Kafelnikov is widely regarded as one of the fittest men in the world of tennis.
While this may seem like such a big claim for a sport dominated by talented and skilful players, the player’s record goes to further confirm this statement. The Russian tennis player is the last male player to have won the singles and doubles event consecutively at the grand slam.
Not only has the Russian’s career shown great finesse, he has also attained impressive feats. Of all champions to grace the grand slam and achieve the feat of wining both the single and double events, Kafelnikov successfully pulled it off on the torturous Terre battue of the clay courts of Roland garros in 1996.
The former player is known to have played more matches every season than almost any other player on the tour. The former world champion secured his reputation as one of the most committed players in the history of the game. Among his numerous records is the 1999 Australian open title and a gold medal from the 2000 Olympic.
More of his career achievements include 26 singles and 27 doubles crown and magnanimous prize money of 25 million dollars. With all these, the Russian quit professionally after about 1500 matches in his eleven years on the pitch. Addressing his retirement, the former champion was reported to have said “I just said ‘look I can’t take it anymore’ and I decided to quit.”
The defining moment for him was after a 6-2, 6-2 loss to tough opponent Mikhail Youzhny back in 2003 in St Petersburg. After exiting the court, the Russian has turned his focus to the world series of poker and has attained some impressive finishes. The former player has since then increased in weight and become 36kg heavier than when he played at his peak.
After so many years off the court, Kafelnikov has admitted to missing the game, and decided to make a historical though less glorious return as he made his debut in Eindhoven at the Blackrock tour of champions. “Slowly I am getting into better shape and hope to get more opportunities to play next year and perform better,” he said.