good morning everyone - and happy friday!
It seems as if we have lost two tennis legends this month. First, Serena Williams after she exited the US Open. And now, Roger Federer announced that he is retiring from the sport.
Federer’s retirement seemed imminent. He is 41 years old, has undergone numerous operations and his tour schedule became more and more sparse as the years went by. He hasn’t played a single competitive match in 2022.
Still, it comes as a shock. A legend like Federer shouldn’t be able to get away with retiring via a Twitter announcement. This is the king of grass courts. Wimbledon is his home as much as Basel. Why not at Centre Court, or at the arena in Switzerland that bears his name?
It angers me, selfishly, that he is leaving the tennis world like this.
But he has given so much to the sport. He has won 20 Grand Slam titles, 103 total career titles, won more than 1,200 professional matches, was No. 1 in the world for 310 total weeks and in 2018 became the oldest man to win a major title since 1972.
Most of all he gave us what was probably the most endearing rivalry in tennis history, that is his with Rafael Nadal’s.
The two players are perfect foils of each other. I think of Federer as an artist, as someone whom you watch and admire from a great distance. Untouchable. Nadal, meanwhile, drags you into the spectacle with him and it’s as if you fight every single point with him.
Dear Roger,my friend and rival.— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) September 15, 2022
I wish this day would have never come. It’s a sad day for me personally and for sports around the world.
It’s been a pleasure but also an honor and privilege to share all these years with you, living so many amazing moments on and off the court
I remember their great matches. That 2008 Wimbledon final, the greatest match of all time, comes to mind first. So too do the 2009 and 2015 Australian Open finals come to mind. Nadal will finish their history with a 24-16 record, but I always felt it was a bad matchup for Federer. His one-handed backhand was mercilessly targeted by Nadal’s looping forehand for decades.
No one ever played the sport like Federer. Like I said, to watch him play tennis is to like watch an artists at work. He floats on the court. Every stroke of his racquet is swung so effortlessly, so gracefully. No one has a more gorgeous backhand than he, and so few had as dominant a serve and powerful a forehand.
I will never forgive Federer for defeating Marcos Baghdatis, who was my favourite active tennis player for ages, in the 2006 Australian Open final. Baghdatis won the first set 7-5, but then Federer cruised in the final three. It upsets me to this day.
Baghdatis got his revenge at Indian Wells in 2010. Take that, Fed!
I only have ever known a tennis world in which Serena Williams and Roger Federer are active participants in it. For years they had shut the door on hopefuls trying to break through into the upper echelon of the tours. Federer himself, along with Novak Djokovic and Nadal, wrecked not one but two generations of “the next big things” because they were so dominant.
Now, it is time to face a new reality. To live in a new world in which these players exist only in handing precious silverware during trophy presentations.
We will get to see Federer play one more time, at the Laver Cup later this month where he will be reunited with his great rival Nadal. I will be tuning in.
Fitzie’s track of the day: Tongo Barra, by Vieux Farka Touré et Khruangbin
And now for your links:
Alasdair Gold’s latest video on Yves Bissouma, Dejan Kulusevski and Antonio Conte’s substitutes
Charlie Eccleshare ($$): Conte says Bissouma is struggling with ‘tactical aspect’
Celtic face disciplinary action from Uefa over royal family banner
The Guardian: Silence over football’s links with sexual and domestic violence is deafening (potential trigger warning)
Ben Foster announces retirement from football
Chelsea reportedly exploring buying Brazilian football club