July 24, 2024
roger federer

Roger Federer

Roger Federer has predicted that retirement could be the best thing for Andy Murray’s mind and body as long as he remembers the secret of ‘keeping busy’ away from tennis.

Federer, who went to see his great rival privately before the British legend’s big Centre Court send-off last week, paid an emotional tribute to the 37-year-old on Saturday who has played his final match at Wimbledon following the withdrawal of his mixed doubles partner Emma Raducanu.

Murray has required hip and back surgery, and overcome ruptured ankle ligaments, in his battle to continue playing but the 20-time Grand Slam winner promised there is a happy life off-court even if walking away will initially be a huge wrench.

‘I was always supportive of Andy continuing when everyone else said he was not winning because he had to do what he felt in his heart of hearts,’ said Federer.

‘It was hard to watch his last match because I knew what he was going through. He’d love to play forever but I think he will see once he’s on the other side what a great decision it will probably be for his life and for his mind and body to get away from it.

roger federer
Roger Federer has offered retirement advice to his former rival Andy Murray

roger federer
Federer attended Wimbledon on Saturday and had hoped to see Murray in action but he will no longer play in the mixed doubles

‘He might struggle for a couple of years but he might wake up the next day and go, this is the best thing, why didn’t I do this much earlier. It really depends on your life.

‘For Andy, he’s all set up. He’s got four children and is going to be kept very busy. Staying busy right away is great because what you don’t want – and I’ve had this on two occasions – is to sit at home on the couch and have nothing to do.

‘You’re alone, kids are at school, wife is off doing something and you’re like “Now, what?!” It’s a terrible feeling so it’s important to stay really busy and have a structure.

‘He had tried so hard to get himself back on the court because of injuries. I don’t even want to know how the last couple of weeks have been for him. It must have been brutal.’

Murray was one of Federer’s toughest opponents on the circuit with the Swiss superstar, regarded as one of the game’s all-time greats, only holding a narrow 14-11 advantage in their career-head to heads.

Federer beat Murray in the 2012 Wimbledon final but the Scot gained revenge later that summer on the same court to win Olympic gold, giving him the belief to win his first Grand Slam at the US Open later that year followed by two Wimbledon titles.

Federer was devastated because of a prior commitment that he wasn’t able to join other greats John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova and Novak Djokovic for a tearful farewell to Murray after his doubles defeat with Jamie on Thursday evening.

But he revealed he’d got on a flight two days previously in the hope of seeing Andy play in the singles before finding out as he boarded the plane that the British had withdrawn because of injury.

Emma Raducanu
Murray’s playing career at Wimbledon is over after Emma Raducanu pulled out of the mixed doubles

‘I wish I could have been at the tribute but I already had obligations because I didn’t know exactly how it would all play out (timing-wise).

‘But I did go to see him in the fitness room before his doubles match. I could see Andy was extremely nervous and caring for that very moment.

‘Obviously it meant so much to him and his family and team. I’ve watched all the highlights again, it was amazing.

‘He was there for my retirement, the Laver Cup at the 02, and I was so happy he was around.

‘I’ve had some brutal matches against him. He’s been really hard to play against. What a wonderful champion. He will always be remembered here as one of the all-time greats.’

Federer said he had the benefit of planning his retirement over many years whilst Murray’s has been a little abrupt, though still not a great surprise.

‘I could see the end coming,’ he admitted. ‘I am sure Andy also knew his body was not going to allow him to play for another five years but hadn’t played much at all in the last year before stopping because I was just rehabbing.

roger federer
Murray and Federer had some great battles over the years, including in the 2012 Wimbledon final (pictured)

‘At the end it was just relief not to do rehabbing with a practise or a match in mind any more. The transition for me felt really smooth. My mindset from 2009 onwards was to be aware I’d had an incredible career and treat everything else as a bonus. It helped me prepare mentally for the ‘after’.

Murray’s farewell has been slightly messier. Whilst acknowledging this would be his final Wimbledon, he’d planned to play singles until having to undergo back surgery after pulling up at Queen’s.

He entered the men’s doubles with brother Jamie but was beaten in the first round on Thursday and his partnership in the mixed with Raducanu didn’t get to court when she decided she needed to rest her wrist ahead of a match in the last-16 singles.

Murray’s last competitive appearance on any court will come in the Paris Olympics next month when he plays doubles for Great Britain with Dan Evans.

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