Roger Federer hopes his former tennis rival Rafael Nadal can “retire on his own terms” after injuries which have prevented the Spaniard from competing in back-to-back Grand Slams.
Nadal, 37, was forced to sit out of the French Open for the first time since 2004 – a tournament he has dominated for 18 years – as well as Wimbledon, a Grand Slam he’s won twice.
His long absence is due to a hip injury he suffered during the Australian Open and he has since struggled to make a return to competitive tennis because of ongoing issues and a lack of fitness.
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Towards the end of his career injuries got the better of Federer, who sympathises with Nadal as the 22-time Grand Slam winner’s career edges to a close.
“I mean, all of us: [Andy] Murray, [Novak] Djokovic, Nadal and me, I think the four of us when I retired were all sitting there crying about me retiring – or because of the music, who knows,” Federer told CNN.
“Everybody had their own reasons why they were crying. I think you realise how fortunate we are to still be playing at this later stage of our careers because tennis players used to retire at 30.
“I mean, 26 for [Björn] Borg, 32 for [Pete] Sampras, 36 for [Andre] Agassi. This was like playing deep and now here we are all sitting there around 35-40.
“We all know how fortunate we are and so I think Rafa knew that, too. So seeing him going through this more difficult period now, obviously I’ve been there and I just hope that he can go out on his terms [and] he can still play a little bit.
“I still hope we’ll see not just the doubles like I did, but more than that. I still believe that’s going to happen.”
Federer remains hopeful that there is a future on the court for Nadal, but what about a return to tennis himself?
He has become somewhat of a part-time coach to his four children since his retirement last September but doesn’t see the appeal of returning to the tour full-time.
However, it’s not something the 41-year-old has ruled out entirely.
“I think the coaching on the tour like we know it I think is difficult for me,” he said. “Having four children at the age of, twin boys nine now and twin girls 14, I want to be there for them and I can’t see myself going on tour, honestly.
“If it’s mentoring or if somebody comes to Switzerland and says: ‘Look, let’s have a good week,’ I can see that in the future happening. I mean, Stefan Edberg never thought he was going to coach and he ended up coming on tour with me for two years.”
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