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Everyone knew that Roger Federer was calling it a day after his doubles match with Nadal last night. Yet while we all knew it was coming, there was an element of disbelief about the whole thing. In fact, it seemed so surreal to hear the interview with Jim Courier on court discussing his career and how this was the end. As expected, there wasn’t a dry eye in the O2 Arena when this was all going down.
Of course, Roger Federer was the star of the show last night, as he has been for so many years throughout his career. But when the final ball was struck and they lost the doubles, things started to become very real, very quickly. Federer burst into tears when shaking hands with his Team Europe compatriots, and he hugged each one of them straight after the match.
But this was just the start. Given that this was officially the end of the line, there was always going to be an interview with the great man once the dust had settled. And for me, as I’m sure it was for millions around the world, the send-off was an incredibly moving affair. So below, I’d like to discuss some of the main elements relating to his send-off, while explaining why they were so special.
Federer Flame Blows Out – Goodbye to a Legend
Roger Federer has been a part of tennis for as long as I can remember, and his greatness speaks for itself. Yet even the greats can get emotional at such an occasion, and Federer certainly was. And having watched his interview as well as the other things going on, I’ve chosen three factors that seemed extra special from last night’s send-off.
Nadal in Floods of Tears
I know that Federer and Nadal have enjoyed an epic rivalry over the years. I also know that they have developed a very close friendship after so many years on the tour. But I truly did not expect to see Nadal so emotional yesterday evening. When the camera flashed to Nadal during Federer’s speech, he almost seemed overcome with emotion. The tears looked almost as hard as Roger’s, which I feel displays how much he values Federer both as a colleague and as a friend.
Federer and the Unexpected Journey
Federer struggled to get his words out during the interview with Courier, which is completely understandable. But amongst all of the thanks and reminiscing, I absolutely loved his perception of the unexpected journey. When questioned about his legacy, he replied in true Federer fashion – “it was never meant to be this way”. He stated that tennis was just a game for him in those early years and that above all he saw it as a way to hang out with his friends.
So the fact that it snowballed into one of the greatest careers of all time is obviously amazing.
Coming on Court With Team Mates
Last but not least, I found it intriguing that Federer stated that he didn’t want to be alone at that moment. I guess that’s why he came onto the court with all of Team Europe at his side. Yet for a guy that has played an individual sport at the highest level, it felt somewhat humbling to see that even this legend can feel that way. And once I understood his reasoning for doing this, it felt like the perfect goodbye.