Roger Federer is 39 and while tennis fans won’t want to think about it, retirement is an unavoidable topic when discussing the Swiss maestro’s future.
The calendar has been turned on its head by COVID-19 but Federer was always going to miss plenty of tennis this year even without a global pandemic. He underwent knee surgery in February that would keep him out of the clay court season and he announced in June further complications had ruled him out for the rest of 2020.
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Federer’s physical ailments have served as a reminder that even though it often seems the ageless right-hander could go on forever, Father Time eventually catches up with everyone, regardless of how many majors you’ve won.
There’s regularly speculation as to how or when Federer will retire and we may have been given a clue by his childhood idol and former coach Stefan Edberg.
Edberg announced late in 1995 he was going to retire at the end of the following season but found he was unable to concentrate during his round-the-world farewell tour, and his results suffered. It’s why he’s advised his ex-pupil against following his lead.
“We actually talked a little bit about it and I would not recommend it to anybody, even if it’s a nice thing to do,” Edberg told The Tennis Podcast. “It does put too much pressure on yourself and there will be too many things going on in your mind.
“If you’re going to announce it, I would do it just before my last tournament or have it in my mind, but not for anybody else to know.
“It’s just very tough to handle … I would not recommend it.”
Federer could be set to hang up the racquet.Source:AFP
Co-host of The Tennis Podcast, broadcaster Catherine Whitaker, described Edberg’s comments as a “little bit of a Federer bomb” and said they effectively took a farewell tour out of the equation for the 20-time grand slam champion because it’s unlikely he’d disregard his hero’s advice.
“Stefan Edberg famously completed a farewell tour of the world to say goodbye before his retirement and that is something we’ve speculated Federer might emulate,” Whitaker said.
“I think that (Edberg’s advice) is a bit of a bombshell because that theory of Federer retirement was one of the frontrunners of how he might do it.
“I think that effectively takes it off the table. I think for somebody that Federer respects and is as similar to in a lot of ways as Stefan Edberg, I don’t think he would listen to that advice and go against it.
“I don’t think he’ll want the tournaments and the matches to have a testimonial feel about them. If he’s playing a tournament, he wants to win that tournament.
“If you’re on a farewell tour and you know that someone’s waiting backstage during all your matches with a cake or a plaque or something to honour your final time at that tournament, it takes on a different feel. It does take on a slightly exhibition-y, testimonial feel and I’m not sure that’s desirable.”
Is Federer’s time coming to an end?Source:AFP
Tennis analyst Matt Roberts added Edberg’s word is “certainly something he (Federer) is going to listen to and pay a lot of attention to” and Federer “wouldn’t have asked Stefan Edberg if he wasn’t intending to consider what he had to say”.
Commentator David Law said the mere fact Edberg has discussed retirement with Federer suggests the end is closer than we realise – but acknowledged it’s hardly a shock a 22-year veteran of the ATP Tour is giving thought to how he’ll walk away.
However, Law was less inclined to dismiss the farewell tour as an option for Federer.
“There are two things that really strike me about it. One is that they’ve actually talked about it, that Roger Federer has sought his advice, because I don’t think Stefan Edberg would be offering that up without being asked,” Law said on The Tennis Podcast.
“That’s interesting in itself.
“I definitely thought that (a farewell tour) would be something he’d like to do, to say goodbye to all the areas of the tour that he’s enjoyed.
“Nobody embraces the life and the attention like Federer does. I don’t say that in a critical way, I just know how much he loves the sport.
“They are very different people. Although Federer does revere Edberg and he was his idol, Edberg’s shy. He doesn’t really like the limelight particularly.
“Federer loves it, he absolutely loves being the centre of attention and I think he plays his best when everybody’s looking at him so … it might even make him play better.”
The Swiss maestro encouraged his followers to repeatedly hit a ball up and down a wall from centimetres away to ensure their racquet-work is precise when they hit the court again.
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