LONDON (AP) — Roger Federer says he now is at peace with his choice to retire from professional tennis and plans to close his career with one doubles match at the Laver Cup — perhaps with longtime rival Rafael Nadal by his side.
“I’m happy, because I know it’s the right decision” to walk away from the game, Federer said at a news conference Wednesday at the arena that will host the team competition founded by his management company.
Wearing a blue blazer with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, and a white polo shirt, Federer took questions for about a half-hour, occasionally smiling or chuckling at his own jokes.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion, who announced last week he’d be retiring, said it took him a bit to get used to the idea of stepping away from competition, but it was something he understood he needed to do after running into setbacks this July during his rehabilitation from what was his third surgery on his right knee in about 1 1/2 years.
“You’re sad in the very moment when you realize, ‘OK, this is it,’” Federer said.
The last operation came shortly after his last singles match — a quarterfinal loss to Hubert Hurkacz at Wimbledon in July 2021.
“You always want to play forever,” Federer said.
He said he will play doubles for Team Europe against Team World on Friday, Day 1 of the event, and then will give way to 2021 Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini for singles play over the weekend.
Federer, who is 41, would not say definitively who his doubles partner would be for the final match of his career — he said that’s up to team captain Bjorn Borg — but the expectation is that it will be Nadal, who holds the men’s record of 22 major championships.
“It’s been a great, great journey,” Federer said, “and for that, I’m very grateful.”