Tennis Birthdays – Feb. 10, 2016

A comeback kid turns 30.

Viktor Troicki (SRB), 30

Troicki is a bit of a surly sort, but he’s a very good tennis player and he’s got homie Novak Djokovic on his side.


The Serb served a year-long suspension assessed for refusing to take a blood test in Monte Carlo in 2013 (Troicki claimed he faints at the sight of blood – not a good thing to be when you’re a dope-tested athlete). Originally 18 months, it was battened down on appeal. His defence was weak, and then it came down to a he-said, the-doctor-said issue that wasn’t good for anyone.

Djokovic stood up for him, which was admirable and a good thing for a friend to do, but he was a bit misguided in this case. Rules are rules. If you don’t understand what people are saying to you, get clarification. It’s your career. But the Djoker remained behind him – even taking him along to South American for a couple of exhibition matches against Rafael Nadal at the end of that year.

Troicki got into the top 15 – peaking at No. 12 back in 2011. But when he began playing again after serving the suspension in July 2014, he was ranked No. 847 and had to start at the bottom again, despite getting some wild cards to help him along. By the end of the season, having played just about everywhere and anywhere, he had hoisted himself to right around the top 100. Impressive effort.

Now, he’s about where he should be, ranked No. 22 and a solid threat again. He won Sydney, beating Grigor Dimitrov in the finals, before losing in the third round in Australia to Milos Raonic, who was on a roll. He reached the finals in Sofia, Bulgaria last week, and entering this week was 10-3 on the season.

Sergei Bubka (UKR), 29

Bubka was more known for a couple of things outside of tennis – first, being the son of legendary Olympic pole vaulter and IOC mover and shaker Sergei Bubka, Sr. Then, for being the early longtime boyfriend of Victoria Azarenka.


As a player, he was journeyman-like. But then, he had a terrible accident when he fell three stories from a friend’s apartment in Monte Carlo late in 2012, after finding himself locked in the bathroom. You can’t make that up, folks. His relationship with Azarenka ended just a few weeks later, officially (she took up with the egregious RedFoo), so not the best time in his life.

Nine hours of surgery. Six months on crutches. He was lucky to even make it back at all.  A little over a year later, he was back playing the Australian Open qualies. Bubka played a ton in 2014, but lost in the first round in 20 of the 25 events. In all the others, he lost in the second round. He played two matches in Great Britain to start the 2015 season, losing the first and retiring in the second.

He hasn’t played since, but perhaps in his case victory was just getting back at all.

Bubka’s career high in singles was No. 145 back in 2011.

Martin Vassallo-Arguello, ARG (36)

Vassallo-Arguello, an Argentine who did make the top 50 in 2009 but whose career ended nearly five years ago, probably didn’t expect to have his name back in the news.

But with the recent focus on match-fixing, it’s popping up again.

Vassall0-Arguello was the opponent on the other side of the net of the “patient zero” of potential match-fixing, the match in Sopot, Poland involving Nikolay Davydenko.

He’s now a coach in Argentina.

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