The retirement of a prominent personality like Roger Federer is not a topic that runs out soon, and to talk about it to the Italian press, interviewed by The Rest of the Carlinoit was also Vanni Gibertini, deputy director of Ubitennis which since 2011 has covered 21 Grand Slams and two Olympic Games. The first image of Federer given by those who have had the opportunity to see him up close for years is one of the most artistic: “A friend once described Ridley Scott’s masterpiece, ‘Gladiator’, as a film in which you can stop the projection at any time and you always get a perfect photograph. Federer was more or less the same thing ». Unfortunately for his fans, however, the aesthetic candor was not balanced by an impeccable ability to close matches. “It often happened that he went off like a rocket and the game was over before the opponent knew it. But in marathons his bad breakpoint conversion rate was legendary, while in his career he lost 23 games despite having match points in favor ».
Being able to follow the tournaments live as a journalist gives the privilege of coming into close contact with tennis players and therefore there is no shortage of anecdotes about it. “Each of the journalists who usually follow tennis has a ‘Federer story‘. In my case, the 2018 Laver Cup in Chicago. While I was trying to orient myself in the maze of the United Center I came across him: he was looking for a suitable room for an interview with Usa Today. Was he who led the search, opened doors to the right and left. He did it with incredible naturalness and humilitylike the ‘rezdora’ [in dialetto emiliano, la donna che si occupa del controllo della casa, ndr] who welcomes guests for dinner while still wearing an apron ».
But this episode isn’t the only one to testify to Federer’s greatness. «The interview that impressed me most was after the ‘Match for Africa 4’ in Seattle. They told us to talk to Federer directly on the pitch after the matches. Three of us went up to the service line, he arrived and looking around I realized the siege under which he lives perpetually., between requests and screams from fans. I don’t know how he does it. ‘ Even off the pitch Roger knows how to be recognized, if only for the reactions he arouses wherever he goes. “An almost more important personality than tennis itself, even if he insisted on proving the opposite. I took to nickname him ‘the Pope’, because the way in which the fans rejoiced in his presence, and the way in which he behaved, really reminded the pontiff ».
The Swiss legendary rivalry with Rafael Nadal is remembered by this match: «The final of the 2017 Shanghai tournament in which Federer beat Nadal. I had seen other challenges between them, but touching first hand the veneration with which both were treated also in China made me really understand their greatness“. Greatness that not even time will be able to scratch; the legacy left by the 20-time Grand Slam champion? «That of having brought tennis to a mainstream level that has never been reached before“.