Appropriate farewell for tennis’ classiest player

Appropriate farewell for tennis’ classiest player

  • Roger Federer said goodbye to tennis at the Laver Cup on Friday.
  • The event was a fitting farewell for the classiest tennis player of all time.
  • “It was a wonderful 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 only announced his impending retirement from tennis last week, teamed up with Rafael Nadal to take on American duo Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe in the tournament’s first doubles match.

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

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

“It was a wonderful day,” Federer said in his on-pitch interview, shortly after a video of his career highlights hit screens at the O2 Arena. “I told the guys I was happy, not sad. It’s great to be here.”

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

“It’s been a perfect trip and I would do it again.”

Federer hadn’t played a competitive tennis match in over a year before Friday. The last time he appeared on the court was at Wimbledon 2021, after which he underwent third surgery on his right knee. He underwent two operations on the same knee the previous year.

When announcing his retirement, Federer said he decided to listen to the “message from his body”.

Although he showed signs of rust against Sock and Tiafoe, the veteran star still wowed the crowd with his graceful nonchalance and a reel of his trademark shots.

A particular moment of magic came in the first set when he shot through the small gap between the net and the net post.

“I liked tying my shoelaces one more time, everything was the last time,” Federer said. “I didn’t feel the stress so much even though I thought something was going to happen, like a calf or a back, but the game was great, I got through and couldn’t be happier.”

The best of friends

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

Over the years, the duo have met 40 times on the pitch, with Federer winning 16 times and Nadal 24 times. often than not, winning six to three for Federer.

Between 2005 and 2010, at the peak of their combined dominance of the men’s game, they won 21 of a possible 24 Grand Slams.

However, aside from being great rivals, Federer and Nadal have also been great friends. The couple often dine together and they know each other’s family.

Closing out his career alongside the man who has accompanied him – whether friend or foe – every step of the way, Federer described him as “incredible”.

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 London's O2 Arena.

Federer and Nadal are close friends.

Getty/John Walton

A fitting farewell

Federer has oozed class on and off the tennis court during his career.

Not only did he win the admiration of tennis fans with his elegant and effortless style of play, but he also captured hearts with his humble and sweet demeanor.

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

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

Andy Roddick once said of Federer: “He’s a real person. He’s not an enigma. Off the pitch he’s not trying to be somebody. If you met him at McDonald’s and you didn’t know who he was, you wouldn’t have any idea.” that he is one of the best athletes in the world.”

Team Europe's Roger Federer shows his emotion after his final game on day one of the Laver Cup at the O2 Arena.

Roger Federer.

Getty/Clive Brunskill

Friday – although not the Grand Slam winning dispatch Federer could have dreamed of – proved to be a fitting farewell.

On a day when he could have been so easily and naturally immersed in his own world, Federer remained as humble as ever.

Before his own match, he watched teammate Andy Murray take on Alex de Minaur from his locker room, cheering on each Scotsman winner and holding his head in his hands at each of his mistakes.

When he finally entered the pitch himself shortly before 10 p.m., he greeted the enthusiastic applause of the crowd with a typically modest smile and wave.

After his last dance, he thanked his Team Europe teammates, opponents, family and fans.

“Everyone is there, boys and girls,” he said. “My wife has been so supportive of me. She could have stopped me a long, long time ago, but she didn’t. She allowed me to keep going and playing, 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’ve been amazing.

“Just everyone, there are too many people to thank. It was amazing.”

Sports legend and gentleman in equal measure, tennis will never be the same without Roger Federer.

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