Philipp Kohlschreiber ends his tennis career after 24 years – 21 of them as a professional. The 38-year-old was argumentative but determined. Will he now help the German offspring?
Philipp Kohlschreiber has remained true to himself even in this moment. After his first-round match in qualifying for the Grand Slam tournament in Wimbledon against Gregoire Barrere (6: 2; 6: 2), he was brief. “It will be my last tournament. I will retire after Wimbledon 2022”, said the 38-year-old completely calmly. It carried him through to the next qualifying round, where he lost to Mikhail Kukushkin 7-6, 3-6, 4-6. The end of an almost endless career packed in a few words.
In July 1998, the name Kohlschreiber appeared in the ATP ranking for the first time. At that time, a certain Gerhard Schröder had just been elected Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. Little Philipp was just 14 years old then. What nobody could have guessed at the time: it was to be a great, around 24-year-long, sporting success story. “I’ve had a very long journey with great memories”said Kohlschreiber.
Quarterfinals at Wimbledon
He was able to celebrate eight tournament victories in his individual appearances. Seven doubles titles were added, as well as a success at World Team Cup 2011 in Dusseldorf. Kohlschreiber earned around 13.7 million euros from his tournament participation alone. At the pinnacle of this sport, the Grand-Slamevents, Kohlschreiber was never able to triumph. But he did make at least the fourth round in all four tournaments. In 2012 he even reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. His highest world ranking was 16 in 2012.
“He had an incredible career. What sometimes gets lost is how long Philipp was in the top 30 in the world (from 2012 to 2017, editor’s note). That’s phenomenal.”says Davis-Cup-Team leader Michael Kohlmann of the sports show. “That makes him one of the top players in German tennis history.” The 48-year-old Kohlmann once fought duels against Kohlschreiber during his playing days.
Discussive and instructive
“Kohli”, as he is only called by those around him, had the reputation of having an unconditional, unshakeable will and a completely professional attitude to his job in his younger years. However, some people around him felt his approach to be rather selfish. Kohlschreiber has already canceled his participation in the Olympics with a shaky mobile phone video. Or he had a tight-lipped “No” ready for the Davis Cup.
“Sometimes he didn’t give the German Tennis Association such positive news. But that changed in the later phase. But I never had any problems with him.”, says Kohlmann, who has been Davis Cup team captain since 2015. At least since then, Kohlschreiber has evidently become more and more of a team player. “He wants to be convinced and is certainly open to discussions. But always on a very professional basis. That was always challenging and instructive for me as a coach‘ said Kohlman.
Full commitment to your own cause
Kohlschreiber was always considered extremely goal-oriented and was respected by his colleagues. But he was never the one who drew attention to himself with cheeky sayings. He was visibly suspicious of the public and avoided it as best he could. For a long time, Kohlschreiber acted more like a loner who carried out his (sporting) cause with pedantry and full commitment.
Most of his environment came from the Free State of Bavaria or the surrounding area, which probably has something to do with his Augsburg origins and his ties to his homeland. The tennis base in Munich has been his training base so far. This is exactly where he could continue.
Too few German professionals
“I hope he continues to spread his expertise in tennis. It would be great if he did that with German youth or top players.”says Kohlman. “I do not have any plans yet“said Kohlschreiber in London when asked how he would continue after his sporting career.
A few weeks earlier, at the ATP tournament in Munich, he gave an insight into his future. He would like to pass on his experiences to younger people, he said at the time: “I would definitely have fun with it. I always said it was my way, my philosophy, how I was as a professional. I’d like to see whether it can be implemented by others.”
In any case, Kohlschreiber’s observations are clear. “We don’t have enough tennis players for our tennis Germany. Whether it’s women or men, more could happen.” He’s no longer part of it. Not only Kohlschreiber himself will have to get used to it.