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Roger Federer completes 24 year tennis career

After more than two decades of play, Roger Federer has finished his legendary tennis career. Announced on September 15, through Twitter, Federer said that he must listen to his body as it tells him that his time as a competitive player is over. Federer played his final match last Friday: a doubles match with friend and rival Rafael Nadal at the Laver Cup.

As a child, Federer began his story with tennis as a ball boy in his hometown of Basel, Switzerland. Though he was talented in many sports, he chose tennis after working with Australian player Peter Carter. At age 14, Federer moved to Ecublens from Basel to train at the National Swiss Tennis Center. His first breakthrough would come at age 19 when he beat four-time defending champion, Pete Sampras, at Wimbledon. His first major single title, however, would come two years later at the 2003 Wimbledon.

Federer would go on to win seven more times at Wimbledon, six times at the Australian Open, five times at the US Open and one time at the French Open for a total of 20 major singles titles, the third most men’s major singles titles overall. He has spent a total of 310 weeks at number one, 237 of those consecutively, and became the oldest player to reach number one at age 36. Federer holds the record for the greatest number of consecutive major singles semifinals reached at 23 and has an overall singles record of 1251-275 (82%). Finally, he has never had to halt a match due to injury – a surprising fact given he’s played 1,526 singles matches and 224 doubles matches.

For his numerous wins, Federer has won over $130 million in prize money, but most of his income has been made off the court. Known for his vast number of brand sponsorships, Federer became the first active tennis player to earn more than $1 billion – one of only six athletes to do so. Even in the past three years, when injuries and surgeries have kept him largely out of play, he remained the highest-paid tennis player and was even the highest-paid athlete in 2020, according to Forbes.

For a lot of people, though, when Federer is brought up, two other names come up in the conversation: Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. These three men are often referred to as the “big three” of men’s tennis, and together they have dominated the past 19 years of play. Between the three of them, they have won 63 of the past 77 major men’s singles titles, and their matches are incredibly memorable.

Federer and Nadal’s Wimbledon final in 2008 is largely considered one of the best matches in tennis history, and it is hard to forget the image of Nadal comforting a crying Federer after their 2009 Australian Open final. Likewise, Djokovic’s 2019 win over Federer at Wimbledon took almost five hours and is still seared into the brains of many of their fans. With Federer retiring, this “big three” era of tennis is finally over. While his career on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tour is done, Federer has said that he would still like to play exhibition games in the future. It seems that he will also continue to be a part of the sport in other capacities as well. The Laver Cup itself is run in part through Federer’s management company TEAM8, and Federer has used a lot of his influence to put it on the ATP tour schedule. He has even confirmed that he will attend next year’s Laver Cup in Vancouver. So, although Federer has retired, tennis fans should all breathe a sigh of relief, secure in the knowledge that he is not stepping away from the game completely.

Claire McKenna

Contact Claire at cmckenn4@nd.edu

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Guffey: Why tennis is the best fan experience in sports

On Sunday, Sept. 11, Carlos Alcaraz won the U.S. Open in New York and subsequently became the youngest men’s tennis player to reach No. 1 in the world. That name was especially familiar to me. At only 19 years old, Alcaraz has become quite popular among young tennis players. I texted my brother, “didn’t we see him practice?” The answer was yes, we did.

Less than a month earlier, I had gone to the Western & Southern Open, a hard court tournament in Cincinnati just before the start of the U.S. Open. It’s less well known than the grand slam, but all of the major players — both on the men’s and women’s sides — go there every year without fail. It was at this tournament my family and I saw Alcaraz practicing on a court with just three rows of bleachers set up on either side. (There are high schools with more seating room than that.)

I had gone to the Western & Southern nine years ago and hadn’t been back since this August, but it had me thinking: Professional tennis is the best sports experience for fans out of any sport out there. Don’t believe me? Here’s why. 

There’s nowhere else you can get closer to athletes

Carlos Alcaraz, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams. One day in Cincinnati gave me and my family the opportunity to see all of these top-ranked players, along with dozens more. We went on one of the qualifying days, where players are competing to make it into the main draw of the tournament. This means the top players are probably not playing actual matches, but that’s even better. Instead of having an assigned seat in a large stadium court setting, you can stake out your favorite players on the practice schedule and attend their 30-minute to two-hour practice sessions. 

And most will stay after practice to sign hats and tennis balls for all the fans who stuck around for the entire practice session. When I went to the tournament in 2013, Novak Djokovic stayed for nearly an hour interacting with fans along every inch of the fence.

What other sport has professional practices open to everyone in the venue? The athletes even just walk on their own to the courts, meaning the player casually walking next to you could be No. 1 in the world or someone’s hitting partner. You never know. 

And, you have the freedom to choose who you watch. For instance, in the early days of bigger tournaments, you buy your grounds ticket with an assigned seat in the center court stadium. However, you have free reign to any of the practice courts and other matches for the entire day. It’s almost too much freedom as you have to decide which players you want to see the most. 

It’s international and year-round

The men’s ATP tour and fellow women’s counterpart WTA tour spans over 30 countries with players of more than 100 nationalities. And while you most likely know of the four grand slams in Melbourne, Paris, London and New York, the tours are hosted in countries and cities all over the world, giving its global fan base a chance to see their favorites anywhere.

Talk to a tennis fan in the U.S., and I would bet there’s a good chance their favorite tennis pro isn’t American. But even though they’re from a different country, they can most likely see them play in person in several cities across the U.S., from Miami to D.C. 

And with the four major tournaments spread out from January to September, there’s never a shortage of high-level tennis to watch.

It’s fun

As a disclaimer, I have played tennis my whole life, and it’s sort of a family sport, so I am a bit biased when it comes to rating how enjoyable tennis is to watch. But, there’s nothing tennis fans care about more than seeing good tennis, and it’s easy to get sucked in. 

Whether you want to check eating strawberries and cream at Wimbledon off your bucket list or need something to do in Cincinnati for a day, try a tennis tournament. Go to watch tennis, hang out with friends, drink, eat — whatever! I promise it’ll be a grand slam.

Contact Alysa Guffey at aguffey@nd.edu.

The views in this Sports Authority are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.