The news has finally arrived that tennis lovers have feared for some time. After a few years of recurring problems and operations on his knee, and understanding that it was unfeasible to return to competition, Roger Federer announced last Thursday his withdrawal from the Rod Laver Cup.
I was very saddened to hear the announcement, as much as it is within the normal and even intuited. Lately, talking about Roger with my three children who, obviously, also admire him a lot, I had expressed to them the wish that when the time came, the greatest icon of tennis would say goodbye on one last tour of the four Grand Slam tournaments to receiving well-deserved thanks and applause from the public.
I would say that hardly anyone, not to be categorical, has managed to equal him in his ability to combine the elegance and plasticity of his movements with the effectiveness and precision of his blows. With his exquisite manners, he managed to transcend his own sport and become a world reference, captivating many more people than tennis fans themselves.
In his moments of maximum inspiration, it seemed that he was playing something else. For many years he delighted us with subtle drops, masterful volleys or unlikely returns. And all this, giving the feeling of not even disheveled. One day, while I was in the locker room at the Monte Carlo tournament, he came in just after finishing his match on the center court. “I suppose you will play all week with the same shirt,” I said jokingly seeing how spotless it was, without a sweat stain. “No, I’ve got another spare”, he answered me with his kind sense of humor.
In Rafael’s initial years in the tourIn 2006 or 2007, I remember telling him repeatedly before going on court in his matches against him: “There will be times when he will make you feel very inferior. Keep fighting and wait for the storm to pass.” That was the feeling that he left you in the moments inspired by him, that of total helplessness.
Luckily for us, maintaining that level for a whole match, even for him, was very difficult. But I must say that, despite witnessing the devilish blows my nephew suffered, I have been very lucky to have been able to see him play so many times live. In my memory I keep all his confrontations, many of them epic, as well as innumerable plays that I have repeatedly searched for, seen and enjoyed on the iPad, in the tranquility of my home. I have nothing left but to be extremely grateful to him and to wish that he continues to delight us in tournaments for veterans or in exhibition matches.
Much has also been said over the years of the exemplary rivalry that Roger and Rafael have maintained. I myself have answered numerous interviews on the matter and I have recounted in writing how beneficial it would be, in my opinion, if what is fought hard for self-interest, whether on a tennis court or in any other field or area, is not understood as an affront and, much less to the opponents as enemies. The normal, the logical and the most human thing would be to feel not only respect for someone with whom you agree so much and to whom you are united by so many dreams, but also a certain affection.
In this sense, Federer has also been a role model. I think they have never seen him, not just direct rudeness towards the player who disputed the points with him on the track, not even egotistical attitudes or cocky faces can be blamed on him after his most brilliant points. He has never asked for the applause of the public with gestures nor has he demanded that they cheer him after a masterful point. His celebrations, whether following a big exchange or following a major title win, have always been understated and elegant.
I told in a previous article how the only Roland Garros final that Rafael has not celebrated by falling to the ground was the one in 2008 against Federer, in a final won in three sets, quite unpredictably.
Only three years later, in 2011, Roger had the opportunity to reciprocate with manifest consideration. It was in the impressive O2 in London, during the Masters Cup, when after getting rid of Rafael in a short hour with a convincing 6-3 and 6-0, he threw the last ball that Rafael sent out to the public and with Totally unusual behavior for a player who has just won such an important match, he lowered his head and did not raise his eyes from the ground until he ran into his defeated rival at the net to shake hands and warmly slap him on the chest.
The void left by this unrepeatable athlete is, without a doubt, very large, but his legacy is even greater. When one leaves an activity forever, one cannot have greater satisfaction than seeing the mark it leaves behind.
That of Roger Federer, without a doubt, will be indelible.
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This News is Published from Google Alert – Roger Federer.