Roger Federer and retirement…a topic of conversation sitting at the top of any tennis fan’s agenda over the last 15 months since Federer has been sidelined with ongoing knee issues. While many fans hoped he might make one final push for Wimbledon in 2023, Roger surprised fans with a social media video announcement last week that he will officially be retiring after the 2022 Laver Cup in London.
It’s only fitting that Federer will take the professional court for the last time at Laver Cup, the unique brainchild team event that he and his agency TEAM8 concepted together. But even more fitting that he’ll be sharing the same side of the court with his three greatest career rivals.
Together, The “Big 4” – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray – will lead Team Europe alongside a younger generation of players featuring Casper Ruud, Cam Norrie, Stefano Tsitsipas, and Matteo Berretini (singles alternate).
Given Federer’s current health and lack of match fitness, he has decided to only play one doubles match on Friday night for his final sendoff. To the delight of the tennis world, Captain Bjorn Borg announced that Federer will be playing with a familiar doubles partner – Rafael Nadal.
The GOAT doubles pairing will square off against Americans Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe during the Friday night session that will sure to be standing room only.
Federer and Nadal have the closest friendship and longest standing rivalry among the Big Four with a 24-16 H2H in Nadal’s favor. In the debut Laver Cup in 2017, they paired together and defeated Americans Sam Querrey/Jack Sock 6-4, 4-6, 10-5. Watching “Fedal” take the court together one last time will be quite the storybook ending to Federer’s professional career.
While Federer is most widely known for his global starpower and record-breaking singles career with 20 major titles, many fans might be surprised to learn he also enjoyed quite a bit of success in doubles. As Roger takes the doubles court one last time, let’s take a walk down memory lane and look back at major milestones throughout his doubles career.
1. Olympic Doubles Gold
The Olympics may not be the apex for tennis like it is in most other Olympic sports, but any tennis player who has enjoyed success at the Olympics would tell you it’s one of the most special moments of their career. Roger Federer would agree.
He and Swiss compatriot Stan Wawrinka went on a Cinderella-story doubles run capturing Olympic gold together at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. They didn’t drop a set en route to the finals with impressive wins over doubles veterans Maheshi Bhupati/Leander Paes of India in the quarterfinals and the Bryan Brothers in the semi-finals.
In the gold medal match, Federer and Wawrinka defeated the Swedish team of Simon Aspelin and Thomas Johansson 6-3, 6-4, 6-7, 6-3. Federer still considers this one of his greatest career highlights to this day.
Apart from doubles, Federer also won Olympic silver in the 2012 Olympics in London. In 2016 at the Rio Olympic Games, Federer was slated to play mixed doubles with Martina Hingis but was forced to withdraw. How about that for a potential pairing? There’s no doubt they would have made the podium together.
2. Swiss Davis Cup Champion
Olympic Gold wasn’t Federer’s only doubles accomplishment for Switzerland. He, Wawrinka, and other Swiss compatriots teamed up to help Switzerland capture its first Davis Cup title in 2014.
Along the way, the Swiss team scored wins over Serbia, Kazakhstan, and Italy before defeating France 3-1 in the finals. After suffering a surprise singles loss to Gael Monfils on day 1, Federer rebounded convincingly with a doubles win alongside Wawrinka over Julien Bennetau/Richard Gasquet. He then went on to clinch the championship for Switzerland with a straight set singles victory over Richard Gasquet.
3. Eight Career Doubles Titles
Casual tennis fans may remember Federer winning Olympic gold or Davis Cup, but did you know he won EIGHT career doubles titles?
Among the Big 4, Federer and Nadal’s doubles accomplishments stand tall above Djokovic and Murray. Nadal has been the most successful doubles player of the quad with 11 titles and an Olympic gold medal at the 2016 Rio games. Murray has won three career doubles titles and Djokovic has only won one.
Early on in his career, Federer played doubles fairly frequently with a mix of partners. His most successful partnership was arguably with Belarusian Max Mirnyi, a former World No. 1 doubles player who he captured three titles within 2002 and 2003 (Rotterdam Open, Kremlin Cup, and Miami Open).
Federer also won two titles with fellow Swiss player Yves Allegro (2003 Vienna Open, 2005 Halle Open) and one title with Jonas Bjorkman (2001 Rotterdam Open), Marat Safin (2001 Swiss Open), and Stan Wawrinka (2008 Olympics). Federer finished 8-6 in career doubles finals, with two runner-up appearances at Indian Wells, a historically popular doubles stomping ground for top singles players.
4. Three Hopman Cup Titles
In one of our sport’s best exhibition events of the year (fingers crossed it will make a comeback), Federer helped Switzerland win the Hopman Cup in Australia three different times. Fortunately, he had no shortage of talented female Swiss partners to choose from.
He teamed up with Martina Hingis to win the trophy in 2001 and then repeated 17 years later by winning back-to-back titles with Belinda Bencic in 2018 and 2019. How about that for longevity?
In 2002, Federer also teamed up with a familiar name in his circle, wife Mirka Varinec. The two had recently begun dating after playing on the Swiss Olympic team together at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Most fans know Mirka from sitting faithfully in Roger’s box over the years, but Mirka was quite the fine player herself. She reached a career high of No. 76 in 2001 before eventually retiring in 2002 due to a nagging foot injury.
5. Limited Doubles at the Majors
For as much success as Federer enjoyed at the majors in singles, his doubles participation was few and far between. Federer’s grand slam doubles tenure lasted for a six-year stretch at the beginning of his career from 1999 to 2004.
He finished with a 12-9 doubles major record highlighted by a quarterfinal appearance at Wimbledon in 2000. Federer’s last doubles major match came at the 2004 Australian Open, and since then we never saw him again on the doubles court at a grand slam. Not coincidentally, this was the time when he began dominating the men’s singles tour for the next several years.
6. American Achilles Doubles Heel
After scanning Federer’s doubles head-to-heads, one surprising theme stood out to me – his record against American players. There’s no question that Federer dominated Americans for the entirety of his long singles career.
His doubles results against Americans, however, were another story. If you have followed doubles closely over the last few decades, this isn’t as surprising as it sounds given the great success from top doubles players like the Bryan Brothers and Jack Sock.
Federer finished his doubles career with a losing doubles record against all of the American players below:
- John Isner (0-3)
- Jack Sock (2-3)
- Mike and Bob Bryan (3-4)
- Mardy Fish (0-2)
- Justin Gimelstob (0-2)
- Patrick Gailbraith (0-2)
- James Blake (0-1)
7. Laver Cup for Last
Federer’s most recent doubles performances have come during Laver Cup. From 2017-2019, he helped Team Europe win three consecutive titles over Team World. During these Laver Cup stints, we saw Federer take the court with Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev, and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Although he helped Team Europe win three titles, he posted a mere 2-3 doubles record against Team World. In all five Laver Cup doubles matches he has played, Federer has squared off against Jack Sock. Sure enough, Federer will take the court against Sock in 2022 as well. Here’s how their matchups have stacked up so far:
- 2017: Federer/Nadal d. Sock/Querrey 6-4, 4-6, 10-5
- 2018: Anderson/Sock d. Federer/Djokovic 6-7, 6-3, 10-6
- 2018: Isner/Sock d. Federer/Zverev 4-6, 7-6, 11-9
- 2019: Federer/Sock d. Shapovalov/Sock 6-3, 7-5
- 2019: Isner/Sock d. Federer/Tsitsipas 5-7, 6-4, 10-8
Can Federer and Nadal go out on top with one more Laver Cup doubles win? If he wins, he would level his Laver Cup doubles rivalry with Jack Sock at 3-3.
Regardless of the outcome, it will be an unforgettable moment to watch him take the professional court one last time. It’s great to see him pick doubles for his final tennis curtain call.
Federer Doubles Career Highlights
- 131-92 career doubles record (59% winning percentage)
- 8 career doubles titles
- $769,035 career doubles prize money
- 2008 Olympic gold medalist
- 2014 Davis Cup champion