PARIS (Reuters) - At the age of 37, Roger Federer knows he cannot keep playing amongst the world’s greatest tennis players for too much longer, and his fans know that too, often treating his appearances round the world like valedictory performances.
After his brutal straight sets defeat at the hands of Rafa Nadal in Friday’s French Open semi-final, dozens of eager fans crammed around the door of a media centre hoping to catch a sight of the Swiss great speaking to reporters.
“This may be the last time we see him in Paris,” said one, explaining why she was waiting outside a room instead of watching tennis still being played at Roland Garros.
But the holder of a record 20 men’s Grand Slam singles titles gave cause for hope when he hinted he would return next year.
“I thought it was a great tournament. I really enjoyed it,” Federer told reporters.
“Crowd support couldn’t have been better. Maybe one of the best ever in my entire 20-year career that I have been on tour at a slam.
“Them always being there for me, supporting me in practice, at the matches, on the grounds whenever I came and showed up, they were always happy to see me. So that was nice. You know, I think I surprised myself maybe how deep I got in this tournament and how well I actually was able to play throughout.
“And next year, just like with any other tournament, I don’t know. We’ll see what happens. But I definitely enjoyed the clay court season and the French Open, so that would help the chances, I guess, to return.”
Editing by Christian Radnedge