Sun sets on Chile’s Golden Condor of tennis, Fernando González

Born, raised—and now retired—in Santiago, one of Chile’s most famous sporting sons ended his tennis career last week where it began 12 years ago, in Florida.

Fernando González’s last tournament was a sentimental and entirely appropriate choice. For it was to Miami that he came with his family at just 12 years old to develop a talent for tennis that would take him to No. 5 in the world, to Olympic medals and to 11 professional titles.

It was a bold step for the González family—a father who was a keen tennis player but managed a flour mill in Santiago, a mother raised in Italy, and his two sisters—but by 17 years old, Fernando was the French Open junior champion and the US Open doubles champion with fellow Chilean Nicolás Massú.

A year later, he was a professional on the senior tour and won his first title—against the same Massú—in Florida. But it was back in Chile that González won his second title, in 2002, on the golden clay of Viña del Mar, the first of what would become four trophies on home soil and the launch pad for his career.

After his maiden title in Chile, he beat Pete Sampras to reach the fourth round of his first Miami Masters, beat Andy Roddick to reach his first Masters semi-final in Cincinnati and then played his first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

This post is also available in Spanish