Federer and death, that photo with Nadal and the key to love Djokovic

La portada de "Twelve final days", el documental de Roger Federer sobre los días finales de su carrera
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Roger Federer keeps a very special framed photo of himself and Rafael Nadal in a room in his house. And, when he looks back in time, the Swiss believes there was something about Novak Djokovic that facilitated his relationship with the Serb.

“It was a great, short moment; holding his hand for a second and basically showing him my appreciation through that touch,” Federer said during an interview with Spanish newspaper “El Pais” in which he spoke about “Twelve final days”, the documentary by Asif Kapadia and Joe Sabia on Amazon Prime in which the Swiss is seen during the final days of his career, ending in September 2022.

Federer is referring to the famous photo of Britain’s Ella Ling in which he and Nadal are seen holding hands during the 2022 Laver Cup at London’s O2 Arena. In Alejandro Ciriza’s interview for the Spanish newspaper, he discusses many issues surrounding the documentary that will be shown worldwide from 20 June.

Announcing his retirement was, in a way, like dying, Federer says.

“It’s an incredible feeling, as if you are at a kind of funeral of your own life. You’re completely alert and you’re in a big slow-motion blur of everything that’s going on. That’s why watching the documentary is like therapy”.

The trailer for the documentary, which will be released on 20 June 2024 / YOUTUBE

The eight-time Wimbledon champion confesses in the interview that that photo from London has a privileged place in his home.

“I have it at home, framed, in a space where I have some pictures of my career; I don’t want pictures everywhere, so I have them in a specific area. And when I walk past it, it always catches my eye because it reflects our camaraderie, our friendship and also the rivalry, all in one picture.”

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“It’s a moment when we’re both able to reflect on everything we’ve just experienced, remembering our careers and how lucky we’ve been to be tennis players, to have been able to turn our hobby into a dream profession. That’s what that picture means to me. It was a great, short moment; to hold his hand for a second and basically show my appreciation through that touch.”

Federer admits to having thought that the Spaniard, who is still active, would retire much earlier.

“I was worried that he might quit before me. There were signs that we felt Rafa wasn’t well and that he wasn’t going to last as long as he has. I didn’t think I could play past 37 or 38, and the same for him (…). So I’m happy that they’re still playing and fighting with their problems and their physical issues. But yeah, I was worried that Rafa might leave and I actually thought he might go after beating Medvedev [in the 2022 Australian Open final]; I thought maybe he would do it there or at Roland Garros [2022].”

The former world number one also touches on a topic that has been much talked about in recent years: the different “status” of Djokovic within that “big three” that embodied the Serb, the Spaniard and the Swiss.

“Everybody loved the rivalry between Rafa and myself, suddenly Novak burst in alone, from that point of view, as the third, and… I think it’s amazing how he’s been able to develop as a player and also as a person. I think, also, what really connects all of us, including Andy [Murray], is the fact that we’ve been parents; beyond all the matches we’ve played and the rivalry, in that sense we have a lot in common and to talk about. He has two children, Andy has four and Rafa was then close to having his first one. It was beautiful to be able to live all that as a family.”

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