Great Britain’s Emma Raducanu is through to the semi-finals of the Korea Open after beating third seed Magda Linette.
Great Britain’s Emma Raducanu is through to the semi-finals of the Korea Open after beating third seed Magda Linette.
As Roger Federer prepares to retire from top-level tennis, BBC Sport looks at the best moments of his astonishing career and asks readers to vote for their favourite.
The big focus of this year’s Laver Cup has been the impending retirement of all-time great Roger Federer. But that has not has been the only noteworthy happening in London.
It has also been a reunion for the ‘Big Four’ of Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. The four superstars have become one of the most iconic quartets in any sport, and they took to the court for a practice session on Thursday at The O2.
Photo Credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images for Laver Cup
Federer will play his final ATP Tour match on Friday evening alongside friend and rival Nadal, with whom he also played at the Laver Cup in 2017. That year they defeated Team World’s Sam Querrey and Jack Sock. This edition, they will play Sock and Frances Tiafoe.
Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images
There were smiles all around as the Big Four enjoyed each other’s company the night before the action begins. Besides catching up, they posed for photos on the River Thames. Entering the Laver Cup, the stars have combined for 4,043 tour-level wins.
Photo Credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images
Not only have the Big Four done a lot of winning, they have done so on the biggest stages in tennis. Nadal (22), Djokovic (21), Federer (20) and Murray (3) have lifted 66 Grand Slam trophies and 329 tour-level crowns. Although they will not add to that tally this weekend, the friends and rivals will try to send Federer out on a high with a Laver Cup triumph.
Photo Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images for Laver Cup
One of the things that sets Carlos Alcaraz apart is the fact that he has always been an open book when discussing his hopes and dreams in the world of tennis, even though they are loftier than most. The Spaniard, who used to shout from the rooftops that his desire was to be the No. 1 player in the world, achieved his goal on 12 September when he won the US Open.
But being the youngest No. 1 in the history of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings is not enough. Now that he has reached the top of the mountain, Alcaraz intends to stay there.
However, that is not his only goal for this season; he also has his sights set on the Nitto ATP Finals, the tournament that brings together the best players of 2022 in Turin, from 13 to 20 November.
“One of my goals is to finish [the year] as No. 1,” said Alcaraz, who has equalled Carlos Moyà’s two-week stint at the top of the pile. “Now that I’ve got there, my goal is to stay as many days, weeks and months as possible. We’re going to work for that.”
His coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero, is on board with that message. “It has been seven long and tough weeks on tour. It is time to rest a bit and recharge batteries for what is yet to come. [Maintaining No. 1️] until the end of the year will be a whole new challenge. We’ll fight for it!” he wrote on his personal Instagram account.
Alcaraz is following in the footsteps of Ferrero. After winning a Grand Slam — Roland Garros in 2003 — he climbed to the top of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings following a run to the US Open final. Now Alcaraz is chasing a a title at the Nitto ATP Finals, a feat that the Valencian came so close to in 2002 (l. to Lleyton Hewitt in the final) and which only two Spaniards have achieved (Manuel Orantes, 1976; Álex Corretja, 1998).
“I have several tournaments before the [Nitto] ATP Finals and we’re going to give it our all,” said Alcaraz. “I have several important tournaments and one goal is to try and win the [Nitto] ATP Finals.” Alcaraz already has a guaranteed place at the season finale, as does Rafael Nadal. The two Spaniards are the only men who have secured their tickets to Turin.
However, there are still several months of competition to go and the most immediate concern is taking a short break.
“I want to take a few days to not think about tennis, just enjoy being with my people, my friends and my family,” the Murcia native said. “Right now, I want to try and be a normal guy and be with my friends, which is what I feel like doing most.”
Once that break is over, he will experience something new, taking to court on the ATP Tour as the best player in the world according to the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
“When I’m alone on court, we’ll see how I handle the pressure of being the World No. 1, but I’m going to try not to think about it and enjoy myself on court.”
Lastly, the 19-year-old Spaniard revealed that his intention is to keep doing what he has been doing, despite his recent success.
“You are a certain way before you reach No. 1 and become a Grand Slam champion, so why change that?” Alcaraz wondered. “You have to do what you have been doing, feel comfortable with what you do, enjoy yourself, be happy on court, play tennis — and that is what I’m going to do. That’s the secret for me. To try and forget everything else and enjoy playing tennis.”
On a day of upsets at the San Diego Open, second seed Jenson Brooksby bucked the trend to advance to the quarter-finals in his debut at the ATP 250. Opening his campaign on Thursday, Brooksby downed Mackenzie McDonald 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 in a battle of California natives.
After a single break decided each of the opening two sets, Brooksby broke serve three times in the decider to win the afternoon match. The World No. 50 opened up a 3-0 lead in the final set before McDonald broke back for 2-3, but Brooksby snapped back with eight straight points to move ahead 5-2 then broke again to seal the victory.
“I thought it was definitely a solid match. First match, it’s always good to get through,” Brooksby said after the win. “I was feeling really confident with my training since the US Open, back home in Sacramento. We headed here, it’s a short flight and it’s always nice to play in your home state.”
Brooksby finished four-of-eight on break-point chances, while saving six of the eight break points against him. He won 78 per cent (40/51) of his first-serve points in the victory.
“My serve has been feeling pretty good,” he added. “We’ve been working on a couple things. I still need to ingrain it better, but I think when I did that right my serve was getting a lot better, which showed in the stats.”
The American improved to 9-6 in his past 15 matches, all against Top 100 opposition. A two-time ATP Tour finalist in 2022, and a three-time finalist in his young career, Brooksby is seeking his first tour-level title this week. He could rise as high as World No. 37 with the San Diego trophy, according to the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.
Brooksby will face Christopher O’Connell in the quarter-finals, after the Aussie’s 6-3, 7-5 victory against eighth-seeded American J.J. Wolf.
Fourth seed Pedro Martinez of Spain was also knocked out on Thursday, Colombia’s Daniel Elahi Galan coming from behind for a 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 upset. Galan will next face Brandon Nakashima — the fifth seed and San Diego native — who closed the evening’s play with a 6-3, 6-4 win against fellow American Denis Kudla.
Top seed Daniel Evans also avoided an upset by defeating Japan’s Taro Daniel 6-4, 6-4 to open the evening session. The Briton will next face France’s Constant Lestienne, who knocked off Chilean sixth seed Alejandro Tabilo, 6-1, 6-3.
As Roger Federer steps into retirement at the Laver Cup following 25 years on the ATP Tour, it’s time to prove how much you know about his legendary tennis career.
He faced his two biggest rivals, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, a total of 90 times – whom did he play more? Of his 20 Grand Slam titles, how many did Federer win at Wimbledon? Did the Swiss ever face his idol, Pete Sampras, before the American finished his Hall of Fame career with triumph at the 2002 US Open?
Take the Federer quiz, share your results and challenge your tennis friends to see who does best!
Federer climbed to the top of the sport for the first time aged 22, reaching World No. 1 on 2 February 2004. He earned 1,251 tour-level wins and 103 titles during his illustrious career.
“You always want to play forever. I love being out on court, I love playing against the guys and I love travelling. I never really felt like it was that hard for me to do, of winning, learn from losing, it was all perfect,” Federer said ahead of the Laver Cup. “I love my career from every angle. That’s the bitter part [of retiring]. The sweet part was that I know everybody has to do it at one point. Everybody has to leave the game. It’s been a great, great journey. For that, I’m really grateful.”
Chilean tennis coach and former player Sebastian Rivera is banned from the sport for life after being found guilty of a record 64 match-fixing offences.
Roger Federer may be best remembered for his epic rivalries with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, against whom he played a combined 90 matches. But throughout his career, the Swiss developed long-standing and respectful rivalries with many other legends of the ATP Tour.
Federer soared to winning records against the likes of Andy Murray, Andy Roddick, Juan Martin del Potro, Lleyton Hewitt, Stan Wawrinka, David Nalbandian and Tommy Haas.
ATPTour.com looks back at his rich history against those men.
Photo Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images for Andy Murray Live
Federer and Murray last squared off in 2015 when they met twice, with Federer winning semi-final showdowns at Wimbledon and the Western & Southern Open. The Swiss won their last five meetings in a row, including the last 10 sets, to turn around a 9-11 record in their ATP Head2Head history.
While Federer owned the late stages of their head-to-head, Murray won six of their first eight matches. Federer was 24 and Murray 18 when they first met in 2005, with Federer beating Murray in the Briton’s first ATP Tour final in Bangkok.
The Swiss shined on the biggest stages, winning five of their eight finals, including all three at the Grand Slam level. The pair played just one five-set match, when Murray outlasted Federer in the 2013 Australian Open semis.
Murray was thrice denied by Federer in major finals, but avenged his third loss — at Wimbledon in 2012 — with a win in the London Olympics final just one month later back on Centre Court.
In nine ATP Masters 1000 meetings, Federer won just three times, with Murray 2-0 against him in finals at that level.
Photo Credit: Adrian Dennis/AFP via Getty Images
It may have been one of Federer’s most one-sided rivalries, but when he and Roddick met, there was always a lot on the line. Outside of two Nitto ATP Finals round-robin meetings, the pair never met before the quarter-finals until their very last match. With Federer just more than one year older than Roddick, both men enjoyed many of their prime years side by side — much to Roddick’s chagrin.
From 2004-06, they contested six straight finals, including at three Grand Slams and two ATP Masters 1000s. All six went the way of Federer.
Federer and Roddick played at least once each year from 2001-12, with a high of four meetings in 2009. The Swiss won all four of those 2009 matchups, with the last of those standing up as an all-time classic. In that year’s Wimbledon final, Federer saved four set points to avoid going behind two sets to love before edging the American in the defining match of their rivalry. Deep into an extended fifth set, he emerged victorious, 5-7, 7-6(6), 7-6(5), 3-6, 16-14.
“The Roger Federer of the golden days was the best player ever on both the defensive and offensive levels,” Roddick said in Untold: Breaking Point, the Mardy Fish documentary. “It was literally impossible to find a hole to hurt him.”
Photo Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Federer won the first six matches in this ATP Head2Head rivalry before del Potro roared back in a five-set 2009 US Open final to end the Swiss’ five-year run as the New York champion.
The pair met five times that season, contesting decisive sets in their last three matches of the year at Roland Garros (Federer), the US Open (Del Potro) and the Nitto ATP Finals (Del Potro).
In a rivalry that spanned more than a decade, nearly one-third of their total meetings came in 2012, with five of their eight meetings that year going the distance. Federer completed a comeback from two sets down in the Roland Garros quarter-finals and battled back from a set down in a marathon 2012 London Olympics semi-finals for a 3-6, 7-6(5), 19-17 victory.
The last installment of this ATP Head2Head rivalry was one of the best: In the 2018 Indian Wells final, del Potro saved three match points on return before gutting out a win in a third-set tie-break. It was the sixth title match between the pair.
Their fifth final came in their penultimate match as Federer claimed the eighth of his 10 hometown titles in Basel. After losing to the Argentine in three sets in the 2012 and 2013 finals, the Swiss gained a measure of revenge at the ATP 500 with a comeback three-set win in 2017.
Photo Credit: A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images
The on-court history between Federer and International Tennis Hall of Famer Hewitt spans from 1999-2014 and includes a 15-match win streak for Federer from 2004-10. Both men were born in 1981 and turned pro in ‘99, with Hewitt opening their ATP Head2Head series with a three-set win that year in Lyon. Their 27 tour-level singles meetings are the most for Federer against any man other than Djokovic (50) or Nadal (40).
The pair met six times in 2004, including at three Grand Slams (all but Roland Garros) and twice at the Tennis Masters Cup (now the Nitto ATP Finals). Federer was a straight-sets winner in both of their finals that season — at the US Open, where he recorded two 6-0 sets, and the year-end event.
“Obviously, Roger Federer was one of the toughest players at his best,” Hewitt said in a 2020 Forbes Q&A. “I was probably at my best at the time he was at his best, and he was awfully tough to play in big matches.”
Federer also defeated the Aussie in straights in the 2005 Indian Wells final, though Hewitt took their last two title tilts in Halle (2010) and Brisbane (2014).
One of their standout encounters came at the 2007 Western & Southern Open. After the unseeded Hewitt saved a match point in the second-set tie-break, Federer gutted out a 6-3, 6-7(9), 7-6(1) victory en route to the Cincinnati Masters 1000 title.
Earlier in their respective careers, Hewitt outlasted the Swiss in a pair of marathon matches. The Aussie won a 7-5, 5-7, 7-5 semi-final in over three hours at the Tennis Masters Cup, then followed it up with a five-set win in the Davis Cup semi-finals.
But it was the Swiss who shined on the biggest stages, going 8-0 vs. Hewitt at the majors, 6-2 at the Masters 1000 level and 2-1 at the year-end finals.
Photo Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
As teammates, Federer and Wawrinka won the 2008 Beijing Olympics doubles gold medal and 2014 Davis Cup. As competitors, Federer enjoyed the lion’s share of success against his countryman.
The Swiss standouts made a habit of playing one another for the game’s biggest prizes. Of their 26 meetings, 12 came at the Masters 1000 level (10-2 for Federer), eight at the Grand Slams (7-1 for Federer) and two at the Nitto ATP Finals (2-0 for Federer).
Their first Nitto ATP Finals matchup, in the 2014 semi-finals, was perhaps the most dramatic of their 26 meetings. In a 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(6) victory, Federer saved four match points, including three as Wawrinka attempted to serve out the match at 5-4 in the final set. The match left Federer spent, as he later withdrew ahead of the final against Djokovic.
“He’s the best player ever, so far,” Wawrinka said of Federer in an Instagram Live chat with Chris Evert in 2020. “He’s been winning everything, beating everybody. He’s better than the other players and better than me,” Wawrinka continued. “His game is a completely different style. He puts you under pressure all the time, he’s so aggressive, changes [pace] a lot. For my style of play, that’s tougher than someone who keeps [hitting] the same ball.”
Photo Credit: Jasper Juinen/Getty Images
It took Federer some time to figure out Nalbandian, the former World No. 3 who is five months his junior. The Argentine won each of their first five meetings, including a pair of ATP Masters 1000 victories and a pair of Grand Slam triumphs. Nalbandian also won their first final, at the 2005 Tennis Masters Cup.
That Shanghai meeting holds up the most gripping contest between the pair. After Federer won their round-robin matchup in three sets, he took the first two sets of the final in tie-breaks. But Nalbandian battled back and ultimately claimed the title by winning a tie-break of his own in the fifth set.
Trailing 3-6 in the head-to-head following that defeat, Federer turned the tables by winning eight of their last 10 meetings. In their very next match, it was the Swiss who won a final-set tie-break in the Rome ATP Masters 1000 semi-finals, beginning a run of five consecutive victories.
They would contest two more finals later in their history: Nalbandian won a three-setter at the Madrid ATP Masters 1000 in 2007, before Federer won the Basel title match in 2008 to claim the third of his now 10 titles at his hometown event.
Photo Credit: Thomas Niedermueller/Bongarts/Getty Images
Tommy Haas bookended this rivalry with a pair of wins, including a semi-final victory in their first meeting at the 2000 Sydney Olympics semi-finals, but it was all Federer in between.
Three of their four Grand Slam meetings went five sets, with Federer sweeping the lot. He came back from two sets down at Roland Garros 2009 – when he would go on to take his lone title at the clay major to clinch a career Grand Slam – and from two-sets-to-one down at the 2002 Australian Open. Federer also won all four of their ATP Masters 1000 meetings with the loss of just one set combined.
The Swiss won their lone meeting in Switzerland and was 3-2 against Haas in Germany, though Haas won the only final of their career series in Halle in 2012.
Lists are typically a highly subjective business, but when the subject is Roger Federer, it’s hard to go wrong. The Swiss champion’s extraordinary body of work extends beyond 1,500 matches, 103 titles and 20 major championships.
Three of these feature Federer’s greatest rival, Rafael Nadal, with three more opposite Novak Djokovic. David Nalbandian, Andy Roddick, Juan Martin del Potro and Stan Wawrinka also make dashing appearances. Four of these matches came on Wimbledon’s Centre Court, Federer’s favourite working space.
And memorable doesn’t mean simply victory; Federer lost some spectacular matches – those heartbreaking defeats were, in some ways, as indelibly moving as his huge wins. That vulnerability is one of the many reasons he’s been so endearing, so enduring to fans, who over the years shared those highs and lows.
2009 Wimbledon final
Roger Federer def. Andy Roddick 5-7, 7-6(6), 7-6(5), 3-6, 16-14
Photo Credit: Adrian Dennis/AFP via Getty Images
This was the day the Open Era opened up entirely. Pete Sampras’14 Grand Slam singles titles were the standard until Federer collected his 15th – and set off a thrilling three-way race with Nadal and Djokovic that still hasn’t been settled.
That this came one year after Federer left the All England Club in the wake of a devastating loss to Nadal underlines his resilience and exceptional character. This, too, was a five-set thriller that was decided in extra time, as it were, some 30 gut-wrenching games. It was decided when Roddick, serving at 14-15, missed a pair of forehands. To that point, Federer had failed to convert a single break point.
It was the longest men’s Grand Slam final in history at 77 games and the longest fifth set, surpassing the 20 games from Roland Garros in 1927. By the clock, it was four hours, 16 minutes. While Roddick came in with the reputation as the bigger server, it was Federer who finished with 50 aces, nearly twice as many as Roddick. He also produced 107 winners, against only 38 unforced errors. And so, his 15th major title came on the same court as his first, six years earlier.
“I’m happy I broke the record here because this is always the tournament that meant the most to me,” Federer said. “It definitely feels like coming full circle, starting it here and ending it here.”
2011 Roland Garros semi-final
Roger Federer def. Novak Djokovic 7-6(5), 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5)
Federer had beaten Djokovic seven months earlier at the Nitto ATP Finals in London – and then Djokovic went on a 43-match winning streak. Three of those came against Federer – in the Australian Open semi-finals, the Dubai final and the Indian Wells semi-finals. In truth, much of the pre-event anticipation surrounded a potential final matchup between Djokovic and Nadal – and the Spaniard’s 44-1 tournament record.
Djokovic, looking for his first title at Roland Garros, sailed through the first five matches, including a walkover granted by Fabio Fognini in the quarter-finals. Federer, for his part, had five straight-sets victories, the last two against Wawrinka and Gael Monfils.
Facing a pair of set points in the 70-minute opening frame, Federer managed to force it to a tie-break, which he won. Taking four of the first five games, Federer won the second set and — though he didn’t know it at the time — Djokovic was confronted by some enormous odds; he would attempt to become the first player in 175 matches to beat Federer from a two-set deficit.
Djokovic rallied to win the third set, but the fourth-set tie-break, punctuated by Federer’s 18th ace of the match, proved unattainable. The Swiss reacted with an emotional celebration by his standards, particularly for a semi-final victory, wagging his finger and letting out a massive roar before launching a ball into the stands.
“It almost feels like I’ve won the tournament, which is not the case,” Federer said. Indeed, it would not come to pass as Federer fell to Nadal in the final – the best chance he would have for a second French title for the rest of his career.
2012 London Olympics semi-final
Roger Federer def. Juan Martin del Potro 3-6, 7-6 (5), 19-17
In retrospect, this probably wasn’t a fair fight, for the London Olympics were played at Federer’s favorite tennis venue in the world – the All England Club. On Centre Court, the office where he did so much business over the years, Federer was usually infallible.
But when Del Potro, the genial Argentine, won the first set, Federer was forced to scramble. Federer continually came forward and served big when he had to, winning the second-set tie-break and surviving the long, emotionally draining third set. Federer converted only his second break point in the deciding set’s the 35th game – three unforced errors hurt Del Potro badly – and the Swiss served it out in the 36th with a flourish.
At four hours, 26 minutes, it was the longest three-set men’s match of the Open era and locked down what would be his first individual Olympic medal. Four years earlier, Federer and countryman Wawrinka won the doubles in Beijing.
The final, against Great Britain’s Murray, was a rematch of the Wimbledon title match played less than one month earlier. Federer won that match in four sets, but Murray – perhaps the only player the Wimbledon crowd embraced more than Federer – was a straight-sets winner, leaving Federer with the silver medal.
2014 Nitto ATP Finals semi-final
Roger Federer def. Stan Wawrinka 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(6)
Federer, looking for his seventh title at the year-end event, appeared destined for a collision with Djokovic in the final. But an inspired effort from his fellow Swiss and a handful of heart-stopping escapes ultimately made their semi-final at the O2 Arena the main event.
Fast forward to the third set, where Wawrinka surged to a 5-3 lead and eventually carved out three match points. Federer saved each one with help from some sloppy work at net from Wawrinka, but there was more work to do in the tie-break. Federer won his serve at 5/6 – erasing match point No. 4 – and the final two points to close it out.
The match ran two hours and 48 minutes, but it felt infinitely longer than that. In fact, Federer was forced to withdraw from the final against Djokovic the next day due to his exertions.
One week later, however, the brilliance of Federer and Wawrinka resurfaced in the Davis Cup final. Playing in Lille against hosts France, Federer and Wawrinka each won a singles match and then paired in doubles to carry off Switzerland’s first title in the 103-year history of the event.
2017 Australian Open final
Roger Federer def. Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3
Photo Credit: Michael Dodge/Getty Images
As the years passed and the injuries mounted, it looked like Federer’s 2012 triumph at Wimbledon would be the last great victory of his career. The idea that the 35-year-old could win seven straight matches against the next generation of elite players seemed far-fetched at best. And then, Federer produced the Miracle of Melbourne.
After missing six months of tennis due to knee surgery, he began modestly enough, with victories over Jurgen Melzer and Noah Rubin, followed by a straight-sets effort against No. 10-ranked Tomas Berdych. He dropped a first-set tie-break to No. 5 seed Kei Nishikori in the fourth round but rallied to win in five sets, summoning some glorious memories of the past. Next were Mischa Zverev and No. 4 seed Stan Wawrinka – whom he edged in another barn-burning fifth set – leading to yet another final against his great rival from Spain.
Like so many of their previous matches, it eventually was distilled down into a single, conclusive set. Federer, down an early break, rallied to take it with a forehand winner that clipped the line. Nadal challenged the call but, after an awkward pause, it was upheld by replay.
“Against Rafa it’s always epic,” Federer said. “This one means a lot to me because he’s caused me problems over the years.”
The oldest major finalist in 43 years, Federer accepted the sterling trophy from Rod Laver, the Australian champion whose name is on the Melbourne stadium. It was Federer’s 18th major title; he would add two more, later that year at Wimbledon and at the 2018 Australian Open.
2005 Tennis Masters Cup final
David Nalbandian def. Roger Federer 6-7(4), 6-7(11), 6-2, 6-1, 7-6(3)
One week after he thought his season was over, all packed for a Patagonia fishing vacation with family and friends, David Nalbandian suddenly found himself on a plane to Shanghai. Ranked No. 12 among ATP players, he got the call to compete in the Tennis Masters Cup when several qualifiers withdrew.
“I entered through the back door,” Nalbandian said later, “a lucky loser.” He would emerge, one week later, with one of the most scintillating victories in recent memory. Nalbandian, one of four Argentines in the year-end field, lost to Federer in three sets of round-robin play, as did Ivan Ljubicic and Guillermo Coria. Gaston Gaudio failed to win even a single game in the semi-final and Federer – winner of 11 titles in 2005 and loser of only three matches – was set to face Nalbandian, who defeated Nikolay Davydenko to reach the final.
There was Open Era history on the line for Federer, who was one victory from John McEnroe’s 82-3 record, set in 1984. The Swiss champion had won 35 consecutive matches and, astonishingly, 24 straight finals. Nalbandian had lost his four previous matches against Federer, and after dropping two tie-breaks – in the second, he failed to convert three set points and lost 13-11 – it appeared it would be five straight.
And then Nalbandian rallied to win the third and fourth sets, dropping only three games. The fifth and ultimate set, he said, was a “roller coaster”. He actually led the fifth set 4-0, but Federer levelled it at 4-all and broke Nalbandian when he was serving for the match at 5-4. In the fifth-set tie-break, Nalbandian converted his fifth match point on a Federer miss in the net.
“I said to myself at the start of the fifth-set tie-break, ‘If there is a tie-break that I cannot lose in my career it is this one,’” Nalbandian said.
Federer himself was questionable to compete in Shanghai in 2005, having been on crutches just three weeks prior to the event with an ankle injury. But he recovered in time to produce several strong displays in Shanghai — none more memorable than the title match.
2006 Rome final
Rafael Nadal def. Roger Federer 6-7(0), 7-6(5), 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(5)
Photo Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Federer, the World No. 1, had already won seven majors by this time – but none of them came on clay, a surface seemingly created for the extraordinary skill set of the muscular Spaniard. Federer had been to the Rome final before, losing to Felix Mantilla three years earlier, and was destined to fall in two others, to Nadal in 2013 and, two years later, to Djokovic.
Still only 19, Nadal was the Internazionali BNL d’Italia defending champion and had amassed 52 consecutive victories on the clay, one behind the record set by Guillermo Vilas.
The final set was a spectacular microcosm of the match that ran five hours and five minutes. Nadal trailed 1-4 and, serving at 5-6, produced a double fault – the first of the match by either player – that led to two match points for Federer. In both cases, errant forehands allowed Nadal to escape. Leading the tie-break 5/3, another Federer failed forehand might have cost him the match, which Nadal wrapped up by winning the last four points.
Federer wound up winning more points (179-174), but the teenager had his fifth victory against the Swiss in six matches.
2008 Wimbledon final
Rafael Nadal def. Roger Federer 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-7(8), 9-7
Bjorn Borg, true tennis royalty, surveyed warm-ups for the championship match at the All England Club from the front row of the Royal Box. Regardless of the result, his tennis legacy would be in play. Federer was seeking his sixth consecutive Wimbledon title, one more than the record he shared with Borg. Meanwhile, Nadal was trying to become the first man to accomplish the Roland Garros-Wimbledon double since Borg, 28 years before.
“I cannot sleep,” the silver-haired Swede had joked a few days earlier. “No,” he said softly, holding up an elegant hand. “Records are meant to be broken.”
Federer had beaten Nadal in two previous SW19 finals, but the Spaniard had gradually adapted to the slippery surface, moving closer to the baseline, punching up his serve and taking greater risks with his groundstrokes. He won the first two sets, but Federer came back to take back-to-back tie-breaks and level the match. The drama, already suffocating, was exacerbated by three rain delays, a quaint reminder that there was life before the roof came to Centre Court.
Nadal broke Federer’s serve at 7-all in the fifth when a forehand sailed long. Down 0/15, Nadal chose to serve and volley for the first time in the match. Two winning volleys and a framed Federer backhand brought a third match point, which Federer erased with a fearless backhand return. Nadal, who converted his fourth match point when Federer’s forehand found the net, finished the match with tears in his eyes.
The match, which ended in near-darkness, required four hours, 48 minutes — Wimbledon’s longest final on record, going back to 1877.
“I was just happy to be there, to be part of that final,” Borg said afterward. “That’s the best tennis match I’ve ever seen in my life.”
2011 US Open semi-final
Novak Djokovic def. Roger Federer 6-7(7), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5
Photo Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images
History, it is said, doesn’t repeat itself. But whoever said it first might want to reconsider that premise after this one. For the second consecutive year, Federer held two match points against Djokovic in the US Open semi-finals – and wound up losing.
This match represented a continuation of the charged-but-changing dynamic between the two champions. Federer had beaten Djokovic in the 2007 US Open final (in straight sets) and again two years later in the semi-finals. But in 2010, they were competing on a level playing field, trading blows with equal effectiveness. With Djokovic serving at 4-5 in the fifth set, Federer scored those two break points, doubling as match points, but they were erased with a pair of cool forehand winners. Djokovic broke Federer’s serve and served it out to advance to the final, where he lost to Nadal.
Their 2011 semi-final saw Federer win the first two, tight sets before Djokovic came back to force a deciding final frame. Federer raced out to a 5-3 lead and immediately pinned Djokovic down with two match points at 40/15. The Serbian’s response? One of the boldest forehand winners in Grand Slam history. Djokovic won the last four games and this time defeated Nadal in the final for his third major title of the season.
“How can you play a shot like that on match point?” Federer asked later, referring to that fabulous forehand. “Maybe he’s been doing it for 20 years, so for him it was very normal. You’ve got to ask him.”
Djokovic’s answer: “Yeah, I tend to do that on match points. It kind of works.”
2019 Wimbledon final
Novak Djokovic def. Roger Federer 7-6(5), 1-6, 7-6(4), 4-6, 13-12(3)
Here was one last, terrific opportunity to seize a 21st Grand Slam singles title and extend his all-time record. The fact that Federer was one month shy of his 38th birthday, that he was attempting to become the oldest man to win a major in the professional era, was almost beside the point.
The chance came in the fifth set on Centre Court, serving at 8-7, up 40-15 on Djokovic. The first match point passed quickly when Federer’s forehand was wide. The second was literally a passing shot, crosscourt, from Djokovic. And so, Djokovic re-established the equilibrium and, at 12-all, went on to win Wimbledon’s first-ever championship final-set tie-breaker.
“I don’t know what I feel right now,” Federer said afterward. “I just feel like it’s such an incredible opportunity missed, I can’t believe it.”
Ultimately, Federer won more points (218-204) and hit vastly more winners (94-54), but couldn’t close the deal against his younger rival. It was the fifth Wimbledon title for Djokovic and would set up a thrilling race with Nadal for the most men’s Grand Slam singles titles.
Stan Wawrinka showed why he earned the nickname ‘Stan The Man’ on Thursday evening in Metz.
Despite letting slip a match point in the second set, the former World No. 3 stunned top seed Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals of the Moselle Open. It was the 37-year-old’s first Top 10 win since the 2020 Rolex Paris Masters against Andrey Rublev.
It all seemed to be going wrong when the Swiss star missed his opportunity to close out the match in the second-set tie-break. At 6/5, both players remained neutral in the rally, striking the ball with margin down the middle of the court. Wawrinka broke that pattern by trying to rip a backhand, which he slightly mishit and pulled wide.
When Medvedev clawed through the tie-break to force a decider, momentum was fully on the former World No. 1’s side. But Wawrinka turned it back in his favour by surging ahead 3-0 in the final set.
“At the end of the tie-break I was a little bit frustrated because I started to hesitate a little bit on my shots,” Wawrinka said in his on-court interview. “He is one of the best defensive players, so when you don’t go completely through the ball without thinking too much and it is difficult. I made a few mistakes but I think in general it was a super good level from me. I am super happy with the win.”
Medvedev battled hard to get back on serve, and he saved another match point when Wawrinka served for the match at 5-3. But the three-time major winner held his nerve to triumph after two hours and 21 minutes. With his victory, the Swiss star has levelled his ATP Head2Head series against Medvedev at 2-2.
“We always have some great battles,” Wawrinka said. “He is at the top of the rankings. One of the best players and nicest person outside of the court, so it is always great to play against each other.”
Wawrinka will next play Swede Mikael Ymer, who eliminated home favourite Gregoire Barrere 6-4, 6-3.
In another blockbuster matchup earlier in the day, second seed Hubert Hurkacz defeated former World No. 3 Dominic Thiem 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 16 minutes. The Pole hit 12 aces and saved the two break points he faced.
Thiem entered the match in good form after reaching an ATP Challenger Tour final last week in Rennes and defeating Richard Gasquet in the first round in Metz. But Hurkacz played too well on the day to take a 3-0 lead in their ATP Head2Head series and set a clash against Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech, who ousted Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-6(11), 6-3.
Another Frenchman, former Top 10 star Gilles Simon, was unable to move on in his final Metz appearance. Italian Lorenzo Sonego beat Simon 7-6(2), 6-4 and will next face American Sebastian Korda, who advanced on Wednesday.
Did You Know?
All three of Wawrinka and Medvedev’s previous matches came at majors. Their ATP Head2Head series is now level at 2-2.