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“I don’t need to listen this news to know that the end is closer” – Nadal & Big 4 reflect on their own retirement as Federer exits

Nadal, Djokovic and Murray reflect on their own retirement as Roger Federer hangs up his racquet as a professional on Friday

Murray Djokovic Federer Nadal at the 2022 Laver Cup Murray Djokovic Federer Nadal at the 2022 Laver Cup Image Credit: AI / Reuters / Panoramic

The day of Roger Federer‘s retirement has finally come upon us. The tennis world has now lost two of its biggest legends, Federer and Serena Williams, over the past month and some of the other big names in the game are also inching into their late 30s. Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray will team up with Federer in a GOAT-studded Team Europe at the Laver Cup this weekend but the three of them are all 35 years and above. Federer’s retirement has brought the longevity of the other members of the Big 4 also into the limelight and all of the other three were asked on Thursday if the Swiss’ retirement had led them to think about their own retirement as well.

Nadal, who will partner Federer for the doubles match in the latter’s final match in the Laver Cup on Friday, said he did not need the retirement of his arch-rival to understand that he is also coming closer to the end of his career.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal Laver Cup

“I don’t need to listen this news to know that the end is closer,” Nadal said in London. “You know, the normal cycle of life is this, no? Some people leave and others needs to come. Nothing new. History repeats always. Just this time it’s us, and in this particular case is probably one of the most if not the most important player in the history of this sport that is leaving after super great and super long career. Some of us, we were able to have this to share this long career together, having some of us a lot of success. (It) Is true that when first is leaving in your mind you miss something, no? In a personal way, it has been very, very, very sad news and a tough day.”

Roger’s legacy will live forever.

Novak Djokovic
Djokovic and Federer at the Laver Cup in 2018
Djokovic and Federer at the Laver Cup in 2018 Image Credit: Icon SMI / Panoramic

Djokovic, who will be playing his first tournament this weekend since Wimbledon, admitted that the retirement of Federer was a sad day for the entire sporting world and not just tennis.

“As Rafa said, you know, on a personal level, of course it’s different. It’s a sad day for tennis but just sport in general. But, you know, Roger’s legacy will live forever. That’s for sure.”

The Serb also spoke about his trajectory with the other three members of the Big Four and how they all helped him become a better player. “I think when we found out we were going to be on the team, Federer said at that point he still didn’t know if this was going to be his last match and last time playing on the tour. Of course, it was huge excitement for me personally to be on the team, knowing that this will probably be the first and the last time that we will be all together, not knowing again that he’s going to retire. But, him announcing that made it even more special. So of course, it’s a huge privilege and honor to be on this team and considering what I have personally gone through on the court with Federer over the years, at the beginning of my career I was losing most of the matches between Roger and Rafa in the Grand Slams, and they have contributed a lot to the player I am today to figuring out how I can turn the tables. So I’m very grateful to be part of that era. And with Andy, obviously we go back a long time. First time we played each other we were 12 in France. Was not a great day for me, but we had a lot of fun, you know, growing up in the junior days. Of course we always wanted to win against each other. We always wanted to be better than each other.”

“I don’t think there’s many better ways to go out than like this” – Murray on the retirement of Federer at Laver Cup

Murray, who has struggled with hip injuries over the past few years and was even given an on-court send-off at the Australian Open in 2019, said it’s impossible to know when the perfect time to retire for any athlete would be but described the Laver Cup setting this weekend as one of the best ways to go out.

“For me the last few years, I think as you get older as athletes and with some of the physical issues, you do think about what if or when should you stop and when is the right moment and how would you like it to be,” Murray said. “It’s impossible to know, I think. But this, to me, I don’t know — maybe it doesn’t feel the same way for Federer, but I think it feels right, seeing him and Rafa on the same side of the net together and finishing their careers as a team in this event with, Bjorn on the side of the court, John McEnroe there, Rod Laver in the stands. Is going to be a really cool way to end an incredible career. I have thought about it myself, but I don’t think there’s many better ways to go out than like this.”

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