A fitting farewell for tennis’ most prestigious player

A fitting farewell for tennis’ most prestigious player

  • Roger Federer bid farewell to tennis at the Laver Cup on Friday.
  • The event was a fitting farewell for tennis’ most prestigious player.
  • “It was a great day,” Federer said.

LONDON – Roger Federer bid farewell to tennis with a loss in the final match of his career on Friday night at the Laver Cup.

The Swiss icon, who announced his impending retirement from tennis just last week, has teamed up with Rafael Nadal to take on American duo Jack Sock and Francis Tiafoe in the tournament’s first doubles match.

Shock and Tiafoe won 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 11-9.

Despite the loss, the night – and Federer’s career – ended with tears of joy for the 41-year-old.

“It was a great day,” Federer said in his on-court interview shortly after a career highlight video was shown on screens at the O2 Arena. “I told the guys I’m happy, not sad. It feels great to be here.”

He added: “It seems like a celebration to me. I wanted to feel like that at the end and it’s exactly what I was hoping for, so thank you.

“It was a perfect trip and I would do it all over again.”

Federer had not played a tennis match in over a year before Friday. The last time he took to the court was at Wimbledon in 2021, after which he underwent a third operation on his right knee. He had two surgeries on the same knee last year.

When he announced his retirement, Federer said he decided to listen to his “body’s message”.

Although he showed signs of rust against Sock and Tiafoe, the veteran star engaged the crowd with his graceful indifference and his trademark roller coaster of shots.

One particular moment of magic came in the first set when she squeezed a shot through the tiny gap between the net and the net.

“I enjoyed tying my shoelaces once again, everything was for the last time,” Federer said. “I didn’t feel that much stress, even though I thought something would go, like a calf or a back, but the race was great, I did it and I couldn’t be happier.”

The best friends

For much of Federer’s career, Nadal has been his biggest rival.

Over the years, the pair have met 40 times on court, with Federer coming out on top 16 times and Nadal 24. Ten of those meetings have come in Grand Slam finals, with Nadal again coming out on top more often, winning six to Federer’s three.

Between 2005 and 2010, during the height of their combined dominance of the men’s competition, they won 21 of a possible 24 Grand Slams.

However, in addition to being great rivals, Federer and Nadal have been equally great friends. The couple often dine together and know each other’s families.

Ending his career alongside the man who stood by him – whether friend or foe – every step of the way, Federer described as “amazing”.

Team Europe's Roger Federer (right) and Rafael Nadal during their match against Team World's Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe on day one of the Laver Cup at the O2 Arena in London.

Federer and Nadal are close friends.

Getty/John Walton

A fitting farewell

Federer has excelled both on and off the tennis court during his career.

Not only has he won the admiration of tennis fans with his elegant and effortless style of play, he has also won hearts with his humble and kind demeanor.

“Roger Federer is a living legend,” John McEnroe told reporters earlier this year. “It’s the epitome of what you want your child to be when they grow up.

“He’s the most beautiful player I’ve ever watched play.”

Andy Roddick once said of Federer: “He’s a real person. He’s not an enigma. Off the court, he’s not trying to be somebody. If you met him at McDonald’s and didn’t know who he is, you’d have no idea he’s one of the best athletes in the world.” people”.

Team Europe's Roger Federer shows emotion after their final match during the first day of the Laver Cup at The O2 Arena.

Roger Federer.

Getty/Clive Brunskill

Friday – though not Federer’s dream of winning a Grand Slam – proved to be a fitting farewell.

On a day when he could so easily and understandably be wrapped up in his own world, Federer remained as humble as ever.

Before his own match, he watched his teammate Andy Murray take on Alex de Minaur from his dressing room, cheering the Scot’s every winner and holding his head in his hands at his every mistake.

When he finally walked into court himself just before 10 p.m., he greeted the rapturous applause from the crowd with a typically demure smile and a wave.

After his final dance was over, he thanked his Team Europe teammates, his opponents, his family and his fans.

“Everybody’s here, boys and girls,” he said. “My wife has been so supportive. She could have stopped me a long time ago, but she didn’t. She kept me and allowed me to play, so it’s amazing, thank you.

“It’s funny, we always blame my mum for everything because without her I wouldn’t be here of course. Thanks to my parents, they were amazing.

“Just everybody, there’s so many people to thank. It’s been incredible.”

A sporting legend and a gentleman alike – tennis will never be the same without Roger Federer.

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