“How do you react to the announcement of Roger Federer’s retirement after the Laver Cup (September 23-25)?
There was no longer much doubt. We could see that it was no longer possible with his knee (right). It’s a big shock, he’s a legend of the game. It’s not easy for anyone, it’s a big loss for tennis. It will be different afterwards. It won’t be the same without Federer. With his charisma, his technique. There is only one Roger Federer. It comes from the eyes. There is something unique about him. When you watch Federer, you just don’t let go of the TV. The technicality, the elegance, the one-handed backhand, the forward forehand, the ease he exudes… When you look at it, you wonder how he could have done this shot. Federer is tennis. Nadal, Djokovic, it’s extraordinary too, but it’s not the same. It was amazing to watch this guy play. He took the game to another dimension.
Is there a certain form of sadness, of nostalgia?
Yes, with everything he released about the game, for me who is sensitive to that. With blows from elsewhere. The emotions it could provide. He was doing things that no one had done and would never do again. Taking the ball with so much ease, ease… And what’s more, it was efficient and elegant at the same time. It was the most beautiful to watch. From afar. When you’re a tennis fan, the first thing that comes to mind is Federer.
What memories do you retain in your confrontations?
First this match in Monte-Carlo in 2005, an incredible match with a crazy match point. I was very young, it’s an extraordinary memory. I was leading 1-0 against him (smiles). Afterwards, he always progressed. In 2005, it was much less strong than afterwards. And it became more difficult, as with many. He anesthetized a lot of players. It’s been hard, with a lot of defeats (18 -2 in total confrontations).
“Me, I am 36 years old today, I play two matches and you have to call the SAMU and he won you Grand Slams with matches in five sets”
The 2014 Davis Cup was horrible. There are big defeats at Wimbledon, at the US Open… But it was also nice to play at that time. We lived an incredible era with him, Nadal and Djokovic. It was crazy to live this time at the same time as them. It was both complicated to evolve during this period, but it will also remain magnificent. Why were there three players like that at the same time? It’s hard to say. They have certainly made progress. Even if today there are young people who will push themselves, I am not sure that we will manage to find three players of this caliber.
Were you impressed by its longevity?
I read a lot of things and we saw it finished in 2012, already! In 2017 and 2018, when he won more Grand Slam titles, it impressed me. He was 37 at the time. I had played him once in the 3rd round at the time, we were making difficult points, on the right, on the left, and he was not tired at all. I thought : ”It’s phenomenal!” Me, I’m 36 today, I play two matches and you have to call the SAMU and he won you Grand Slams with matches in five sets. It is simply prodigious. I don’t know if people realize what an achievement that is in an individual sport. »