Swiss maestro Roger Federer, on Thursday evening (September 15), dropped a bomb by announcing his retirement from the game after this year’s Laver Cup, to be held later this month. Federer, former world number one, is easily regarded as one of the most iconic athletes and his retirement has led to reactions pouring in all from all corners of the sporting fraternity.
Federer took to his official Twitter account and wrote, “As many of you know, the past three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries. I’ve worked hard to return to full competitive form. But I also know my body’s capacities and limits, and its message to me lately has been clear.
“I am 41 years old. I have played more than 1,500 matches over 24 years. Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever would have dreamt, and now I must recognise when it is time to end my competitive career.”
Keeping his frequent run-ins with injury issues, it was only a matter of time before Federer called time on his storied career in professional sports. In the aftermath of Federer’s shock announcement, WION’s Sports Editor Digvijay Singh Deo caught up with former professional tennis player and commentator, Vijay Amritraj, who expressed a similar sentiment, asserting that his retirement couldn’t have been delayed any longer owing to his advancing age.
“Well, it was certainly coming. I mean, he’s 41 years of age, he’s won everything there is to have won, but we can talk numbers all day long because he’s really got all the numbers that you could possibly want… I think you could use a lot of superlative words to describe the way Federer played. Things like grace and elegance and beauty and ballet.”
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You mentioned Djokovic, you mentioned Rafael Nadal, well, I’m going to attempt to go straight to the GOAT debate.
“We can talk about this all day long, but at the end of the day, we’re just fortunate to have seen three of the greatest players of all time play in the same era. That is incredibly unusual to see, all these guys at 20, 21, 22 and we’re talking about Majors here, we’re not talking about Tour titles; we’re talking about Majors.
“And so, obviously, Federer got there first, Nadal came along and caught him, then went ahead a little bit, then Djokovic came ahead and caught them both, and then so on and so forth. But let’s not forget that all three of them are pretty much in the same category as far as GOATs are concerned.”
When Nadal came along, there was initially some tension, Nadal started beating Roger Federer, that was a point where Federer had his unparalleled reign, across men’s tennis. But over the years Vijay, that rivalry blossomed into healthy respect they now call each other friends.
“Well, I guess Nadal came along first to challenge Federer and started beating him. And then of course, once you beat someone, you think the guy is not good enough till he beats you again…
“I think when you look at that rivalry that got started, and then Federer realised that this guy is someone who is going to challenge me all the way through my career, needless to say, Djokovic came right behind him…
“So when you look at the challenges that came along, and the challenges got good enough to start to push Federer and Nadal, and then Djokovic started to climb up there into that same stratosphere as these two guys, and then they found another guy knocking on the door on a regular basis, they all had to raise and level up their game.”
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Why do fans tend to tilt towards Roger Federer over Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic?
“Yes, I think the reason we tilt towards Roger Federer, globally, is really because of the way he played, the way he conducted himself, he looked graceful when he played the game.
“Even when he missed, he looked like a ballet dancer. So you kind of tended to favour that portion of it in the subconscious on a regular basis. And I can understand that completely because he’s so beautiful to watch.”
If I could press you to perhaps recount one personal anecdote, which is going to always stay in your mind and define Roger Federer for you 20 years from now?
“Perhaps the one thing that truly stands out is meeting him for the first time. It was in Shanghai, getting ready to play the Shanghai masters. I was there covering for television, I was coming down the lift, and there was a lady in the lift with me.
“We started talking a bit and as we were getting off she introduced herself and she said, ‘I followed your career over the years, always admired you so much.’ Which was very kind of her. We came out into the lobby and she said, ‘I would like you to meet my son.’ And she then introduced me to Roger.
“It was great to meet him. He was obviously in the world finals, and she said to him, ‘Roger, you know, Vijay,’ we chatted a little bit and she said to him, ‘I always admired him for the way he behaved on the tennis court, and I hope you would do the same.’ And I thought that was a very special moment coming from his mom.”
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Federer managed to rack up a myriad of accomplishments over the course of his storied career that lasted almost 24 years. Most notably, the Swiss maestro laid claim to 20 Grand Slam titles, in addition to a whopping 103 ATP singles titles. Although the Laver Cup will be Federer’s swansong in the realm of professional tennis, his name will undoubtedly live on.
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