by all the world’s tennis players
What a hell of a year for Roger Federer.
On Friday night, the greatest of all time was knocked out of the U.S. Open by the upstart, 21-year-old Grigor Dimitrov. Last year, Federer was controversially evicted from the ATP Finals.
Later that year, his relationship with his longtime coach, Stefan Edberg, hit a sour note when the ex-Wimbledon champ revealed he had not yet sent his man the infamous $100 million bonus expected of him by Nike if he won the 2008 US Open.
But Edberg came back for more after a disastrous first set Friday night.
Federer took the court a year after his upset at Flushing Meadows, closing the Miami Open with a straight-sets win over American John Isner.
Afterward, he was the picture of conciliatory grace, telling reporters he’d “hit a bump in the road.”
Still, with his tennis skills seemingly undiminished, Federer always thought he would be back.
At age 37, he told reporters earlier this month, he was the favorite at next month’s ATP World Tour Finals in London to win the first title of his career in the city.
“I think I’m going to win,” he said then. “I mean, I can’t — I don’t want to call any names — but from what I see around, maybe a couple of names are in the mix. But I think I’m a favorite.”
As if having won a match against virtually everyone else in the world wasn’t remarkable enough, Federer on Friday took his mind off his loss to Dimitrov with a tearful, moving tribute to his longtime coach — in 2019.
“Yeah, he’s gone, he’s with the lord,” the 16-time Grand Slam winner said of Edberg. “I think he’s having a great time doing this.”
Even if he had committed to staying in Miami, Federer would have had to give up his coach’s contract early next year because tennis regulations prohibit anyone under 40 from earning prize money for another year.
Federer is now looking ahead to the rest of his career, including the ATP World Tour Finals, which begin in a month in London.
“At 37, it’s not going to be easy, you know,” he said. “Nobody is going to give me anything easy out there.
“So I’m going to see how this next couple of months goes and see what’s going to happen.”