Roger Federer disagrees with the need for ‘perfect’ tennis retirement

Roger Federer, just voted the ATP Fans’ Player of the Year for a 17th consecutive season, does not think it is essential to finish at the top of tennis.

He has 20 Grand Slam titles and is seeking more before the end of his illustrious tennis career, but Roger Federer disagrees with those who suggest his retirement should be planned so that he goes out right at the top.

Federer was unable to win a major in 2019, a heart-breaking Wimbledon final defeat at the hands of Novak Djokovic that came despite having two championship points being the closest he got.

Rafael Nadal, winner of the French Open and US Open, is now only one Slam behind him in the race to finish with the most majors, while Djokovic, the youngest of the big three, is within four.

Federer still had an excellent year, finishing with a ranking of number 3 and winning four titles to pass the 100 mark on the ATP Tour.

In total, he reached six finals in 2019, as well as beating Djokovic at the ATP Finals, the first time he had managed to get the better of the Serbian in four years.

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Now 38, the Swiss great constantly has to listen to debate and field questions about when he will bring his career to an end.

Federer is clear he still feels capable of winning more Grand Slam titles. But he does not see the need as some have suggested to try and time his retirement in a “perfect” way, such as bowing out after winning an event like Wimbledon one last time.

Other athletes have called it a day just as they have won a big title or reached the top of their respective sports, but Federer thinks his successes will be remembered even if he plays on for some time yet and ultimately begins to drop down the ATP rankings.

He explained his thinking in an interview carried by multiple publications, including the Washington Times.

Roger Federer said: “I don’t think the exit needs to be that perfect, that you have to win something huge and you go, ‘OK. I did it all’.

“It can be completed a different way, as long as you enjoy it and that’s what matters to you.

“People, I don’t think, anyway, remember what were the last matches of a John McEnroe, what were the last matches of a Stefan Edberg. Nobody knows. They remember that they won Wimbledon, that they won this and that, they were world number 1. I don’t think the end, per se, is that important.”

Anything that suggests Federer is not planning on stopping any time soon will come as a boost to his supporters, who have just voted him as ATP Fans’ Favorite for a 17th straight season at the 2019 awards.

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Federer gave up skiing to benefit his body way back in 2008, thinking he was nearing the end of his career. In his interview, he was also told of opinion articles from 2013 saying he should quit then to avoid ruining his legacy. Huge success has come since.

Of when he gave up Skiing, Federer said he was thinking at the time: “Maybe I have another four good years left in me.”

He continued: “This was 12 years ago now. So it shows you how long ago I’ve been thinking, ‘Maybe I have another four years. Maybe I have another three years. Maybe I have another two years’.

“I feel like I’ve been toward ‘the back end of my career’ for a long, long time.

“Sometimes with family planning, discussions with my wife, we talk a little bit sometimes. But never like, ‘What if?’ Or, ‘What are we going to do?’ Because I always think we have time for that and then we’ll figure it out when that moment comes.”

Federer’s schedule these days is planned to precision, with breaks without playing tournaments on tour ensuring he is well rested and gets enough time to spend with his young family.

He even gets time off during his training blocks to allow his body to be pushed right to the limit when he does intense work and then have sufficient time to recover.

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The eight-time Wimbledon winner sounds like he is planning to play on for some time yet, a view which had weight added to it by comments from his agent and coach this week.

His agent Tony Godsick has insisted there are no retirement plans in place and that Federer genuinely does not know when that time will come.

Coach Ivan Ljubicic has spoken of his hopes Federer will go on for “a long time yet” as he continues to love what he does.

It is all music to the ears of fans of Roger Federer, who hope 2020 can see him remain competitive at the highest level.

He is battling for the top trophies amid fierce competition from Nadal, Djokovic and a younger generation including ATP Finals winner Stefanos Tsitsipas who continue to close the gap.

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Federer will return to action at the Australian Open next month, an event which was the last Grand Slam he won in 2018.