“I don’t know if I could handle all of this”admitted the Swiss, Thursday at a press conference, when asked if he feared the wave of emotions that would necessarily overwhelm him at different times of this unique day. “I’ve had tougher times in the past, I’ve been horribly nervous at times, all these years, before matches”he pointed out.
With 157 career finals, including 31 Grand Slams, for 20 titles, ten at the Masters and even one – lost – at the Olympics, one would think he was immune to stage fright. But the fact that it never disappeared probably explains its unequaled longevity at the top. “I could really come up every time and say I hope to win this tournament for, I don’t know, fifteen years or more. It’s been a privilege”he also said.
No more “endless days”
While waiting for his final match, Federer will relive one last time the routines he loved as much as he hated them. “I love tying my shoes, getting ready, putting on my bandana (around my forehead), looking at myself in the mirror (thinking) Are you okay? Are we ready for this? OK, here we go! But even if I really like it, I’m happy not to have to do it again”, says the Swiss. He also spoke of “the knots in my stomach, waiting all day, having breakfast thinking I still had a big game tonight and, oh, 15 hours to wait. it’s nice but it’s stressful and the days are endless”. Friday’s will definitely be. He will only enter the competition in the evening session which will begin at 8:00 p.m. with a match between local idol Andy Murray and Australian Alex de Minaur.
Machine-gunned by photographers, Federer, Nadal, Murray but also Novak Djokovic (66 Grand Slam titles between them) posed in costume, notably in a shuttle on the Thames, before the Laver Cup gala dinner on Thursday. And the Swiss, who received a tribute from his former childhood idol, the American Pete Sampras, played a small game of ping-pong, posted on social networks, in his evening habit. But his last tennis match promises to be memorable, in doubles, alongside his “best enemy”, Rafael Nadal. “Tomorrow will be very special”also recognized the Spaniard on Thursday. “One of, if not the most important player in my career is leaving. In the end, living this moment will be difficult. But of course, I am very excited and grateful to be with him”he continued.
“Everything was perfect,” says Federer
While assuming the honor that is done to them to play this unique match, their adversaries, the Americans Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe, who represent the Rest of the World team, have not lost their sense of competition. . “It promises to be a more than cult evening and I’m proud to be there. We’ll enjoy the moment but we won’t hold back, sorry Roger”a loose sock, at the risk of spoiling the party. “No matter what, these guys won’t be the bad guys in the story”defended them in advance John McEnroe, their captain for the occasion. “What matters is to celebrate all that Roger has achieved in his career. Who will win or lose, I think is totally secondary”he added.
After match point the result will quickly fade behind something much stronger mixing human, sport and history and the sadness will not crush everything. “You always want to play forever. I love being on the court, I love playing against guys, I love traveling. I’ve never found it difficult for me, whether I’m winning or learning from my defeats, everything was perfect, I loved my career”Federer assured. “Everyone has to leave competition one day. It’s been a really, really great adventure. And for that, yes, I’m extremely grateful”he concluded.