Former American tennis star Andy Roddick has heaped praise on Roger Federer, saying the Swiss superstar deserves any kind of farewell he wants from the sport.
Federer announced on Sunday that he will undergo another knee operation that will rule him out for the remainder of the 2021 season.
Federer, who turned 40 earlier this month, had two knee surgeries last year and has struggled for form and fitness in recent times.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion’s last tournament was at Wimbledon in July when he lost 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-0 to Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals.
In an interview with Tennis Channel, Roddick acknowledged that the end of Federer’s career was not far away but expressed the hope that the Swiss would get a fond farewell.
“It (retirement) feels inevitable at this point and he’s aware of what he was coming back from… these previous two knee surgeries… he wasn’t moving as well, he was maybe a shadow of what we know as Roger. He wasn’t holding serve as much, so to add another knee surgery to that, and then to have him come back again, with that lost time, obviously he knows it’s an uphill battle,” Roddick said.
“I personally hope that he gets to come out and at least leave on his own terms. I don’t care if he’s as good as he once was, that’s unimportant to me at this point, what’s important is that he gets the goodbye that he wants. If he wants to say goodbye to the fans in person at a tournament, [then] he should be able to do that… if he doesn’t want to be a ceremonial player or play as someone who’s less than what we expect, then he should be able to do that.
“We need patience, it’s horrible to see the icons of the game go out because their bodies give out, but let’s also face it: the guy has gotten to 40 and his body’s been amazing to this point in time.
“And one other thing that needs to be mentioned and it’s one of the most amazing stats in sports history [is that] he has never retired from a match to this points. So, we think about (Hubert) Hurkacz (at Wimbledon) when he was taking a beating 6-0 in the third…. When you have the ego of one of the all-time greats, but yet you’re not going to take the moment away from someone else, that deserves respect.”
Roddick won the 2003 US Open but could not add to his Grand Slam tally as he lost in four major finals to Federer.
The American though said he had nothing but respect for Federer, who he described as very humble.
“I hope my son, if he has a hundredth the success as Roger has even one day of his life, is as gracious as Roger is. Not only to the other players, to the officials… you live in locker rooms and you see people throw grip tape on the floor and they walk away…. that was never Roger Federer. There was never a sense of entitlement, there was always a ‘please’, always a ‘thank you’…
“Forget about the tennis, let’s put that on the back burner… there’s been a lot of great tennis players, there will be a lot of great tennis players… [but] how he conducted himself when no one was watching is the takeaway that I’ll have,” Roddick said.