Best sporting moments of the year - No 12: Roger Federer waves goodbye

After a career that yielded 20 Grand Slams, and countless jaw-dropping shots, the Swiss maestro retired

Tennis – Roger Federer at the Laver Cup, O² Arena, London; September 24th, 2022

His nicknames of honour were numerous. “The Maestro.” “Federer Express.” “Darth Federer.” “The GOAT.”

When asked of such monikers, he would respond: “Why not just Rog, or Roger?”

In truth, Roger alone suffices as an acknowledgement of his greatness.


Federer’s retirement act was far away from the pressure-filled environments of Melbourne or Paris, Wimbledon or Flushing Meadows where he had enjoyed so many high points.

In a career which yielded 20 Grand Slams, each one achieved with grace and style, the Swiss great chose a more fun-filled way in the 0² Arena in London to mark his exit from an honour-laden time on court: in closing out on an autumnal night in the Team Europe v Team World event, where he teamed-up with Rafa Nadel in a doubles match against Americans Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe, he did it his way.

The match itself was a sideshow to the farewell.

Federer, who has endured knee injuries in recent years, missed a forehand when the pair had match point, but produced special moments. Sharp volleys. Forehand winners. That Sock and Tiafoe won the doubles match – 4-6, 7-6, 11-9 – hardly mattered in the great scheme of things. “I’m happy I made it through,” said Federer of his final ever match, a reference to how injury had become a torment.

The singer Ellie Goulding sang “Falling for You” as part of the farewell act which brought tears not just to Federer at courtside but also to Nadal.

All of the Big Four indeed. Federer himself. Nadal. Novak Djokovic. Andy Murray. All had their tearful moments, recognition of the impact the Swiss maestro had on tennis worldwide and that it had all come down to this moment in time.

“I’m happy, I’m not sad,” said Federer, his eyes filled with tears. “It does feel like a celebration to me . . . I didn’t expect myself to be this emotional because I really thought I had dealt with it plenty of times beforehand. But you add the atmosphere to it, you add the music to it, everything was perfect, everything was beautiful.”

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times