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Federer prepares for his last ever competitive match – what he did for tennis is unrivalled | Jacquie Beltrao

Roger Federer’s final match, a moment tennis had hoped would never happen, will take place later at the O2 London at the Laver cup.

He created it with his agent in honour of Rod Laver, his idol.

Perhaps he should change the name to reflect his own personality.

He may not be statistically the greatest, but his 20 grand slam titles is now better than Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

Image: Federer won eight Wimbledon titles in 2017, the latest being in 2017. Pic: AP

But, his contribution to the game was unrivalled. His style of playing the game is also unrivalled.

His place in history will never be forgotten. No matter what happens in the future, tennis will not forget Roger Federer.

First, the beauty in his game. His footwork is like a dancer. He uses fluid, effortless strokes and has a rapier one-handed backhand. His serve is a masterclass in skill and wits.

More on Roger Federer

There was no shot that seemed too difficult. Execution is most often 10/10.

Roger had a weakness at the height of his powers. Roger was able to find a way of winning, regardless of whether any other member of the “big four” were trying to stop him.

Image Photo: AP

One photographer joked that he tried for ten years to get a shot of Roger flustered, but never succeeded.

He was cool under pressure, calm and well-dressed. He was loved by everyone.

Image Federer, along with one of his long-term competitors Rafael Nadal, attend a press conference before the Laver Cup

Teenage temperamental racket-throwing

It is hard to believe that Roger was once an unpredictable, temperamental, racket-throwing teenager. The grown Roger seemed in complete control. That was what the fans loved – there wasn’t an embarrassing scene or an outburst on the court.

Roger was a hero to many who waved Swiss flags and cheered for him even though they were not Swiss.

Tennis will be missing his talent and dedication to the sport. Press conferences were held in triple – English, French and Swiss German – to show his generosity and give time to media and fans.

He would give something to all the crews, rights holder and non-rights holder, before Wimbledon. Roger loved to talk and one answer was better than five from anyone else.

He probably never made it to the Wimbledon Champions Dinner on time. He would still be in the basement of Club in the dark, talking to me at night at 9 or 10. Reliving his Wimbledon victory.

He was still excited about the process even after his eighth win at 35. He enjoyed every moment of his victory and so did everyone around him.

A perfect farewell

Sky Sports had covered the America’s Cup yacht race and I was asked to ask him a question about it. The Swiss team was the leader.

I didn’t expect him to be so open-minded, but Roger shared a funny anecdote. “Funny Story, I train in Dubai, and so do they. I met them one day on my way to practice and was invited to join their boat. So I did.

“I needed to pee pretty soon and asked for help. They pointed to the ocean – I didn’t expect that on such a pricey boat!”

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Federer says ‘there were tears’

Roger will play his last doubles match against Rafa Nadal, his greatest rival. He joked that Rafa is in charge since it’s so long since Roger played.

He finally gave up on the greatness of tennis after his troubled knee kept him from playing since Wimbledon 2021.

He didn’t intend to retire at the Laver Cup. It is a little like the Ryder Cup for tennis, but Europe vs the Rest of the World. However, he claims that his knee isn’t strong enough to play singles anymore.

Image Team Europe’s Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal

It’s a Federesque way for him to say goodbye: his long-term competitors, Andy Murray, Rafa and Novak Djokovic, will all be in the same team.

He’s encouraged players to do great things. He’s shared some of his greatest moments on the court with players who have also been there for him. They have won 66 Grand Slam titles together.

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Murray, Djokovic, Rafa and Djokovic get to be part of Federer’s final moments, share in the sporting moment and wrap their arms around him if he gets upset (which he will).

It’s almost perfect as far as goodbyes go.


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