Roger Federer’s last-ever match – a moment he hoped tennis would never come – will happen later at the O2 in London at the Laver Cup.
It’s a tournament he created with his agent to honor his idol, Rod Laver.
Perhaps he should now rename it to move forward… after himself.
On paper, statistically, perhaps he could no longer be described as the greatest of all time, both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have surpassed his tally of 20 Grand Slam titles.
However, what he did in the game is second to none – the way he played the game is second to none.
His place in history was cemented. Tennis will never be forgotten Roger Federerregardless of what happens in the future.
First, there is the beauty of the way it plays. Dancer’s footwork, smooth strikes, a one-handed sword backhand, the easy power of a forehand, and cunning of his serve – not to mention his skill at the net and his wit on the court.
None of the shots seemed too difficult, with execution often being 10 out of 10.
At the height of his powers, did Roger really have a weakness? He always seemed to find a way to win unless one of the “Big Four” came out to stop him.
One photographer quipped that he tried for 10 years to get a confused shot of Roger, but never did.
Cool under pressure, always turning right, barely feeling out of place under the perfect headband, no wonder the All England Club loved it. But then everyone loved him.
Temperamental teenager throwing racket
It’s hard to imagine he was once a moody racquet-throwing teenager that Roger always seemed to be in control. Fans loved it – there was no explosion in the stadium, an embarrassing sight.
Many were waving Swiss flags and cheering for Roger even if they weren’t Swiss, this was the effect he had.
Regardless of the finesse with which he plays the game, tennis will miss what he did to the sport off the court. Honoring his time to fans and the media, press conferences were held in three versions – English, French and Swiss-German.
Before Wimbledon, he was giving all the crew, rights holders and non rights holders something. One answer from Roger was equal to five from everyone else, and he loved to talk.
I doubt he made it to the Wimbledon Champions Dinner on time. He was still there in the basement of the club, in the dark, talking to people like me at nine or ten at night. He is enjoying reliving his recent Wimbledon victories.
Even after his eighth win at the age of 35, in 2017, he was still excited about the process. He just enjoyed his victories and everyone around him did too.
I was once asked to ask him a question about the America’s Cup yacht race because Sky Sports was covering it and the Swiss team was up front.
I didn’t expect him to say much, but of course, Roger had an anecdote: “Funny story I’m training in Dubai and so did I and I saw them on their way to train one day and they invited me to join them in a boat, so I did.
“I soon needed to pee and asked where the bathroom was and they pointed out to the sea – I didn’t expect that on an expensive boat!”
It is fitting that Roger’s last match as doubles partner will be to his biggest rival, Rafa Nadal. He joked that Rafa was to blame because it’s been so long since he’s played.
His troublesome knee, which has kept him out of tennis since Wimbledon 2021, finally called up time for one of the sport’s all-time greats.
He never planned to retire for the Laver Cup, which is a bit like the Ryder Cup but for tennis – Europe against the rest of the world – but says his knee isn’t up for singles anymore.
And it’s a Federated way out: His long-term rivals will be on the same team he last played on, Rafa, Andy Murray and, of course, Novak Djokovic.
The players were the inspiration for great things themselves. Players who have shared some of their most important moments on the field with him are on the other side of the net. All four won 66 Grand Slam titles between them.
Rafa, Djokovic and Murray share a farewell to Federer, be part of a historic sporting moment, and put an arm around his shoulders if he gets emotional (and he will).
As the farewell goes, it’s pretty much perfect.