After greater than 1,500 matches, 103 singles titles and 20 grand slams, it’s time for Roger Federer’s final dance.
The tennis nice will take to the court docket for the ultimate time to play with longtime good friend and rival Rafael Nadal in a doubles match within the Laver Cup at London’s O2 Area on Friday earlier than hanging up his racket for good.
Following 24 years of excellence on the court docket, Federer will retire as among the finest to ever grace the game, beloved by each his opponents and followers alike.
And forward of his closing aggressive look, a few of his hardest opponents through the years, who he’s crushed and – extra sometimes – misplaced too, have been paying their respects.
“He’s got many sports fans to start following tennis,” three-time grand slam winner Andy Murray advised CNN Sport. “He’s one of the most popular athletes across all sports because of the way he’s gone about his business on the court and off it, and yeah, he’s going to leave a big void and tennis will definitely miss him.”
Twenty-one-time grand slam winner Novak Djokovic echoed Murray’s sentiment, highlighting Federer’s wider impression. “As a tennis fan, not simply his as his rival and tennis participant, I’m grateful for every little thing he has executed for our sport.
“He’s brought so much attention, positive attention for our sport on and off the court and brought a lot of other sports fans to watch tennis, so his contribution has been huge. His impact was huge on my own career, I became a better player because of the rivalry that I had with him over the years,” Djokovic advised CNN Sport. “I’m sure that his iconic career will live for a very long time and will be remembered in the most positive way by many people.”
Though he’s not been in a position to characteristic as a lot as he would have appreciated in recent times, Federer’s presence has loomed giant.
Having made his Tour debut in 1998, he turned one in every of tennis’ most dominant gamers for over 20 years, setting data in Tour wins and males’s grand slam singles titles.
In his lengthy and storied profession, Federer additionally spent a document 237 consecutive weeks on the prime of the world rankings between 2004 and 2008. And earlier than his final match, he stated his longevity on the prime is one thing he’s happy with.
“I was famous for being quite erratic at the beginning of my career. If you remember, I was famous for being not so consistent. To then become one of the most consistent players ever is quite a shock to me, as well,” Federer advised the media on Thursday.
“That has been a terrific accomplishment for me, personally. Individuals can decide in the event that they assume that’s the case too, however for me, that’s one thing I’ve actually loved and that I’ve been in a position to keep on the prime for therefore lengthy and compete for any event I might enter and actually go on the market and say: ‘I hope I can win the tournament,’ for 15-plus years.
“I think looking back that has a special meaning to me because I always looked to the Michael Schumachers, Tiger Woods, all the other guys that stayed for so long at the top that I didn’t understand how they did it. Next thing you know, you’re part of that group, and it’s been a great feeling.”
Whereas each Djokovic and Nadal have overtaken Federer’s document of males’s grand slam singles titles, the Swiss has remained a fan favourite as a result of his class and style on and off the court docket.
The 41-year-old’s appearances have been restricted in recent times as a result of accidents, having to endure a number of knee surgical procedures the previous few years, and his final outing a straight-sets defeat towards Hubert Hurkacz within the quarterfinals of Wimbledon final yr.
He stated he had nonetheless deliberate to make a return to the game subsequent yr as not too long ago as two months in the past earlier than arriving on the determination to retire.
Federer stated he needed to get hold of permission from Workforce Europe captain Björn Borg and event organizers to play in simply the one doubles match on the Laver Cup – which sees groups from Europe and the remainder of the world go head-to-head in 9 singles and three doubles matches over the course of three days.
“Super special playing with Rafa [Nadal], feels really different, you know?” Federer stated on the press convention on Thursday. “Also, just walking out on court and having the chance to play with the likes of Rafa or Novak [Djokovic] also in the past has been an amazing experience for me, so to be able to do that one more time, I’m sure it’s going to be wonderful.”
Nadal advised the press convention on Thursday that he was “super excited” for Friday’s doubles match.
“After all the amazing things that we share together on and off court, [to] be part of this historic moment, going to be something yeah, amazing and unforgettable for me,” Nadal stated, “and yeah, super excited, I hope I can have a good time, play at a decent level and hopefully together we can create a good moment and maybe win a match.”
Federer will play on Friday night time within the doubles match earlier than Italy’s Matteo Berrettini takes the Swiss’ spot on Workforce Europe for the remainder of the competitors. The Laver Cup was based by Federer in 2017 and is called after Australian nice Rod Laver.
And for the person himself, who will undoubtedly obtain a hero’s send-off from the adoring crowd in London when he faces Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe with Nadal, Federer admitted that he would miss tennis.
“I love tennis, everything about it,” he stated. “I’ll miss the competitors, the followers cheering for or towards me.
“They’ve usually been with me all the way, so it’s been great. I can always travel, so I will not miss that, but I love going on tour also at the second part of my career with my family – it’s been wonderful.”
He added: “You all the time need to play ceaselessly. I really like being out on court docket, I really like taking part in towards the blokes and I really like touring. I by no means actually felt prefer it was that onerous for me to do – of successful, be taught from shedding – it was all excellent.
“I love my career from every angle. That’s the bitter part [of retiring]. The sweet part was that I know everybody has to do it at one point. Everybody has to leave the game. It’s been a great, great journey. For that, I’m really grateful.”