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Roger Federer: 5 moments from the GOAT's sparkling career

Federer announced his retirement from tennis yesterday. As fans still process the news, we remember some shots from the the 20-time Grand Slam winner

A file photo of Roger Federer at the 2019 Australian Open. Federer said on September 15, 2022 that he is to retire after next week's Laver Cup.
A file photo of Roger Federer at the 2019 Australian Open. Federer said on September 15, 2022 that he is to retire after next week's Laver Cup. (AFP)

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Roger Federer, who has never retired from a match, announced his retirement from competitive tennis yesterday. The 41-year-old Swiss, a favourite for many, and arguably the GOAT in men’s tennis of the Open Era, had dominated the sport for over two decades, consistently awing audiences across the globe with his devastating forehand, classic one-handed backhand, and his stunningly quiet and gorgeous drop shots.

Despite the writing on the wall being clear for a while — Federer hasn’t played a match since July 2021, when he lost in the Wimbledon quarterfinals to Herbert Hurkacz — tennis fans expressed sadness and shock when he made his announcement with photos of a letter communicating his intent to retire after the upcoming Laver Cup, along with an audio message reading this out.

Also Read: Roger Federer and 55,000 ways of hitting a ball

The reaction is only natural. Federer was ranked world number 1 in the ATP order for a total of 310 weeks. Of these, he stayed on top consecutively for 237 weeks. It is almost a reflex action now to think of Roger Federer when tennis is mentioned — and while as lay viewers, we may not be able to name each of his shots accurately, or understand the technical nuances of his repertoire, a Federer game really wins because it wins every last one of us over.

The GOAT may have retired, but thankfully, the internet can still let us re-live some of the magic he’s left for us. Here are some great Federer shots, rallies, and points that you can bookmark for a gloomy day.

Andy Roddick vs Roger Federer; Davidoff Swiss Indoors, 2002

This has been dubbed Federer’s best shot ever. Roddick forces a weak return from Federer, gets to it with a smash, seemingly winning the point. Federer, then 21, runs all the way back, well behind the baseline, and hits what looks like an overhead slice. With an incredulous smile playing on his face, Roddick throws his racquet in disbelief.

Novak Djokovic vs Roger Federer; US Open, 2009

Who doesn’t love a cheeky tweener? Especially if it's a winner. In the 2009 quarter finals, Djokovic brings Federer close to the net, then forces him back all the way to the baseline with a lift of his racquet. Little does he know that he’s going to lose this point to a Federer tweener that remains memorable over a decade later.

Rafael Nadal vs Roger Federer; French Open, 2005

(Begin from timestamp 19:22)

Yes, it’s Federer’s toughest surface. Yes, he claimed it in 2009 by beating only Robin Soderling and not Rafael Nadal. But sample this rally from the 2005 semi finals. At first, it seems like any other, but then, as the interval between the ball hitting a racquet reduces and Nadal's grunts shorten, the rally takes on the personality of a fist-fight. Nadal is at 6-3; 4-6; 6-4; 4-3, and Federer is on serve.

Goran Ivanisevic versus Roger Federer; London Open, 2000

Most Wimbledon fans have a soft corner for Goran Ivanisevic, the iconic underdog, a wildcard who went on to win the Grand Slam in 2001. But a year before this, in London, a young Federer met Ivanisevic in the round of 16. This was the first of only two times that they’d they met, and it had this memorable rally with a Federer forehand winner.

Andy Murray versus Roger Federer, Shanghai Masters 2012

“There’s just too much going on in this rally to recap it,” said the commentator. “It had everything.” True. There’s no point in trying to put words to this rally that had its spectators at the edge of their seats.

Rafel Nadal versus Roger Federer; Wimbledon 2008

(Point starts at 5:57:12)

This is now called the greatest tennis match of all time. Federer lost this one, but this final was more than about winning. It was tennis in full glory. Watch how, when they’re at two sets each, and Federer is down a game in the 5th set at 30-40, he still fends off a championship point with this absolutely mind blowing backhand winner, cross court. It was the last stroke of pure genius in this match, the last bit of hope for Federer fans. In just minutes after this, Nadal forces an error from the Federer racquet, and wins. 

Also Read: A window into the life of Roger Federer

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