Roger Federer is the father of four children – two girls aged 13, two boys aged 8 – which is why, towards the end of his playing career, he may be thinking of the “GOAT” debate that has swept the tennis world. way parents can look after their children. People like to ask: Who is the “greatest of all time” in men’s tennis, Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic?
“People always like to compare. I see it every day with my twins. You compare them without wanting to. You should never do that,” Federer said during an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, hours after his farewell press conference at the arena where the 20-time Grand Slam champion’s final match, the Laver Cup, will take place.
“Of course we do that in tennis too. … I am my own career, my own player, who needed those challenges. They needed a challenger like me,” he said, leaning back on a couch, after swapping the blue blazer and polo shirt he was wearing earlier for a navy pullover, white T-shirt, and black sweatpants after practice. “We made each other better. So at the end of the day we’ll shake hands and say, ‘That was great.’ Will one now be happier than the other? I mean, maybe in a few moments.”
He called the topic “a good conversation, let’s face it” and “definitely a fun debate” that “you can talk about endlessly.” But he also used the word ‘stupid’, given all that he, 22-time Major Nadal and 21-time Major Djokovic have accomplished.
“I always say it’s great to be part of that selective group,” he began, talking about the so-called Big Three rivals, then pausing to sigh. “How can you compare? What is better? To win when you are old or when you are young? I have no idea, you know. Is it better to win on clay or grass? Do not know. Is it better to have super dominant years or come back from injury? I don’t know,” he said. “It’s really impossible to understand.”
Careers may not last forever, but legacies do. pic.twitter.com/HVw9F8RNQc
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Referring to Nadal, who is 36 and expected to be Federer’s doubles partner for his final match Friday, and Djokovic, who is 35, Federer said: “What I know is that they are really great and big of the game and will go on forever. down as one of the – perhaps THE – greatest.”
Federer, who is Swiss, grew up as a basketball fan and brought the Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James back and forth from hoops. “Who is the greatest? Probably MJ. But is it LeBron? According to some statistics, he is. I think it’s a phenomenon of (social) media. Everyone calls each other ‘GOAT’. ‘GOAT.’ ‘GOAT.’ ‘GOAT.’ ‘GOAT.’ ‘GOAT.’ I’m like, come on, okay? There couldn’t possibly be that many ‘GOATS,’ said Federer, then burst out laughing with a Dad joke: ‘In Switzerland we have many, but they are in the fields.’
Federer promises he will not make a comeback; his surgically repaired right knee won’t allow it. His age, 41, doesn’t help. However, he is adamant that he will remain connected to tennis. That includes showing up at certain tournaments, he said, “to say goodbye or goodbye, because I’ve been competing in those tournaments for 20 years.”
It involves watching TV some of the time and monitoring the results all the time. He plans to keep an eye on Nadal, who won the Australian Open and French Open this season, and Djokovic, who won Wimbledon but couldn’t compete in the Australian Open or US Open because he hasn’t been vaccinated against COVID-19 ( “It’s pretty strange not to see Novak in a lot of the draws,” Federer noted).
“Right now, once they’ve outdone you, or you’re not playing anymore, it doesn’t matter how far they go,” Federer said. “For me, as long as I could be a part of it and control some of it, I cared more.”
(with PTI inputs)