Serbia’s Nenad Zimonjic celebrated his 500 tour-level doubles matches on Wednesday. The 35-year-old Zimonjic partnered Frenchman Michael Llodra to a 5-7, 6-3, 10-6 victory over Italians Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini on Wednesday at the Shanghai Rolex Masters.
Afterwards, Shanghai Rolex Masters Tournament Director Michael Luevano presented Zimonjic with a cake to mark the milestone. Zimonjic has a 500-253 lifetime doubles record, including 42 titles.
What does it mean to reach 500 doubles wins on the ATP World Tour?
It’s a really nice achievement. You appreciate every win in any competition, so to get to 500 match wins is amazing. I have to thank all my partners over the years.
How does this milestone rank in comparison to your other top achievements, such as reaching No. 1, winning Davis Cup and claiming three men’s doubles Grand Slam titles?
If you don’t put yourself in a position to win titles, you don’t get to win many matches. I have been fortunate to win Grand Slam championships, [Barclays] ATP World Tour Finals, [ATP World Tour] Masters 1000 and Davis Cup titles, which has helped me reach this milestone.
You and Michael Llodra are enjoying a fine season in the first year of your partnership. What’s one thing you’ve learned through playing with Mika thus far?
It’s all about understanding each other to play the best way you can as a team. When I started with Daniel Nestor a few years ago, we played well together straight away. The difference with Mika is that he is still playing high-level singles. We have done a really good job so far, playing very well since [the Mutua Madrid Open] Madrid in May. Most importantly, we are improving with each win and even when we are not playing well, we still find a way to win.
Which shot in your game has contributed most to your success in doubles, and why?
I believe my serve is my best shot. But I think it is because I have always adopted a professional approach to tennis and that has helped me when I have partnered several players. I was switching partners regularly until 2006, when I played with one player full-time. I am still playing for the love of the game and I try to practise harder than ever.
If you could pick just one of your 500 doubles wins to be remembered for, what match would you choose and why?
My two biggest wins that stick in my memory are my first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2008, with Daniel, when I played with a broken left hand. Fortunately I have a single-handed backhand, because otherwise it would have been impossible. Secondly, our 2008 Tennis Masters Cup title win over the Bryans, when the year-end World No. 1 team ranking was decided on one match. It also marked my rise to the individual World No. 1 position.
What goals/targets do you have moving forward from this milestone?
I don’t have specific goals, but I have the belief that every tournament I enter, I believe if I can play well I have a good chance of beating anybody and winning more titles.
Give us your dream doubles match… teams, venue and score? Your partner and opponents can be any player in history.
I had my idols growing up, but I have never given a fantasy match much thought. I just like to play against the best, whether it be in singles or doubles. That gives me a lot of satisfaction and it pushes me to become better.