El Aynaoui graces tennis world with comeback and encouraging result
He's the embodiment of charisma but Younes El Aynaoui had virtually disappeared from the tennis circuit after myriad injuries derailed his career. The Moroccan veteran, though, stormed back onto the scene last week, reaching the BMW Open semifinals.
No, it's not a senior tour. At nearly 37, Younes El Aynaoui is out to prove he can still light up a court with his tenacious game and engaging personality.El Aynaoui vaulted back into tennis consciousness last week by qualifying into the main draw of the BMW Open in Munich, then reaching the semifinals with wins over two top-100 players -- Belgium's Steve Darcis, 23, and Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro, 19 -- along the way before he fell to eventual winner Fernando Gonzalez of Chile in three sets. Gonzalez' first title of 2008 moved him up four places to No. 11. The Moroccan veteran has been sidelined for portions of the last two years with recurring severe tendonitis in both wrists, chiefly the left, which he had to immobilize in a cast for nine weeks at one point. He thinks he's licked the problem by using a lighter racket and dialing down to a lower string tension. "Honestly, I thought I could still come back,'' said El Aynaoui, who lives in Barcelona with his wife and three children, ages 11, 7 and 5. "I love being with my kids and living like a father, but in the back of my mind I always had a physical coach. I knew as soon as the pain disappeared, I could work all the other muscles in my body.''
Bonnie D. Ford covers tennis and Olympic sports for ESPN.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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