Iga Swiatek could reach double figures for grand slam titles but Wimbledon may be a stumbling block, according to Marion Bartoli.

Speaking to Stats Perform, Bartoli said she did not expect any player on the WTA Tour to match the "greatness" of Serena or Venus Williams.

The Frenchwoman, who won the 2013 Wimbledon women's singles title, also claimed the level of competition is currently not as strong as it was for the previous generation.

She is sold on Swiatek, though, who added to her 2020 and 2022 French Open titles by winning the US Open earlier in September.

The 21-year-old Polish player has emerged as the clear world number one since Ash Barty retired in March, stringing together 37 consecutive wins at one point until Alize Cornet beat her in round three at Wimbledon.

A lull in her performances followed that exit on the grass, but Swiatek fought her way through the field to triumph in New York.

"I was very impressed by how Iga this time with the US Open came with absolutely zero confidence and still found a way to win, and that is really a champion's mind," Bartoli said.

""She played really not great tennis in Toronto, not good tennis in Cincinnati, didn't play that well before the US Open. Whatever she worked on with her coach, she went on and plugged in for seven matches and to win the title, which is very impressive.

"So I think the level it's not at the highest, but I think the way she has been able to handle the pressure and go for it and win was absolutely very, very impressive.

"And she will win more. For sure she will win more on clay, she will win more on normal, slower hardcourts. Maybe not grass, but slow hard court is really a good surface for her as well. So easily between five and 10 for Iga, easily."

With Serena Williams saying a fond farewell to competitive tennis at the US Open, the women's tour has lost a 23-slam giant. In Bartoli's mind, there may be nobody of the great American's prowess to emerge for many years to come.

She said: "I think it's unfair to ask any of the current women's players to be as dominating as Serena was, or you know Venus as well.

"You just can't ask them to be at that level of greatness. You get that one out of a century or even two centuries. So I think we will have to wait a while before we get the next Serena Williams.

"And even Coco [Gauff] has talked about it, [saying] 'I'm not Serena, I will probably not get 23 grand slams like Serena you know, so stop putting pressure on me'.

"I think they're just trying their hardest, they're just trying their best, but obviously as Maria Sharapova said and I agree with her, the level of competition we used to have when all of us were playing was I think higher than what it is now."

Bartoli pointed to the example of Emma Raducanu, as a near-unknown, winning the US Open last year. She said that triumph for the British teenager was "out of any rational thoughts".

"This year she lost first round [to Cornet] and she dropped to 80 in the world," Bartoli added.

"You know that someone at 80 and someone at five, there is not so much of a difference in terms of level. And that's why you see those sort of upsets and constant change."

Novak Djokovic does not regret missing out on the US Open due to his vaccination stance and is waiting to discover if he will be allowed to compete in the 2022 Australian Open.

The 21-time grand slam winner missed two of this year's four majors owing to his decision to not be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Though Djokovic was able to extend his record at Wimbledon, he lost joint control of the outright Open Era title for most men's single majors to Rafael Nadal, after the latter won in Australia and then at the French Open.

Carlos Alcaraz, meanwhile, won a maiden grand slam to become the new world number one with victory at Flushing Meadows earlier this month.

Djokovic was barred from entering the USA on vaccination grounds, but speaking ahead of this week's Laver Cup, the Serbian says he does not rue his choice.

"No, I don't have any regrets," he said. "I mean, I do feel sad that I wasn't able to play but that was a decision that I made, and I knew what the consequences would be. I accepted them and that's it."

Djokovic was quick to hail teenager Alcaraz, congratulating the Spaniard for his victory, and adding: "He did it in an incredible fashion. He's 19 years old and already the number one in the world.

"I think he's a great addition to our sport, a great star in the making. We can't speak about him as the future because he is already the present."

Djokovic's 2022 started in less than auspicious circumstances when, having been granted an exception to compete in Australia despite the nation's strict COVID-19 protocols, he was subsequently deported.

Questions over whether he would even be allowed back in the country remain up in the air, but the Serbian is hopeful of a reprieve.

"I'm waiting for the news," he added. "It's really not in my hands right now. So I'm hoping I can get some positive news soon."

Carlos Alcaraz fell to a defeat to fellow youngster Felix Auger-Aliassime in his first match as world number one.

Alcaraz triumphed at the US Open on Sunday, beating Casper Ruud to clinch his first grand slam title and, in the process, become the youngest world number one since the rankings were first published in 1973.

The 19-year-old is the second-youngest male player to win the title at Flushing Meadows in the Open Era, and only the third player since the majors welcomed professionals in 1968 to win the US Open title at his first or second main draw appearance after Arthur Ashe and Rod Laver (in the first two editions of the tournament).

Yet back on home soil in Spain on Friday, Alcaraz was unable to claim victory in his first match since becoming number one, as he went down 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 6-2 to Auger-Aliassime in the Davis Cup Finals.

Canada's Auger-Aliassime did not concede a break point as he dragged his country level in their tie with Spain in Valencia, teeing up a doubles decider after Roberto Bautista Agut defeated Vasek Pospisil 3-6 6-3 6-3.

Auger-Aliassime, 22, has won both of his career matches against Alcaraz, after defeating him in the US Open quarter-finals last year.

Roger Federer will remain forever "linked" with Wimbledon following the 20-time grand slam winner's retirement announcement, says Marion Bartoli.

The Swiss veteran confirmed this month's Laver Cup will be his final top-tier tennis tournament on the ATP Tour, calling time one of the greatest careers in any sport.

But while fellow big-three stars Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal remain unparalleled at the Australian Open and French Open respectively, it is Federer who has made Wimbledon his defining legacy.

With eight men's singles triumphs, the 41-year-old is closely associated with the event, and was welcomed back with a riotous reception earlier this year for a parade celebrating the centenary of Centre Court.

Bartoli, the 2013 women's singles champion, was also at that event and she says Federer's legacy in London will remain for decades to come, even as Djokovic creeps closer to levelling it.

"I was lucky enough to have this very special moment," she told Stats Perform. "He was the last one to walk on the court because he won eight times there and the reception from the crowd, it was just absolutely manic.

"The whole [of] Centre Court just exploded. He [is] just so loved there. That 2019 final, where he lost to Novak having had two match points. I don't think one person outside of Novak's family [wanted him to lose].

"Roger and Wimbledon – [the] two are just linked together. It's just his body. The problem is when you just can't do it any more physically. He played more than 1,500 matches over 20-plus years. You can't do this forever.

"There is a certain time when your body has its limits, and [this] was it for Roger. But I think no one can blame him for not trying every single time 100 per cent when he was stepping on the court."

Serena Williams has paid tribute to retiring 20-time grand slam winner Roger Federer, describing her admiration for him and welcoming him "to the retirement club".

The 41-year-old confirmed on Thursday that he would bring an end to his illustrious playing career after the Laver Cup later this month.

Federer's announcement comes only weeks after 23-time major winner Williams declared her intention to step away from tennis, culminating at the US Open earlier this month where she bowed out in the third round.

The Swiss icon will bow out with 20 major titles to his name, a feat bettered by only two male players – Rafael Nadal (22) and Novak Djokovic (21). Williams sits behind only Margaret Court (24) for women's singles major titles.

"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 wrote on Instagram.

"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. And thank you for being you @rogerfederer."

Williams has deliberately avoided the use of the word retirement since declaring her intention to 'evolve' away from tennis, meaning the latter comment is of note.

The 40-year-old American has teased at a potential return to tennis, saying on Good Morning America this week that "Tom Brady started a really cool trend", referencing his decision to come out of retirement.

WTA world number one Iga Swiatek thanked Roger Federer for "everything you've done and everything you are for our sport" after the Swiss great announced his retirement.

Federer confirmed on Thursday that he would bring his illustrious playing career to a close after the Laver Cup.

The 41-year-old will bow out with 20 grand slam titles to his name, a feat bettered by only two male players – Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

Swiatek, meanwhile, won her third major title last week, defeating Ons Jabeur in straight sets to clinch the US Open, following her successes at Roland Garros in 2020 and earlier this year.

"I just want to thank you for everything you've done and everything you are for our sport," 21-year-old Swiatek tweeted in response to Federer's announcement.

"It's been a privilege to witness your career. I wish you all the best." 

Swiatek followed her post with a goat emoji, signifying that Federer is the greatest of all time.

Chris Evert, a former world number one, also joined the tributes to Federer, tweeting: "He was the epitome of a champion; class, grace, humility, beloved by everyone…and he elegantly mastered the sport like no other…Good luck to you, @rogerfederer don't go too far!"

Martina Navratilova, an 18-time major winner, posted: "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!!!"

Erling Haaland and Casper Ruud are flying the Norwegian flag high at the top of their sports, with Brighton and Hove Albion Women's new recruit Elisabeth Terland inspired by her compatriots.

Norway international Terland left SK Brann for Brighton in August and will hope to make her Women's Super League debut on Friday against Arsenal.

The 21-year-old, who has 13 international caps, referenced the rapid start Haaland has made to life at Manchester City, where he has scored 13 goals in just nine appearances since leaving Borussia Dortmund.

Haaland enjoyed a reunion with his former club on Wednesday, netting a sublime acrobatic finish to take his tally to 26 goals in 21 Champions League appearances – a strike every 62 minutes on average.

With City's new recruit taking the Premier League by storm, Terland hopes to emulate her fellow Norwegian as she prepares for a new challenge in England.

"The things he's doing at the moment are sick. It's just cool to see how a player can come into a new league and come into a new team and just perform time after time," she told Stats Perform. 

"Of course, it's inspiring. Everybody from Norway is really proud of him and what he's doing. Everybody is supporting him. He's a good product of our country."

While Haaland has made a flying start at City, tennis player Ruud reached his second major final of the season at the US Open.

Carlos Alcaraz proved a step too far for Ruud in the battle for the world number one spot at Flushing Meadows on Sunday, but the 23-year-old is another compatriot serving as inspiration for Terland.

"I did watch a little bit [of the US Open final]. It was quite late. Of course, it's just as inspiring to see people doing well in [other] sports," she added.

"That makes you want to do well in sports as well. [He is] a great athlete and does it time after time as well. Hopefully, next time he will win."

Roger Federer's retirement from tennis marks the end of an era, as one of the sport's finest bows out next week at the Laver Cup.

A 20-time grand slam champion and six-time ATP Tour Finals victor – the latter still an undefeated record in the Open Era – the Swiss star has been one of the leading lights in the men's game.

Coming on the heels of Serena Williams' apparent finish at the summit of the sport at this month's US Open, it represents the latest major changing of the guard near the summit of tennis' upper echelons.

Throughout his career, the 41-year-old has stood either alone or alongside a rarefied group in the record group, and Stats Perform has rounded up some of his most impressive statistics.

750 - Federer has spent 750 weeks in the top 10 of the men's singles rankings, an undefeated number for a male player since they were first published in 1973.

369 - He has won more men's singles main draw matches in grand slam tournaments than any other player in the Open Era (369).

237 - With 237 consecutive weeks at number one, Federer holds the record for the longest such streak in men's singles history – a stretch of four-and-a-half years.

105 - Federer has played 105 matches at Wimbledon in the Open Era, more than any other male player.

 

103 - The number of ATP-level titles won by Federer in the Open Era is 103, a feat bettered only by Jimmy Connors (109).

36 - At the age of 36 years, five months and seven days, Federer won his last grand slam, at the 2018 Australian Open, becoming the oldest man to do so in the Open Era save for Ken Rosewall in 1972 (37 years, a month and 24 days, also in Melbourne).

224 - Federer has recorded 224 victories against top-10 opponents. Only Novak Djokovic (232) has more such wins in the Open Era.

15 - In his home tournament in Basel, Federer reached 15 finals, the highest tally for a player in a single ATP-level tournament since the majors turned professional in 1968.

1 - With 429 grand slam matches to his name in the Open Era, Federer is the only male player to have exceeded the 400+ mark.

10 - Federer is the only male player able to reach 10 consecutive Grand Slam finals in the Open Era (between Wimbledon 2005 and the US Open 2007).

0 - According to ATP Media info, Federer never retired from a match in his career (1,526 matches in singles, 223 in doubles).

Lots of eras have ended in 2022.

Tennis has now seen two in a short period of time, as Serena Williams' decision to step away from the court after the US Open was followed by Roger Federer announcing on Thursday that he will do the same after next week's Laver Cup in London.

Federer has had one of the most decorated careers an athlete could hope for, winning 20 grand slams, including eight men's singles titles at Wimbledon.

No player has claimed more than his 369 match wins at grand slams, with Novak Djokovic second on 334.

Following the Swiss star's announcement, Stats Perform has taken a look at five key moments from a truly remarkable career.

Taking of the torch

It felt like a big moment at the time, but with hindsight it was more like something from a Hollywood movie.

Pete Sampras had dominated at Wimbledon from 1993 to 2000, winning the men's singles title seven times in eight years.

Then, in the fourth round at SW19 in 2001, a pony-tailed teenager from Switzerland rocked up and beat him.

Federer had won the boys' championship at Wimbledon in 1998, but here he became a man, beating Sampras in a five-set thriller, to the delight of the crowd.

It denied Sampras an eighth title, which would ironically be a feat achieved by Federer years later.

First grand slam win

It was, of course, Wimbledon where Federer lifted his first grand slam. Two years after his win against Sampras it was time for him to fulfil his potential, and he did just that in 2003.

Going into the tournament as number four seed, he defeated the likes of Mardy Fish, Feliciano Lopez, Sjeng Schalken and Andy Roddick to reach the final.

There, he met big-serving Australian, Mark Philippoussis, and won 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 7-6 (7-3).

People said it could be the first of many, which was somewhat of an understatement.

Five alive at Flushing Meadows

Having already mastered Wimbledon by winning it five years in a row between 2003 and 2007, Federer wanted to dominate other grand slams, which he certainly did in the United States.

After winning his first US Open title in 2004, he went on to win it again and again, culminating in repeating his Wimbledon trick by making it five consecutive in 2008.

Having earned passage to the championship match with a hard-fought four-set victory against Djokovic in the semis, Federer ended up easing to a win in the final against Andy Murray, beating the Scot 6-2 7-5 6-2 to secure number five on the hard courts of New York.

A clay clean sweep

Federer had more than proven himself on grass and hard court, but while he still won the vast majority of his matches on clay, he struggled to get over the line in the same way, particularly thanks to the presence of a certain talented Spaniard.

Rafael Nadal beat him in three consecutive French Open finals from 2006 to 2008, with Federer unable to even force a fifth set in any of those defeats.

However, in 2009 he did not have to face Nadal in the final. Instead, he came up against the man who had shocked Nadal in the fourth round, Robin Soderling.

Federer found the Swede an easier proposition in the final, beating him 6-1 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 to win his first title at Roland Garros, and complete his set of grand slams, having also won three times at the Australian Open by that point (2004, 2006 and 2007).

The final trophy lift

In what turned out to be his last grand slam success, Federer absolutely cruised through the field at the Australian Open in 2018, not dropping a set until the final.

While he had continued to go far in tournaments and wowed the crowds with his trademark rallies and forehand winners, Federer had only won three grand slams since 2010.

Federer had won the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2017, and many thought that might have been his one last hurrah, but he arguably saved an even better showing for the first tournament of the following year.

He was made to earn it in the final, before ultimately overcoming Marin Cilic 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 3-6 6-1.

It brought his overall total of grand slam victories to 20, and though that has since been passed by Nadal (22) and Djokovic (21), Federer will go down as one of the all-time greats.

US Open champions past and present Andy Roddick and Carlos Alcaraz led a swathe of social media tributes to Roger Federer after the 20-time grand slam winner announced his retirement.

Federer, who has not played competitively since exiting Wimbledon at the quarter-final stage last year, revealed on Thursday that next week's Laver Cup will be his farewell tournament.

Federer appeared at a parade of former champions at Wimbledon earlier this year and hinted at his desire to feature at the All England Club once more, but his upcoming outing in London will now represent the swansong to his stunning career.

The Swiss great will become the first of the ATP Tour's 'Big Three' to exit the sport, with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic still active. 

While Nadal and Djokovic have each surpassed Federer's tally of 20 major titles this year, the 41-year-old overtook Pete Sampras' previous record of 14 grand slam titles by beating Roddick in the 2009 Wimbledon final.

Roddick was among the first to pay tribute to Federer's achievements on Thursday, writing on Twitter: "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."

Alcaraz, who clinched his first grand slam title and became world number one with a US Open final win over Casper Ruud on Sunday, simply wrote: "Roger…", accompanied by a heartbroken emoji.

Milos Raonic has seen his efforts to win a major title foiled by the presence of the 'Big Four' – with Andy Murray beating him on his sole grand slam final appearance at Wimbledon in 2016 – but he also showed his appreciation for Federer's impact.

"Thank you for doing more for tennis than any single individual," Raonic wrote. "Thanks to you competitors and fans across the world get to experience and enjoy it all over the world. 

"Congratulations on your achievements and the people you continue to impact in and away from tennis."

Juan Martin del Potro, who prevented Federer from winning six consecutive US Open titles with a five-set success in the 2009 final, labelled the 41-year-old irreplaceable, declaring: "I LOVE YOU, Roger. 

"Thank you for everything you've done in tennis and with myself. [The] tennis world will never be the same without you."

Former player-turned presenter James Blake added: "Roger, there was and never will be anyone like you. You crushed me on the court, but were so nice and genuine that I couldn't hate you for it. 

"You made the game better on and off the court and you will be missed. Good luck, you have earned all the success and joy in the world."

Garbine Muguruza tweeted: "RF" followed by a heartbroken emoji.

Those who shared a court with Federer were not the only ones to pay tribute, however.

A tweet from Wimbledon's official account read: "Roger, 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."

Roland Garros' official account tweeted: "An inspiration on and off the court. Thank you, Roger."

The US Open's handle simply posted: "Thank you, Roger."

Roger Federer has announced his retirement from tennis, declaring next week's Laver Cup in London will be his farewell tournament.

The Swiss great, who has won 20 grand slams, becomes the first of the 'Big Three' on the men's tour to call it a day, with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic still active.

Federer said he was making a "bittersweet decision", having battled knee injuries in the hope of returning to the tour.

Now 41 years old, Federer wrote in a statement on social media on Thursday: "As many of you know, the past three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries.

"I've worked hard to return to full competitive form. But I also know my body's capacities and limits, and its message to me lately has been clear.

"I have played more than 1,500 matches over 24 years. 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.

"The Laver Cup next week in London will be my final ATP event. I will play more tennis in the future, of course, but just not in grand slams or on the tour."

The Swiss great, who won eight men's singles Wimbledon titles, said he would "miss everything the tour has given me".

He returned to Wimbledon this year for a parade of champions, and said at the time he hoped to play there again, but in a competitive sense that will not happen.

Federer said there was "so much to celebrate", adding: "I consider myself one of the most fortunate people on Earth. I was given a special talent to play tennis, and I did it at a level that I never imagined, for much longer than I ever thought possible."

A player whose skills could take the breath away, Federer might trail Nadal by two and Djokovic by one on the all-time list of men's grand slam winners, but to many he will be remembered as the greatest of the trio.

Federer was a virtuoso with racket in hand, going past the previous record of men's grand slam singles wins held by Pete Sampras when landing his 15th major after an epic victory over Andy Roddick in the 2009 Wimbledon final.

He thanked his family and his support team in his announcement on Thursday, and hailed the fans who have always had his back.

Last year, Federer won the ATP's Fans' Favourite award for a 19th successive season.

He said: "You will never know how much strength and belief you have given me. The inspiring feeling of walking into full stadiums and arenas has been one of the huge thrills in my life. Without you, those successes would have felt lonely, rather than filled with joy and energy."

Federer has a financial stake in the Laver Cup, and earmarked it earlier this year as one of two comeback events, along with his home Swiss Indoors event in Basel next month.

However, now the hopes of playing that Basel event look to have been dashed.

 

His retirement decision comes in the wake of Serena Williams announcing last month she would be "evolving away from tennis".

Although she has tenuously left the door open for a change of heart, Williams' announcement was also effectively one of retirement too, and she was given a rousing send-off at the US Open.

Federer, whose career ran in close tandem with that of Williams, described his own career as "an incredible adventure".

"While it sometimes feels like it went by in 24 hours, it has also been so deep and so magical that it seems as if I've already lived a full lifetime," he added.

"I have had the immense fortune to play in front of you in over 40 different countries. I have laughed and cried, felt joy and pain, and most of all I have felt incredibly alive."

He recalled being "a ball kid" in Basel in his youth, and seeing players of a past generation at close quarters.

"They were like giants to me and I began to dream," Federer wrote. "My dreams led me to work harder and I started to believe in myself."

Federer had a reputation early in his career as a racket-smasher, and it was not clear that he had the temperament to maximise his talent.

That soon emerged, though, and Federer explained: "Some success brought me confidence and I was on my way to the most amazing journey that led to this day.

"So, I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart, to everyone around the world who has helped make the dream of a young Swiss ball kid come true."

He added: "Finally, to the game of tennis, I love you and will never leave you."

With a security detail to rival that of a president, Roger Federer strode along St Mary's Walk and into Court 14, crowds on the concourses urged to clear a path for a man rarely seen in such parts of the All England Club.

This was the king among his people, out in the boondocks by his standards. With a mighty swish of his racket, he might just be able to launch a tennis ball onto Centre Court's roof from down here.

It was day two of the 2015 Wimbledon championships, a warm Tuesday morning, and Federer needed a warm-up before his opening match against Bosnian Damir Dzumhur, a player that later in the day he would trounce for the loss of just seven games. That would of course be a Centre Court assignment. Invariably all of Federer's matches get centre stage.

The tiny Court 14 seats a couple of hundred spectators, maybe a handful more at a push, and whispers had spread to mean many were occupied for what was an unadvertised practice session, a Federer guerrilla gig. The media had been given a little advance notice, and a glimpse of Federer at close quarters is hard to turn down.

There was a hefty hint Federer would be arriving when Stefan Edberg - his coach and childhood idol - showed up several minutes ahead of his charge and began to limber up, while Rob Walker of Wimbledon TV stood patiently with a camera crew and a stack of notes, ready to tell the story of the day Federer played where only mere mortals usually tread.

Suddenly more news crews appeared, a stream of day-trippers strolling past the inconspicuous court became more like a scrum, and out came the camera phones, ball boys and ball girls craning for a view, making sure of a close-up shot. A woman working for IBM grinned ear to ear. And in walked Federer, dressed head to toe in white Nike gear, carrying a couple of Wilson tennis rackets and a cap bearing his RF insignia.

A G4S security man practically bit off his bottom lip while attempting to keep a straight face and simultaneously enforce crowd control as Federer passed by him. Thou shalt not smile.

Applause rang out, fans with cheap-rate ground passes cooed at the sight of the then seven-time champion. Federer acknowledged the swelling crowd.

And for the next half-hour or so he and Edberg gently put in a light session, rallying from the baseline, these great champions going through the motions that on another day might have taken place out of public sight. It amounted to little more than a balm to the ego before lunch.

And this was just another day in the life of Roger Federer, who has now announced his retirement. He has probably forgotten all about it. Some will remember it for the rest of their lives.

 

Edberg takes on a real relevance in the story of Federer's retirement because they spoke together about how to go through the process.

Swedish great Edberg announced his own decision to quit in December 1995, a month before his 30th birthday, and the 1996 season became his farewell tour, feted everywhere he went.

But Edberg struggled with his form in that year of goodbyes and glad-handing, reaching only one final, losing to Boris Becker in the Queen's Club title match, and he ultimately regretted the hoopla that followed him around.

Speaking to The Tennis Podcast in 2020, Edberg explained how he warded Federer off following his example.

"We actually talked a little bit about it and I would not recommend it to anybody actually, even if it's a nice thing to do, because it does put too much pressure on yourself and there would be too many things going on in your mind," Edberg said.

"So if you're going to announce it, I would do it just before my last tournament or have it in my mind, but not for anybody else to know. It's very tough to handle, but at the same time it was a very memorable year, but I would not recommend it."

Federer only worked in tight tandem with Edberg for two years, but he has so much respect and admiration for the man that such advice was sure to have registered.

And now the 20-time grand slam winner is retiring. Let that sink in.

It will take some getting used to, tennis without Federer. Without his ritual beastings of young upstarts on tour, without his perfect manners, quasi-aristocratic foibles, and those multilingual, exquisitely delivered, post-match news conferences. Without Anna Wintour gazing down adoringly from the Royal Box. Without Mirka.

"I wanted to be a tennis player or a soccer player from a very young age," Federer said at Wimbledon some years ago.

Was there a Wimbledon final that tilted him the way of tennis?

"I think the Becker-Edberg final. I don't remember which year because they played a few times. I was sitting at home in the living room, watching them play, thinking hopefully one day I can be like them, you know," Federer said.

Edberg and Becker met in consecutive Wimbledon finals from 1988 to 1990, the Swede winning the first and last of those matches. Theirs was a great rivalry.

"That's I guess where idols and inspirations are good. They push you forward," Federer said. "Then along the way you joke around and say it's coming closer. When you win a practice match, you just fake like you've just won Wimbledon. All of a sudden it's really happening."

 

It was "really happening" for Federer by the late 1990s, as he won the boys' singles at Wimbledon in 1998, beating Georgia's Irakli Labadze, and barely 12 months later he was a top 100 player on the men's tour.

But he was a firebrand too as a teenager, something he was compelled to explain at Wimbledon in 2001, when the 19-year-old Federer became the centre of attention for the first time after defeating Pete Sampras, champion for the previous four years, in the fourth round.

Federer had been a picture of composure in that match and was asked whether he modelled his approach on ice-cool Pistol Pete.

"Not at all actually. I was throwing around my racket like you probably don't imagine," Federer said. "I was getting kicked out of practice sessions non-stop when I was 16. Now since maybe I think this year, I started just to relax a little bit more on court.

"I'm not smashing as many rackets as before. I realised that the racket throwing didn't help my game because I was always getting very negative."

When Federer got his hands on a grand slam trophy for the first time, it was Wimbledon in 2003 and he was lobbed a prescient question by a reporter who asked whether he might one day emulate seven-time champion Sampras at Wimbledon.

"This is one of his seven, you know. I'm so far away," he said. "I'm just happy to be on the board. If I look at all the players who have won here, a lot have been idols to me. Just to be on the board with (Bjorn) Borg and these people, it's just nice to be a part of history at Wimbledon."

Nevertheless, that was the first of five consecutive Wimbledon triumphs for Federer, matching a Borg record. Around such feats are legends created; because of the vicarious pleasure he provided to so many, crowds will forever flock around Federer, whether on Centre Court, Court 14 or his local food court.

As Federer's slam stack grew, and he nudged nearer Sampras' hauls of seven Wimbledon titles and 14 majors, the American great made his Swiss successor a promise: he would be there when those records began to fall.

When Federer fended off Andy Roddick 16-14 in the fifth set of the 2009 Wimbledon final to go to 15 slams, Sampras indeed was there, albeit he arrived late.

"It was a bit special," Federer said. "When he walked in and I saw him for the first time, I did get more nervous actually. I said hello to him, too, which is unusual. But I thought, I don't want to be rude."

And in 2017, nudging 36, Federer triumphed at Wimbledon for an eighth and final time, beating an injury hampered Marin Cilic.

"Winning eight is not something you can ever aim for, in my opinion," he said afterwards. "If you do, you must have so much talent and parents and the coaches that push you from the age of three on, who think you're like a project," he said. "I was not that kid. I was just really a normal guy growing up in Basel, hoping to make a career on the tennis tour."

At the beginning of 2018, he added a sixth Australian Open title to reach 20 slam crowns, a figure beyond the wildest dream of anyone in men's tennis before the Big Three showed up.

 

The argument rages on about who has been the greatest men's tennis star of all-time, and whether it should be Federer, Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal from this era who is the prime contender for such a nebulous crown.

Federer has a losing head-to-head against both his younger rivals, there is no escaping that fact. He trails Nadal 24-16 and Djokovic 27-23. Both have been whittling away at his records, taking their fair share. Yet Federer still has the most Open Era match wins among men at Wimbledon (105) and the Australian Open (102), the most wins in slams overall by a man (369), and the most grass-court singles titles in ATP tour history (19).

He won 103 tournaments, second only to Jimmy Connors (109). He underwent knee surgery twice in 2020 and returned to seek more silverware, because he believed he could still win, even as his 40th birthday approached.

Federer is the man who recalibrated the levels that players can reach in men's tennis, the game-changing figurehead that Nadal and Djokovic have been chasing from the outset of their own magnificent careers.

Without Federer to aim for, perhaps Nadal and Djokovic would not have scaled such great heights.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps...

What is certain is that the Federer era is ending. And that's the thing about eras, they always end. Sometimes, you've just got to be grateful to have lived through them. Roger that?

Roger Federer has announced his retirement from tennis, declaring next week's Laver Cup in London will be his farewell tournament.

The Swiss great, who has won 20 grand slams, becomes the first of the 'Big Three' on the men's tour to call it a day, with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic still active.

Federer said he was making a "bittersweet decision", having battled knee injuries in the hope of returning to the tour.

Now 41 years old, Federer wrote in a statement on social media on Thursday: "As many of you know, the past three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries.

"I've worked hard to return to full competitive form. But I also know my body's capacities and limits, and its message to me lately has been clear.

"I have played more than 1,500 matches over 24 years. 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.

"The Laver Cup next week in London will be my final ATP event. I will play more tennis in the future, of course, but just not in grand slams or on the tour."

Victory at Flushing Meadows on Sunday night saw Carlos Alcaraz anointed both the US Open champion and the new world number one.

The victor of the New York final between Alcaraz and Casper Ruud would climb to the top of the ATP rankings, and a four-set success for the 19-year-old made him the youngest ever men's number one.

That record had previously belonged to a 20-year-old Lleyton Hewitt in November 2000.

Although Alcaraz's huge potential has long been public knowledge, the chances of him beating Hewitt's mark still seemed remote when he started 2022 ranked 32nd.

Even Juan Carlos Ferrero, the Spaniard's coach, did not anticipate a major breakthrough this soon, telling reporters after Sunday's win: "Of course, it comes very fast.

"It's a surprise for everybody except maybe to me, because I trained with him every day and I know [how] he's able to play on the court, [but] I was pretty sure that maybe it wasn't this year; it could be the next one."

By the time he took to Arthur Ashe Stadium against Ruud, however, Alcaraz's ascent to the top of the sport was a surprise to nobody.

Moving from number four to first place might have tied the biggest leap to number one in rankings history, but Alcaraz leads the ATP Tour in both match wins (51) and titles (five) in 2022.

There is little prospect of him slowing now, having become the first man in the Open Era to win the US Open title as early as in his second entry; the last to do so in any era was Pancho Gonzales back in 1948.

"Of course, I'm hungry for more," Alcaraz said afterwards. "I want to be in the top for many, many weeks. Hopefully many years.

"I'm going to work hard again after this week, this amazing two weeks. I'm going to fight to have more of this."

And Alcaraz will have to fight – Ferrero knows as much as that.

"The players now are going to play very motivated against him," the teenager's coach added. "Now he's number one. Before he was two or three.

"Even like this, it's like Real Madrid-Barcelona, there's a rivalry that gets you [to] increase your level. It's what is going to happen to him against his opponents. He has to be ready."

Since Roger Federer became the 23rd different men's number one in February 2004, the rankings have been dominated by the 'Big Three', with only Andy Murray and then, this year, Daniil Medvedev also leading the Tour in that time.

Now, as the 28th number one, Alcaraz – compared by Ruud to each of Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic – can set about securing his own long stay at the summit.

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