Roger Federer announces retirement from tennis

0 Comments

Roger Federer said next week’s Laver Cup in London will be his final ATP tennis event.

“I will play more tennis in the future, of course, but just not in Grand Slams or on the tour,” was posted on the 41-year-old’s social media. “This is a bittersweet decision, because I will miss everything the tour has given me. But at the same time, there is so much to celebrate.”

Federer retires with 20 Grand Slam singles titles, third all-time among men behind rivals Rafael Nadal (22) and Novak Djokovic (21), who are still active. His eight Wimbledon titles are most in men’s history, though Djokovic can match it next year.

Federer hasn’t played tournament tennis since undergoing a third knee surgery in an 18-month span after a quarterfinal exit at last year’s Wimbledon.

“The past three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries,” he wrote. “I’ve worked hard to return to full competitive form. But I also know my body’s capacities and limits, and its message to me lately has been clear. I am 41 years old. I have played more than 1500 matches over 24 years. Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever would have dreamt, and now I must recognize when it is time to end my competitive career.”

Before Thursday’s announcement, he was expected to compete at the Swiss Indoors, his home tournament, in October, and possibly at least Wimbledon next year.

“I knew a few weeks ago that his rehabilitation with his knee wasn’t going as well as he had hoped. A few weeks after Wimbledon, he informed me that the knee was not reacting as well as it should and that he was thinking about figuring out a way to end his career,” Tony Godsick, Federer’s agent since 2005, said in a telephone interview Thursday.

“I had suggested to him years ago that he should stop. Not many tennis players at his level push into their 40s. But he was always interested in challenging himself,” Godsick said. “And at the end of the day, after 1,500-plus matches, the tires finally wore out. And he’s got things to do in his next stage.”

Federer called his 24 years on tour “an incredible adventure.”

“While it sometimes feels like it went by in 24 hours, it has also been so deep and magical that it seems as if I’ve already lived a full lifetime,” he posted. “I was lucky enough to play so many epic matches that I will never forget.”

Nadal tweeted three hours after the announcement, “I wish this day would have never come. It’s a sad day for me personally and for sports around the world. It’s been a pleasure but also an honor and privilege to share all these years with you, living so many amazing moments on and off the court.”

Federer has a special tie with the Olympics. It is where, in 2000, he met future wife and fellow Swiss Olympic tennis player Mirka Vavrinec and kissed her on the last day of the Games. They now have two sets of twins.

He did well to reach the semifinals at the 2000 Sydney Games, falling to Tommy Haas and then Arnaud Di Pasquale in the bronze-medal match, but said in 2016 that losing two medal matches was “the most disappointed I’ve ever been in my tennis life.”

Federer entered the 2004 Athens Games ranked No. 1 but was upset in round two by 79th-ranked Tomas Berdych (who went on to a strong career and retired in 2019).

At Beijing 2008, Federer was stunned by American James Blake in the quarters and ended a record 237-week run as world No. 1. Nadal took gold and the top spot. Federer did, however, leave with an Olympic gold medal in doubles with Stan Wawrinka.

Federer looked primed for a gold-medal singles run at the 2012 London Games, considering they were played at Wimbledon, where he won seven titles the previous 10 years. But he was swept in the final by Andy Murray, whom he beat in four sets in the Wimbledon final a month earlier.

“Don’t feel too bad for me,” Federer said that day. “It’s not front and center in my mind. But, of course, I’d love an Olympic gold in singles. But I am very happy with an Olympic silver in singles.”

That would be his last Olympic tennis match. He withdrew before the Rio and Tokyo Games due to injuries.

“It’s not my No. 1 goal, or my No. 2 goal,” Federer said of an Olympic singles title in 2016, four months before withdrawing from Rio. “It’s just something I’ve said, maybe I can reach that tournament and then see how it goes.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Kenenisa Bekele still eyes Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record, but a duel must wait

Kenenisa Bekele
Getty
0 Comments

LONDON — Kenenisa Bekele made headlines last week by declaring “of course I am the best” long distance runner ever. But the Ethiopian was fifth-best at Sunday’s London Marathon, finishing 74 seconds behind Kenya’s Amos Kipruto.

Bekele, 40, clocked 2:05:53, the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. He was with the lead pack until being dropped in the 21st mile.

But Bekele estimated he could have run 90 to 120 seconds faster had he not missed parts of six weeks of training with hip and joint injuries.

“I expect better even if the preparation is short,” he said. “I know my talent and I know my capacity, but really I couldn’t achieve what I expect.”

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history behind Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who broke his own world record by clocking 2:01:09 at the Berlin Marathon last week.

“I am happy when I see Eliud Kipchoge run that time,” Bekele said. “It motivates all athletes who really expect to do the same thing.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Bekele’s best time was within two seconds of Kipchoge’s previous world record (2:01:39). He described breaking Kipchoge’s new mark as the “main goal” for the rest of his career.

“Yes, I hope, one day it will happen, of course,” Bekele said. “With good preparation, I don’t know when, but we will see one more time.”

Nobody has won more London Marathons than Kipchoge, a four-time champion who set the course record (2:02:37) in 2019. But the two-time Olympic marathon champion did not run this year in London, as elite marathoners typically choose to enter one race each spring and fall.

Bekele does not know which race he will enter in the spring. But it will not be against Kipchoge.

“I need to show something first,” Bekele said. “I need to run a fast time. I have to check myself. This is not enough.”

Kipchoge will try to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles at the Paris Games. Bekele, who will be 42 in 2024, has not committed to trying to qualify for the Ethiopian team.

“There’s a long time to go before Paris,” Bekele said. “At this moment I am not decided. I have to show something.”

So who is the greatest long distance runner ever?

Bekele can make a strong case on the track:

Bekele
Four Olympic medals (three gold)
Six World Championship medals (five gold)
Former 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder

Kipchoge
Two Olympic medals
Two World Championship medals (one gold)

But Kipchoge can make a strong case on the pavement:

Bekele
Second-fastest marathoner in history
Two World Marathon Major victories

Kipchoge
Four of the five best marathon times in history
Two-time Olympic marathon champion
12 World Marathon Major victories

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Yalemzerf Yehualaw, Amos Kipruto win London Marathon

Yalemzerf Yehualaw
Getty
0 Comments

Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw became the youngest female runner to win the London Marathon, while Kenyan Amos Kipruto earned the biggest victory of his career in the men’s race.

Yehualaw, 23, clocked 2:17:26, prevailing by 41 seconds over 2021 London champ Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya.

Yehualaw tripped and fell over a speed bump around the 20-mile mark. She quickly rejoined the lead pack, then pulled away from Jepkosgei by running the 24th mile in a reported 4:43, which converts to 2:03:30 marathon pace; the women’s world record is 2:14:04.

Yehualaw and Jepkosgei were pre-race favorites after world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya withdrew Monday with a right hamstring injury.

On April 24, Yehualaw ran the fastest women’s debut marathon in history, a 2:17:23 to win in Hamburg, Germany.

She has joined the elite tier of female marathoners, a group led by Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, the reigning Olympic, New York City and Boston champion. Another Ethiopian staked a claim last week when Tigist Assefa won Berlin in 2:15:37, shattering Yehualaw’s national record.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, finished Sunday’s race in 3:20:20 at age 65.

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Kipruto, 30, won the men’s race in 2:04:39. He broke free from the leading group in the 25th mile and crossed the finish line 33 seconds ahead of Ethiopian Leul Gebresilase, who said he had hamstring problems.

Kipruto, one of the pre-race favorites, had never won a major marathon but did finish second behind world record holder Eliud Kipchoge in Tokyo (2022) and Berlin (2018) and third at the world championships (2019) and Tokyo (2018).

Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest marathoner in history, was fifth after being dropped in the 21st mile. His 2:05:53 was the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. Bekele ran his personal best at the 2019 Berlin Marathon — 2:01:41 — and has not run within four minutes of that time since.

The major marathon season continues next Sunday with the Chicago Marathon, headlined by a women’s field that includes Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich and American Emily Sisson.

London returns next year to its traditional April place after being pushed to October the last three years due to the pandemic.

MORE: Bekele looks ahead to Kipchoge chase after London Marathon

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!