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Roger Federer bids farewell, drops final match of career alongside Nadal at Laver Cup – CBC Sports

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This day, this match, had to come, of course, for Roger Federer, and for tennis, just as it inevitably must for every athlete in every sport.

Federer bid adieu Friday night with one last contest before he heads into retirement at age 41 after a superlative career that spanned nearly a quarter-century and included 20 Grand Slam titles and a statesman’s role. He wrapped up his days as a professional player with a loss in doubles alongside his longtime rival Rafael Nadal for Team Europe in the Laver Cup against Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock of Team World.

The truth is that the victors, the statistics and the score (OK, for the record it was 4-6, 7-6 (2), 11-9) did not matter, and were all so entirely beside the point. The occasion was, after all, about the farewell itself. Or, better, the farewells, plural: Federer’s to tennis, to the fans, to his competitors and colleagues. And, naturally, each of those entities’ farewells to Federer.

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“It’s been a perfect journey,” Federer said. “I would do it all over again.”

When the match and, with it, his time in professional tennis ended, Federer hugged Nadal, then Tiafoe and Sock. And then Federer began crying. There were plenty of tears to go around; Nadal wiped his own away, too.

WATCH | Federer plays final point of career:

Roger Federer plays his final point of illustrious tennis career

4 hours ago

Duration 2:41

Roger Federer and doubles partner Rafael Nadal fell to Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe 4-6, 7-6(2), 11-2 in Laver Cup play, concluding Federer’s legendary career.

“When Roger leaves the tour, an important part of my life is leaving, too,” said Nadal, 36, who used the words “sad” and “unforgettable” to describe the occasion.

As cascades of clapping and yells of affection came from the stands, Federer put his hands on his hips, his chest heaving. Then he mouthed, “Thank you,” while applauding right back toward the spectators who had chanted, “Let’s go, Roger! Let’s go!” during the concluding moments of a match that lasted more than two hours and ended at about 12:30 a.m.

His wife, Mirka, their four children — twin girls and twin boys — and Federer’s parents joined him on the court afterward for embraces and, yes, more bawling. Members of both teams joined together to hoist Federer up in the air.

“It’s been a wonderful day. I told the guys I’m happy; I’m not sad,” Federer said. “I enjoyed tying my shoes one more time. Everything was the last time.”

Roger Federer is lifted by fellow players after playing the final match of his legendary tennis career on Friday. (Kin Cheung/The Associated Press)

The Swiss star announced last week that the three-day team event, which was founded by his management company, would be his final event before retirement, then made clear the doubles outing would be the last match. His surgically repaired right knee — the last of three operations came shortly after a loss in the Wimbledon quarter-finals in July 2021, which will go down as his official exit in singles — is in no shape to allow him to continue.

“For me, just personally, [it was] sad in the first moment, when I came to the conclusion it’s the best decision,” Federer said in an interview with The Associated Press this week about his emotions when realizing it was time to go. “I kind of held it in at first, then fought it off. But I could feel the pain.”

He had said he wanted this to feel more like a party than a funeral, and the crowd obliged, rising for a loud and lengthy standing ovation when Federer and Nadal — each wearing a white bandanna, blue shirt and white shorts — emerged together from a tunnel leading out to the black court for the last match on Day 1 at the O2 Arena. They remained on their feet for nearly 10 minutes, through the pre-match warmup, holding aloft phone cameras to capture the moment.

They came ready to roar for him, some with Swiss flags, some with homemade signs (“Idol Forever” read one), and they made themselves heard with a wall of sound when Federer delivered a forehand volley winner on the match’s second point. Similar reactions arrived merely at the chair umpire’s announcement before the third game of “Roger Federer to serve,” and again when he closed that game with a 117 mph service winner.

“Obviously had 99.9% of the crowd against us. But it was super fun to just be a part of that match. I think we are going to be forever grateful to be a part of the GOAT’s final match,” Sock said, using the acronym for “Greatest of All-Time.”

Doubles requires far less movement and court coverage, of course, so the stress on Federer’s knee was limited Friday.

“Honestly,” he said, acknowledging that leading into the match there were the sorts of nerves he’d get before a Grand Slam final, “I was so surprised how well I was able to play tonight.”

He showed touches of his old flair, to be sure, and of rust, as to be expected.

There were a couple of early forehands that sailed several feet too long. There also was a forehand that slid right between Sock and Tiafoe and seemed too good to be true — and, it turned out, was: The ball traveled through a gap below the net tape and so the point was taken away from Federer and Nadal.

Although this match amounted to, essentially, a glorified exhibition, all four doubles participants played as if they wanted to win. That was clear when Sock, a three-time major champion in doubles who is 29, leaped and screamed after one particularly terrific volley or when Tiafoe, 24, sent a couple of shots right at Federer and Nadal.

There were moments of levity.

Federer and Nadal were able to laugh after a bit of confusion over which should go for a ball on a point they lost. After Nadal somehow flicked one back-to-the-net shot around the post, only for it to land barely wide, Tiafoe, a semifinalist at the U.S. Open, crossed over to extend a hand with congratulations for the effort.

Roger Federer, left, and Rafael Nadal of Team Europe interact during their doubles match on Friday. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

In the first set, the older duo couldn’t quite hear each other between points, so Federer trotted from the net back to the baseline to consult with Nadal, then pointed to his ear to signal what the issue was.

Before Federer began winning Grand Slam titles in 2003, the men’s mark for most major tennis championships was 14 by Pete Sampras. Federer blew past that, accumulating eight at Wimbledon, six at the Australian Open, five at the U.S. Open and one at the French Open, setting a new standard that Nadal, now with 22, and Novak Djokovic, with 21, equaled, then surpassed, as part of a golden era for the sport.

Surely, there are those who would have found it particularly apt to see Federer finish across the net from Nadal, often an on-court nemesis but eventually an off-court friend. Maybe it could have taken place about 15 miles away at Centre Court of the All England Club, say, or in Court Philippe Chatrier at Roland Garros, or Rod Laver Arena at Melbourne Park, or even Arthur Ashe Stadium, the centrepiece of the U.S. Open, the lone Grand Slam tournament at which they never faced off, somehow.

Perhaps they could have provided everyone with one final installment of a head-to-head matchup as memorable as any in the long history of their sport — or, indeed, any other.

Roger vs. Rafa — just one name apiece required — belongs up there with McEnroe vs. Borg (as it happens, the two Laver Cup team captains, John and Bjorn), Evert vs. Navratilova, Sampras vs. Agassi, Ali vs. Frazier, Magic vs. Bird, Brady vs. Manning, and so on.

Over the years, Federer and Nadal showed off individual greatness and compelling contrasts across their 40 matches, 14 at Grand Slam tournaments, nine in major finals: righty vs. lefty, attacker vs. grinder, seeming effortlessness vs. relentless intensity.

And yet, there was an unmistakable element of poetry with these two men who challenged each other and elevated each other performing as partners, slapping palms and sharing smiles.

This goodbye follows that of Serena Williams, the owner of 23 major singles championships, at the U.S. Open three weeks ago after a third-round loss. It leaves questions about the future of a game he and she dominated, and transcended, for decades.

One key difference: Each time Williams took the court in New York, the looming question was how long her stay would endure — a “win or this is it” prospect.

Friday WAS it for Federer, no matter the result.

“All the players will miss him,” said Casper Ruud, who beat Sock in singles 6-4, 5-7, 10-7.

The day’s other results, which left Team Europe and Team World tied at 2-2: Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Diego Schwartzman 6-2, 6-1 in a match interrupted briefly when an environmental protester lit a portion of the court and his own arm on fire, and Alex de Minaur got past Andy Murray 5-7, 6-3, 10-7.

Due to begin playing shortly after the end of Murray’s loss, Federer and Nadal first provided him with some coaching tips, then watched part of that one on TV together in a room at the arena, waiting for their turn. When Federer and Nadal were in action, it was Djokovic’s turn to suggest strategy.

The last hurrah came after a total of 103 career singles trophies and 1,251 wins in singles matches for Federer, both second only to Jimmy Connors in the Open era, which began in 1968.

At the height of his powers, Federer appeared in a record 10 consecutive Grand Slam finals, winning eight, from 2005-07. Extend that to 2010, and he reached 18 of 19 major finals.

More than those numbers, folks will remember the powerful forehand, the one-handed backhand, the flawless footwork, the spectacularly effective serve and eagerness to get to the net, the willingness to reinvent aspects of his game and — the part of which he’s proudest — the unusual longevity. Beyond the elegance and effectiveness while wielding a racket, Federer’s persona made him an ambassador for tennis, someone whose immense popularity helped attract fans.

“This is not the end-end, you know. Life goes on. I’m healthy, I’m happy, everything’s great,” Federer said, “and this is just a moment in time.”

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Thatcher Demko injury Vancouver Canucks – TSN

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Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko suffered an apparent lower-body injury in the first period of Thursday’s game against the Florida Panthers and did not return.

Demko was helped off the ice and left the game after a sequence near the end of the frame where the Panthers got their third goal of the period. Demko stopped two shots off the rush before doubling over on the third attempt favouring the upper side of his right leg. 

Spencer Martin replaced the injured Demko, who allowed three goals on 16 shots prior to departing. Martin allowed two goals on 15 shots in relief in an eventual 5-1 loss.

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After the game, head coach Bruce Boudreau did not have an update on Demko.

The 26-year-old Demko has a 3.81 goals-against average and .885 save percentage in 14 games this season. This is his sixth season in Vancouver after being selected in the second round (No. 36 overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.

The Canucks will be back in action Saturday at home against the Arizona Coyotes.

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Canadiens @ Flames Top Six Minutes: All Out Allen – Habs Eyes on the Prize

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For our new readers and members, the Top Six Minutes is a continuation of the discussion in the game thread. We try to keep it light and entertaining. Full recaps are up the morning after every game.

Pre-game

  • Can’t score less than Tuesday night, right?
  • RIGHT???
  • Hoffman on IR means Pitlick being called up to the wamth of NHL again.
  • MSL deploying a seven-eleven tonight. Seven d-men and just eleven attackers.

First Period

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  • Slaf elevated to the second line? I like it.

Can’t score less than Tuesday night, right?

  • It took literally thirteen seconds for that prediction to tome true.
  • Sean Monahan playing “the ghost of Christmas” past on a breakaway, forcing Markström out of his net and our first overall selection follows up and picks up the rebound like a seasoned vet.
  • Quite the composure there from Slafkovsky.
  • Fourth of the season for Juraj. His first since 6 November.
  • Jordan Harris to the box of shame for hooking Dube.
  • The lead stands tall.
  • Otherwise, how ‘bout that Jake Allen huh?
  • Former Flame Monahan leads former Hab Tyler Toffoli on points after period one.

Second Period

  • 0 for 6 on the power play against the Sharks. Here we go again. The bread muncher Mangiapane to the box.
  • A goal would be nice. But I guess that’s too much to ask for.
  • Apparently it was -30 in Calgary tonight.
  • And yes, I’m talking about the weather and not Evgenii Dadonov’s plus-minus statistics.
  • And here I am, thinking it’s cold when it’s plus five in Zagreb.
  • Habs survive another penalty kill, with Xhek(w)aj(faj) in the box.
  • Slaf hits the post on a breakaway.
  • Truly great to see him gaining momentum with his pace and puck control.
  • Elias Lindholm ties the contest up at one-a-piece with 29 seconds left of period two.
  • Should have been an interference call on Lindholm in the lead-up to the goal, n’est-ce pas?

Third Period

  • Harris penalized again. This time an unnecessary dealy of game-call.
  • Toffoli does his best to haunt his former team as well, but David Savard with a quality block and the puck ricochets off the crossbar.
  • Five minutes into the third. Habs are getting outshot 14-34.
  • Weird sequence here. Josh Anderson swats at a puck after the referees blow it down for an icing.
  • Markström disapproves of the swat and swats at Anderson as he goes by.
  • Anderson disapproves of Markström being all Swedish and tall.
  • And Mangiapane jumps in to defend his disapproving goalie before Anderson disapproves any more of that.
  • Conclusion: Mangiapane can eat bread for an additional two minutes in the penalty box as he gets called for roughing.
  • Nice work, Josh! Well planned.
  • Although, to quote our managing editor: “Unfortunately, it now results in a power play.”
  • Was just thinking: “Hasn’t it been too long (it’s all relative, it’s been nine days) since Caufield scored now?”
  • He rips one on the man advantage and Montreal regains their lead.
  • Apparently, this was Caufield’s 100th regular season NHL game.
  • His stats so far: 40 goals, 30 assists.
  • Oh, and 12 penalty minutes, not to forget.
  • Who got another assist in his former house? Boogaloo, Sean Monahan.
  • Backlund trips up his fellow Mike (Matheson) resulting in another Canadiens power play.
  • You think they could do it twice in one night? Getouttahere.
  • The Habs create little and instead takes a penalty of their own, for too many men on the ice.
  • All while Calgary gets a three-on-one and Slaf takes a puck to the face. It’s an action packed night, this one.
  • Jake Allen is playing like a man possessed tonight. 42 stops and counting.
  • Make that 44.
  • Make that a road victory.
  • On we go to the culture capital of the world: Edmonton, AB.

EOTP 3 Stars

3) This is great news for this western road trip

2) There’s a lot of potential here

1) I think every part of his body got hit with a puck tonight

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2022 FIFA World Cup: What we learned as Canada bows out in loss to Morocco – Sportsnet.ca

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