Roger Federer loses his last match before retirement in doubles at Laver Cup : NPR

Team Europe’s Roger Federer is lifted by fellow players after playing with Rafael Nadal in a Laver Cup doubles match against Team World’s Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe at the O2 arena in London on Friday, September 23. Kin Cheung/AP hide caption

toggle caption Kin Cheung/AP

Team Europe’s Roger Federer is lifted by fellow players after playing with Rafael Nadal in a Laver Cup doubles match against Team World’s Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe at the O2 arena in London on Friday, September 23.

Kin Cheung/AP

LONDON — This day, this match, had to come naturally for Roger Federer, and for tennis, just as it must be inevitable for any athlete in any sport.

Federer said goodbye with one last game on Friday night before retiring at the age of 41 after a superlative career that spanned nearly a quarter of a century and included 20 Grand Slam titles and the role of a statesman. He ended his days as a professional player with a loss in doubles alongside his old rival Rafael Nadal for Team Europe in the Laver Cup against Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock of Team World.

The truth is that the winners, the stats and the score (okay, for the record it was 4-6, 7-6 (2), 11-9) didn’t matter, and were all so completely off the mark.

After all, it was about the farewell itself. Or, more accurately, the farewell, plural: Federer’s tennis, for the fans, for his competitors and colleagues. And of course the farewell of each of those entities to Federer. “It was a perfect trip,” Federer said. “I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

When the match ended, and with it his time in professional tennis, Federer hugged Nadal, then Tiafoe and Sock. And then Federer started to cry. There were enough tears to go around; Nadal also swept his own way. As cascades of claps and screams of affection came from the stands, Federer put his hands on his hips, his chest heaving. Then he said with his mouth, “Thank you,” applauding back to the spectators who had been singing, “Let’s go, Roger! Let’s go!” during the closing moments of a match that lasted more than two hours and ended around 12.30 pm

These photos follow the career of tennis great Roger Federer

His wife, Mirka, their four children—twin girls and twin boys—and Federer’s parents then joined him in court for hugs and, yes, more crying. Members of both teams came together to lift Federer into the air.

“It was a great day. I told the boys I’m happy; I’m not sad,” Federer said. “I enjoyed tying my shoes one more time. Everything was the last time.”

The Swiss star announced last week that the three-day team event, which was set up by his management company, would be his last event before retiring, then made it clear that the doubles would be the final match. His surgically repaired right knee – the last of three surgeries came shortly after a loss in the Wimbledon quarter-finals in July 2021, which will take place as his official singles exit – is unable to keep him going.

“For me personally, it was sad at the first moment when I came to the conclusion that this was the best decision,” Federer said in an interview with The Associated Press this week about his emotions as he realized it was time to move on. to go. . “I held it in a bit at first, then fought it off. But I could feel the pain.”

He’d said he wanted this to feel more like a party than a funeral, and the crowd agreed and got up to a loud and prolonged standing ovation when Federer and Nadal, who is 36 — each wearing a white bandana, a blue shirt and white shorts – came together from a tunnel leading to the black track before the final match on Day 1 at the O2 Arena. They stayed on their feet for nearly 10 minutes, during the pre-match warm-up, with phone cameras aloft to capture the moment.

They came ready to roar for him, some with Swiss flags, some with homemade signs (“Idol Forever” read one), and they were heard with a wall of noise as Federer delivered a forehand volley winner on the second run of the game. the match. Similar reactions came only with the chair umpire’s announcement for “Roger Federer’s third game to serve,” and again when he finished that game with a 117 mph service winner.

“It was clear that 99.9% of the crowd was against us. But it was super fun to just be a part of that match. I think we will be eternally grateful to be a part of the final match of the GOAT said Sock, using the acronym for “Greatest of all time.”

Doubles, of course, requires much less movement and track coverage, so pressure on Federer’s knee was limited on Friday. He certainly showed a hint of his old flair, and of rust, as was to be expected.

There were a few early forehands that sailed a few yards too long. There was also a forehand that slid right between Sock and Tiafoe and seemed too good to be true – and it turned out to be: The ball went through a hole under the net band and so the point was taken away from Federer and Nadal.

While this match was essentially a glorified display, all four contestants played doubles as if they wanted to win. That was evident when Sock, a three-time major doubles champion who is 29, jumped up and screamed after a particularly great volley or when Tiafoe, 24, fired a few shots at Federer and Nadal.

But circumstances allowed for moments of levity.

Federer and Nadal were able to laugh after a bit of confusion about what kind of ball should go at a point they lost. After Nadal somehow fired a back-to-the-net shot around the post, only to land the net wide, Tiafoe, a semifinalist at the US Open, crossed over to extend a hand. to extend with congratulations for the effort.

In the first set, the older duo couldn’t quite hear each other between points, so Federer trotted from the net back to the baseline to consult Nadal, then pointed to his ear to indicate what the problem was.

Before Federer started winning Grand Slam titles in 2003, the men’s score for most major tennis championships was 14 by Pete Sampras. Federer blew past that, collecting eight at Wimbledon, six at the Australian Open, five at the US Open and one at the French Open, setting a new standard that equaled Nadal, now 22, and Novak Djokovic, 21, and subsequently surpassed , as part of a golden era for the sport.

Certainly, there are those who would have found it particularly appropriate to see Federer finish over the net from Nadal, often a nemesis on the pitch but ultimately a friend off the pitch. Perhaps it could have taken place about 15 miles away, for example at the Center Court of the All England Club, or at Court Philippe Chatrier at Roland Garros, or at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne Park, or even at Arthur Ashe Stadium, the centerpiece of the US Open. , the only Grand Slam tournament they somehow never faced.

Perhaps they could have given everyone a final episode of a live match-up as memorable as any in the long history of their sport — or, indeed, any other.

Roger vs. Rafa – only one name each required – is one of those McEnroe vs. Borg (coincidentally the two Laver Cup team captains, John and Bjorn), Evert vs. Navratilova, Sampras vs. Agassi, Ali vs. Frazier, Magic vs. Bird, Brady vs. Manning, and so on.

Over the years, Federer and Nadal showed individual greatness and compelling contrasts in their 40 matches, 14 at Grand Slam tournaments, nine in grand finals: right versus left, attacker versus grinder, seemingly effortless versus relentless intensity.

And yet there was an undeniable element of poetry with these two men challenging and elevating each other, acting as partners, slapping palms and smiling.

Serena Williams and Roger Federer changed tennis forever.  That also applies to their retirement

This farewell follows Serena Williams, the owner of 23 major singles championships, at the US Open three weeks ago after a third-round loss. It leaves questions about the future of a game he and she dominated and transcended for decades.

One key difference: Every time Williams entered New York court, the looming question of how long her stay would last — a “win or this is it” perspective.

Friday WAS for Federer regardless of the outcome.

“All players will miss him,” said Casper Ruud, who defeated Sock in singles 6-4, 5-7, 10-7.

The other results of the day, which left Team Europe and Team World 2-2: Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Diego Schwartzman 6-2, 6-1 in a match that was briefly interrupted when an environmental protester broke off part of the field and his own arm lit fire, and Alex de Minaur passed Andy Murray 5-7, 6-3, 10-7.

Since he started playing shortly after Murray’s loss, Federer and Nadal first gave him some coaching tips and then watched some of them on TV together in a room in the arena, waiting for their turn. When Federer and Nadal were in action, it was Djokovic’s turn to suggest strategy.

The final hurrah came after a total of 103 career singles trophies and 1,251 singles wins for Federer, both second only to Jimmy Connors in the Open era, which began in 1968.

At the peak of his ability, Federer appeared in a record 10 consecutive Grand Slam finals, winning eight of them, from 2005-07. Extend that to 2010 and he reached 18 of the 19 grand finals.

More than those numbers, people will remember the powerful forehand, one-handed backhand, impeccable footwork, spectacularly effective serve and eagerness to go to the net, willingness to reinvent aspects of his game and – the part where he is most proud of — its unusual longevity. In addition to the elegance and effectiveness while wielding a racket, Federer’s persona made him an ambassador for tennis, one whose immense popularity helped attract fans.

“It feels like a party to me,” said Federer before taking a walk that resembled a victory lap around the venue, blowing kisses and waving. “I wanted to feel that way at the end, and it’s exactly what I was hoping for.”

Supply hyperlink

Leave a Comment