After spending so many of their best years fighting on the biggest stages as they took their sport to unexpected heights, Roger Federer is hoping to play the final match of his illustrious doubles career alongside longtime rival Rafael Nadal. “Of course,” Federer said after being asked on Wednesday whether he would like the partnership with Nadal.
“For us to go on a career that we’re both welcome to and come out on the other side and being able to have a nice relationship is probably a great message not just for tennis but for sport and maybe beyond.”
After announcing last week that he would retire at the Laver Cup in London, Federer said he would only be able to compete in doubles due to the limitations of his surgically repaired knee.
He will play one game on Friday, the competition’s opening day, and then exit after more than 1,500 matches and 20 Grand Slam titles since his debut in 1998.
“I was in a very anxious and fearful place to face the music, the media, the fans, everything,” Federer said. “Being able to talk about it in a casual way without getting emotional, just because I know how much it affects me.”
It’s not easy to retire, but Federer’s final stages were particularly complicated. His final singles match would be a brutal defeat to Hubert Hurkacz in last year’s Wimbledon quarter-final, as he sagged his knee and lost the third set 6-0.
Federer underwent surgery in August and began rehab with the goal of returning to full competition, only for more complications to emerge.
“You start to get too pessimistic. Then I also got a scan that wasn’t what I wanted it to be. At some point you sit up and go: ‘Okay, we’re at an intersection here, at a crossroads, and you have to take a turn. What is the way? I wasn’t ready to go into the “let’s risk everything” trend. I’m not ready for that.”
For a long time, he was known and admired the way he was able to avoid major injuries. He said he always thought he would end his career without undergoing surgery, but had to come to terms with three knee surgeries since 2020. He says he doesn’t feel pain while playing, but the past years have left mental scars that helped guide him. to retire.
Although he considered announcing his retirement before the US Open, Federer decided he wanted to be present and ended on the right note. The Laver Cup, the event owned by his management company Team8, was a fitting venue. It’s in London O2 Arena, where he won two of his ATP Finals titles, is the city that defined his career after winning his first Wimbledon titles in 2003 and a men’s record eight Wimbledon titles.
“Having all the other guys around,” he said, “felt like I wouldn’t be alone in announcing my retirement.” “It’s not that I wanted to hijack this event or anything else, but I always feel sorry for players who sometimes retire to the Tour, say, ‘I’m going to play another game,’ and then at some point you lose and you stand there very lonely.”
In his latest event, that wouldn’t be the case. “Here I’m trying to prepare for one last doubles match, and we’ll see who it is,” he said. “I’m nervous to get in because I haven’t played in a long time. I hope to be somewhat competitive.”
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