After spending so many of their prime years fighting on the biggest stages as they took their sport to unimagined levels, Roger Federer hopes that he will play the final match of his illustrious career in doubles together with Rafael Nadal, his old rival. “Of course. Without a doubt,” Federer said after being asked Wednesday if working with Nadal would appeal to him.
“For us to go through a career that we both had and come out on the other side and be able to have a nice relationship is maybe a great message to not only tennis but sports and maybe even beyond.”
Having announced last week that he would retire at the Laver Cup in London, Federer said he would only be able to compete in doubles because of the limitations with his surgically repaired knee.
He will play one match on Friday, the opening day of competition, and then he will be done after more than 1,500 matches and 20 grand slam titles since his debut in 1998.
“I was in a very anxious, scared place to face the music, the media, the fans and everything,” Federer said. “Being able to talk about it in a normal fashion without getting emotional, just because I know how much it means to me.”
No retirement is easy, but the final stages for Federer were particularly complicated. His final singles match will fall as brutal defeat of Hubert Hurkacz in the Wimbledon quarterfinals last year, his knee gave out when he lost the third set 6-0.
Federer underwent surgery in August and began rehab with the goal of returning to full competition, only for more complications to emerge.
“You’re starting to get too pessimistic. Then I also got a scan back that wasn’t what I wanted it to be. At some point you sit down and go, ‘Okay, we’re at an intersection here, at a crossroads, and you’ve got to turn around. Where is it?’ I didn’t want to go in the direction of: ‘Let’s risk everything.’ I’m not ready for that.”
For so long, he was known and admired for how he managed to avoid serious injuries. He said that he always thought he would finish his career without surgery, but he had to come to terms with three knee operations starting in 2020. He says that he is not in pain when playing, but the past years have left mental scars that have helped guide him. him to retirement.
Although he thought about announcing his retirement before the US Open, Federer decided he wanted to attend and end on the right note. The Laver Cup, the event owned by his management company, Team8, was a suitable venue. It is at W. of London2 Arena where he won two of his ATP Finals titles, and it is in the city that defined his career after winning his first grand slam title at Wimbledon in 2003 and a men’s record eight Wimbledon titles.
“Having all the other guys around made it feel like I wasn’t going to be lonely announcing my retirement,” he said. “Not that I wanted to hijack this event or anything, but I always feel sorry for players who sometimes retire on the tour, say: ‘I’ll play one more match’, then one day you lose and there you stand. all alone.”
In his latest event, that will not be the case. “Here I am trying to prepare for one last double, and we will see who it is with,” he said. “I’m nervous going in because I haven’t played in so long. Hopefully I can be a bit competitive.”