Sport

Roger Federer riffs on tennis triumphs, big rivalries, retirement

Sandra Harwitt, Special to USA TODAY
Published 7:02 a.m. ET March 8, 2019 | Updated 7:38 a.m. ET March 8, 2019

When USA Today caught up with Roger Federer by phone on Wednesday he was in a particularly chatty mood. Besides discussing becoming only the second man in history to win 100 career titles and reflecting on his career to date, he tackled a few other topics.

Here’s three further thoughts from Federer:

Q: What do you view as your most important achievements of your career?

Roger Federer: In a way, I think always getting that first one (title) out of the way was big, and that happened in Milan in 2001. I was extremely relieved I was able to do that, looking back at it. Cracking the top 10 in Hamburg (2002) when I beat (Marat) Safin in the finals was a big win for me.

Then in 2005 when I won in five sets in Miami against Rafa (Nadal) (2-6, 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 6-1 in the final) was big for me having been down two sets and a break, but I found a way to win it. That really showed me I had great character on the court, and I learned a lot about myself in that match. It was a milestone victory for me as I was still very young.

My first Slam (Wimbledon 2003), pressure situations where I tried to go for my fifth Wimbledon and, of course, French Open 2009 has to stand out as a very special victory. Winning my first Swiss title back in Gstaad in 2004 and Basel in 2006 was important to me. So I’ve had a lot of fun times on the tour to say the least.

NO. 100: Federer still finds joy in tennis life amid record-breaking success

Q: I know you’ve discussed Rafael Nadal’s been your biggest rivalry in your career. Indeed, he leads your head-to-head 23-15 at the moment. Can you talk about why Nadal’s been such a challenge for you? Also, who were your other important rivalries?

Federer: I think his playing style has been the most challenging for me with the one-hander (Federer’s one-handed backhand). I think he’s been pretty tough. From the beginning it was extremely exciting and right away, right off the bat, we had great matches and a lot of finals, from the beginning of his career (in 2003).

And then I think with the epic — the pinnacle match we had in 2008 at Wimbledon (Nadal won the title 2-6, 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 6-1). And, of course, the match we had a couple of years ago in Australia (Federer won the title (6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3) was epic. Our two games-styles match up well together.

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Yeah, (Novak) Djokovic would be second in this generation. I really loved the rivalries I had with (Andy) Roddick, (Lleyton) Hewitt and (Marat) Safin and those guys.

 

Q: You say your retirement isn’t imminent. But when you are ready to retire what do you look forward to when you do choose to retire?

Federer: Yeah, I’m trying to keep it open when I’m done, just to have options. I have a family, which is my priority as you know. I just want to make sure that always comes first and for that I have to have as free as schedule as possible.

I’m just really happy that Mirka (his wife) and myself keep a great group of friends around ourselves throughout this 20-year career. I’m not worried when I’m sitting at home that I’ll be there alone. We have great friends and family. Can’t wait as well for that to come around.

I would like to start doing all the sports as well because I put all that aside. I would like to start to ski again, like to pick up an instrument again, learn how to skate and learn ice hockey. I still have a lot of things I’d like to do.

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