A tennis court, with the most emblematic match in the history of the contemporary game, in the most emblematic stadium in world football, and perhaps in sport in general. That's the crazy, wonderful idea being reported by ESPN: Roger Federer vs.
Rafa Nadal. At the Santiago Bernabeu. For the last time. Roger Federer will leave the game of tennis at the end of the upcoming Laver Cup, and tennis since that video announcement has effectively come to a halt to celebrate one of the greatest in history.
Perhaps the greatest of all time. But Roger Federer is not just a sum of talent, charisma and victories. The Basel phenomenon is also a cluster of stories, like any character. And in all this Rafa Nadal plays a central, absolutely essential role.
The rivalry that has brought tennis, by force, into the new millennium. The numbers speak, with those 40 clashes, 24 in favor of the Mallorcan, but the last one that smiled at Roger, in the Wilbledon semifinal in 2019. In total, 24 finals, 10 in the Grand Slam.
An infinite novel, which deserves a final chapter, not so far away in time, when tennis had not yet known the nightmare of the pandemic, and a readjustment of calendars that complicated everything. Hence the idea: one last performance, in Madrid, before 80,000 people.
Paganini on Federer's decision to retire
Pierre Paganini, Roger Federer's fitness coach for 22 years, recently spoke about the 20-time Major winner, calling him “100 percent pure.” “His spontaneity.
You only meet someone like him once. You can put anyone on this planet in front of him, Federer will genuinely care about him and make him comfortable. He is honest, sincere, and curious. Roger is always 100 percent pure,” he said.
When asked if Federer made the right decision to retire, Paganini said it wasn't for him to judge. But when pushed, he opined that it was a “smart decision.” “It's not my place to judge. I was one of his coaches for 22 years, an incredible privilege.
I am fortunate to have worked with this extraordinary athlete and person. But if you ask me for my assessment: I think it's a smart decision,” he added. “That's why I think this decision is so wise,” he said.
“You can retire from the ATP Tour, but maybe you still want to live out your passion for tennis. Roger's resignation is also a relief for me. We don't want him to get injured again and then have physical problems in his future.
In top-class sport you have to go to the limits in training – but you also have to be able to decide when it's too much.”