Federer: “I hope that, in fact, Nadal will play much longer than we think”

On Wednesday at La Courneuve during the inauguration of a tennis court under the leadership of the Fête le Mur Association, Roger Federer gave an interview to French TV.

Nadal and Federer at the 2022 Laver Cup Tennis – Laver Cup – 02 Arena, London, Britain – September 23, 2022 Team Europe’s Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal react during their doubles match against Team World’s Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

La Courneuve, new court. On Wednesday, 24 hours before the Roland-Garros draw, Roger Federer was in a city very close to Paris to inaugurate a training ground for junior players. Designed by Caroline Derveaux, the inauguration was made possible by the Fête le Mur Association along with Uniqlo, Federer’s equipment supplier.

On this occasion, the 20-time Grand Slam champion gave an interview that hit the French TV airwaves on Thursday (on the Télématin show). Unsurprisingly, Federer was asked a few questions about his old friend, Rafael Nadal, who has announced that he will be playing “very probably his last Roland-Garros.”

“It’s very interesting to follow [the end of Nadal’s career] from afar,” the Swiss said. “Because I know how I experienced the end of my career. Maybe it was a little different, since I didn’t play at all until the doubles (in the Laver Cup).”

Before saying goodbye following a doubles match with Nadal in September of 2022 (the Laver Cup is more of an exhibition), Federer had already played his last truly official match. That came in 2021 at Wimbledon, where the Basel native lost to Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals. Wimbledon 2021.

I think [choosing when to retire] is so personal. It’s up to him to decide how he wants to do it.

Roger Federer

Since the Laver Cup, Federer has linked up with his friendly Spanish rival on several occasions.

“We saw each other recently, during a photo shoot (published last week for a French luxury brand), and again after,” Federer noted. “Since then, we have spoken less. What I see is someone who really tries to be on the court. If he says ‘ciao,’ it’s on the court and not from his couch. And I love that, because we can see that he is far from being 100 percent.”

Before revealing to the world the official decision to say goodbye to his playing career, Federer called Nadal to tell him the news. Perhaps Nadal will do the same. But for the moment, as the left-hander has repeatedly said, even if he has declared that this will “probably” be his last season he still has the small hope of continuing beyond 2024 if his body allows him to do so.

That would please Federer.

“I think [choosing when to retire] is so personal,” the eight-time Wimbledon commented. “It’s up to him to decide how he wants to do it. I don’t have any information on that, and I hope that, in fact, he will play much longer than we think. But the question is his body, as he says very honestly.”

It’s a body that will soon face a major test.

A few hours following the publication of Federer’s interview, Marie-José Pérec — present at the Roland-Garros draw ceremony — drew a very difficult hand for Nadal. In the very first round the King of Clay has to face the world No 4 and reigning Rome Masters champion: Alexander Zverev.

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