Is tennis about to lose one of the best players of all time? Roger Federer dropped the dreaded r-word – ‘retire’ – after winning at the US Open, leaving some to worry he’s hanging up his racket!
“I’m happy I never stumbled at the first hurdle,” Roger Federer, 37, said on Aug. 28, after defeating Yoshihito Nishioka, 22, in his opening match at the U.S. Open, per the Chicago Tribune. The 5-time U.S. Open winner easily defeated the 117th-ranked Nishioka in three sets – 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 – so what he said during his on-court interview shocked everyone. “Almost time to retire — but not yet.”
Wait, what? Did Roger just hint that he’s soon about to step away from the court for good? Thankfully, no, as he later explained he was just joking. “That was meaning, like, ‘I never lost a first-round match here at the Open,” he explained to reporters later in the evening. “I won all my 18. You don’t want that (loss) to happen next year.’ I said, ‘Maybe I could retire now, because I protect my 18 first-round wins here.’ That’s what I meant with it. It’s a total joke, yes.”
“So please don’t read into it. Don’t even write that word,” he told the media room with a smile. Well, don’t say that word, Roger. The currently world-ranked No. 2 player in men’s single tennis (right behind Rafael Nadal, 32) has been on the court for twenty years now, so if it wouldn’t be unreasonable if he were ready to close the book on his career. But, to think of tennis without Roger Federer is a sobering thought. Perhaps a victory at the U.S. Open will help remind all the younger players why he’s considered the G.O.A.T in some circles. Roger’s already picked up a Grand Slam win at the 2018 Australian Open, but it’s been a decade since he last won the U.S. Open. Will this be his year?
“Thankfully I wasn’t too nervous tonight,” Roger added after his opening round win. “I felt good. I felt like I had a good preparation week. No hiccups there. I think that settles my nerves there. When you do walk out onto Arthur Ashe [Stadium], you feel like people are there to see the show, enjoy themselves. Sure, they come for the tennis, but it’s also sort of a bucket list, wanting to be there. So, yeah, there’s pressure. But, no, never gets old. I love coming to play here. It’s been so many years now.” Well, here’s hoping he’ll be back next year. Tennis isn’t ready to say good-bye to Roger yet.