Soeda Plays Final ATP Tour Event In Tokyo
Go Soeda began to close the curtains on his 20-year career on Saturday at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships. The 38-year-old played his final ATP Tour match in the Tokyo qualifying draw before bowing out in front of his home fans at the Ariake Colosseum.
He will close out his career at the All Japan Tennis Championships later this month.
“I feel no limits,” Soeda said, reflecting on his time as a professional. “20 years, I had no big injuries. I had a big target to reach the Top 100, and I [achieved] that… I’m just happy.”
A native of nearby Kanagawa, Soeda competed in Tokyo 15 times, including 13 main-draw appearances. At his home tournament, he squared off against the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and countryman Kei Nishikori, calling his 2019 matchup with Djokovic his “biggest memory” and “one of the big days in my life”.
“It means a lot,” he said of finishing his ATP Tour career in Japan at the long-running ATP 500 event. “I want to show my tennis to my family, my sponsors, the fans. It’s good to finish here, especially on the ATP Tour — in Japan there is only one event, so it’s a special feeling.”
Soeda turned pro in 2003 and broke into the Top 50 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in 2012, reaching a career-high of World No. 47. The Japanese recorded 56 tour-level singles wins in his career and claimed 18 ATP Challenger Tour singles titles in 31 finals.
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With a 409-242 record in Challengers, Soeda has recorded the third-most singles wins and claimed fifth-most singles titles in the competition’s history.
“So many tournaments, so many matches,” he said of those records, smiling. “I’m proud.”
While Soeda’s playing career is reaching its end, he will remain involved in the sport as the new captain of the Japanese Davis Cup team. He was a member of the 2014 Japanese team which reached the quarter-finals, but holds ambitions to better that result in his new role.
“My team is high-level, so we have to go to the final stage. That is my target, also our target, the biggest goal,” he said.
Discussing the 2014 team, he added: “I think that team is the best team in my life. but we can do more. We can go even farther, semi-finals… We have a chance to win the tournament.”