When should Federer walk away from tennis?
Roger Federer suffered his earliest U.S. Open exit since 2003 when he lost to Tommy Robredo in round four.
September 3rd, 2013
11:55 AM ET

When should Federer walk away from tennis?

After his worst summer in a decade, Roger Federer now stands at the unfamiliar intersection between one of the greatest careers in tennis history, if not sporting history, and a precarious future as a potential also-ran in the upper echelons of the game.

After his historic record-setting run of 33 straight quarterfinal-or-better appearances at grand slams came to an abrupt end at this year’s Wimbledon, the former world No. 1 was expected to cut back his schedule, spend more time with his family and ease into the final phase of his career with one eye on his impending retirement.

However, the Swiss star decided to double down and push forward, dismissing any and all questions about stepping away from tennis. By doing so, the 17-time grand slam champion risks diminishing his historic legacy - a prospect further raised by his fourth-round defeat against Tommy Robredo at the U.S. Open.

So when is the right time to walk away from a Hall of Fame career?

Eight-time grand slam winner Jimmy Connors continued almost a decade after dropping from the No. 1 spot, and in doing so managed to win over a brand new generation of fans with his heroic runs at the U.S. Open into his late 30s.

Read: Federer 'is vulnerable' at U.S. Open

But Roger Federer isn’t Jimmy Connors. Federer isn’t known for his tenacious fighting or dogged drag-down, in-your-face, never-say-die style of play, the way a Connors or a Rafael Nadal is. He’s an artist. A magician. If a fighter goes down swinging, it enhances their mythology, but for a magician to continue long after they’ve lost the sleight of hand only serves to hurt them.

Paradoxically, less successful athletes can be commended for their resilience late in their career, such as tennis veteran Tommy Haas’ recent resurgence into the top 20 more than a decade after he reached No. 2 in the world.

However, the German - three years older than Federer at 35 - isn’t hampered by having to defend a legacy. Having overcome some serious injuries, he can now play for himself and for his fans. Federer, on the other hand, represents an era, and in many respects, the history of the game, and as such is responsible for retiring in a manner worthy of what he has achieved.

This predicament exists in all sports. Legendary Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson waited until he had his 13th English Premier League title in his hand and enough weeks left in the fixture list to adequately say goodbye before walking away from his remarkable football career. While he would have preferred a Champions League title in his final season, the 71-year-old would have recognized the optimal timing of stepping aside on top, and took it.

For Federer's fellow tennis legend Pete Sampras, the timing of his retirement was perfect. At the 2002 U.S. Open final, he defeated his arch nemesis and compatriot Andre Agassi on the very court where he had claimed the first of his 14 grand slam titles 12 years earlier against the very same opponent. He left the court that day and never returned, making it the perfect climax to a blockbuster career.

But how can Federer match that?

Well, he did.

The perfect time for Federer to retire came after his remarkable 2012 Wimbledon triumph. There he was granted the opportunity to finish his career in a Sampras-esque fashion, calling it a day at the historic home of the game, where he had first shot to fame defeating the American back in 2001, and where two years later he claimed his first grand slam title.

However, there were two issues with retiring there and then. Firstly, the win saw Federer reclaim the world No. 1 ranking, which is a pretty tall perch from which to jump.

Secondly, and certainly of greater import, the Olympic Games were less than a month away, and to be played at Wimbledon, providing a tantalizing opportunity to win the one title that had escaped him, on the court where he was the undisputed king.

He eventually fell one match short of Olympic gold, and in doing so, missed yet another opportunity to retire in style. It forced him to wait for a third, and perhaps final chance to go out on top.

Earlier this month Federer turned 32, and while many players have won grand slams after the age of 30, recent examples are few and far between. Most notably, Sampras was 31 when he won the 2002 U.S. Open, and Agassi was 32 when he claimed the 2003 Australian Open.

Heading into those events, Sampras had contested 977 ATP Tour career matches, and Agassi 986. In contrast, Federer headed into the 2013 U.S. Open with 1,119 ATP Tour career matches under his belt. That’s over 130 more matches, or roughly two full years on the tour. That is a big difference.

Equally, Agassi’s 2003 Melbourne triumph came without facing a single top-10 player or grand slam champion. These days, to win a major one must defeat at least two of the big guns in the game, often in back-to-back matches.

With all this in mind, not to mention his recent less-than-stellar form, it’s simply hard to imagine the once unbeatable Roger Federer can still win grand slam titles. However, if the past tells us anything, it’s that writing off Federer only seems to drive him harder.

Back in 2008, Nadal surpassed him at the top of the rankings and seemed to have his number on all surfaces, leaving many to speculate that Federer would never again reach No. 1. After a year chasing the Spaniard, he was back on top.

Again, in 2011 Novak Djokovic looked invincible, forcing Federer into unfamiliar territory as the fourth-ranked player in the world, but by the end of the season he was back on track to reclaiming the No. 1 ranking, eventually surpassing Sampras' record for most weeks at the top after claiming his 17th grand slam at Wimbledon.

Therefore if for no other reason, I implore you, I welcome you, please join me one and all in collectively writing off Roger Federer. Hopefully it works, and the greatest player of all time is afforded one last opportunity to step away as a grand slam champion.

Posted by ,
Filed under:  Tennis
soundoff (81 Responses)
  1. Pedro Tavares

    This article was obviously written by someone that doesn't understand what tennis is all about. Federer still plays because he enjoys doing so. And that's the only justification he needs to keep on going as long as he wishes. He has absolutely nothing to prove to anyone – he was and still is the best player in tennis history – and there is no risk of compromising what he achieved.

    September 3, 2013 at 1:15 pm | Reply
    • Trish Mac

      Totally agree. He has given so much to tennis and his fans. When he plays here in Australia he is very generous with his time becoming involved in charitable events. Whose business is it to decide when he should retire but his? He's enjoying what he's doing and is a great role model to young players.

      September 3, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Reply
    • George

      I agree with Pedro. I don't understand how ones great achievements can be diminished by the less impressive results toward the end. If he enjoys playing and I am sure people will always enjoy watching him than we all win. Roger had proved many times that he can be a great role model for whom there is much more than winning the game. I wish him all the best in the future.

      September 3, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Reply
    • Juergen

      I agree with Pedro!
      Beside that, I think one of the greatest sportsmen in the world deserves to chose the day he steps away on his own! Whenever this will be, it will not change the number of titles he won, or the respect he has earned.
      Telling him to retire sound kind of arrogant to me.
      So let him play and enjoy his game.

      September 3, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Reply
    • pop

      oh really? how come he looks sad when he is losing then? just enjoying playing wont do? i see...winning matters...right? now come again and go read the article. i mean it.

      September 3, 2013 at 5:24 pm | Reply
      • RealTennisNut

        Just because he looks sad when he loses, does it mean that he does not enjoy the game? Looking sad after a loss is normal. Do you quit your job after a lousy day at the office or after a rough meeting with your boss? If you are too young to understand this then think of getting a bad grade and your mood after that. Will you quit school or more relevantly will your parents make you quit school after getting bad grades. When you come back the next day it is a fresh start with a reminder to yourself to work harder.

        Recall Connors? That famous '91 US Open run ended with a pummeling by Jim Courier. He looked sad but when his child walked up to him and said "Daddy, let us go home" it put things in perspective. That child didn't care about the outcome of the match but just wanted to go home.

        The article compares Sampras with Federer in the most inept way. Yes, there are parallels to what they have achieved but their relative successes past their prime cannot just be measure by Grand Slam success. From the middle of 2001 Sampras' ranking started dropping and did not win a single title until the 2002 US Open. If he had not made it to the finals of the 2001 US Open, his ranking would have been outside the top 10 (he finished at 10). By the end of the 2002 US Open he was ranked 17. He considered tennis a job and it became a chore during the last two years. He simply mustered his champion spirit for the 2002 US Open and had some luck go his way in the draw with Hewitt and Agassi engaging themselves in a brutal semifinal. The older man prevailed and didn't have much left in the finals. Agassi is nearly a year older than Sampras. Federer on the other hand has remained within the top 10 against arguably much tougher competition. He reclaimed the number one ranking and beat not one but two of the top guns in 2012 Wimbledon. He also won a few Masters tournaments. Federer compartmentalizes his tennis life with his family life well. Sampras could never do that. Media reports have mentioned that when he traveled with his girl friend he slept separately. Federer is also much more savvy in dealing with the media. Sampras did media rounds because he had to. Part of that has to do with the greater degree of coaching and emphasis on Media relationships these days. The primary take away is that Federer treats his tennis life separately as an enjoyable activity. Sampras just did not give that impression in the last two years on tour. He was constantly lampooned by the media and reacted quite negatively to the criticism. Federer had his own critics and was touchy at times during interviews but not anywhere close to what Sampras was. Part of that has to do with the fact that Federer is fully at peace with not simply chasing titles but wanting to play. That is not to say that he will not fire himself up for competition or express delight when he wins and expresses dismay when he loses. Emotional investment shows passion. Passion is enjoyment.

        December 31, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • Erlo

      Yea I agree. Even still, why would we think the number 7 in the world should retire? SHould the number 8 retire? He is still good, and good enough to win against the best in the world. Hell, he just beat Nadal no too long ago.

      September 3, 2013 at 8:34 pm | Reply
      • Erika Wolf-Dounhoo

        It is up to Roger when he should retire. I really enjoy his style of Tennis compared to Novak's and Rafa's, which is a crueling type of tennis which I guess has to do with the newer power rackets. In my opinion Tennis has to do with the finesse on how to outplay your opponent both physically and mentally.

        January 12, 2014 at 6:29 pm |
    • J. Chr!st

      Yep, pedro is spot on. It is up to Federer to decide when he wants to retire. Tennis has been his life so as long as he gets enjoyment out of it, let him play for 10 more years if he wants.

      September 3, 2013 at 8:52 pm | Reply
    • Luis Fuentes

      No need to elaborate any more! Well said, everything else is insignificant!

      September 4, 2013 at 12:45 am | Reply
    • Bea

      Bravo Pedro... I have followed Roger since his junior year. I don't care if he is #7 or #70. Roger plays the most beautiful tennis, win or lose... He is Tennis, and he brings in the crowds no matter what his ranking is. Roger is the only one that will determine when it is time for his retirement, not some ignorant writer, that apparently knows nothing of substance when it comes to tennis or Roger.

      September 4, 2013 at 2:12 am | Reply
    • Diane Mardini

      Thank you Pedro?.very well said !!!

      September 4, 2013 at 3:03 pm | Reply
    • Alhrocks

      While I still believe that Federer can win another Grand Slam Title, it is the exact same scenario Pete Sampras faced at the end of his career when he won the US Open. It was very difficult to do and took a monumental effort. I dont agree with you or anyone else that Federer is/was the #1 player in Tennis History. Pete Sampras had a much larger bullseye on his back and the depth of the mens game was much deeper than the 4 players that can win grand slams now. Hence Novak reaching the semis for years in a row now at every grand slam championship. By the way, when people have asked Pete Sampras who the greatest player of all time was, he has always said Rod Laver. What does Federer say? I have yet to hear him comment on that.

      September 12, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Reply
    • Lito

      absolutely.

      October 1, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Reply
    • CLaudia Brimo

      I had to reread this last paragraph twice "to collectively encourage Roger Federer to retire" Who the hell is this writer? Roger will quit when he wants to quit. Roger plays tennis the way it should be played. Win or loose, I am one of his biggest fans, and its not the same for me when he is not playing. Get off his case, he will leave when he feels that he has no more to give.

      October 4, 2013 at 10:26 pm | Reply
    • bert

      I disagree because I feel one thing is to play tennis out of joy vs. remain in the tour as the shadow of being a great champion as Roger has, while he remains keep on being beaten by Joe Palooka in the quarters, or semis, and finals of every major event in the calendar, and lose the name and image he`s represented years before as a great champion, a thing he can`t do no more for a variety of reasons obvious to age and mind approach to the game, not to mention weaknesses he`s not shown ready, willing and able to improve upon. So, it`s better off for him to play for pleasure, than play for professional tennis, because he will keep dropping like a rock, and clouding the bright champion image he used to enjoy individually, and we as fans should want him to preserve that image for the rest of his life.

      October 7, 2013 at 7:43 pm | Reply
    • annfrumkin

      Yes!! Right on the mark! He has nothing to prove, only to enjoy the game off his own sake. He.doent ply to prove something or to live up to something, but only to try his best to be his best whomever he plays, whenever he plays and where ever he plays. He will o as well as his body lets him so let's all stop harping so he can get those nerves back under ontology!

      October 11, 2013 at 11:16 pm | Reply
    • alain

      Fererer should quit now because seeing him play is a treat for the eyes the way Sampras was. There too many wrestlers in today's tennis , they strike at the ball whereas federer caresses the ball.

      November 2, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Reply
    • Yoyo

      Agree. What sets Roger apart from most other accomplished atheletes is that he is not afraid to accept new challenges as he sees his game deteriorate in comparison to younger competitors. After all that he has already accomplished, it is easy for Roger to retire in style (like Sampras did). Yet he chooses to fight on. This takes real guts and it is why I admire the man.

      November 15, 2013 at 10:31 pm | Reply
    • BRIAN TURNER

      The legacy of a player includes every match he played as a pro from his first to his last. You can't crop it like a photograph. Among stats on which a career is judged is career win/ loss percentage, and career win/ loss percentage at majors. , Knowing when to play and when to stop, impacts those numbers greatly. In short those stats that measure career consistency are endangered. How one weighs those career long stats in comparison to other measurements that involve totals or peak play alone is individual. For me, counting wins without noting the losses and hits ,you took to gain them, is silly. Cherry picking specific years out of career and labeling them 'peak' is like judging a package of meat, without taking it out of the wrapping to see the fat and gristle hidden.

      January 11, 2014 at 6:21 pm | Reply
  2. Robin Donald deVallon

    Yes I watch him falter... and I wondered WHY, Roger ?? I saw him make errors he is known not to make...but still... Roger will still bmy choice after which Nolen.... but Nadal "NEFFAH".... Donah..//

    September 3, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Reply
  3. Imad Khalife

    Writing off Roger Federer? Will Edmonds or which ever idiot wrote this..should seriously consider thinking bit before writing. Pure trash :)

    September 3, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Reply
  4. Terri R

    I understand the sentiment, but he can lose in the first round every tournament and the only ones who feel he is diminished are those who are incredibly naive and forget what he has done. He loves playing. To say he is not as tenacious as Connors is wrong and presumptuous, at best. Think of a female ice-dancing figure skater. Beauty and magician like, indeed. But they are also the most tenacious women on the planet (I've known several). And by the way, I cannot help but say that Connors is someone that the media has made into something more than he is. A great player, but quite frankly, someone who never quite....grew up. His 1991 US Open run is so overrated. He won a quarterfinal match over the "legendary" Aaron Krickstein? Please. Connors then got waxed in the semis, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2. A nice run, but please. Roger Federer can play as long as he enjoys it and qualifies for the tournaments.

    September 3, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Reply
    • pyx

      Roger should play as long as he wishes, but I see no reason to deminishing Connors efforts, to reach a GS semi at age 39, i dont see anyone matching that record or the number of matches won as well. All credit to RF but Connors is one of the few with records that has stood the trial of time even with people like sampras and roger around.

      September 20, 2013 at 8:55 am | Reply
  5. Ubilicious

    I disagree with you writer. It would be absolutely appropriate if he plays on even for two more years. Life is two-dimensional. There are good times, bad times, ups, downs, joy, sorrow, and it would not be a disaster for federer to taste how it is on the other side of a career.
    Tennis isn't boxing where a once great fighter that decides to carry on, even he's lost the juice, constantly get physically bruised and abused in the ring with shots to the head. He still enjoys the game and still can offer much to it, so even if he's gonna be gravitating fast down in the rankings from now on, he owes nobody nothing, and his legacy will not be tarnished.

    Any of his fans feeling serious emotional hurt due to his present state in tennis should stop watching his games.

    September 3, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Reply
  6. Edwin

    I am not a fan but I do respect his game. A graceful exit is what every fan would want for Fedex but given his accomplishments, he should leave the game on his own terms.

    September 3, 2013 at 4:09 pm | Reply
  7. Brock Lively

    Agree. This is silly, and the concluding paragraph is the most ridiculous thing I've read in the last year.

    September 3, 2013 at 4:28 pm | Reply
  8. Jared

    This is a terrible article. There is ZERO tennis analysis other than a couple of stats about tour matches played by a few individuals.

    September 3, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Reply
  9. David Feldman

    Ugly article, ugly sentiments.
    What the man has accomplished stays accomplished.
    The scruple might only apply to a team sport athlete, where the combination of big ego and diminished facility might hinder the collective effort. Then it makes sense to allow room for new talent. But individual athletes in a tournament structure advance as far as they do and new talent makes room for itself.

    September 3, 2013 at 5:07 pm | Reply
  10. Dana

    I was discussing this with my husband this morning. Roger loves to play tennis, but will ruin his image if he continues to lose. I think he should hold a press conference and admit that he is getting older and not as good as a few years ago, but that he loves the game as much as ever and loves competing on the international circuit. He should then promise to donate all his winnings to charity and hope the fans continue to support him for his love of the game, desire to play and support for others in need. There are few true gentleman in the game of tennis and it would be a shame to see Roger or Tommy Haas stop gracing the courts!

    September 3, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Reply
    • Fred

      Are you serious? When you retire from doing what you love, would you continue to do it, tell the world that you are not as good as you once were and then accept being told to donate to charity any money you make after leaving your career? What he should do with any retirement winnings is not your call. What Roger does is HIS occupation which he loves; it just happens to also be a sport, a game, but no less an occupation. Some people donate anonymously. Regardless, other people's pocket book (that includes athletes) is a personal and private matter. It's not open to outside suggestions. It is not your call.

      September 4, 2013 at 8:30 pm | Reply
    • Pramok

      Roger should just go on playing for the sake of the game and should not be pressured to retire. . . He is still the best to watch and still has the game to compete with Nadal, Murray or Novak any day. Probably still has the game to add at least 2 or 3 grand slams. . . .

      September 16, 2013 at 1:03 am | Reply
  11. Frank T McCarthy

    Nothing can undo or diminish Federer's legacy. No matter what he does, he remains a legendary tennis champion. Nor do I put any stock in the idea that at 32 a tennis player is too old to win a grand slam. Why should that be? It was once assumed that at 32 a swimmer couldn't even think about Olympic competition. And if 32 is not too old for the NBA, it's not too old for a tennis grand slam.

    September 3, 2013 at 5:47 pm | Reply
  12. Tyler

    What a selfish article. Why does Roger Federer need to retire when we want him to? He has said over and over again that he loves tennis, and the fact that people want him to stop playing in order to protect his legacy is extremely self-serving. Let's let him play until he wants to stop.

    September 3, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Reply
  13. Chandra Watkins

    Precisely, Pedro. Since when does anyone but the athlete get to decide about someone else's retirement? When should Roger retire? When Roger wants to retire. Period. Stop hounding him with questions about it, please, or he may remove himself from the game sooner rather than later. I want to watch him, even as he struggles, for as long as possible. Just because he has shown that he is mortal doesn't mean he still isn't functioning at a very high level.

    September 3, 2013 at 6:00 pm | Reply
  14. Ian

    The writer is actually on Roger's side.

    September 4, 2013 at 12:37 am | Reply
  15. Whaddeva

    If he was wise he'd quit here and now. But he is not so yep, common' Roger gimme some more of your sad faces and teary eyes :))) Smart people leave on the peak of their achievements and are remembered in good light. Roger is losing games against mediocre guys now, what a great way to leave tennis....

    September 4, 2013 at 3:42 am | Reply
    • Alexander Jablanczy

      Wrong cowards retire at their peak for fear of looking bad to idiots like yourself.
      I am 69 and still practicing. And I know in what I am well past my peak which I
      have quit doing but in other respects I am as good as ever and in a few things
      I am just hitting my stride. I consider MDs who retire at 5O or 55 or 6O to be
      cowards losers and should repay their education which was wasted on them.
      Evidently they had no knowledge of any use to society. They were in it just for
      the money. Disgusting.
      I always support the older athlete as Vishy in chess. It is just ridiculous to
      consider any chess player at 4O or a tennis player at 3O or a swimmer at 2O
      to be washed up or over the hill. Au contraire. They are to be admired for
      perseverance integrity plain guts.
      It is especially hard as I have found that I
      was brave when younger but now have become a coward. That comes with
      age as at twenty we are immortal arrogant invincible and always victorious.
      Then we start to lose and winning then becomes that much harder and so
      much sweeter.
      So the win by an old race horse is so much greater an achievement. So
      you want to deprive us of these sentiments just because of your asinine
      notions of peaking and legacy and representing tennis or sport.
      Nonsense he is just a great tennis player. Period, which is enough.
      Actually the second greatest as the ice Swede for five years was the
      unbeatable étalon. No not Edberg of the fiddler crab arm muscles but
      Bjorn Borg which I hear is the same as Björk the beech tree.
      He the trunk she the leaves no doubt.
      They put a chello in between the legs of a nonageranian Pablo Casals
      damn it these Spaniards always spoil the show – it could be worse a
      Serb or a Scotsman and placed a bow in his crippled hands and he
      started to move it creaking out a few sounds. But a few minutes later
      was playing like an angel with sonorities no one could reproduce.
      I would rather watch Roger lose a fine match than some dog hitter
      nobodies injuring ballgirls or breaking umpires glasses.
      Though that might be fun too.
      I hope none of these mentioned or alluded to do dope like Agassi did
      who should be forgotten in the ignominy of a nonsportsman cheater.

      January 19, 2014 at 1:17 am | Reply
  16. MelOo

    Pardon my french, but what a load of non-sense this is: why should federer retire from tennis when he is still enjoying it? Why are human beings so obsessed with eternal glory and idolization? In life there are ups and downs, you sail through the ups and fight as much as you can through the downs. This is not the message we want to pass on to young people, do we? As soon as you are not on top, give up go home. As far as I'm concerned I will remember Federer for his amazing skill and all he gives to this magnificent sport. I will never forget he is one of the best tennis player of this decade and not despise him but only respect him more for the last struggling years of his career. He went through hell and back, push his body and mind to the limit when he was young and it was not to become an entertainer but a tennis player. Btw Sir Alex stepped down as manager was because of many personal reasons including surgery and the fact that each game became a such stress, he could not enjoy it anymore...

    September 4, 2013 at 4:05 am | Reply
  17. Srikanth

    If you look at greats of the game, they accomplished so much not to retire just because they lost a few matches. It is understandable, the sentiment of a writer who is probably a biased fan of Roger but his views seem far fetched. It is a compelling thought no doubt since Roger lost to a veteran in Robredo against whom Roger never lost before. But he is still World No 7. There is a fight for Roger now, not against anyone but against himself, his body and mind. With the levels of tennis scaling newer heights and the likes of Novak, Nadal and Murray seemingly having the fitness to compete on all surfaces, it is a struggle as suddenly everyone seems they have a chance against Roger. As a true fan, i simply believe he needs a small break. That should revitalise him and give him the energy to compete at the highest level. There are legends who are born not made. Roger Federer, Sachin Tendulkar, Michael Shumacher,are some legends who make people watch sport for a reason. If they go, they will leave a void that cannot be fulfilled. Roger will come back. He will make his decision and this difficult phase of his career will hopefully be a passing cloud. And really, when that happens, i just wish this columnist can learn that 'Counting the Eggs before they are hatched' is a proverb he never really learned so well...All the best RF.

    September 4, 2013 at 6:55 am | Reply
    • loa1

      Yes he should continue, Its still a joy to see him play.
      i am rafa fan , but all respect to Roger the Champ.
      I hope he does not pay attention to stupid fans opinions. I know he wont.
      Fed is a great guy and even though he may or may not be in the top5, on a given day he can beat lot of people so he should continue and i am sure there will be few real great wins he will still have

      September 11, 2013 at 11:59 pm | Reply
  18. Candice

    I cant tell if the writer is being serious or if this is just an attempt at getting a reaction out of the public. It isnt possible to 'write Roger Federer off'. He has changed the game of tennis and if anything has shown that for him its all about finishing what you started. He will retire when he is good and ready. I dont see you telling Hewitt who was at one time considered great to leave the game now. If anything Roger has earned the right to stay in the game longest as he has shown us that no one is invincible forever. So please stop this trash talk.

    September 4, 2013 at 8:37 am | Reply
  19. Koki

    Who wrote this article? Does he know what it takes to have accomplished what Roger has? Does he realise he's writing off a living legend, a man greatly admired the world over by fellow athletes and the general public for his accomplishments both on and off the court? Roger has always said he plays for the love of the game. Who is this writer to decide when and how he should stop doing just that? When Roger stops playing is up to Roger alone to decide! As long as he keeps playing, we'll be the richer for it too, for we will get to watch a true artist on court.

    September 4, 2013 at 2:52 pm | Reply
  20. Buddhadeb Guha

    Federer is like Sachin in cricket. At forty, Sachin Tendulkar is playing because he loves to play. he did not score a hundred for more than a year. Still he reminds his fans that he is a human being and loves cricket. Federer just loves tennis. He did not win a single Slam Title after his French Open win and then came Wimbledon and he won it against all odds beating Jokovich and Murray both. Andy Murry should left tennis because he was chocking in the finals. He lost three /australian Open finals. But he came good. I wish Federer a lst hurrah for just to retire in style.

    September 4, 2013 at 4:00 pm | Reply
  21. Vinayak Ashri

    I read everyone's view. Although I am not an RF fan but I feel immense gratitude in saying that Roger Federer is destiny's child. He descended on this planet to play Tennis. Just like other sports have their demi gods, Tennis has it in RF. Its upto the man himself to decide how long he wants to play. As far as rankings are considered, even if he goes to #500 and retires, he would be respected in the same way as he would be if he retires as #1. He was born to do this, he should continue playing till he enjoys the game. The players of his stature do not play for rankings or prize money or anything else, they play because of their eternal love for the game. He said he wants to play in Rio Olympics 2016. Support him one and all. These are tough times for the legend, stand by him – all you RF fans. I pray to the almighty that he keeps on playing and entertaining all his fans and admirers. ROGER THAT!

    September 5, 2013 at 8:22 pm | Reply
  22. Quazeem

    I like this article and I respect and share the reactions is generating,it's obvious how everybody- say tennis fans-adore the greatest man ever to wield a tennis racket that the writer believed should quit when the ovation is loud and clear hmmmmn!.What he had done he had achieved no matter what phase he is now can't undo that,we never expect the Fed express to continue till eternity however the beauty,the blitz,the ease,the glamour and the sprezattura he had brought to the game would go noticeably till eternity.Nobody can ask him to quit only he would know when.So let him continue to enjoy himself in the game till he last in it.All hail Roger Federer!!!!!!.

    September 6, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Reply
  23. bobkennedy1947

    Time for Federer to start become a salesman for the Swiss watch or chocolate industry.

    September 10, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Reply
  24. Donovan

    I agree with this article, I always thought Federer needed to take a cue from his close friend Pete Sampras and retire at the end of 2012 where he would have finished his career ranked #2 and could have announced over the summer he would retire in London at the end of the year and made for a great sendoff still competitive in the top 3-4. When I heard Federer saying he wanted to play until 2016 so he could play in the Rio Olympics he made me disappointed to think that as such a strong supporter and fan of Federer over the year I just don't want to watch him ranked 15th in the world losing early round matches for 2-3 years. I guess I like the author wants to remember Fed for what he was not someone who couldn't find a way to leave. I get that the endorsement money for a living legend and the love of the game makes it hard to leave but I guess I am in the preserving the legacy camp. Anyways, we will always have 2003-2009.

    September 10, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Reply
  25. amor825

    He should have retired after he won Wimbledon in 2013. He has no chance to win another grand slam. Rafa and Nole will always be there to stop him. Rafa more so.

    September 11, 2013 at 2:33 am | Reply
    • Jan Nicholls

      He won Wimbledon in 2012, not 2013.

      September 13, 2013 at 10:41 pm | Reply
  26. Jan Nicholls

    Roger has seemed not his normal self lately. I have read and heard that his back is bothering him. This could be a major problem if true. Sore, painful, backs are a bitch!
    If this is so, then he needs time to heal and regroup.
    He also travels all the time with his wife and twin girls......which might be quite exhausting!
    Get healthy, regroup and see if you really feel able able to continue.

    September 13, 2013 at 10:35 pm | Reply
  27. jb

    What nerve! Federer certainly has earned the right to make his own decisions regarding whether he chooses to play. Why is this discussion even here?

    September 13, 2013 at 11:13 pm | Reply
  28. paddysingh

    The best time for a player to go is while still at the top so that the legend, as they say, never dies. What Federer does not realize is that today it is power tennis played with brute force. His was an artistic game which prevailed over Andy Roddick's power play. But there were no Nadal's or Djokovic's around. But then how long can they punish their bodies for? Murray is out, Nadal still has his knee problem which can return, and Djokovic? How much longer can his body take it? One way out for Federer is to avoid lengthy volleys and just go in for placing and drop shots. Otherwise the time is to go now.

    September 23, 2013 at 8:47 pm | Reply
  29. Naz

    I wish there was a global sports journalism organization that every writer was answerable to, so this body can ban tiresome, cliched and predictable articles about sporting greats who need to retire in order to "protect their legacy".

    September 26, 2013 at 6:20 pm | Reply
    • mark clark

      I totally agree with Naz. How ludicrous to use the power of the pen and the media to pass judgement on when a player should retire. WHAT NEXT? The writer would have served tennis better by using his pen to take up the clarion call by roger et al and put pressure on the sleeping authorities to organise an efficient anti doping programme, so that all we tennis lovers can feel confident again that we are looking at a level playing field.

      October 3, 2013 at 5:48 pm | Reply
  30. peter

    Most comments on this article haven't read it properly. The writer is saying we write Fed off at our peril. He doesn't want him to retire but come back and win another slam. Duh!

    October 10, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Reply
  31. Girish

    Should one stop doing what one loves, simply for the fear that it may diminsh your legacy ? You don't work to create a legacy, it happens somewhere along the way and no one can add to it or take away from it. We should leave it to each individual to decide when is the best time for him or her to call it quits and refrain rom making recommendations no matter what our credentials may be. Too oftem the press loves to write in a particular way just because it is good for their business.

    October 13, 2013 at 7:41 am | Reply
  32. Lee McBrayer

    I have no clue who Mr. Edmund is but for me he is a nobody telling a somebody what to do? Whether Fed is finished or not is up to Roger. Seeing a favorite player lose is less than we hope to see. I still watch them. Agassi will remain my all time favorite and it was hard when he lost but when he won I was elated. Same for Roger. As long as he wants to play I will want to see him do so!

    October 20, 2013 at 11:38 pm | Reply
  33. Poodle

    I'm sorry but did anyone actually read the article?? Except for Ian, everyone else seems to think the writer is insulting Roger. Rather he said that he wants Roger to win another grand slam, and roger usually rises to the challenge just when people say he can't do it. So he's asking all of us to tell roger he can't do it just to see Roger do it again! Like we actually believe and want him to! Come on guys get off your self indignant horses and see something from another perspective!

    October 21, 2013 at 5:58 pm | Reply
  34. ruby

    He should retire when hes good and ready, hes still a great tennis player and will be recognized as one of the greatest of all time Stay in it and play!!!!

    October 25, 2013 at 3:13 am | Reply
  35. Rob

    I hope the journalist who wrote this (a topic that has been recycled ever since djoko beat fed in the aussie open 2008) walks away a lot sooner than federer

    October 25, 2013 at 11:32 pm | Reply
  36. Ann

    Leyton Hewitt is still playing. I don't think Roger should retire until he has worked out what he is going to do then. One example Tom Okker played at 37 but for some years had developed an interest in Art so then he became an art dealer. The sky is the limit for Roger but it takes time to decide. It would be great if he developed the same passion for something else as he has for tennis. Until then let us enjoy his play.

    October 28, 2013 at 1:40 am | Reply
  37. Idolatrous Image

    I don't care about Federer's ranking, whether # 7 or outside of the Top 100. I have always loved to see him play. He doesn't need to prove anything anyway with 17 Grand Slams on all surfaces. It's the same feeling I have for Leyton Hewitt. He was former #1 and still actively playing. After all, it's not always winning that matters, it's the LOVE for the game!

    November 5, 2013 at 6:22 am | Reply
  38. Timmy

    It seems to me that Mr. Edmonds is under the assumption that greatness within the sport of tennis is a matter of averages rather than of accomplishments. History tells us this isn't true. Take, for example Rod Laver, who played on Tour until 1977, 8 years after completing his second Grand Slam, and winning what would ultimately be his last Slam title at the end of 69'. And take Pete Sampras, who didn't win any tournament for a two year span before dropping to 17th in the world before winning the 02 US Open. When we talk about Laver and Sampras, we don't talk about all of those losses, we talk about and remember them by the 25 collective slam titles, as we will with Federer's 17.

    For Federer, there is nothing to be lost by continuing to play. He is at a point in his career now, where for him, success is found in day's when he plays good tennis, and doesn't have to necessarily have a good result. Federer should keep on playing for as long as he continues to enjoy the game, and the media should respect that.

    Roger has said in the past that he is looking at the 2016 Olympics as a stopping point, and I expect him to continue playing (maybe sparingly) for two months past that, so that he can retire at his home tournament, in Basel of October 2016.

    November 5, 2013 at 6:37 am | Reply
  39. Junie

    Sometimes, in Tennis, when a player gets older...he becomes a better player! And I know that Roger is becoming a better player, no matter if he wins or lose. He will always be my idol!

    November 6, 2013 at 7:23 am | Reply
  40. Alex

    This is an upsetting article. What true fan of the sport would ever wish one of the world's great players, and perhaps the best of all time, to stop playing when he is still playing some great tennis. For the sport, he is doing a great service and inspiring many others, his contemporaries and his fans, by continuing to write his legacy. Who gives a @#$ if he is a little slower and not quite as sharp. He loves the game and deserves, just about more than any other player, to play as long as he wishes to without any judgement on his legacy. Nothing can take away those 17 grand slam titles. This article is pathetic and misses what sport should represent.

    November 12, 2013 at 6:12 pm | Reply
  41. patwal

    Maybe the writer of this article needs to retire before he tarnishes his non-existent legacy

    November 21, 2013 at 12:21 am | Reply
  42. jason

    Why should RF retire? I am a tennis fan, not a RF fan. Anytime that RF is in a match he has a chance of winning.

    November 23, 2013 at 2:34 am | Reply
  43. jason

    Jaromír Jagr. This 'man' is still one performing as he once did. He loves the game. He's 41 and is still once he once was to some degree. Is he 50 man? No. Is he the best NJ Devil, Yes.

    November 23, 2013 at 2:46 am | Reply
  44. Phil Appel

    RF seems disturbed he's not the focus he was a short time ago and he looks angry when he loses. He also looks perplexed that what used to work reliably doesn't any more, that his peers are determined, will fight hard, and are not cowed by his reputation; they realize he's beatable.But while he alone will say when it's time to go, as he stays on he doesn't seem to want to alter his standard way of playing–it would mean getting a bit more aggressive and physically stronger. From an admirer of a great artist.

    December 5, 2013 at 8:29 pm | Reply
  45. Crispin

    I'm very sure, we will get a chance to visit this page again after Roger's next Grand Slam triumph, join together and collectively write off "Will Edmond"!!

    December 23, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Reply
  46. Frederer

    HELLO EVERYONE! The writer was being ironic, i.e. Federer seems to rise to the challenge when people have written him off, therefore, let's collectively write him off and so, ipso facto, he will prove us wrong (as he did retaking the nr 1 spot twice when written off) and win another grand slam/take nr 1 spot. It was in fact rooting for Federer, not calling for his retirement. I saw just one person getting this. Please, everyone, try to actually read the article before going off on a rant against a writer (who in my view is talented).

    December 24, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Reply
  47. Jon Barth

    This article is unfathomable. I mean should # 8 # 9 # 10 and anyone above that all retire ??? He should remain on tour for as long as he can or wants to. You totally missing the point . Don't you want an awesome role model for tennis and for youngsters to be around for as many years as possible. Besides his style of tennis is unsurpassable and for youngsters to continue to see that only teaches them and pushes them more. It is selfish of the writer to want to deprive of us of continuing to see the best player of all time. Even if someone goes on to win more majors than Roger has like Rafa or someone else, it is about his style of play. I would much rather watch a Federer match than any of the other top players. I cannot think of one of them who has this style of tennis. I mean to run around the court and just blast balls down and back to the other side is not really that attractive, is it ???

    December 27, 2013 at 5:03 pm | Reply
  48. RF Fan

    Had to reread the last paragraph over and over again."Therefore if for no other reason, I implore you, I welcome you, please join me one and all in collectively writing off Roger Federer. Hopefully it works, and the greatest player of all time is afforded one last opportunity to step away as a grand slam champion." Are you kidding me??? Obviously, this guy has no sense of what tennis is about at all; Roger plays for the sport, he plays because he loves tennis.
    When the athlete retires is up to the athlete him/herself, and only that person, not some other random nutter like the bloke writing this article. It's obvious that Roger keeps playing because he loves tennis; retiring is obviously not an option.

    January 15, 2014 at 2:42 am | Reply
    • RF Fan

      Also a reason why non-tennis people (people that don't understand tennis) shouldn't try to write tennis articles. Leave it to the real tennis experts, please.

      January 15, 2014 at 2:43 am | Reply
  49. Jon Wagner

    Beneath the surface of his words, unseen and undetected by all the commenters reacting emotionally to the sacrilege of Will Edmonds' apparent demand that Roger retire from the tour and that everyone join the writer and collectively write Roger off, lives the writer's real wish. As Mr. Edmonds points out, in the two times Roger was surpassed, 2008 by Rafa and 2011 by Novak, he found ways to regain the number 1 ranking. One can't recognize this and seriously claim that Roger is not known for being tenacious like Jimmy Connors. What I believe Mr. Edmonds is saying is that if Roger is to do what past champions, such as Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, have done – rise to the top of the game again, and maybe win another major (or more?) before retiring from the tour (what better and more dramatic way could there be for a professional athlete and a great champion? and let's don't confuse playing on the tour with a passion for playing tennis!), that first, he faces tougher challengers than they did, and second, that he will need great motivation to do it. Edmonds writes, "However, if the past tells us anything, it’s that writing off Federer only seems to drive him harder" and ends the article with "Therefore if for no other reason, I implore you, I welcome you, please join me one and all in collectively writing off Roger Federer. Hopefully it works, and the greatest player of all time is afforded one last opportunity to step away as a grand slam champion." Blinded by their initial emotional reactions, everyone missed "Hopefully it works,...". Instead of understanding the writer's true intent, we have an outpouring of affection and respect for Roger and misguided criticism of the writer! It is clear that Will Edmonds, all the commenters (including me), and anyone who truly loves the game, must also love Roger, for his skill and artistry, and for being the gentleman and family man that he is. It is also clear we'd all like to see him become no. 1 again, and win one or more majors, and the next Olympic gold medal in singles before he chooses to retire from the tour, whenever (or if ever) that may be. So whatever we need to do to help Roger accomplish all that, even if it means "collectively writing him off" publicly, let's do it. I'll be proud and privileged to do my small part. But don't be fooled into thinking that anyone who loves and respects Roger and who seems to be writing him off or urging his retirement really believes what they're saying.

    January 16, 2014 at 5:34 pm | Reply
  50. Klambo

    Roger Federer hasn't retired because he STILL wants to win Olympic Gold in the singles. Had Federer won singles Gold in London 2012 then he may well have retired by now.
    Federer himself says he wants to play at least until 2016...........the year of the Brazil Olympics.
    If Federer loses early (early by Federere's previous high standards) on a regular basis at all remaining Grand Slams, but wins Gold in Brazil then it would all be worth it for Federer.
    The bigger question is whether Federer really has a good shot at Gold in Brazil.......Federer obviously believes he has.
    So long as Federer remains healthy and believes he can win Gold in 2 years time then he won't retire.
    Win or lose at the Olympics in Brazil........it seems quite likely that Federer would retire shortly after the Brazil games.

    January 17, 2014 at 10:15 pm | Reply
  51. Whoa

    Strange line of thought ...

    Going by this logic, every player who reaches world no. 1 should retire immediately – after all, the only way to go from there is down !

    I'd love to see him (or anyone else) play as long as he's able and willing to.

    January 21, 2014 at 4:24 am | Reply
  52. bobkennedy1947

    Answer: Yesterday.

    January 21, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Reply
  53. Roger That

    Okay...i'm sad to say writer but i think its HIGH time u leve. Roger is BACK on track. and frankly speaking whther he is #1 Or #10 OR #100 OR reaches a point where he is rankless (i mean verrrry low rank ) He will still be my favourite. we dont watch him play or support him coz of his records. Rather coz as u called him...he is a magician. He is the greatest player in history,present and even the future. No nadal,djokovic or murray can take his place...but he can definitely tk ders. so just shut up...and go get a reality check. U need it dude -.- -.-
    Roger That!!

    January 22, 2014 at 7:56 pm | Reply
  54. Tom Sweet

    Federer is still capable of beating any player on any given day. Venus Williams just won a tournament and she isn't nearly as healthy as Roger.

    February 23, 2014 at 12:05 am | Reply

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.