Grand slam paydays fund journeyman lifestyle for Robert

Sat Jan 18, 2014 1:01am EST
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By Simon Cambers

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Stephane Robert pocketed the biggest payday of his 13-year career at the Australian Open on Saturday, earning A$135,000 ($118,900) as he became the first lucky loser to reach the last 16 in Melbourne.

For a 33-year-old who has spent most of his career on the Challenger Tour, the second rung of the professional ladder, such windfalls are the exception rather than the rule.

Robert beat Martin Klizan of Slovakia, another lucky loser, 6-0 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 to reach the fourth round at Melbourne Park, having squeezed into the main draw when Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber pulled out through injury.

The Frenchman, who reached a career-high ranking of 61 in 2010, will move back into the top 100 as a result but this time last year, he was ranked 280th in the world and thinking about retiring.

"Last year was difficult because I was 280 so I had to be careful with money and I was going to backpackers sometimes," Robert told Reuters.

"But I enjoy it, I meet people, so it's OK. I don't mind. I don't need anything. I feel happy with what I'm doing. I can sleep in backpackers sometimes when I'm not practicing.

"Not during a tournament because you're in something more comfortable (but) it's quite fun."

Unlike many players, Robert seems to have found a happy medium, playing most of the year on the Challenger Tour but then raising his game for the grand slam events.   Continued...

Stephane Robert of France celebrates defeating Martin Klizan of Slovakia during their men's singles match at the Australian Open 2014 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 18, 2014. REUTERS/Brandon Malone