One of the greatest tennis players in history, Roger Federer, takes to the court today for the last match of his career.
The 41-year-old Swiss participated in a single match – in doubles – in the Laver Cup tournament. His partner will be his biggest rival over the years, Rafael Nadal – just as Federer wanted. It will be the 1,750th match of a 24-year career in which he has won 103 trophies, 20 of which have come from the Grand Slams – tennis’s four most prestigious tournaments – and spent 310 weeks as world No.1, including a record 237 weeks in a row.
Jack Sock and Francis Tiafoe will play against the two titans tonight.
This year’s fifth edition of the tournament will take place in London from today, September 23, to September 25 at The O2 Arena. It will be broadcast live on Eurosport 1 TV.
Two teams compete: the European team and the world team. Six tennis players participate in each. Their captains are John McEnroe (Team “World”) and Björn Borg (Team “Europe”). The vice-captains are Thomas Enqvist and John McEnroe’s youngest brother Patrick.
The day session today and tomorrow starts at 15:00 and includes two singles matches. The evening is from 21:00 and includes one singles and one doubles. On Sunday, the day session begins at 2 p.m. and includes two singles matches and two doubles matches.
Along with Federer and Nadal on Team Europe is Novak Djokovic, the trio who have dominated professional tennis for the past two decades, with a combined 63 Grand Slam titles. It also features three-time Slam champion and former world No. 1 Andy Murray playing in front of his home crowd, US Open finalist Casper Ruud (Norway, World No. 2) and Stefanos Tsitsipas (Greece, No. 6). .
Facing them in the world team will be Félix Auger-Aliassime (Canada) and Taylor Fritz (USA) – in the Top 20 in the world, this year’s US Open semi-finalist Frances Tiafoe (USA, #19 in the world), Diego Schwartzman (Argentina, #17), Alex de Minor (Australia, #22) and Jack Sock (USA, #128).
The first team to earn 13 points wins the Laver Cup.
The opening match pits Casper Ruud against Jack Sock. After them, Diego Schwartzman and Stefanos Tsitsipas will appear on the court. The first match of the evening session is between Andy Murray and Alex de Minor. Next up is the event of the tournament: Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal versus Jack Sock and Francis Tiafoe.
The tournament is named after the legendary Rod Laver. The Australian tennis player is the second player in history (after Don Budge in 1938) to win all four major singles championships in one year – Australian, French, British (Wimbledon) and American – (1962); the first to repeat this Grand Slam (1969). He, Roy Emerson, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are the only tennis players to win all Grand Slam tournaments at least twice. Laver, 84, retired today at the age of 38 with an unprecedented 200 titles behind him.
But it is not the “World” team that wins the tournament in which the Australian is so heavily involved. Team Europe has triumphed in its previous four editions in Prague (2017), Chicago (2018), Geneva (2019) and Boston (2021).
“I stopped believing I could go on.” So Roger Federer, in London for several days, explains to the BBC the decision to end his career. The reason is the injuries and knee operations that befell him, the third of which was after last year’s Wimbledon – the tournament where he won the most Grand Slam titles – 8, and where he played for the last time.
“The last three years have been difficult to say the least,” he adds. “I knew I was treading on very thin ice in the last one since I played at Wimbledon. I tried to come back, but my options were limited. And to be honest, I stopped believing in this.”
A few months ago, Federer had a scan with the hope that the results would be good. But they are not. And he understands that he has to announce his retirement. It’s stressful for him. He spent several “emotional” weeks working on the text he read on September 15. Then he announces the end of his career as the buzz from the last major tournament of the year – the US Open – dies down and the news does not detract from the attention due to new singles champions Iga Šviontek and Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz, just 19, the new world No.1.
From now on, Federer will not “disappear”, on the contrary. “I love this game and I want to stay in it in some form. I’m not going to be a ghost or some unknown,” said Federer at the end of his interview with the BBC. He hints that he would coach youngsters to bring forward the next generation of Swiss talent. But first of all, he plans to spend more time with his wife Mirka and their four children.