Roger Federer retires this Friday at the O2 Arena in London where he will play a historic doubles match with Rafael Nadal. The Swiss has been the executioner of many players, including members of the ‘Armada’ who have suffered in their flesh. Up to 27 Spanish tennis players faced him on the ATP circuit and only 11 of them can always boast of having won a match against the Basel legend.
Joan Balcells and the story of having beaten Federer
Joan Balcells is not officially on the list of Federer’s Spanish rivals because they met in a challenger category tournament. However, the Catalan was the first executioner of the one who would later mark an era in the racket sport. It happened in Espinho, in 1999.
My students don’t believe that I beat Federer. I remember that I saw several ‘crack’ things, but he took the match in two sets
“My students don’t believe that I beat Federer. Everyone talked about how he was the great promise of tennis. I remember that I saw several ‘crack’ things about him, but he took the match in two sets, 7-6 and 6-3, and it’s something that will always stay there. Many times I tell the kids at school that I beat Federer one day and they don’t believe it, they laugh and think it’s a joke. Then I put it in context well and they understand. He was a kid and I was already 23 years old. I never played against him again.”
Albert Montas and the rival who does not sweat
Albert Montas raised six trophies. One of them was against Federer in the 2010 Estoril final. “Perhaps the difference between Federer and the rest is that he does everything very easily without practically making an effort. He often plays and doesn’t even sweat. The most important victory of my career was against him in the final in Estoril. Roger was number one and I think that being the first in the ranking he had only been beaten on land by Rafa, Albert Costa and myself among the Spanish”.
Ferrer and the losing record
David Ferrer, the Spanish tennis player who lost the most times against Federer, a total of 17, recalls many moments shared with the genius from Basel “I have many memories with him, 17, the times I lost to him; I never I was able to beat him. I remember how close he was. At the end of my career, when he saw that I wasn’t up to the level, he gave me advice and I will remember him fondly”.
Fernando Vicente and the lost shirt
Fernando Vicente faced the Swiss genius once in the round of 16 in Halle, in 2003: “I lost in three sets. I remember that after winning the first set I approached my coach, Marc Gorriz, and told him: ‘Don’t worry, I’ll lose Sure, this guy is too good.’ I know it’s true that I’ve beaten him as a coach alongside Rublev.”
The tennis player from Benicarl is very aware that at the 2014 US Open he asked for a shirt: “I’m not one to ask for shirts and it’s the only time I’ve asked for one. He gave it to me after beating my player, Marcel (Granollers), and we took a picture. I was going to frame it and when I got to Barcelona, Mrs. the cleanup was inadvertently thrown in the trash.
We can never imagine that there will be three Jordans in tennis at the same time. Rafa, Roger and Novak are like computers
On the magic of the ‘Big Three’, Fer is clear that “we can never imagine that there would be three Jordans in tennis at the same time. Rafa, Roger and Novak are like computers. One day Federer saw me in Halle and began to tell me what I had won, something I didn’t even know.
Marcel Granollers and the perfect storm
Federer scored the four precedents with Marcel Granollers. The Barcelonan was able to steal a set from him at the US Open in 2014. “It was the worst thing I could do because then he hit me a triple 6-1. The first time we played in Dubai I was impressed by his ball speed”.
Flix Mantilla and the fence of the Foro Itlico
Felix Mantilla was one of the few members of the ‘Armada’ capable of defeating Federer in a final. It was on the land of the Foro Italico in Rome in the 2003 edition. The Barcelonan remembers all the adverse circumstances surrounding the game as if it were yesterday.
I finished playing the semifinal with Kafelnikov very late because we went to three sets. And when I went to leave the club it was closed. I had no choice but to jump the fence of the facility
“I finished playing the semifinal with Kafelnikov very late because we went to three sets. And when I went to leave the club it was closed. I had no choice but to jump the fence of the facility and I was seen by some fans who recognized me. You are Felix Mantilla?’, they yelled at me. And I told them: ‘Here I am, trying to get out of here.’ “There was only one service room, which you had to enter from the side and with a bunk bed. I slept there as best I could and the next day, I beat Federer.”
Pablo Andjar and the comic for his children
Andjar will always be able to boast of being one of the five Spanish tennis players, along with Nadal, Pato Clavet, Sergi Bruguera and Lex Corretja, who has won the 20-time champion head-to-head. The 36-year-old man from Cuenca had the opportunity to play against Federer last season in the round of 16 in Basel.
“It was a gift that life gave me. I wanted to finish my career having competed with Rafa, Roger and Novak. And Federer was missing. I was very nervous because before playing with him I had to pass the first round. He has been an example of class inside and also outside. Knowing how to be in defeat has been an example for any athlete both in good and bad times. Federer could not be understood without Rafa and vice versa. We are going to miss that rivalry. When he saw me Last year at Roland Garros he came to the locker room and gave me a comic of his for my children”.
Pato Clavet and the dedication to Federer
Francisco ‘Pato’ Clavet spent very little time with Federer on the circuit, long enough to defeat him in the only precedent between the two at the Masters 1,000 in Cincinnati, in 2000. “He came from winning the junior at Wimbledon, but of course he wasn’t the player he was after. It was a match without ‘breaks,'” he recalls.
Years later, Clavet was in Cincinnati as coach of Colombian Santiago Giraldo and they agreed to train with the Swiss phenomenon. “I entered the track, Amy came and told me: ‘Francisco beat me here’. He even remembered the track and I was very excited.”
I entered the track, Amy came and told me: ‘Francisco beat me here’. He even remembered the track and I was very excited
Both coincided on more occasions. One of them in the players’ room of the Mutua Madrid Open: “I was with my mother and my sister. The ATP had put out a collection of tennis player cards, like those of footballers, and they approached him to ask him to sign my chrome because it was the last one that a friend of his needed to finish the collection”.
Feliciano López and Federer’s flight
Feliciano López met Federer on the road 13 times and could not beat him. From the same generation, the left-hander from Toledo reminds Federer of the U15 tournaments. “It was amazing how easy he was to play at that age. Hardly anyone came to the net except him,” he recalls.
The penultimate confrontation between the two was in the quarterfinals of the Masters 1,000 in Cincinnati. Feli had just beaten Nadal and was in one of his best moments: “He beat me 6-3 and 6-4 and when we shook hands at the net I told him: ‘It seems you’re flying on the court’. He replied: ” And the years we have left.”
Both coincided last year in the Laver Cup. López was part of the European team and the Swiss, as organizer, went to Boston to attend the event despite needing crutches to walk.
Roberto Bautista, in the name of the father
Roberto Bautista was another of the Spanish players who was left without the prize of beating Federer. Faces were seen up to nine times. “The first few times I played with him I was struck by how fast he played. The ball would come at you when you had just hit it,” he says.
He always asked me how my father was and it is something that I will always thank him for. Never forget the detail
Bautista remains with the humanity of the considered most talented tennis player in history: “He always asked me how my father was and it is something that I will always thank him for. I will never forget the detail”.
The man from Castellón attended the 2019 Laver Cup in Geneva and spent the whole week with him: “I was surprised by the confidence he had in himself and how he handled the pressure of playing the Laver Cup at home in Geneva”.