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“Before playing against me, Federer had a pizza for dinner”

2022-09-26T10:42:08.282Z

Spaniards Alex Corretja, Joan Balcells, Albert Ramos and Pablo Andújar recount the experience of playing against the great Swiss ex-tennis player, from his beginnings to his veteran



Roger Federer's long professional journey, sealed last night in London, records 163 matches against Spanish rivals.

The legendary Swiss won 124 and lost 39 of them, with only eleven lucky ones who can claim to have ever beaten him;

the first to achieve it was Juan Carlos Ferrero (Auckland, 2000) and the last Pablo Andújar (Geneva, 2021).

There are only five players who have settled the duels against him with a positive balance: Rafael Nadal (24-16), Alex Corretja (3-2) and the trio that beat him in the only precedent, formed by Sergi Bruguera (2000), Francisco Clavet (2000) and Andújar himself.

They all agree on something: the privilege of having shared the track with the great genius.

Four of the winners recount his experience in the first person.

Alex Corretja: "We tried to drive him crazy with high balls, throw him back".

From a very young age, Roger was someone who impressed because he played at a very high speed.

He turned very well with his forehand, hid hits very well on serve and had a very uncomfortable sliced ​​backhand;

Defensively, he had a topspin backhand that was good at waist height, but it made him make mistakes if the ball hit him high because he likes to play inside the court a lot.

We, by the Spanish style, tried to hurt him with the height;

We tried to throw him as far back as possible and make him desperate, but you could already see that his leg speed was very high.

He was a very aggressive player and that, in turn, made him fail a lot, but in the stage he played against me [between 2000 and 2003, wins at Roland Garros (2) and Gstaad for the player from Barcelona] he was already very explosive and had tremendous potential;

he had a lot of talent and moved very well around the track.

Corretja, during the duel with Federer in 2001 at Roland Garros. Al Bello (Getty Images)

Beyond the elegance and the way he moves, his mere presence generates admiration.

His way of walking, and even of dressing, reaches people.

His legacy will last forever.

He is an icon of world sport and I would put him on a par with Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods.

They are unique, different people, with an innate charisma and wherever they go, they are revered by the people.

He belongs to that lineage, he impresses.

Despite knowing him, having played against him and having interviewed him, every time he addresses me he continues to impact me with what he transmits.

He is a very, very special athlete.

Joan Balcells: "I served him a net and he bounced a couple of times".

We played in 1999 at the

challenger

in Espinho (Portugal), on beaten clay and indoors.

I didn't know him very well and he was six years younger, but he already had a better

ranking

than me, he had already been junior number one and had already beaten Moyà.

But no one could imagine that he would achieve what he has achieved, because Pete Sampras was also out there making history.

With the backhand he was a little weak, so he served him net and looked for him there.

She had a bit of a hard time.

His uncle was upset, because at that time he had a bad character and seeing that he insisted a lot on that side, he took a couple of rebounds.

He didn't want to lose even for a joke.

Then he went through what happened, which changed tennis and also shaped his character.

More information

Federer retires, the other dimension of tennis

His game is wonderful, but I would emphasize above all that he has never had problems with anyone.

He has always been a gentleman.

In tennis things are often said during the match, but he has always been able to be in his place.

I am left above all with his behavior and also with his ability to stay up for so long.

And from a technical point of view, then he was already impeccable.

The one you let enter with your right hand, there was no remedy;

he overwhelmed you.

Albert Ramos: "Whenever I could, I went to see him train."

I beat him in 2015, in the second round in Shanghai.

It was a very even match.

In the first set, he was serving games much more easily than I was;

the second one he won easily and in the third one I was holding on until the first one I had, I made the

break

.

I think you can only beat him if you do it perfect and he doesn't have the day.

The previous afternoon, I had just played in the first round against Querrey and we met at the club for dinner.

He was eating a pizza, very relaxed, and my coach told me: 'Tomorrow you are going to beat him, because he looks how he is…'.

I told him it was impossible, and now he always reminds me.

Albert Ramos, in the 2015 duel against Federer in Shanghai. ALY SONG (REUTERS)

The feeling you get when playing against him is basically that he's very quick to maneuver.

He is almost always attacking you and it is very difficult to make him defend, he won't let you.

He forces you to be on your toes, because he can counter you with a big

backhand

slice or an early dribble.

In addition, it is very difficult to read his serve because he holds the blow for a long time, until the last moment, and places it perfectly.

Everyone has really enjoyed watching him play, and I was the first.

When we were at a tournament and I had the opportunity to watch him train, especially at Wimbledon, I would stay because every time he touched the ball it was amazing;

there the sound of his ball, both at impact and when it came out, was special.

I am left with his elegance and his class, they are obvious, and with the fact that he has made people enjoy a lot.

In the locker room he has always been a joker, very calm and very close to everyone.

Pablo Andújar: “He knew that I have children and he gave me a dedicated comic.”

I faced the game against him very nervous, but I managed to escape and thanks to that I beat him [in Geneva, last year].

After many years on tour I wanted to play against him one day, so I felt liberated.

It was very special for me.

Of course, it must be said that he was not at his best level.

He had seen him play many times and I was especially impressed by his ability to do whatever he wants with the ball.

He creates art.

He has a creativity that no one else has.

He makes everything so plastic, so perfect, that it seems unbelievable.

Federer and Andújar greet each other last year in Geneva. LAHALLE PIERRE (PRESSE SPORTS / Cordon Press)

I stay with his class, but especially the one he has when it comes to accepting certain defeats, some of them very hard for him like the one at Wimbledon [2019] against Djokovic.

He has had a lot of class when it comes to winning, but also when it comes to losing.

He leaves a very beautiful legacy for tennis players, for athletes and for life in general.

I'm left with how good an athlete he is.

I have an anecdote that speaks very well of how it really is.

After having beaten him last year in Geneva, in the run-up to Roland Garros, I was in the Chatrier locker room and one day he came with a super-famous Swiss children's comic because he knew I have children and he said: I would like to give you this for them.

And I told him: You have to sign this for me!

He asked me his name and wrote a dedication.

He is one of a kind.

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Source: elparis

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