Roger Federer: The fans are the centre of everything
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Roger Federer has explained how his retirement at the Laver Cup felt like a “movie”. The 20-time Grand Slam champion ended his remarkable 24-year career on day one of the tournament as he joined forces with Rafael Nadal for one last doubles match and said he felt the end of his time as a tennis player was “perfect”.
Federer shocked the tennis world when he announced his retirement a week before the Laver Cup, revealing that the team event he co-founded would be his last tournament after struggling to mount a comeback from a troublesome right knee injury that had plagued him for almost three years. He was able to play one final match alongside his biggest rival, with ‘Fedal’ going down to Team World’s Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe in a match tiebreak.
The 41-year-old was honoured in a ceremony in the early hours of Saturday following the late-night match, and has now admitted that his farewell felt like a “movie” despite the defeat. “It’s very particular, it’s highly unique,” he told Set Tenis after retiring with his most important rivals by his side, with Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic also joining him as part of Team Europe.
“I thought the moment was special on many levels, it was different, it had everything. It was like a movie, you know. There was drama but yet there was happiness and it ended in a great way.” And the 103-time title winner said his retirement had been made even more meaningful with the addition of his Big Four rivals.
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He continued: “For me it was a special, special celebration of my career and that I was able to do it with my biggest rivals – not only just Rafa but also Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, for me it’s incredible really. It means everything to me. The send-off was just magic so I loved every moment.”
While Federer made his decision to retire weeks before releasing his statement announcing the news, he still believed he would be able to mount a comeback as recently as July, when he returned to Wimbledon for a Centre Court ceremony and told the fans he was hoping to be back to play the tournament one more time. As the Swiss star hadn’t properly thought through his eventual retirement in the past, he said it made the night even more special.
“Because I never knew how it was going to end, and for this end was perfect,” he explained. While he may no longer be an active player, the former world No 1 admitted he still hated to lose when Team Europe were unable to clinch the Laver Cup trophy on Sunday, and his desire to win was evident during his final match in the doubles as he admitted the defeat was the least significant part of the night.
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Sharing the standout moments from his last dance, Federer said: “Not the last point. For me it’s more just the lead-up to the match I guess. If you take it as a whole, releasing the news, the world knowing, the messages I’m receiving from friends and fans around the world.
“And then coming here, playing, once the match was over, everything that came after. In a way being able to celebrate with the team, suffer with the team. Being able to hug it out with all the tennis players, the tennis world and share that moment in front of the world with my fans. And then you add [the] team, my personal team, coaches and everybody, and also my family. It was incredible.”
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