 39.
The entertainer from the Czech Republic has earned just under ten million dollars in prize money, has won the Australian and US Open Doubles titles and has been part of the winning Davis Cup team for his country. In fact he played more than his part in both the Davis Cup victories in 2012 and 2013 as he won the doubles on both occasions with Thomas Berdych as well as winning the fifth and deciding singles match. Will Radek sleep a satisfied man at the end of his career do you think ?
He has never really been considered a singles player but he has produced some amazing statistics in his career in the one on one format, these two matches are proof; In 2007 he played Djokovic in the second round of the US Open , he lost by the score of 6-7, 7-6, 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 in nearly five hours. In 2009 he won the opening Davis Cup match against Ivo Karlovic of Croatia in 5 hours and 59 minutes by the crazy score line of 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, 6-7, 16-14. He was aced 78 times in that match but actually hit 170 winners himself including his aces . His ability to win a match like that is testimony to his stamina and mental strength.
The thing I like most about Stepanek is his ability to read a point, like a novel he has already read. He will quite often come to the net on balls that others don't see an advantage on yet he will pick the moments to finish the point as he is not a base liner. That's what makes him dangerous.
A good net player will move in when he sees his opponent line up for a slice backhand that most players are content to accept from the back of the court, Stepanek doesn't look at it like that. He sees a sliced backhand as a chance to move forward as the ball will lack the pace of topspin, a common move for someone who doesn't want to play long rallies.
The Czech drives opponents crazy with short angled volleys and drop shots that give no rhythm and will ask the question of his opponent " can you hit enough winners to beat me "? Radek plays a risky game as that sort of style is not what is common place in today's game but it is so entertaining for that reason alone, it's quite simply 'different'. His personal life is also 'risky'.
Apparently his marriage to former top ten player Nicole Vaidisova ended because of his new romance with Petra Kvitova, maybe just a rumor but a well publicized one. He was also once engaged to Swiss great Martina Hingis. Radek is a popular man with the ladies.
Stepanek, despite being a doubles specialist has won 5 singles titles plus 17 doubles titles and resides in the tax haven of Monte Carlo. His on court celebrations aren't everyone's idea of tennis etiquette but he draws a crowd with his style, a classic 80's net game that can still match it with today's power from the back. That's a talent in itself.......
Radek Stepanek, a talented player with an '80's' game who can still match it today against the best, and a popular man with the ladies.....