Federer. The best
The 15th of September will remain engraved in the memory of all sports fans. Perhaps the greatest tennis player in history announced that this year’s Laver Cup will be his last tournament as a professional, as he is retiring.
The Swiss is a symbol of tennis and sports, he sits at the same table as Michael Phelps, Michael Jordan, Michael Schumacher, and many others. His championships are a testament to the greatness of the Basel native.
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24 years of success
His professional debut was in 1998, but he already had a Junior Grand Slam in his bag. He won Wimbledon that year and when he entered the professional circuit the tennis world knew that this young Swiss had something very special.
His early years were a period of learning a lot, but that natural talent led him to surprise many tennis players of that time who were already legends. André Agassi even mentioned that Federer was going to become one of the greats, and he was not wrong.
From the year of his debut until 2002 he did not win any major, but his numbers were very positive. He won 4 titles out of the 10 finals he played, including a victory over Russian tennis player Marat Safin in the final of the Hamburg Masters. Federer was on his way to stardom.
2003 is perhaps Federer’s unforgettable year. His first Grand Slam came that season when he won Wimbledon by defeating Australian Mark Philippoussis. That was the moment when his dominance in world tennis began. From 2004 onwards he did not stop. In his trophy cabinet, he added the Australian Open, and the US Open and defended his Wimbledon crown. He won all the finals he played, he was number one in the world and his level was far from being equalled. At that time he started his battles with Rafael Nadal, who was to blame for his failure to win the 2006 Grand Slam, as he beat him in the final at Roland Garros. That rivalry marked them both by the quality of the matches they played. They never gave each other a truce, but they never lost respect for each other.
In 2007 Nadal returned to avoid the overall Grand Slam of Federer. The French Open was the one that cost him the most work. But it was clear to the sports world that we were witnessing a very dominant tennis player. Class and a lot of talent. He was not the most physical of them all, but his understanding of his opponents and the courts made him very cerebral. A true master.
By 2008 his dominance suffered a blow due to an illness. It dented his game, and he only managed to win the Australian Open and Olympic gold for his country in doubles. Time did not pass in vain either, injuries began to be a constant in his career, and every time the players gave their all against an opponent like the Swiss, that made the tournaments in which he played more complicated.
He prepared a lot for 2009, which would be an unforgettable year. Finally, the long-awaited Roland Garros arrived. He beat Robin Soderling and already had in his cabinet all the Majors. Only 8 tennis players in history have achieved it.
Perhaps the only blemish on his illustrious career has been his failure to win Olympic singles gold. He lost the final at London 2012, ironically where he won so many tournaments. Andy Murray took glory from him in three sets, the only major tournament to elude the Swiss.
Injuries became much more present, but he still managed to win Majors. Physically diminished he was always one of the best on the planet, if he had been at 100% he would have been unreachable.
There were many rivals and victories. His main battles were with Murray, Djokovic, and Nadal. The Big Four dominated the tennis world for the last 20 years, and Federer usually came out on top.
The level he reached between 2009 and 2018 led many specialists to consider him the best in history. But the simplicity of the Swiss tennis player was present, he did not like that label, he always mentioned that his current rivals could be considered in the same way and that there are players from other eras that he admires and considers to be the best.
That calmness and sobriety made him an excellent person on and off the court. He never had difficulties, he was a gentleman with rivals and fans alike. But the truth is another, Federer is considered by everyone as an exceptional player. The best of them all.
He always adapted to whatever surface or opponent he was facing. It seemed that he did not have any weak points, as the years went by, and he was running out of physique he adapted his game to make it more technical, his work ethic was impressive, being a superstar never crossed his mind, he was a normal tennis player, and he knew that he always had to train because the level of the rivals demanded it.
He was looking to improve all the time, he never relaxed and that led him to be so dominant, but that also elevated his rivals who were looking to get closer to him. Undoubtedly we lived a great era of tennis where Federer was one of the greatest figures, if not the greatest.
Last complicated years
In 2018, he won his last Grand Slam, injuries began to take their toll and the speed of the game increased and that affected him a little. By 2019 his level began to fall a little, was noted in the final he lost at Wimbledon.
In 2020 his knee gave out, and he had to undergo surgery. At first, it was thought that he would return to his best level and that there was still a lot of Federer to enjoy, but the pandemic and the injury deprived us of a comeback.
The Swiss took advantage of all that time to heal and train. In the tournaments he played, he was still fearful and not at his best, but he still had all the class that had always accompanied him.
In 2021, he had another operation, this time on the other knee, and something no longer felt right. Roger said he would come back, but many specialists and people close to him did not think so. He had plenty of motivation, but his body no longer responded in the same way.
The confirmation came in September 2022, he himself mentioned that he is no longer able to play at the highest level. That competitive spirit will never leave him, but he knows that he prefers to leave a good impression on the field rather than generate embarrassment.
His legacy will always be there. All the titles and epic matches he experienced are already in the memory and history of the sport. Federer was one of the culprits that brought tennis out of the elite and were seen around the world. The Swiss became an idol for many of today’s tennis players on the ATP Tour, an example and inspiration for athletes around the world. The Swiss has a legacy that transcends the boundaries of his own sport.
He will undoubtedly be missed, even his rivals posted on social media about what it was like to play and compete against Federer. There is a before and after him in the world of tennis.
Is he the greatest in history?
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