Roger Federer brings down curtain on his career with a defeat, but still dazzles alongside longtime friend and rival Rafael Nadal
The curtain has lifted on a career that has seen a dramatic transformation.
Roger Federer is not known for his spectacular comebacks. He’s often the one who gets himself into position to win majors before his opponent is forced to call a timeout. When he wins titles, he often does so without even needing a big forehand to pull it off. And when he loses, he often does so only because he took more than the allotted hour.
Still, while Federer has won a record nine career Grand Slams over the past six years, few have ever gone the full six. And while the Swiss tennis legend’s body of work is well documented, little has been written about his journey back from losing finals to winning them.
And yet Federer’s comeback to this one was one of the most compelling of his career. Even if he didn’t do it on the very last point.
The Swiss had been in the finals of every major for nine straight years, and he was the defending U.S. Open champion that year, having won the men’s title in 2017.
He was in a good spot, heading into the final round against Andy Murray, who was coming off a hard-fought Wimbledon final in which he had won his first career Grand Slam title.
Murray was the same age as Federer in 2018 but had never been to the final at a U.S. Open or Grand Slam. He had lost his last seven matches in four weeks and was just 4-4 in his past 15 matches on hard court.
So Federer needed only to win a set to have everything out of his hands. He even went into that final match with a chance to reach his seventh final (the record) in as many years.
“I knew, if I had to lose the first set against him, I would lose,” Federer said, “because I would get exhausted. But I’m very happy, so that wasn’t a problem.
“He would have to serve every point to get me into the semifinals, and serve every point to get us into the final.