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Roger Federer “set the tone” for a new breed of high-achieving tennis players and his retirement provides time for reflection, longtime rival Novak Djokovic said on Friday.
At the age of 41, struggling with knee problems, Federer has decided to retire and intends to be sent off on the pitch at the Laver Cup next week.
Djokovic will join him in Team Europe for the match against Team World in London, with Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray also expected to be involved.
An emotional finale to Federer’s career is assured, in the city where he won eight Wimbledon men’s singles titles, one of many records he set during a 24-year professional career.
Djokovic wrote on Instagram: “Roger, it’s hard to see this day and put into words everything we’ve shared in this sport together. Over a decade of incredible moments and battles to rethink.
“Your career has set the tone for what it means to achieve excellence and lead with integrity and confidence. It is an honor to know you on and off the pitch, and for many years to come.”
Djokovic holds a 27-23 head-to-head winning record against Federer, although their careers haven’t exactly run side by side, with Federer being six years the Serbian’s senior.
By the time Djokovic began to make a major impact on the tour, Federer had arguably already peaked. From Wimbledon 2005 to the US Open in 2007, Federer reached 10 consecutive slam finals, a record that has not been equaled.
He surpassed Pete Sampras’ record of 14 majors in 2009, and Djokovic and Nadal followed in his wake.
Since then, his longevity has set a high standard for these two arch-rivals, who both recently overtook Federer on the all-time list of men’s Grand Slam singles title winners.
Federer won his 20th singles slam at the 2018 Australian Open, coming closest to a 21st when he lost a thriller to Djokovic in the 2019 Wimbledon final, wasting two match points. Djokovic has 21, while Nadal leads with 22 titles.
Switzerland great Federer retires with the most Open Era Grand Slam men’s singles main draw wins (369), and as the only man to win more than 100 matches in two tournaments different (105 at Wimbledon and 102 at the Australian Open).
Speaking to Federer and pointing to his family, Djokovic added: “I know this new chapter has amazing things in store for you, Mirka, the kids, all your loved ones and Roger fans still have a lot to look forward to.
“From our family to yours, we wish you much joy, health and prosperity in the future. Looking forward to celebrating your achievements and seeing you in London.”