Roger Federer: “Last year I only saw one tennis match”

Are you still capable of shining from time to time?
A few days ago I was at Stanford and watched their team play tennis because my agent’s son is a freshman there. I saw them doing something and I said to Tony’s son, “Look, on one-handed backhand, I think you should do it like this.” And I explained it to him quickly. I grabbed a racket, hit a few backhands with my right hand and everything was as before. It’s like riding a bicycle, you can’t forget it. Then we did another drill and I tried to show him the different types of forehands. And every shot I took was perfect. And I said to myself, “Oh my God, he’s still here!”

Do you still watch tennis?
Just the highlights. I have trouble watching a full game because I’m too busy with the kids. Last year I didn’t watch more than one full game. I only watch the highlights, but I check the scores every day. I thought I was going to completely lose interest in this sport, but I still know a lot of players.

Every time Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic win, viewers think of you, due to your long rivalry. Do you pay special attention to them?
I know when they are in the final, when Rafa returns or when Novak breaks a new record. I’m not going to put aside my schedule to watch a game, but I follow it very closely and enjoy watching them play. Especially Novak, who is getting better and better and continuing his momentum. And obviously I felt sad for Rafa that he didn’t get to play as much or as much as he would have liked. I hope he can do whatever he wants this summer, because although I have a good feeling about him, I know he pulled out of Indian Wells and Doha and all that. But I hope he can get back to normal.

You shared the court with them for many years. Today, when you turn on the television, they are still there and you are not.
When I left in London, at the press conference with Andy Murray, Novak, Rafa, Björn Borg and company, I said: “It’s completely normal that I’m the first to leave.” When I started, I spent a while without them competing, and now they have to play without me. I’m glad I was the first to leave. I sincerely hope they can play as long as I do.

Does the competitor in you feel the same way?
Frankly, it doesn’t even exist anymore.

Actually ?
I am proud of what I accomplished and will never forget the day I broke Pete Sampras’ record. Never. But we took a different position when we retired. You end up being… I don’t know, very happy with your position and find yourself supporting the sport as a whole. Today what interests me is no longer competing with others, but rather helping tennis to gain even more followers alongside them.

Turtleneck, theory. Shorts, Uniqlo. Sneakers, on.© Lachlan Bailey

© Lachlan Bailey

© Lachlan Bailey

© Lachlan Bailey

Are there any young players who look like you?
I’m going to kick open a door, but now a one-handed backhand is no longer visible. I don’t know if you know this, but this is the first time in history that…

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