LONDON – Once he decided his tournament career was over, Roger Federer said all he had to do was write the perfect ending.
For months, he and those close to him kept the secret. He had considered announcing his retirement before the US Open, he said Wednesday, but knew he would not be participating and would prefer “a chance to say goodbye to the fans properly.” He had intended to do so during the tournament, but by then Serena Williams had announced her retirement. This means waiting another month.
Finally last week, Federer told the world. His newsThis week in London Laver Cup will play one final race That will happen. On Wednesday, he said that he will leave “happy” but not satisfied, and in his own situation.
“I always feel sorry for the players who retire sometimes on the tour, who say, ‘Let’s play one more match,’ and then you’re standing there alone,” he said.
Federer will instead be surrounded by his players, family, friends and fans. His final match comes Friday, a one-night-only doubles match expected to pit him against longtime friend and nemesis Rafael Nadal.
[Update: The Federer-Nadal pairing was confirmed on Thursday when the official schedule for the first day was revealed.]
“I thought it was a great fit,” Federer said as he finished his career in London, the city where he won eight Wimbledon singles titles.
Federer said on Wednesday that he had known since the summer that his career as a singles champion was over, whether he liked it or not. He was almost a year into his recovery from a recent knee injury and it felt like it was getting harder. He knew that pushing would take more than he was willing to give, and he might need another surgery, which he had already decided against.
“At some point you sit down and go, OK, here we are at an intersection, an intersection, and you have to turn,” he said. “Which way?
“I refused to go in a direction, let’s risk it all. I’m not ready for that. He said on Tuesday that he had “ceased to believe” he would be able to recover from his latest knee injury to continue at the level he has been receiving.
Roger Federer’s farewell to professional tennis
The Swiss tennis player left the game with one of the greatest tournament records in history.
- Evaluation: “Figuratively and literally, it has reinvented men’s tennis, and for the first time in years, the future of the game is unpredictable.” Author David Foster Wallace wrote about Roger Federer in 2006.
- How to improve the game: In the year In 2017, at the age of 36, Federer found himself in the midst of a career revival that was unusually late for any sport. Here’s how I did it.
- Billion Dollar Brand: Some tennis superstars have built sponsorship empires. But never He did the corporate class as well as Federer He did.
- Tennis after Federer: The Swiss player with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic He helped define an incredibly enduring moment in men’s tennis history.. Newly hungry players follow behind, ready to step into the breach.
“I know my potential,” Federer said. Looking relaxed and calm in blue blazers and a white golf shirt, he appeared calm in his decision and in control of his emotions – much to his relief, he admits – but admitted he couldn’t be sure how to do it.
“I’m definitely nervous going in, because I haven’t played in a long time,” he said. “I hope it can be somewhat competitive.”
His pairing with Nadal may be the tournament’s best-kept secret: both players hinted at revenge for Fedal’s so-called double-team in February. When you are committed to playing In the Lever Cup, a Ryder Cup-style event where competitors representing Team Europe and Team World play as a team.
Federer’s desire to play only doubles presented a problem with the rules; The tournament rules require players to compete in at least one single match, and since the trophy is a tour event, opting out requires the approval of both team captains as well as the tournament and ATP tour guides.
Federer, whose Laver Cup helped build a multibillion-dollar business empire, revealed on Wednesday that he first asked European captain Bjorn Borg for permission. After Borg agreed, he pitched his idea to world captain John McEnroe and toured officials to make sure his landing had their approval. Federer said Italian star Matteo Berretini will replace him in singles matches.
Federer, who was asked about reports that he plans to join Nadal in his final match, was fine with the matches not being confirmed until Thursday.
“I don’t know if that’s going to happen,” Federer said.
Champions are often defined by statistics and Federer. Compete with any player In tennis history: 103 Tour singles championships, 20 Grand Slam singles championships, 310 weeks at No. 1. He won eight Wimbledon championships, six more in Australia and five at the US Open in New York. And other athletes and his everyday fans are captivated by his composition, elegance and craftsmanship.
From early 2004 to October 2008, during one of Federer’s peak career seasons, Federer spent 237 consecutive weeks at No. 1. His two decades at the top of the sport spanned generations: Federer beat the likes of Pete Samaras and Andre Agassi as young professionals. He has traded shots and titles with Laver Cup teammates Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray over the years. And last week he was called “idol” and “inspiration” by the star player of the game, the new US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz, who was born two months ago. Federer won his first home match.
But while victories define his career, Federer’s losses help to humanize his life. He would retire with the most wins against the two major stars of his era, Nadal and Djokovic, losing to Nadal in the 2008 Wimbledon final and to Djokovic in the same two major matches. Platform in 2019. Federer held two match points at the age of 37 but was unable to close out the victory.
Federer has learned to control the fiery temper and competitive drive that frustrated both his coaches and his parents early in his career, channeling his fire into a measure of perfection. His emotions were not far from the surface, but he sometimes burst into tears, especially early in his career, in Victory And defeat.
He is best remembered for being cool: a shot maker who painted corners and lines As an artistA dancer whose gliding skills overshadowed his power and precision in the singles court, and tennis, and especially tennis, seemed so easy and natural.
“When you have the vision of becoming a champion, you win one race or maybe more than one, but not many, often in a row or as long as I did,” he said. “That was definitely very special.”