Roger Federer announces retirement from professional tennis
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Roger Federer’s potential Laver Cup replacement has been confirmed as fans wait anxiously on news of the all-time great’s fitness. Last week, the former world No 1 and 20-time Grand Slam winner announced the team event would be his last tournament in professional tennis, as he continues to be plagued by the injury problems which have ruled him out for over a year.
The man dubbed the ‘Swiss maestro’ underwent a third bout of knee surgery last August, and hopes of a fairytale return at Wimbledon never materialised. In a classy statement, he conceded: “Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever would have dreamt, and now I must recognise when it is time to end my competitive career.”
He did however, cite his desire to represent Team Europe from September 23-25. Under captain Bjorn Borg, Federer is due to team up with old rivals Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray, as well as Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud.
Ticket demand has rocketed since Federer’s announcement, although fans now face an anxious wait to see if he will be fit enough to take part. His fitness coach Pierre Paganini has warned that the star “will probably decide that at the last moment,” if he will take to the actual court at The O2 Arena.
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Should he not make it, Matteo Berrettini has been named as the alternative for Team Europe, and has been declared available to compete in place of any team-mate who withdraws. Berrettini and Taylor Paul, who has been named as back-up for the Team World squad, will participate in all appearances and preparations in the lead-up to the tournament.
Italian star Berrettini certainly has pedigree in the event, having represented Team Europe at last year’s Laver Cup in Boston. He beat Felix Auger-Aliassime in what was the longest match recorded in the tournament’s history, lasting two hours and 52 minutes.
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If Federer does indeed make it, Borg faces a difficult conundrum in deciding how much he uses him, or indeed who plays with him. Murray has already publicly expressed his desire to join his great friend in a doubles match.
The Europeans are targeting a fifth consecutive win over Team World. The event, which Federer helped create, began in 2017 but took a break in 2020 due to Covid-19.
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