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A gamechanger and a gentleman: Roger Federer finally calls time

16 Sep 2022 By theguardian

A gamechanger and a gentleman: Roger Federer finally calls time

The period that he spent trying to hold off his younger rivals lasted longer than his time as king. Even as the balance of power slowly shifted in favour of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, though, Federer was still always there until the very end.

And it provided its own standalone moments, such as his 2017 Australian Open title run in his first official tournament after a half-year layoff, and his 20th grand slam win when he defended the championship a year later.

Federer was human, of course. He had his moments of testiness on the court, often when Juan Martín del Potro was on the other side. He was not immune to snide comments, particularly after some tension-filled tussles with Djokovic. But his career is also defined by his sportsmanship, his professionalism and how well he held himself during highs and lows.

Federer had been scheduled to compete at his beloved home tournament in Basel, which always seemed like an appropriate ending, but after a year of rehab he has opted out. It remains to be seen what shape he will be in next week.

But perhaps this ending represents something equally meaningful. His love of the sport allowed him to push his career right to the very end, squeezing as much out of it as he possibly could until his 41st birthday. His late-career success offered him innumerable opportunities to exit on top, as Sampras did 20 years ago. But life was too good, he was having far too much fun, and he rode out one of the greatest ever careers until he could no longer do it any more.

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