We thought he was timeless because his elegance on the court seemed to be taken from another era. But even the legend of Roger Federer came to an end, and ended on Friday, along with his biggest rival.
• Read also: Laver Cup: Federer will finish well with Nadal
The date has been circled. After 24 years of a career that culminated in records that will never be equaled, El Sayed chose to play one final, in the Laver Cup, the tournament he helped create five years ago.
The 17,000 fans present at the O2 Arena in London would have liked to see him for the last time in singles, spreading on the field his footworks a lot more than a dancer.
But at 41, after more than 1,500 professional encounters and a year of inactivity, his bruised right knee refused. He could only play one game, in my doubles, which is less cruel.
with “best enemy”
Therefore, the Swiss along with Rafael Nadal, his “best enemy” of the past two decades, had his way in this final fight to the cheers of the public loyal to his cause.
Two veterans of Team Europe fought well. At times Federer seemed to chase after the weight of the years, making superb shots, like the one that allowed the unexpected duo to get back together with a 7-7 score in the super tiebreak, which served as the final round.
The star even granted himself the privilege to end his prestigious career on his own terms, when he served in a 9-9 victory over the “Voice” Let’s go, Roger! that echoed in the stadium.
It was Americans Francis Tiafoe and Jack Sock who had the privilege of playing this historic and reprehensible encounter from having to win it with the world team.
Seok had warned fans on Thursday.
“We’ll take advantage of the moment, but we won’t hold back. Sorry Roger!”
Thus, the pair saved match point, then raced for a victory 4-6, 7-6 (2), 11-9, signaling the end of a huge run.
Crying with his teammates
Federer didn’t crack right away. With a small smile on his lips he congratulated his biggest rival, who had become a partner for a day, before going to shake hands with the Americans.
But once he was back on the bench, Fed started crying when his teammates hugged him.
Novak Djokovic, Casper Ruud, Matteo Berrettini, Andy Murray, Stefanos Tsitsipas… players of different generations have all seen climbing the world tennis ladder over the past 20 years.
A sign of the massive impact he’s had on his sport, Federer wasn’t the only one wiping away his tears. Nadal tried as much as he could to suppress his face, while Tsitsipas’ face was completely red.
near his “garden”
The Spaniard, whom the Swiss crossed against 40 times during his career – hitting him 16 times – finally collapsed in turn, when Ellie Goulding was singing I still fall for you.
“I’ve always been a player in the team, basically,” Federer said in a post-match interview. But simplicity does not work well. »
Of course, this last meeting would have had a different aura if it had been played at Wimbledon, in the “Garden” of the “Mr”.
He had promised, when he was honored there last July, to return “one last time”.
But even the greatest say it: There is no right way to say goodbye. After three knee surgeries in a year and a half, Federer announced last week that he needed to listen to his body.
Therefore, 25 kilometers from the All England Club, where he won eight times, Federer will have hit his last professional hit.
The match at times seemed like a show, with Federer and Nadal bursting into laughter at the lack of shots, leaving aside the rivalry that moved them on the court to show the deep friendship that lives between them in broad daylight outside the courts.
“It is unbelievable [de voir tous ces joueurs à mes côtés]. Fed made it clear that I didn’t want to feel lonely on the field.
“You are all amazing,” he added, saluting the world team players, including Quebecer Félix Auger-Aliassime.
The world’s first player in 310 weeks, 73 singles titles holder and 20-time Grand Slam champion, Federer himself perfectly described his achievements in the last 24 years.
“It was a perfect career.”
“If I had to do it all over again, I would do the same. Thank you for everything.”
– With AFP
happy despite crying
Few defeats make a professional athlete happy, especially when of Roger Federer’s caliber.
Despite tears running down his cheeks throughout the post-match interview, and despite the breaks he had to take to make up his mind, Federer confirmed he was “happy” on Friday in the minutes after the last meeting of his career.
“It was a great day. I’m not sad. It’s amazing to be here and I loved tying my shoes for the last time. Everything was finally,” recalls the legendary Swiss.
wanted to celebrate
Federer, 41, wanted his last professional game to look like a “celebration” which is why he chose to play his last game in the Laver Cup, a team competition.
“And that’s exactly what I got,” he said.
He trusted on social media a part of this very special day, including the car trip to the O2 Arena that he took alongside Rafael Nadal.
“We’re on our way to the stadium and I’m a little nervous,” Federer said, laughing in a video posted to Instagram. […] I will prepare for 15-20 minutes, try not to overdo it, and let the “Rafa” continue. »
The legendary duo were also carefully seen after the match that preceded them, that of Britain’s Andy Murray, one of their top rivals for the past 20 years.
support his wife
Federer got really emotional when he talked about his wife, Miroslava Vavrinec, the mother of his four children, who were present at this wonderful moment.
“She was very supportive,” he admitted, before stopping to wipe the tears from his face.
“She could have told me to stop a long time ago, but she kept me going,” he continued. It’s incredible. Thanks ! »
►And thanks to the victory of Americans Francis Tiafoe and Jack Sock at the expense of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the 2-2 draw between the world and European teams after the first day of competition for the Laver Cup. Quebecer Félix Auger-Aliassime will debut on Saturday.
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