smiles and mixed tears for the farewell of “king” Federer

A thrilling match, knowing smiles with Rafael Nadal, his doubles partner, but also tears after the match point that ended 25 years of an admirable career, Roger Federer said goodbye to tennis, in London in night from Friday to Saturday.

With 103 titles on the ATP Tour, including 20 Grand Slams, 310 weeks at the top of the rankings, including 237 in a row during his longest period of reign, the imprint of “king” Federer on tennis is not close to fading.

A huge thrill ran through the O2 Arena and its 17,000 spectators when he last entered a court as a professional tennis player. It was to applause and tears — his own, those of his family, friends and admirers — that he left.

“It’s faces and emotions that I will remember” in several years, thinking of this evening, moreover attributed to Switzerland after the match.

In trouble with his right knee for too long and faced with the lack of sufficient progress revealed by a scanner a few weeks ago, he ended up announcing his irrevocable departure eight days ago.

He had chosen the Laver Cup, a team match between Europe and the Rest of the World, which he had chosen to create in London, a city that had witnessed some of his greatest exploits at Wimbledon or the Masters, to draw his reverence.

“I thought about doing it a month ago, but I just thought, if I had to do it, it was here,” he explained.

After almost a year and a half without playing, he was “satisfied” with a double, an exercise where his quality of service, his touch and his look still work wonders.

It also allowed him to surround himself with a team, and what a team! He had by his side Nadal, his one-night partner, but also Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, two players of his generation and whom he saw progressing until they challenged his superiority and even overtook him, as well as the next generation, embodied by Casper Ruud, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Matteo Berrettini, who replaces him for the rest of the Laver Cup.

– “Just a moment in my life” –

The presence on the bench of Björn Borg, as captain, as well as those of John McEnroe on that of the Rest of the World and of Rod Laver, the first player to have twice won the four Grand Slams in a calendar year and to whom the competition makes tribute, did not look out of place in this tennis celebration.

The formula of the Laver Cup, which allows the whole team to approach the players at the change of sides to provide advice or encouragement, created a very friendly atmosphere.

And if the match itself sometimes looked like an exhibition, not playing it thoroughly would almost have been a crime of lèse-majesté.

“We’ll take advantage of the moment but we won’t hold back, sorry Roger,” Sock warned before the match.

Despite some limitations, Federer responded. It was on a winning forehand volley that he offered his team the first set ball, won on one of his passes that Sock was unable to return (6-4), to the delight of the public. .

“Honestly, I was surprised to be able to play so well tonight, and I just enjoyed it. It was brilliant from start to finish,” he said.

The second set, lost in the tie-break (7-2), offered a dramatic epilogue with an intense crossover during the super final tie-break. Federer even served for the match at 9-8, but in the end it was the Americans who spoiled the party a bit by finally winning 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 11-9.

In view of the incredible career and the importance he will have had in the evolution of this sport in the 21st century, this defeat will be an event and he himself said he was ready for his new life which began in the London night.

“The part that scared me the most was talking on the microphone (…) because I know how impossible I become when I’m too emotional,” he confessed.

“But I managed to keep in mind (…) how wonderful the day had been, that it was not the end, that life goes on, I am healthy, happy, everything is fine, it’s just a moment in my life”, he added, modestly, facing a historic day for tennis and even sport.

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