On Wednesday, Federer, 41, appeared for the first time since announcing his retirement last week in a lengthy social media post to the press for a special-atmosphere press conference.
Dark blue suit and white shirt with an open collar, the player with 20 Grand Slam titles did not want to give his answers too solemn a tone. “I really didn’t want it to be like a funeral […] with people saying to me, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry, are you going to be okay?’” he explained. ” I am happy. I am happy to have made this decision, because it is the right one”.
The Swiss spoke with legitimate pride and a touch of nostalgia, already, his fantastic career and especially the last “really special moment” he hopes to experience on Friday, bowing out.
Obviously, his recalcitrant body will upset his farewell a bit and he has obtained permission from the captains of the European team, Bjorn Borg, and the “Rest of the World” team, John McEnroe, as well as the management of the tournament he won to create, to play only a doubles.
“I hope to be competitive”
“It’s an event that I didn’t want to disrupt but, at the same time, I know my limits”, he explained, while the six players of each team must normally play one or two of the nine singles spread over three days.
To these nine singles are added a double per day. “I think it should be Friday night,” Federer said.
“I’m obviously nervous not having played for so long, I hope to be competitive,” he slipped after a year and a half away from the courts trying to heal his right knee.
Casper Ruud, Novak Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas or Andy Murray are possible partners, but everyone only dreams of an association with Rafael Nadal, as the rivalry between the two men has punctuated the circuit for years. “Obviously it could be a pretty unique situation if that happens,” admitted Federer. “We fought for so long, but there has always been this respect between us, our families, our teams of coaches, we get along really well,” he said.
“To have been able to maintain this good relationship is also a great message for the sport and beyond and for that reason it would be great if that happened. It would be a really special moment,” he acknowledged.
“I will not be a ghost”
A moment all the more special as it will take place in London, the scene of some of his greatest exploits with his eight victories and four finals at Wimbledon, but also two successes at the Masters at the O2 Arena which hosts the Laver Cup.
“I am happy to do this here in London […] This city has been very special to me. Perhaps the most special of all […] It’s totally appropriate,” he explained.
“Having Bjorn Borg on the bench with me for my last game also resonated something very strong in me. Having all the guys around me also means that I won’t be alone for my retirement,” he continued.
If he has already indicated that he will remain in the tennis world after his retirement from sport, he has remained evasive about his duties. “I just wanted the fans to know that I won’t be a ghost,” he clarified.