Laver Cup Team World captain John McEnroe has paid special tribute to Roger Federer ahead of the Swiss great’s retirement from the sport.
Federer announced last week that the Laver Cup 2022 will be his final competitive event in tennis, saying he will not play in any further Grand Slams or on the ATP Tour after the event, which is to be held this week at the O2 Arena in London.
And McEnroe, talking ahead of the event, thanked the 41-year-old for all he has done for the sport, telling him he was the "most beautiful player" he has seen on a tennis court.
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“You're obviously a class act,” began McEnroe in a personal message to the Swiss great.
“I've loved watching you play and commentating your matches has been a privilege. You are the most beautiful player that I've ever seen on a tennis court.
“And I idolised Rod Laver - so that tells you something.
“Thank you for everything you've done. That's all I can say. Your absolute love of the game, it rubs off on all of us. And I've got goosebumps just feeling that because it's been a pleasure to watch you these last 20 years.”
Asked specifically who was the greatest of all time, McEnroe made a case for all three of Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
“The greatest grass court player of all time is Roger [Federer], the greatest hard court player is Novak [Djokovic] and the greatest clay court player is Rafa [Nadal],” said McEnroe.
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Team Europe captain Bjorn Borg - speaking alongside McEnroe - added the name of Andy Murray to those of Federer, Djokovic and Nadal, saying their achievements were unbelievable.
“It is nice to see the ‘Big Four’ - including Andy Murray – [playing] together [again]. But what they did in tennis and history, it's unbelievable.
“Yes, it is unbelievable - we can lose sight of how unbelievable it is," interjected McEnroe. "But I think in 10 years, 20 years when you look back, you're like, 'wow'.
“I don't think the next guy is going to win 20. Although, I didn't think any of these three would win this many.”
McEnroe also referenced Federer’s qualities beyond the tennis court, adding that he is as genuinely nice as he appears.
“Bjorn and I went to Asia with Roger on an exhibition tour. And the week before at the ATP finals, he got sick and wasn't able to finish the event. And we both thought he's going to retire and pull out.
"He played and he talked about how much he loved the travelling and he loved the press conferences, and he loved just being around the people and everything about it.
"I'm like, ‘this guy just played 40 or 45 weeks of the year, he's playing a couple of meaningless exhibitions’. We were like the opening act.
“And that absolute love of the game was something that really rubbed off on me and made me feel like this guy is a super special person.
“He is really as nice as he appears.”
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