MONTREAL - Frederic Niemayer, Canada's tennis player of the year in 2002, has decided to retire and become a coach.
The 33-year-old from Deauville, Que, who represented Canada in 16 Davis Cup series, said Thursday that recurring elbow, shoulder and back injuries convinced him end his 12-year pro career.
He was named to Tennis Canada's development team to coach top prospect Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont.
"Physically, it was getting harder and harder," said Niemayer. "I had a lot of injuries this year.
"And my family is growing and it's getting tougher to travel with a small child."
At least he went out with a memorable match. His last action on court was a 7-6, 6-4 loss to world No. 1 Roger Federer in the second round of the Rogers Cup in Montreal this summer.
"My game was where it was supposed to be - I proved it in my last match with Roger," he said. "I was right there with the best in the world.
"I knew I could still play, but physically I just wasn't able to keep it up with those young guys."
Niemayer never claimed an ATP Tour tournament but won seven Challenger events.
His best world ranking was 134th in 2004, but he was Canada's top-ranked player for a full year from January 2002 to January 2003 and held top spot on and off until 2006, when Frank Dancevic of Niagara Falls, Ont., took over.
Niemayer had a 20-10 record in Davis Cup play, including 9-1 in doubles when playing with Canadian ace Daniel Nestor. He also played at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.
He will spend 25 weeks over the next year working with 18-year-old Raonic, who won two singles titles and four in doubles on the Futures tour this year and is currently ranked 377th in the world.
At the Rogers Cup in August, Raonic became the youngest player to qualify for the main draw by winning two tough pre-tournament matches. Then he held match point on No. 10-ranked Fernando Gonzalez before losing in the first round.
"I saw him when he was 16 and his potential was ridiculous," said Niemayer. "So I took him under my wing a bit to help him.
"As an older player, I thought that was part of my job, to get the next generation ready to replace me one day and now that time has arrived."
Raonic, a nearly six-foot-five native of Montenegro, recalls staying at Niemayer's house in 2007 when both were playing a tournament in Sherbooke, Que.
"He was helping me even though I had to play against him," Raonic recalled. "Everyone was joking around a bit.
"It was a night match and in the morning, everyone was a bit quiet. But really, it's just a match. You go serious, but right after the match it was fine. No grudges. I pushed him to 7-6, 6-4, which was a really good match."
Raonic recently completed a two-year stint at Tennis Canada's national training centre in Montreal.