Roger Federer ready for farewell match with Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray in action

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Roger Federer’s farewell

By Simon Briggs

Roger Federer admitted that the realization that he would never win another Wimbledon title brought him to tears last summer.

The 41-year-old, who announced last week that he would retire after the ongoing Laver Cup, revealed he collapsed after losing to Felix Auger Aliassime in the build-up to his Wimbledon final in 2021.

Fueled by the majesty of his serve, he was still able to get ahead and earn short points. But once his opponent gained the upper hand in a rally, he couldn’t return balls for long.

“When I lost to Felix in Halle [in June 2021]i cried after the match [as] I knew I wouldn’t win Wimbledon,” Federer explained. “You get to a certain point where against certain players who are of a good level, you create too many moments of having to defend. [But] there is nothing left in defense. So I had to play more offensively and try to work my way into games like this.”

It may seem strange to imagine Federer, the men’s record holder for Wimbledon titles, having to “work his way” through matches, especially on grass. But if we look back at Wimbledon 2021, he needed a little help in his first-round encounter with the awkward Adrian Mannarino, only moving forward when Mannarino went down and twisted his knee while winning two sets to one.

After more encouraging victories over Richard Gasquet, Cameron Norrie and Lorenzo Sonego, Federer’s singles career ended in the quarterfinals, where he was stopped in straight sets by Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz.

It is testament to the cruelty of the sport that Federer came out with a bagel set 6-0, just as Donald Bradman registered a duck in his final innings and Usain Bolt injured his hamstring in the 4x100m relay.

“The end of that match was one of the worst moments of my career because I really felt really bad,” Federer said. “It was over, the knee was gone, and then knowing that I had to face the media right after in a short period of time was really tough. But for me, it is what it is. You know you can’t turn back time and say, ‘Oh, we should have changed this.

“And that’s why I’m so happy that on my left knee [which had undergone a similar operation four years earlier] I was able to come back and win another three Slams, including that comeback win in 2017 in Australia.

“Because I had a good experience with my left, I thought, ‘Okay, my right is a very similar surgery. We’ll do it and maybe you’ll get another chance. Look, it wasn’t going to be like that, and obviously the last three years have been pretty rough. You deal with it. Going through rehab, daily progress is small, but I want to be healthy for life. So it was definitely worth it.”

Federer has admitted that he regrets his decision to have surgery on his right knee in February 2020. As he told reporters at the O2 Arena this week, he never regained the fluid movement of yesteryear, despite the better part of 18 months. rehabilitation.

“When I come back [from the 2020 Australian Open] I was so unhappy with my knee and had been unhappy for a number of years,” Federer explained. “So maybe doing that surgery, maybe I shouldn’t have done it in hindsight. But then maybe what could have happened is that it would have played and blown up at some point.

“At the time, I was 100 percent convinced that it was the right thing to do. I did the surgery, which was successful, and then six weeks later I have to do another one because something is wrong again. I mean, these things that you just can’t predict. There is always a risk when you open something. That’s why he always said: ‘It’s the beginning of the end once you’ve had the operation’”.

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