July 20, 2024

The image of a tearful Roger Federer, sitting alongside his great rival Rafael Nadal as he contemplated the final moments of his professional career, went viral in 2022.Novak Djokovic pulls out of French Open due to knee injury: What does it  mean for his Wimbledon hopes? | Tennis News | Sky Sports

It was the end of a career that spanned 24 years, in which the Swiss great claimed 20 Grand Slam singles titles, including an all-time men’s record of eight Wimbledon trophies.

He was the first of the ‘Big Four’ players – Federer, Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray – to retire, marking the slow closure of one of the great eras of the game.

In an exclusive interview with BBC Breakfast before the release of a Prime Video documentary about the final 12 days of his career, Federer spoke about retirement, his great rivalries and why he is excited about Euro 2024.

‘After the rivalry, we get on super well’

Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray had an era-defining rivalry. Federer’s final professional match was a doubles outing with Nadal for Team Europe at the Laver Cup. Federer’s style was often described as effortless, but he has spoken recently about how that was not the case.

“I think it’s a great compliment to hear that because effortlessness is a myth, as we now know.

“Everyone is very different. For some, it’s their only way of playing by showing that grit. For me, I needed the balance. I could not go through a career with Rafa’s intensity. He’s running around the locker room getting intense. I was looking at him thinking: ‘Jeez, I’d be tired before getting on court.’

“We both can’t do it the other way and that’s why there’s so much mutual respect between athletes and players. Me, Rafa, Novak or Andy, we do it all our own way and all roads lead to success.

“It’s tricky sometimes and there’s definitely moments when you don’t like a certain opponent, but then you like him so much. It’s important to remember this as a player – it is just tennis and at the end, we can be normal.

“You see us being super friendly with each other after the rivalry and we get on super well. It’s nice to be kind to one another.”

Federer recently said he and his fans did not give Djokovic the “respect he deserved”, external when he first emerged as a contender to the great ‘Fedal’ rivalry.

“Take that as motivation when the crowd is against you. I had that not very often but when I was younger, they would cheer for [Andre] Agassi – they didn’t want the new guy to win.

“That can fuel you in a way. You can take it from anywhere and Novak has been a master of that.”

‘I hope Andy, Rafa and Novak can keep playing forever’

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