Adored by some, respected by all, Roger Federer will put an end to almost 25 years of an exceptional tennis career this Fridaywith a final match with his great rival and friend Rafael Nadal, on the Laver Cup in London.
“I don’t know if I can manage all this”, admitted the 41-year-old Swiss on Thursday at a press conference, when asked if he feared that emotion would overwhelm him at different key moments of this unique day.
“In the past I had very hard moments, sometimes I was horribly nervous, before matches over the course of all these years.”, he added.
With 157 finals in his career, 31 of them in Grand Slam (20 titles)you might think that Federer has enough experience not to get tense.
But the fact that that stage fright never went away also explains the longevity and success of his career.
“I could really come in every time and say ‘I hope to win this tournament’ for, I don’t know, 15 years or more. that has been a privilege”, he acknowledged,
End to the “endless days”
Waiting for this last meeting, Federer will relive for the last time all those pre-match routines that he loved and hated at the same time.
“I love tying my shoes, getting ready, putting on the tape (around my head), looking in the mirror (asking) ‘Is everything ok? Am I ready for this? OK let’s go’. But as much as I really love it, I’m glad I don’t have to do it anymore.”, explained the Swiss.
He also recalled “the butterflies in my stomach, the all-day wait, eating breakfast telling myself I had another big game tonight, and oh, 15 hours to wait. It’s fine, but it’s stressful and the days are endless”.
One of them will surely be this Friday. He will enter the fray in the night session that will begin at 6:00 pm for a match between the local idol Andy Murray and the Australian Álex de Miñaur.
But his last match promises to be memorable, in doubles, alongside his “best friend”, Rafael Nadal.
“Tomorrow (today) will be very special”, also admitted the Spanish.
“One of the players, if not the most important player in my career, is leaving. In the end living that moment will be difficult, but it is clear that it is very exciting and I am very grateful to him”, he added.
Their rivals, the Americans Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe, who will represent the World team, despite being aware of the honor of playing this unique match, have not lost their competitive spirit either.
“Whatever happens, these guys will not be the bad guys in the movie,” their captain John McEnroe defended them.
“What counts is to celebrate everything Roger has done in his career. Who wins or who loses is totally secondary”, he added.
After the match point, the result will be quickly erased with something stronger in which the human, sport and history will be mixed and sadness will not eliminate everything.
“We would like to play forever. I love being on the track, I love playing against these guys, I love traveling. It has never been difficult for me, whether I win or learn from defeats, everything has been perfect, I have loved my career”, summed up the Helvetian.
“Everyone has to leave the competition at some point. It has really been an adventure, formidable. And for that, I am extremely grateful.”, he concluded.