Barbara Schett excited for 'very special' Roger Federer farewell at the Laver Cup in London
Roger Federer will play competitive tennis for the final time as part of Team Europe in the Laver Cup in London. The 41-year-old has announced his retirement after struggling with injury for the past three years. Eurosport expert Barbara Schett thinks the send-off for Federer is "going to be phenomenal" and says the whole world "will remember" his impact on the sport.
'I will love you and never leave you' - Federer confirms retirement from tennis
Eurosport expert Barbara Schett thinks the Laver Cup is the perfect place to bow out.
She said: “It makes sense to me. He hasn’t played since last year at Wimbledon. I always thought, ok, if there’s one event he’ll still play then it’ll be the Laver Cup because he’s so involved in the Laver Cup as well. Especially this year, it’s so special to see the ‘Big Four’ (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray) playing in one team, at the same time, the same weekend, teaming up especially, and not playing against each other is something so special and unique. That’s why I thought ‘ok, this could be it’.”
Schett is expecting an electric reception for the players in London, saying: “I was lucky to have been there the last few times, when it started, and the atmosphere is just outstanding. It’s one of the best events I’ve ever been to and this will be even better. It’s going to be sold out, it’s going to be chocka there, the atmosphere’s going to be even better probably. O2 Arena might collapse, who knows!”
Even before Federer’s retirement announcement, the Laver Cup was proving to be a hot ticket and now even more tennis fans will want to be a part of the event.
“Everybody wants to go and see him”, Schett said. “It’s going to be very sentimental for him as well, very emotional for him as well because everybody will be gathered there. Rod Laver will be there. Players from the past like Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, all the tennis greats are going to be there.
"I think it’s a great choice because he will be celebrated."
Widely seen as the three greatest male players of all time, Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will all be part of Team Europe, alongside Andy Murray, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud.
'Sad for everyone' - Ruud reacts to news of Federer retiring, predicts great Laver Cup
They will take on Team World, who have Frances Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz and Alex De Minaur among their ranks.
Schett cannot wait to see Federer, Djokovic and Nadal working as a team.
She said: “They’re going to coach each other. I don’t think that Roger’s going to play singles for some reason. I’ve heard that his knee has flared up a little bit again. I’m sure he will play doubles. He will try everything even if he gets an injection where he’s pain free. This one last time he wants to be active and I think he has to play. Every team member has to play eventually so there’s going to be a lot of interaction on the bench in Team Europe, that’s for sure.”
As much as there is excitement for all the players arriving in London, the spotlight has changed knowing it will be Federer’s swan song.
“All eyes will be on him. All cameras will be on him at the Laver Cup. We know that there’s access everywhere - in the locker rooms, in the players lounge, yeah, pretty much the cameras are everywhere. I think everyone is going to be aware - the fans, the viewers, the spectators and the team members that this is going to be the last time that he’s around. He’s always had such a positive spirit, especially in the team environment. I’m sure these scenes are going to be very special and it’s just going to be phenomenal.”
'Meant to be' - Watch the point Federer says was most important in his career
Schett has known Federer for a long time, and shared a close friendship with him during her playing days.
“This announcement has been big. It’s a very sad day because he has been on the tour for 24 years, so he’s been around a lifetime pretty much. We all knew it was going to happen at some stage.”
“I feel like I’ve just been through this when Serena announced her retirement, or played her last match at the US Open, and now only a week later this is happening again. It’s part of my career as well, because we played at the same time.
"He got on the tour in 1998. I remember him playing juniors and I’ve been playing with him for around seven years. He’s been around and we’ve had lunches and dinners and hung out and then he turned out to have this amazing career”, she said.
Speaking shortly after hearing the news of Federer’s retirement, Schett admits the announcement hit her hard.
“I’ve experienced retirements in the past, but, I have to say, today it’s very special and I do get sentimental as well and sad somehow that this chapter is closed now. Roger Federer will play one more time at the Laver Cup and then that’s it. The whole world I know will remember him.”
Nadal and Federer talk childhoods, health and rehab in amusing Instagram chat
- - -
Stream the 2022 Laver Cup exclusively live on discovery+ and eurosport.co.uk.