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Roger Federer’s Final Bow: A Reflective Documentary on a Legendary Career

For the millions of Roger Federer fans around the globe, September 15, 2022, became a memorable date as the tennis legend announced his retirement. Through an emotional note, Federer expressed, “Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever would have dreamt, and now I must recognize when it is time to end my competitive career.” This poignant announcement marked the end of a spectacular 24-year career adorned with 20 Major titles and over 1500 matches.

Filmmakers Asif Kapadia and Joe Sabia capture this significant transition in the documentary, *Federer: Twelve Final Days.* The film delves into the last 12 days leading up to Federer’s final match where he partnered with arch-rival and dear friend Rafael Nadal in the Laver Cup at London’s O2 Arena. The filmmakers set out on a brave journey to explore the mindset of a sporting giant preparing for his last appearance on the court.

However, the ambitious project results in a rather basic account without the high anticipation one might expect from a legend’s swan song. Throughout the documentary, Federer appears composed, suppressing his emotions about retirement. Only a few moments reveal his nervousness and fear of the unknown that retirement brings, offering a rare glimpse into his thoughts.

A significant portion of the documentary focuses on the challenges Federer faced due to multiple knee surgeries during the twilight of his career, yet it offers little more. Given that Asif Kapadia, renowned for his expertise in documentaries, led this project, one would anticipate a deeper dive into Federer’s life and career. Unfortunately, Kapadia maintains a narrow focus, capturing only the final days without expanding into the broader saga of Federer’s journey.

The documentary kicks off with stunning visuals of Federer’s iconic shots, from his jaw-dropping tweeners to impeccable passing shots, showcasing his evolution from an aggressive, fiery youngster to a polished and versatile player. But it leaves viewers longing for insights straight from Federer on how he masterfully crafted these shots that crowned him an artistic genius in the sport.

*Federer: Twelve Final Days* doesn’t offer any groundbreaking revelations, eluding the reasons behind Federer’s enchanting presence in tennis. The film doesn’t probe into how competing against legends and the rising competition in men’s tennis affected his invincibility, nor does it explore the resilient spirit that enabled him to rebuild his game, making a stellar comeback to become the oldest World No.1 in history.

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Amid the less compelling sections, Federer’s reflections on tennis manage to retain a viewer’s interest. Intriguingly, he likens tennis to chess, emphasizing its psychological nature where outwitting the opponent is paramount. His love for outperforming opponents at their own game shines brightly here.

When the narrative shifts to the Laver Cup, it becomes clear how Federer evolved into an ambassador for tennis, respected and admired by fellow players and legends alike. At a pre-tournament press conference, Federer reminisced about his idol, Bjorn Borg. Initially seen as a successor to Pete Sampras due to his dominance on grass courts, Federer shared that his admiration lay with Borg, who dazzled him with his skills and charismatic off-court demeanor.

The highlight of the documentary features Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Djokovic is depicted as the “party crasher,” the second major adversary in Federer’s career. The Serbian had to carve his niche in a tennis world predominated by Federer by tackling technical deficiencies and adopting a tenacious spirit. Federer concedes that he didn’t initially respect Djokovic’s potential enough.

His relationship with Nadal, however, is portrayed as a unique camaraderie amidst fierce rivalry. Their dynamic explains why Federer confided his retirement plans to Nadal 10 days before making the official announcement. Their rivalry not only elevated their games but also enriched the sport of tennis.

The documentary’s emotional crescendo shows Federer breaking down on several occasions, a fitting yet not overly sentimental closure. For those who have been passionate about Federer’s game, revisiting the pivotal moments of his final match, witnessing how peers rallied around him, and hearing his heartfelt words to friends and fans are deeply moving experiences.

In its closing scenes, *Federer: Twelve Final Days* offers a nostalgic journey for Federer’s fans, evoking memories of waking up at odd hours to admire his effortless dominance. Scenes of him stepping onto the courts for big matches, unleashing devastating forehands and precise serves, are juxtaposed with the ever-familiar declaration: “Game, set, and match, Roger Federer!”

Now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, *Federer: Twelve Final Days* is a must-watch for all tennis enthusiasts and die-hard Federer fans seeking to relive the final chapter of a phenomenal career.