Tearful Federer Bows Out Of Tennis With Laver Cup Defeat

Switzerland’s Roger Federer wipes his face after losing the ATP 250 Geneva Open tennis match against Spain’s Pablo Andujar on May 18, 2021 in Geneva. – Federer lost the first match of his comeback-proper as the Swiss tennis great tumbled out of the Geneva Open on his first outing in two months. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

 

 

Roger Federer described his tennis career as a “perfect journey” despite being denied a fairytale ending with a doubles defeat at the Laver Cup early on Saturday alongside Rafael Nadal.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion has not played since the 2021 Wimbledon quarter-finals because of a knee injury and last week announced his retirement aged 41.

The Swiss showed glimpses of his old silky self in the match against Team World’s Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock at London’s O2 arena despite his long period of enforced inaction.

Playing with long-time friend and rival Nadal, the two former world number ones won the first set to the delight of a feverish, partisan crowd, but the Americans rallied to win 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 11-9.

The result meant Team Europe were locked at 2-2 with Team World at the end of the opening day of the Ryder Cup-style event.

“We’ll get through this somehow, will we? Right?” Federer said with a cracked voice during an emotional post-match farewell on court.

“I’m happy, I’m not sad. It feels great to be here and I enjoyed tying my shoes one more time. Everything was the last time. The match was great, I couldn’t be happier. It’s been wonderful.”

– ‘Thank you’ –
Federer has enjoyed a storied rivalry with Spain’s Nadal, 36, over nearly two decades — together they have won 42 Grand Slam singles titles in a golden era for the men’s game.

But in a match that started late Friday they were on the same side of the net in a fitting farewell for Federer, who turned professional nearly a quarter of a century ago.

There was a huge roar and standing ovation as the Swiss great and Nadal came onto the black court, dressed in blue shirts and white shorts, both wearing white headbands.

Both doubles pairings held serve fairly comfortably at the start of the match, with cries of “Let’s go Roger, let’s go” breaking out at 3-3.

Federer and Nadal seized on their first break point in the 10th game, winning the first set when Sock netted with a backhand to huge cheers.

The Americans levelled the match by taking the second set tie-break with ease.

In a nerve-shredding match tie-break, Federer was unable to serve out for the match at 9-8, with Tiafoe and Sock winning the next three points to emerge victorious.

The Swiss was overcome with emotion afterwards, hugging teammate Nadal and waving to the crowd.

“Playing with Rafa on the same team, and having the guys, everybody here, all the legends… thank you,” said Federer, who was joined by his parents, wife Mirka and their four children.

“It does feel like a celebration to me,” he added. “I wanted to feel like this at the end and it is exactly what I hoped for, so thank you. It has been a perfect journey and I would do it all over again.”

Nadal, who was also visibly emotional, said it had been difficult to handle the intensity of the occasion.

“For me, it has been a huge honour to be a part of this amazing moment of the history of our sport, and at the same time a lot of years sharing a lot of things together,” said the Spaniard.

“When Roger leaves the tour an important part of my life is leaving too.”

The six-strong Team Europe also includes Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray — the other two members of the so-called “Big Four” who have dominated the men’s game for so many years.

– Federer leaves ‘void’ –
Italy’s Matteo Berrettini will take Federer’s place over the weekend as an alternate, with the Swiss great opting not to play singles matches.

Europe have won all four previous editions of the Laver Cup and took a 2-0 lead after the opening session in London, courtesy of wins for Norway’s Casper Ruud and Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Tsitsipas shrugged off a dramatic on-court protest by a demonstrator who set his own arm ablaze to protest the use of private jets to beat Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman 6-2, 6-1.

In the evening session Murray lost a gruelling encounter to Alex de Minaur 5-7, 6-3, 10-7 before all eyes turned to Federer.

The Swiss is leaving the stage 19 years after winning his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2003.

He retires with a men’s record of eight Wimbledon crowns, 103 titles overall and more than $130 million in prize money, all won with a game defined by a rare elegance and precision.

Nadal (22) and Djokovic (21) have both surpassed Federer’s tally of Grand Slam titles but Team World captain John McEnroe said Federer’s retirement would leave “a void that will never be filled”.

AFP

Rafael Nadal Looks Forward To ‘Unforgettable’ Doubles With Roger Federer

(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 12, 2019 Switzerland’s Roger Federer (R) speaks with Spain’s Rafael Nadal (L) after Federer won their men’s singles semi-final match on day 11 of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London.  (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / POOL / AFP)

 

 

Roger Federer will team up with long-time rival Rafael Nadal for the final match of his glittering career, Laver Cup organisers announced on Thursday.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion will play doubles with the Spaniard, who has won 22 majors, at the O2 arena in London on Friday.

Federer, whose most recent competitive match was a loss to Hubert Hurkacz in last year’s Wimbledon quarter-finals, has been struggling with a knee problem and will not play singles in London.

The Laver Cup is a team competition that pits Team Europe against Team World.

The six-strong European team, captained by Bjorn Borg, also includes 21-time major winner Novak Djokovic and three-time major winner Andy Murray.

Their opponents, Team World, skippered by John McEnroe, include Taylor Fritz, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Diego Schwartzman.

Federer, 41, announced last week he intended to retire after the three-day Laver Cup.

He said on Wednesday that finishing his career by teaming up with Nadal would be his dream scenario.

Federer said he and Nadal, 36, had always maintained respect for each other even as they vied for the biggest trophies in the sport.

“For us as well to go through a career that we both have had and to come out on the other side and being able to have a nice relationship I think is maybe a great message as well to not just tennis but sports and maybe even beyond,” he said.

Italian Matteo Berrettini, the first alternate for Europe, will take Federer’s place over the weekend.

Federer Retirement: Who’s Saying What

(FILES) This file combination of photo created on July 16, 2017 shows Switzerland’s Roger Federer holding up the Wimbledon Championships trophy after winning each of his eight men’s singles titles at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, in (top L-R) 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, (bottom L-R) 2007, 2009, 2012 and July 16, 2017. (Photo by – / AFP) 

 

 

Roger Federer’s decision to retire provoked an emotional reaction from current and former tennis players as well as stars in other sports.

AFP Sport looks at some of the tributes to the 20-time Grand Slam champion:

Old rivals and friends

“Dear Roger, my friend and rival, I wish this day would never have come. It’s been a pleasure but also an honour and privilege to share all these years with you, living so many amazing moments on and off the court.”

— Rafael Nadal on Twitter.

“I LOVE YOU, Roger. Thank you for everything you’ve done in tennis and with myself. Tennis world will never be the same without you.”

– Juan Marin del Potro, who retired earlier this year.

“Cheers Roger. Thanks for the shared memories my friend. It was an honour to share time/experiences on the most hallowed grounds in our sport. Don’t be a stranger… Also, seems like a good time to start training for Wimby.”

– Andy Roddick, who lost to Federer in three finals at Wimbledon and one at the US Open.

“Absolute living legend. Thanks for all the countless memories.”

– John Isner.

The young(er) guns

“Roger has been one of my idols and a source of inspiration! Thank you for everything you have done for our sport! I still want to play with you! Wish you all the luck in the world for what comes next!”

– World number one Carlos Alcaraz.

“A role model for me and so many others!!… It’s been a privilege to share the court with you!!”

– Canada’s Denis Shapovalov.

“Thank you for elevating the game in so many ways on and off the court. Thank you for all the advice you’ve given me over the years. Thank you for being the best role model for so many. Thank you for everything.”

– American prodigy Coco Gauff.

The greats

“I wanted to find the perfect way to say this, as you so eloquently put this game to rest – perfectly done, just like your career. I have always looked up to you and admired you. Our paths were always so similar, so much the same. You inspired countless millions and millions of people – including me – and we will never forget. I applaud you and look forward to all that you do in the future. Welcome to the retirement club.”

– Serena Williams

“Roger Federer is a champion’s champion. He has the most complete game of his generation & captured the hearts of sports fans around the world with an amazing quickness on the court & a powerful tennis mind. He has had a historic career w/memories that will live on and on.”

– Billie Jean King

“What a heartfelt message, full of love, life, hope, passion and gratitude. Which is exactly how Roger played the game we love so much. Thank you thank you thank you, for all the magic!!!”

– Martina Navratilova

“Thank you for everything Roger. See you soon. Rocket.”

– Rod Laver

The coaches

“The end of a magnificent era.”

– Judy Murray

“Rafael would not have been as strong without Roger Federer. He always had to raise his level… I feel very sad to see a sports icon, one of the most important players in tennis, announce his retirement.”

– Toni Nadal, Rafael’s uncle and former coach, speaking on French radio.

The organisation

“Legend of the game.”

– Roland Garros, where Federer won the 2009 title.

“Where do we begin? It’s been a privilege to witness your journey and see you become a champion in every sense of the word. We will so miss the sight of you gracing our courts, but all we can say for now is thank you, for the memories and joy you have given to so many.”

– Wimbledon, where Federer is a men’s record eight-time champion.

“You changed the game, #RForever.”

– ATP Tour

“Roger Federer is a gentleman on and off the court –- and a true Olympic champion.”

– International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.

“Greatness defined. The end of an era.”

– The WTA Tour, alongside a photo of Federer embracing Serena Williams on court.

Other sports

“A genius, unique in tennis history and a role model for any sportsman. I wish you the best in your new stage, we will miss seeing you on the court.”

– Lionel Messi.

“What a career. We fell in love with your brand of tennis. Slowly, your tennis became a habit. And habits never retire, they become a part of us.”

– Indian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar.

“It’s been one of the great pleasures in life to watch you play.”

– Former England football striker Gary Lineker.

Serena Welcomes Federer To Retirement: ‘Always Looked Up To You’

(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 1, 2019 Serena Williams of the US (L) and Roger Federer of Switzerland (R) take a selfie following their mixed doubles match on day four of the Hopman Cup tennis tournament in Perth. – Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer is to retire after next week’s Laver Cup, he said on September 15, 2022. (Photo by TONY ASHBY / AFP) 

 

 

Serena Williams welcomed Roger Federer to the tennis “retirement club” on Thursday, saying she has always admired and looked up to the Swiss legend.

Federer, a 20-time Grand Slam champion, said Thursday he would retire after playing next week in London at the Laver Cup.

Among those sending congratulations to the 41-year-old icon for his tremendous career was 23-time Grand Slam winner Williams, who said she was “evolving” away from tennis, with last week’s US Open expected to be her final tournament.

“I wanted to find the perfect way to say this, as you so eloquently put this game to rest — perfectly done, just like your career,” Williams said in an Instagram post.

“I have always looked up to you and admired you. Our paths were always so similar, so much the same. You inspired countless millions and millions of people — including me — and we will never forget.”

Williams came as close as she has come to firmly saying her own career is complete by welcoming Federer into “the retirement club.”

“I applaud you and look forward to all that you do in the future,” Williams wrote. “Welcome to the retirement club. And thank you for being you @rogerfederer.”

Fired-Up Djokovic Braced For Alcaraz And Nadal Challenge At French Open

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates winning a game during the final match of the Men’s ATP Rome Open tennis tournament against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas on May 15, 2022 at Foro Italico in Rome. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

 

 

Novak Djokovic admits he will be fired up by the fiasco of his high-profile deportation from Australia when he targets a record-equalling 21st major on his Grand Slam return at the French Open. 

World number one Djokovic captured a second Roland Garros title in 2021 followed by a sixth Wimbledon to move to 20 majors alongside Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

However, his unseemly exit from Melbourne following his refusal to be vaccinated opened the door for Nadal to claim a second Australian Open and 21st Grand Slam crown.

“It’s something that I never faced before,” said Djokovic, who turns 35 on Sunday, the opening day of the French Open.

“The amount of pressure and everything that I was feeling in the first few months of the year, as much as I’ve felt pressure in my life and my career, that was something really on a whole different level.”

Djokovic has played only five tournaments in 2022 but arrives in Paris buoyed by a sixth Italian Open title, becoming just the fifth man to win 1,000 career matches in the process.

It was his 38th Masters triumph, two more than Nadal at the top of the all-time list.

He did not drop a set in Rome as he finished a memorable week with a final victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas, the man he defeated from two sets down in the 2021 French Open title match.

With 13-time French Open champion Nadal suffering a recurrence of a foot injury, another Spaniard is likely to be Djokovic’s biggest headache in Paris.

Carlos Alcaraz, just 19, has rocketed to six in the world on the back of four titles — three on clay — in 2022.

– ‘Special’ Alcaraz-
He won a second Masters title in Madrid, sweeping Nadal, Djokovic and third-ranked Alexander Zverev on the way.

“He definitely is special,” admitted Djokovic of Alcaraz who also claimed the prestigious Miami Masters earlier in the year.

Alcaraz was ranked 97 this time last year. He was only two when Nadal won the first of his 13 French Opens in 2005 but he made his mark at the 2021 tournament where he came through qualifying to reach the third round.

Djokovic has been responsible for two of only three losses suffered by Nadal in Paris.

One of those came in a bruising semi-final 12 months ago, the most recent clash of the pair’s epic 58-match rivalry.

Nadal comes into Paris with major question marks over his ability to lift a 14th title.

A rib injury in March was followed by the re-emergence in Rome of his chronic foot injury where he limped to defeat in the last-16.

The 35-year-old Spaniard is due to practice at Roland Garros for the first time on Wednesday where he will have his own doctor on hand to assess his fitness.

– ‘Living with injury’ -“I am a player living with an injury; it is nothing new,” said Nadal, now ranked fifth in the world.

“Since I came back, the foot has been tough. It’s tough for me to be able to practice the proper way.”

Russian world number two Daniil Medvedev, who gave up a two-sets lead to lose to Nadal in the Australian Open final, only returned to action in Geneva this week after undergoing a hernia operation.

The US Open champion has 13 titles to his name but has yet to master the draining demands of clay.

At Roland Garros, he was winless in his first four visits before managing to stop the rot with a quarter-final run in 2021.

Medvedev is likely to use the ban on Russian players at Wimbledon this year as fuel for a surprise title tilt.

Greek world number four Tsitsipas has enjoyed a solid clay season.

He defended his Monte Carlo title before making the last-eight in Barcelona and semi-finals in Madrid.

Nadal ‘Doesn’t Care’ If He’s Best Ever After Record 21st Slam

Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates after the match point against Marcos Giron of the US during their men’s singles match on day one of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 17, 2022. (Photo by Brandon MALONE / AFP)

 

Rafael Nadal says he “doesn’t care much” if his record 21st Grand Slam title makes him the best men’s tennis player in history, after edging ahead of great rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic with his thrilling Australian Open win.

The 35-year-old Spaniard roared back from two sets down to defeat Russian second seed Daniil Medvedev on Sunday in the final in Melbourne in what he called “the biggest comeback of my career”.

Having suffered a foot injury last year which left him wondering if he would even play again, Nadal’s stunning victory propelled him into the history books and left Federer and Djokovic trailing on 20 major crowns.

Federer was absent from Melbourne because of injury and the unvaccinated Djokovic was deported on the eve of the tournament after Australia cancelled his visa.

But Nadal does not intend to dwell for too long on the wider significance, even though “I know it’s a special number, 21”.

“I feel honoured, I feel lucky to achieve one more very special thing in my tennis career,” Nadal told reporters early on Monday morning, the match having spilled over into the next day.

“I don’t care much if I am the one or not the one, or the best of the history, not the best of the history.

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“Honestly today I don’t care much. For me it’s about enjoying nights like today. That means everything for me.”

Nadal, whose second Australian Open title came 13 years after his first one, showed remarkable resilience against the younger Medvedev, who was touted as the favourite in the absence of defending champion Djokovic.

Nadal, whose brilliant career has been punctuated by injures, called the gruelling 2-6, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 win “a very emotional night”.

It was even more so because of his foot injury and having also been “very sick” with Covid after testing positive in December.

“For the last six months, I really fought a lot to try to be back on court,” said Nadal.

“Have been very, very tough moments… conversations, tough ones, because you don’t know if I was going to have the chance to be back on the tour.”

Nadal said he wanted to celebrate more at the end, but just did not have it in him.

“Even now I am destroyed, honestly, physically,” he said.

“I can’t think much, I can’t remember a lot of moments of the match,” added Nadal, who was so exhausted afterwards that he took a seat during the post-match announcements.

“The support of the crowd have been just huge. I got very emotional during the whole match.

“Even if I was super tired, I couldn’t celebrate with them as usual, but I feel it inside, all the support helped me a lot during the whole match.”

Federer And Djokovic Praise ‘Great Champion’ Nadal For Slam Record

Spain’s Rafael Nadal holds the trophy after winning against Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in their men’s singles final match on day fourteen of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne early on January 31, 2022. (Photo by Aaron FRANCIS / AFP)

 

Rafael Nadal’s record 21st Grand Slam title, secured in an epic Australian Open final on Sunday was hailed by both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic who had been tied with him on 20.

Nadal, 35, battled back from two sets down to defeat Russia’s Daniil Medvedev 2-6, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in a gruelling 5hr 24min in Melbourne.

It crowned an extraordinary effort from Nadal at the year’s opening major, having to modify his game to compensate for a degenerative bone disease in his left foot that ended his 2021 season last August.

Federer, who came close to becoming the first to 21 when he lost in five sets by Djokovic in the 2019 Wimbledon final, missed the Australian Open recovering from knee surgery.

“To my friend and great rival @rafaelnadal, heartfelt congratulations on becoming the first man to win 21 Grand Slam singles titles,” 40-year-old Federer posted on Instagram.

READ ALSO: Nadal Beats Medvedev To Win Record 21st Grand Slam

“A few months ago we were joking about both being on crutches, amazing. Never underestimate a great champion.

“Your incredible work ethic, dedication and fighting spirit are an inspiration to me and countless others around the world.”

Djokovic’s hopes of being the first to 21 were dashed when he was deported from Australia prior to the Grand Slam over vaccination issues.

However, the 34-year-old Serbian tweeted his congratulations — after he had first saluted Ashleigh Barty on her title win on Saturday.

“Amazing achievement. Always impressive fighting spirit that prevailed another time.

“Enhorabuena (Congratulations — followed by applause, trophy and thumbs up icons).”

Nadal Closes In On Quest For Greatness, Medvedev Running On Empty

Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates after the match point against Marcos Giron of the US during their men’s singles match on day one of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 17, 2022. (Photo by Brandon MALONE / AFP)

 

Rafael Nadal is two matches away from getting the jump on golden era rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer to become all-time Grand Slam leader as the Australian Open gets down to the last four on Friday.

The 35-year-old Spanish gladiator has Italian power server Matteo Berrettini to overcome to get through to Sunday’s final against second seed Daniil Medvedev or number four Stefanos Tsitsipas in his quest for a 21st major title.

Nadal, seeded sixth and the 2009 winner, had modest expectations resuming after a three-and-a-half-month lay-off with a chronic foot injury at the end of last season.

But a combination of nine-time winner Djokovic’s dramatic deportation on the eve of the tournament over vaccination issues and world number three Alexander Zverev’s shock fourth round exit has cleared Nadal’s path to the top-half semi-final.

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Nadal has been modifying his game to compensate for a degenerative bone disease in his left foot that threatens to end his remarkable career and faces another physical test against last year’s Wimbledon finalist Berrettini.

“Today there are still doubts because the foot, it is an injury we cannot fix… so we need to find a way that the pain is under control to keep playing,” Nadal said.

“The last six months have been a lot of doubts if I would be able to keep going.

“But now I feel good. We are in a position that we won a (lead-up) tournament, we are in semi-finals of the Australian Open, so that’s amazing for me.”

– ‘I never had this’ –

Seventh seed Berrettini, 25, the first Italian man to play in the Australian Open semi-finals, is in awe of facing up to Nadal, but believes he can cause an upset.

“Playing with him on Rod Laver Arena in the semi-finals is something that I dreamed about when I was a kid,” he said.

“Now I really want to win this match. I know I can do it. It’s gonna be a really tough one. I’m in the semis in a Slam for the third time so it means that this is my level and I want to get further.”

The two-metre tall (6ft 7in) Berrettini, who possesses a topspin forehand nearly as heavy as Nadal’s, lost their only meeting in a semi-final at the 2019 US Open in straight sets.

Medvedev, the tournament favourite, needs to recuperate before facing Tsitsipas after two long, torrid examinations just to get to the semi-finals.

He is hoping there is enough petrol left in the tank to go on and win his second major title after last year’s success over Djokovic at the US Open.

Medvedev was kept on court for 3hr 30min before dousing American serve-volleyer Maxime Cressy over four sets.

Then was taken to the brink by Canada’s ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime in a five-set quarter-final that ebbed for 4hr 42min before finishing past midnight Wednesday.

“I never had this experience. I played some long matches but never like four hours and never won it to be able to play in two days,” he said.

“I’m going to try to recover as well as possible, to be ready to play against Stefanos, because he’s a great player. I need to be at my best to beat him.”

Medvedev leads Tsitsipas 6-2 in their eight meetings (2-1 in Slams) and will have to contend with the Greek favourite in Melbourne who said he was “in the zone” after producing his best match of the tournament to demolish Italian 11th seed Jannik Sinner in the quarters.

“It was the most consistent and the best match I’ve had in the tournament,” Tsitsipas said.

“I feel like I’m in the zone. I have no plans of getting out of it. It’s part of my game.”

Federer Drops Out Of Top 10 As Norrie Climbs Rankings

Switzerland's Roger Federer serves the ball to Germany's Dominik Koepfer during their men's singles third round tennis match on Day 7 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 5, 2021. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP
File photo of Roger Federer. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP

 

Roger Federer dropped out of the top 10 in the ATP rankings on Monday for the first time in almost five years, as newly-crowned Indian Wells champion Cameron Norrie jumped 11 spots.

Federer, 40, has not played due to a right knee injury since losing in the Wimbledon quarter-finals to Hubert Hurkacz in July.

Poland’s Hurkacz climbed two places to 10th after making the Indian Wells last eight last week, knocking Federer down to 11th.

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It is the first time the 20-time Grand Slam champion has been ranked outside the top 10 since January 2017, when he went on to win the Australian Open following a knee injury.

Norrie, who beat Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili on Sunday to become the first Briton to win the prestigious Indian Wells title, breaks into the top 20 at world number 15.

His compatriot Andy Murray dramatically slid down the rankings, though, falling 51 places to 172nd.

The former world number one, still on the comeback trail after hip surgery, lost to Alexander Zverev in the third round last week.

 

ATP top 20:

1. Novak Djokovic (SRB) 11,430 pts

2. Daniil Medvedev (RUS) 9,630

3. Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 7,995

4. Alexander Zverev (GER) 6,930

5. Rafael Nadal (ESP) 5,635 (+1)

6. Andrey Rublev (RUS) 5,560 (-1)

7. Matteo Berrettini (ITA) 4,858

8. Dominic Thiem (AUT) 3,815

9. Casper Ruud (NOR) 3,615 (+1)

10. Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 3,378 (+2)

11. Roger Federer (SUI) 3,285 (-2)

12. Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 3,263 (-1)

13. Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 2,970 (+2)

14. Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 2,903 (-1)

15. Cameron Norrie (GBR) 2,895 (+11)

16. Jannik Sinner (ITA) 2,895 (-2)

17. Christian Garin (CHI) 2,510

18. Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 2,445 (-2)

19. Gaël Monfils (FRA) 2,383 (-1)

20. Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 2,270 (-1)

Selected:

172. Andy Murray (GBR) 411 (-51)

Five Sports Stars Competing Past 40

 

 

Roger Federer celebrates his 40th birthday on Sunday still hopeful of adding to his 20 Grand Slam titles despite an unconvincing return to the sport following two knee surgeries.

AFP Sport looks at five other stars still competing at an age when many of their contemporaries have long headed for the comfort of an armchair.

 

Tom Brady – 44

The American Football superstar quarterback turned 44 on Tuesday but shows few signs of slowing down. Brady has won seven Super Bowls – six with the New England Patriots and one this year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

He was also the oldest player to be voted MVP in a Super Bowl after the 31-9 win over Kansas City.

“Feeling blessed and ready to go for year 22!!,” Brady tweeted on Wednesday after celebrating his birthday.

Brazil’s midfielder Formiga (L) vies for the ball with Canada’s forward Nichelle Prince during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games women’s quarter-final football match between Canada and Brazil at Miyagi Stadium in Miyagi on July 30, 2021. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP)

Formiga – 43

Brazilian footballer Formiga has played more than 200 times for her country since making her international debut at 17 in 1995. The midfielder’s club career has taken her from Sao Paulo to Malmo, New Jersey, Paris Saint-Germain and numerous stops in between.

At Tokyo this week, Formiga became the first women’s player to appear in seven Olympics.

“I intend to play football until I am 45. I love it. It will be difficult to stop,” she said in Tokyo where Brazil were eliminated by Canada in the quarter-finals.

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Italian rider Valentino Rossi gestures after taking second place in the qualifying session of Malaysian MotoGP at the Sepang International Circuit on October 29, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / MOHD RASFAN

Valentino Rossi – 42

A nine-time world motorcycling champion with seven of those coming in the premier class, Rossi on Thursday said he will complete this season and then retire after 26 years in the sport.

The charismatic Italian’s last MotoGP world title came back in 2009 and he lost his seat with the factory Yamaha team after a 15th place finish in the truncated 2020 campaign.

This year, he has been riding for the Yamaha satellite team but is currently 19th in the standings.

His dream of equalling Giacomo Agostini’s record of eight premier class world titles will now remain just that.

Venus Williams – 41

The winner of seven Grand Slam singles titles (five at Wimbledon and two at the US Open) and a former world number one. Williams also has 14 women’s doubles titles at the majors and two in mixed.

She was the 2000 Olympic gold medallist in singles and has added three more doubles at the Games alongside sister Serena. Currently ranked at 110 in the world, the last of her 49 singles titles came at Kaohsiung in 2016.

PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO – AUGUST 14: Chris Gayle of the West Indies brings up his 50 during the third MyTeam11 ODI between the West Indies and India at the Queen’s Park Oval on August 14, 2019 in Port of Spain, Trinidad And Tobago. (Photo by Ashley Allen)

Chris Gayle – 41

Cricket star Gayle, nicknamed ‘Universe Boss’, has captained the West Indies and has played more international games for the team than any other man.

He is also just one of four batsmen in history to have scored two triple hundreds in Tests and one of only six to have a double century in ODIs.

Still a part of the West Indies T20 squad, Gayle’s skills are usually limited to franchise cricket these days – he has played 437 T20 games and scored over 14,000 runs.

 

Roger Federer Turns 40 With Career At Crossroads

(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 26, 2020 Switzerland’s Roger Federer celebrates after victory against Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics during their men’s singles match on day seven of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne. (Photo by William WEST / AFP)

 

 

Roger Federer turns 40 on Sunday with his storied career, which has yielded 20 Grand Slams, a multi-million-dollar fortune and an army of fans who treat the Swiss star with saintly reverence, at a crossroads.

Federer has only played 13 matches in 2021 and managed just six in the pandemic-hit 2020 campaign when he underwent two knee surgeries.

He withdrew from this year’s French Open after reaching the fourth round and was knocked out in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon, a tame 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-0 loss to Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz.

That defeat was only Federer’s 14th at the All England Club in 119 matches, and the first time he had been beaten in the tournament in straight sets since a first-round exit at the hands of Mario Ancic in 2002.

It was also the first time he had lost a set 6-0 at Wimbledon and just the third time at a Slam.

“I don’t know. I’ve got to regroup,” said Federer when asked if his Wimbledon career was over.

The signs since then have not been encouraging.

He skipped the Olympics in Tokyo in a bid to be fresh for the North American hardcourt season where he won the last of his five US Opens in 2008.

On Thursday, however, he withdrew from the Toronto and Cincinnati Masters, key warm-up events for the US Open.

Federer captured his most recent major at the 2018 Australian Open. He was already well past 36 and the second oldest man to clinch a Slam title

Since then, Novak Djokovic has claimed eight more majors and old rival Rafael Nadal has picked up four. Both now stand level on 20 with Federer.

Should Federer be preparing to bow out after 23 years on tour, he will leave behind a career decorated by 103 titles — only Jimmy Connors with 109 has more — a combined 310 weeks at number one and more than $130 million in prize money alone.

Federer’s net worth was estimated in 2019 at $450 million and such is the cash-register recognition of the brand that in 2018, he penned a 10-year, $300 million deal with clothing manufacturer Uniqlo.

In his prime, Federer left opponents bamboozled.

 

(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 28, 2018 (COMBO) This combination of pictures created on January 28, 2018 shows Switzerland’s Roger Federer holding his record 20 tennis Grand Slam tournaments winner’s trophies. From bottom right to top left : Wimbledon 2003, Australian Open 2004, Wimbledon 2004, US Open 2004, Wimbledon 2005, US Open 2005, Australian Open 2006, Wimbledon 2006, US Open 2006, Australian Open 2007, Wimbledon 2007, US Open 2007, US Open 2008, French Open 2009, Wimbledon 2009, Australian Open 2010, Wimbledon 2012, Australian Open 2017, Wimbledon 2017, and Australian Open 2018. (Photos by various sources / AFP) 

 

“I threw the kitchen sink at him but he went to the bathroom and got his tub,” sighed an exhausted Andy Roddick after losing the 2004 Wimbledon final.

It wasn’t always smooth progress.

When he was just 19, Federer famously defeated personal hero Pete Sampras at Wimbledon in 2001.

Twelve months later, however, he exited Wimbledon in the first round.

It took a personal tragedy for him to press the reset.

Just when he turned 21, his coach and close friend from his formative years Peter Carter was killed in a car crash in South Africa.

From that point on, the multi-lingual Federer committed himself to winning in style, no longer consumed by his inner demons.

– Great rivals –
Born on August 8, 1981 in Basel, to Swiss father Robert and South African mother Lynette, Federer started playing tennis at eight.

Turning pro in 1998, he won his first ATP title in Milan in 2001.

It had been after the first of his five Australian Opens in 2004 that he claimed the world number one ranking for the first time.

Federer now has eight Wimbledons, six Australian Open, five US Opens and a single Roland Garros.

He has 28 Masters, a 2008 Olympic doubles gold medal with close friend Stan Wawrinka and a Davis Cup victory for Switzerland in 2014.

Had he not competed in the same era as Nadal and Djokovic, his trophy collection may have been more impressive.

However, Nadal, who has forged a close bond with Federer, enjoys a 24-16 head-to-head advantage.

Against Djokovic, with whom dealings have never been as cordial, Federer trails 27-23.

They shared history in 2019 when the Serb triumphed in the longest ever Wimbledon final, just three minutes short of five hours.

Heartbreakingly for Federer, he squandered two championship points.

Federer’s stunning longevity has seen him play 119 matches at Wimbledon (105 wins/14 losses), 117 in Melbourne (102/15), 103 at the US Open (89/14) and 90 at Roland Garros (73/17).

On the eve of his shattering defeat to Djokovic in the 2019 Wimbledon final, Federer said he had not set any date for retiring.

“It’s just discussions I always have with my wife about the family, about my kids, is everybody happy on tour, are we happy to pack up and go on tour for five, six, seven weeks. Are we willing to do that?,” he said.

“For the time being, it seems like absolutely no problem, which is wonderful.”

Federer, Osaka Among Those Named To US Open Tennis Field

In this file photo taken on May 30, 2021 Japan’s Naomi Osaka celebrates after winning against Romania’s Patricia Maria Tig during their women’s singles first round tennis match on Day 1 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris. 
MARTIN BUREAU / AFP

 

 

Defending champion Naomi Osaka, who withdrew from the French Open due to mental issues and skipped Wimbledon, and Roger Federer, who missed the Olympics with a knee injury, were named Wednesday to the US Open tennis field.

The US Tennis Association named the men’s and women’s singles lineups for the August 30-September 12 event at Flushing Meadows, where spectators will return at 100% capacity.

The ATP Tour’s 103 top-ranked players are entered for New York with top-ranked Novak Djokovic chasing a calendar-year Grand Slam after a Wimbledon victory that lifted him level with ninth-ranked Federer and third-ranked Rafael Nadal with a men’s record 20 career Grand Slam titles.

Only Rod Laver in 1962 and 1969 and Don Budge in 1938 have managed a men’s calendar Slam.

Djokovic, who will seek Olympic gold in Tokyo, could become only the second player to win all four Slam singles crowns and Olympic gold in the same year after Steffi Graf in 1988.

Other men’s entrants include sixth-ranked defending champion Dominic Thiem, past US Open winners Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic, world number two Daniil Medvedev and fourth-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Britain’s Andy Murray, the 2012 US Open champion, was the first player on the alternate list and will gain a spot in the main draw should anyone in the field withdraw.

Sixteen qualifiers and eight wildcards will complete the field.

On the women’s side, top-ranked Ashleigh Barty of Australia, who won her second Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, is among 15 Slam singles champions in the field, seven of them in the top 10.

Four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka of Japan, ranked second, is also in the lineup along with 2020 Australian Open champion and world number four Sofia Kenin, fifth-ranked 2019 US Open winner Bianca Andreescu, eighth-ranked Iga Swiatek and former world number ones Garbine Muguruza and Simona Halep.

In all, 100 of the top 104 players in the WTA rankings opted into the event.