The moving farewell of the great Federer

Roger Federer’s final match of his career ended in a 6-4, 6-7 (2/7), 9-11 loss in doubles with Rafael on Saturday in London against Americans Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe, for the Laver Cup.

At the age of 41, and after 20 Grand Slam titles, the Swiss, who announced a week ago that he will bow out after 25 years of an extraordinary career, after this meeting in London, due to a right knee that hurt him a lot. , unable to hold back his tears after the match, received the tribute of 17,000 spectators at the O2 Arena.

Adored by some, respected by all, Roger Federer, on Friday, ended 25 years of an extraordinary tennis career during a doubles match with one of his greatest rivals, Rafael Nadal, in Laver Cup, in London.

With 103 ATP Tour titles, including 20 Grand Slams, 310 weeks at the top of the rankings, including 237 in a row during his longest reign, the imprint of the “king ” Federer in tennis is not close to disappearing.

A great excitement ran through the O2 Arena and around 17,000 spectators when he finally entered the court as a professional tennis player, under the eyes of his family, inevitably transferred, in the stands.

Troubled by his right knee for a long time and faced with the lack of sufficient progress revealed by a scanner a few weeks ago, he ended up announcing his irrevocable departure eight days ago .

He chose the Laver Cup, a team match between Europe and the Rest of the World, which he helped create, in London, a city that witnessed some of his greatest exploits at Wimbledon or the Masters, to earn his respect.

After almost a year and a half without playing, a single asks a lot for his damaged body, but a double, with his quality of service, his touch and his appearance, remains perfect on his strings .

It also allows him to surround himself with a team, and what a team! He has by his side Nadal, his one-night partner, but also Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, two players of his generation and whom he has seen develop until they challenge his supremacy and even overtake him, says also the next generation, consisting of Casper Ruud, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Matteo Berrettini, who will replace him for the remainder of the Laver Cup.

The presence on the bench of Björn Borg, as captain, as well as that of John McEnroe in the World Break and of Rod Laver, the first player to twice win four Grand Slams in one calendar year and for whom the competition made honor, does not look out of place in this celebration of tennis.

The formula of the Laver Cup, which allows the whole team to approach the players during the change of sides to give advice or encourage encouragement, provides a very friendly atmosphere at this time between opponents and friend

The match itself felt like an exhibition at times, but not playing well and not playing your best tennis is almost a crime of lèse-majesté.

Jack Sock warned before the match: “We will take advantage of the opportunity but we will not hold back, sorry Roger”.

At 7-7 in the super tie-break in the third set, Tafoe did not hesitate to “turn on” Roger Federer at the net and Nadal again at 9-9.

Before that, it was with a winning forehand volley that he offered his men the first set ball, winning one of his passes that Sock never returned (6-4), for the most public enjoyment.

Some rare misfires however came as a reminder that the master is no longer very efficient and the second set lost in the tie-break (7-2) made it possible to delay the deadline a bit.

The third set was an intense crossover, with Federer serving to win the match 9-8, but in the end it was the Americans who spoiled the party.

Tears quickly overwhelmed Federer who received a standing ovation from the entire audience.

Because of the amazing career and the importance he will have in the evolution of this game in the 21st century, this defeat is an adventure and he himself said that he is ready for his new life that begins that night in London .

“You always want to play forever. I love being on the court, I love playing against guys, I love traveling. It’s never been difficult for me, whether I’m winning or learning from my losses, everything is perfect, I love my career,” he said.

But “everyone has to leave the competition one day. It can be a truly amazing adventure. And for that, yes, I am very grateful”, he concluded.

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