Mario Ancic was forced to retire from tennis in his prime due to a condition called mononucleosis. He now spends his time as a speaker on law and tennis at universities in the US. Image Credit: AP

Dubai: Mario Ancic has successfully exorcised the ghosts of his tennis past. More than three years after attempting yet another comeback on the ATP Tour, the 27-year-old Croat has turned over a new leaf, and with it a brand new life.

"No, I certainly don't feel any sort of regret leaving my career in tennis behind," Ancic told Gulf News on the sidelines of the 14th Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge.

"Instead I feel proud from the bottom of my heart that everything I did was so successful, yet short and sweet."

The lanky Croat, a special guest at the tournament of Khalaf Al Habtoor, chairman of the Habtoor Group of Companies, was plagued by an illness called mononucleosis during much of 2007 and 2008, causing his ranking to drop from No 9 to No 135 in the world.

"It was unfortunate that I had to stop doing what I loved, so I stepped aside," he said.

"It happened this way and the only thing I did was fight as hard as I could and for four years it was hard both physically and mentally.

"I came back 12 or 13 times and each time I fell I picked myself up and tried.

"But at no point did I have any regret. I cherished every moment and I have so many nice memories from tennis as it has always been the focal point of my life.

"I have met so many lovely people and kept in contact with players that I have played against and developed some great friendships along the way, just like this one with Khalaf Al Habtoor."

Short career

During his short career, Ancic won three singles and five doubles titles and his highest ranking was No 7.

Apart from personal success, Ancic helped Croatia win the Davis Cup in 2005 and a year before teaming up with Ivan Ljubicic to win a bronze medal in the doubles at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

"When I did make the decision, it was very hard, but unfortunately it was the only decision I could make as my health did not allow me to play at a professional level with my illness," he said.

"But I thank God that I had such a great career, although it was short."

Ancic is a law graduate from the University of Split, and after his illness kept him off the tennis courts, he started a fresh career as a speaker on combining the worlds of tennis and law at Harvard Law School.

Using his experience

"Very soon I will speak at Columbia University," he said.

"I am trying to use the things that I went through and hopefully to improve them so that the next generation can benefit from my experiences.

"The improvement is going on all the time and I feel it is my obligation to the sport to help and to talk and to discuss and to improve in every direction that I can.

"This is a very different life but I can say that I am proud that I turned the page and that I now continue my life.

"I am also involved a lot with the Croatian National Olympic Committee in trying to help sportspersons in Croatia with the problems that they are trying to deal with.

"Thanks to my background as a sportsman and now as a lawyer, I can contribute."