Back to the grind for single-minded Nielsen

Tue Nov 6, 2012 1:23pm EST
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - Frederik Nielsen would appear to be living the dream.

A Wimbledon doubles champion in July, a member of Denmark's Olympic team a few weeks later and now ending the year playing in front of 17,000 spectators at London's O2 Arena in the ATP World Tour Finals with British partner Jonathan Marray.

Yet after a thrilling victory over Indian duo Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna in their opening group match on Tuesday, Nielsen said he was ready to give up the five-star lifestyle and return to the grind as a journeyman singles player.

Nielsen, 29, has earned $277,000 this year, almost exclusively from doubles, and will pocket another sizeable cheque to share with Marray after their shock Wimbledon triumph as wildcards earned them a place at the lucrative year-ender.

Clearly an outstanding double-act, Nielsen and Marray, 11th in the season-ending ATP Race as a pair, would qualify for the Masters Series events next year where the big bucks are made but Denmark's only Wimbledon champion has other plans.

His priority is to improve his singles ranking of 362 - a mission that will take him to the tennis backwaters where spectators can often be counted on the fingers of two hands.

Explaining a decision that has left Marray advertising his services, Nielsen, who warmed up for London playing Italian domestic league tennis, said he loved tennis more than money.

"The reason why I play tennis is because I love it," Nielsen, whose grandfather Kurt reached two Wimbledon singles finals in the 1950s, told reporters.   Continued...

Frederik Nielsen of Denmark (L) and Jonathan Marray of Britain embrace after defeating Bob Bryan of the U.S. and Mike Bryan of the U.S. in their men's semi-final doubles tennis match at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London July 6, 2012. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth