Roger Federer (41) will retire this week as a Laver Cup tennis player. We revisit his impressive career in twelve memorable moments.
The Swiss made his debut on the ATP Tour in 1998, when at the age of 16 he received a wild card for the Gstaad tournament. Three years later, at Wimbledon, he put an end to the winning streak of Pete Sampras, undefeated on the London lawn for 31 matches in a row.
There was immediate talk of a changing of the guard and that also applied to relationships in Swiss tennis. Where Martina Hingis’ years of success ended, the country had a new hero in men’s tennis in Federer.
They even played together in a tag team competition, successfully. At the end of 2001, they gave the Hopman Cup to Switzerland, against Monica Seles and Jan-Michael Gambill, who were then playing for the United States.
Federer won the first of his 20 Grand Slam titles in 2003, beating service cannon Mark Philippoussis at Wimbledon. In the quarter-finals, Federer had settled with the Dutchman Sjeng Schalken during this tournament.
Where Federer and later Novak Djokovic thrived on hard courts, the era of gravel king Rafael Nadal also began. With mutual duels as absolute highlights.
Tears in Melbourne
In 2009, Federer was able to equal Sampras’ fourteen Grand Slam titles at the Australian Open, but Nadal put a stop to that. Federer then burst into tears, not knowing that he would overtake Sampras later that year.
Federer won Roland Garros in 2009 leaving Nadal’s winner in the final with Robin Söderling completely out of luck. And he was also the strongest at Wimbledon.
2009: Federer finally triumphs at Roland Garros
Notable, however, was the final battle at the 2009 US Open, when Federer unexpectedly lost to Juan Martin del Potro. It was the only one of his eleven lost Grand Slam finals in which neither Nadal nor Djokovic was the opponent.
A month after Federer won his seventh Wimbledon final in 2012, the replay against Andy Murray was a huge disappointment. Because the Olympics were in London, tennis was played on the grass at Wimbledon. But now Murray has won.
An Olympic singles title will forever be missing from Federer’s list.
Federer won another award in 2014 that was missing from his now rich track record. With Switzerland, he won the Davis Cup, because with Stan Wawrinka, he ensured victory over the France of Gaël Monfils, Richard Gasquet and Julien Benneteau.
Federer became a living legend and continued to peak through a somewhat more selective schedule into old age. Even though his body was starting to struggle more and more.
At the beginning of 2018, he first crossed the milestone of twenty Grand Slam titles, while dealing with Marin Cilic in Melbourne. This had never been seen in men’s tennis at the time, although Nadal and Djokovic have now surpassed it.
A record that still stands is that of the oldest world number one. And he succeeded in 2018 on Dutch soil, when he promised to play in the ABN Amro tournament in Rotterdam at the last minute.
He scored the necessary points against Robin Haase. For the Dutchman, this game became an agony, as he didn’t want to deprive Federer of that glorious moment on the track. The courageous Haase did not give up, even though he was suffering from the flu and even had to vomit during the decisive set.
Federer’s last Grand Slam final turned into drama for the Swiss in 2019. On his own serve, he got two match points against Djokovic on 40-15, but after a first ball from Federer, the Serb eliminated the second point with a nice pass.
Djokovic wins big fight with Federer and wins fifth Wimbledon title
Two years later, King Roger greeted the public for the last time as an active, all-time tennis player at Wimbledon. For the first time in his career, he dropped a set at Wimbledon in his quarter-final against Hubert Hurkacz without winning a single match.
The ghost still wanted to do it, even though he was almost forty years old then. But the body couldn’t take it anymore. Not really.
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