“Today I picked it up from the beginning,” Polasek said of his returning, adding that Dodig, 36, was normally the more reliable returner on the team, which was seeded ninth in the tournament. “I was just trying to keep going as long as possible.”
Polasek, a 35-year-old from Slovakia, has already been able to keep his career going well beyond what he had ever imagined, after having effectively retired from tennis at the end of the 2013 season because of a back injury that affected nerves connected to his left leg.
“I couldn’t really feel my left leg,” Polasek told the broadcaster Mike Cation in 2019. “I couldn’t jump, I couldn’t land on it, I couldn’t push my left leg. The leg was even bouncing when I finished matches. Then I decided to stop.”
When treatments failed to improve his condition, Polasek spent three years coaching youth tennis. He said he was not thinking of competing on the tour during that time, and he did not play a Grand Slam event between the 2013 United States Open and Wimbledon in 2019.
Polasek had been at peace with a career in which he had reached the top 20 and won 11 ATP titles in doubles, but the American tennis player Mike Bryan pulled him back onto the tour. Bryan, who is now retired, had found Polasek when he was looking for practice partners while in Slovakia with his Slovak girlfriend, Nadia Murgasova, who is now his wife.