Ken Skupski calls an end to his 21-year career at Wimbledon
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British doubles star Ken Skupski waved goodbye to a 21-year career having recently bowed out of the third round of Wimbledon, battling it out with 11th seeds Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies on Court 12, in front of the British fans.
The 39-year-old from Liverpool – who benefitted from the support of the NTC Pro Access programme – has not only been a key figure in British tennis throughout his career but has reached some of the highest heights on the ATP Doubles Tour.
A seven-time ATP champion, 48-time Challenger title winner, three-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist and a two-time Commonwealth Games medallist, Skupski finishes his career with an array of accolades fitting of one of the top professionals in the game over the last two decades.
“I feel OK actually,” he said coming off court after his final match at Wimbledon. “It’s fine, I’m old. I’m not really too emotional about it in a negative way. Now it’s about enjoying the moment, being here another 24 hours before going home and starting life post-tennis.
“The overall feeling is that I’m proud. The family have been here all week and it’s been a nice little journey to finish. The first and foremost thing is family.”
Skupski’s tennis journey started at Palmerston Tennis Club just around the corner from his family home in South Liverpool. With his parents both being keen players themselves it was only natural that both Skupski brothers would go on to share in their passion and from the age of eight, he started competing regularly in junior tournaments.
Having worked hard to build his game over the years as a junior, Skupski was rewarded with the chance to study and play tennis at the Louisiana State University (LSU) in 2002.
During his time there, Skupski made a name for himself with the fourth highest number of wins for any player in the College’s history. He went on to reach the NCAA doubles finals in 2005 – losing to John Isner in the final – and was the No.1 doubles star in the national rankings.
Skupski graduated in 2007 and in the following year joined up with fellow Brit Colin Fleming to kick on in his ATP career. The pair won their first ATP Challenger together in Jersey in 2008 but caught the eye of the world when they defeated world No.1 pair Bob and Mike Bryan at Queen’s a year later.
2009 also saw Skupski claim his first ATP title with Fleming in Metz as the Brit surged up the rankings towards his career high at world No.44 in July of 2010.
That year Skupski also got the chance to represent his country for the first time, both at the Commonwealth Games and the Davis Cup. Over in Delhi, he competed in both the men’s and mixed doubles at the 2010 Games – bringing home the silver medal for England in the men’s with Ross Hutchins and then winning the bronze with Sarah Borwell.
He became the LTA Colour Holder No.287 after he was selected by Davis Cup Captain Leon Smith to compete in Great Britain’s tie against Lithuania. Despite losing the tie, Skupski and partner Fleming got their first win together for the Brits. In his only other Davis Cup tie months later, against Turkey, the team needed to win to avoid relegation to the Europe Zone Group III and Skupski played his role in carrying the team to victory – claiming a straight sets win.
Skupski and Fleming split at the end of that year, with the Brit then going on to work with a several different partners including Robin Haase, Xavier Malisse and Jamie Delgado. But in 2013, he formed a formidable partnership with his brother Neal, who had just graduated from LSU himself.
“When I was just starting off from leaving college, he was top 75 in the world and I was around 700th in the world, he came down to play futures, play challenger level,” said Neal.
“We had great success from that start. We progressed as brothers, we travelled the world together, learned together. It was an amazing experience for me, and I can’t thank him enough for what he’s done for my career.”
From 2013 to 2017 the Skupski brothers provide prolific on the Challenger Tour – winning 15 Challenger titles together, including Surbiton in 2015 and Nottingham in 2017. During this period Skupski also reach his first Grand Slam quarter-finals, both in the Wimbledon men’s doubles, with Neal, and then also in the mixed doubles with Jocelyn Rae.
The Skupski’s made their breakthrough together on the ATP Tour in defeating Ben Mclachlan and Hugo Nys in the final of the 250 event in Montpellier in 2018. But after another title in Budapest the following year the brothers parted ways, with Neal starting to play with Jamie Murray.
However, the two joined forces once again to play one event in Acapulco in 2021, where they took down top seeds Horacio Zeballos and Marcel Granollers in 7-6(3), 6-4 to claim the biggest trophy in Skupski’s career. However, the Brit was then forced to take a brief absence from the game after being diagnosed with blood clots in his right leg.
The Liverpudlian has long had an affiliation with the Challenger event at the Nottingham Open as the winningest player in the history of the doubles event having won the title three times. The last two trophies came in the last couple of years, where Skupski was crowned champion with Australian Matt Reid (2021) and then again, a year later with fellow Brit O’Mara (2022).
An incredible ambassador for the game and a player with an undying passion for the game – as Skupski now steps away from tennis to focus on other interests in his life, he can be proud of his well-decorated career.