Roger Federer brings down curtain on his career with a defeat, but still dazzles alongside longtime friend and rival Rafael Nadal
The first tennis grand slam and the most prestigious title in the sport is coming to the US in a couple of days. Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer did everything they could not to let go until the final round of an extraordinary US Open.
Nadal was on the edge of disaster. He lost his first match in five long years, and it was hard to feel sorry for him after that. In his next two matches, he got to three sets in five sets, and was able to beat either Nick Kyrgios or Dominic Thiem in the other match.
That’s Nadal – one of the greatest players ever – as an old dog showing his face to a fan who wanted to punch him in the face. When you are at the peak of your powers, though, you might not want that.
Federer looked a different player on the way to win his eighth US Open title. His backhand, though still sub-par, suddenly looked much stronger than it had against Tomas Berdych or Marin Cilic, and he played Nadal very well, too. He got there when he needed to, as Nadal’s game started to get tired in the fourth set, and he took his foot off the gas as the match went to five sets. At the end Federer was still a step ahead.
The last time Federer played at Flushing, he was in the last group of 16 players heading to the semifinals of the Australian Open. The day before, he had beaten Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals, 7-6, 6-2, 6-1. He won the first three sets against Radek Stepanek, with the last two to be played in two-hour sessions.
It seemed like his moment of glory, but on the first day of the US Open – a Grand Slam for him too as he’s won the Masters Cup and the ATP Finals in consecutive years – Federer did something unexpected. He lost in the