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Rangers clash presents Liverpool with perfect opportunity to halt rotten run

The Champions League returns for round three this week. Last season’s finalists Liverpool can restabilise their indifferent season. Meanwhile, Copenhagen have the unenviable task of trying to contain rampaging Manchester City.
Liverpool have started the current season in indifferent form across all competitions.
In the Uefa Champions League, from their opening two matches, the Merseyside club has won one and been comprehensively thumped by Italian side Napoli in the other.
Meanwhile, in their domestic league the Reds have not fared much better. After seven Premier League matches played, the 19-time English champions find themselves floating in somewhat rough waters. Liverpool is ninth, 11 points behind early pacesetter Arsenal.
In their most recent encounter, Jürgen Klopp’s charges had to fight back from two goals down as they eventually played to a three-all stalemate versus Brighton & Hove Albion.
“We didn’t play Wolves, played Ajax, didn’t play Chelsea. That means we couldn’t pick anything up and keep it from the Ajax game really,” said Klopp on his team’s disrupted rhythm so far — which was further curtailed as they had games postponed owing to Queen Elizabeth’s death.
“On top of that, you face Brighton, in a very good moment. A very good team, with a new manager and you concede these two early goals. Which is in no way helpful, but in other situations may be less harmful than it was for us that day,” said the German on his team’s weekend fightback against Brighton.
“We turned it around, not with a brilliant performance but with a proper fight. Adapting to the situation, denying Brighton in the areas they wanted to play and all these kinds of things.”
Their upcoming Champions League encounter, against Scotland’s Rangers presents an opportunity for the Reds to rediscover their confidence and play the type of exhilarating football they have been known to play under Klopp.
Rangers have unsurprisingly had a solid start to their domestic season and sit second behind last season’s Scottish champions Celtic. From their eight league matches to date, they boast six wins, with a draw and loss in tandem.
In Europe, the 2022 Europa League finalists have failed dismally to replicate that form. The seven goals they have conceded are the joint most after the two rounds played so far. They were thrashed 4-0 and 3-0 by Ajax Amsterdam and Napoli respectively.
Czech side Viktoria Plzeň has also been breached seven times. Though, unlike the Scots — who do not have a single ...

Pérez comes out on top in a brutal Singapore GP

Sergio Pérez comes out on top, old rivals almost find themselves out of the points and McLaren make a comeback.
Formula 1’s return to Singapore, for the first time since 2019, shook up the grid for Round 17 of the championship.
The race got off to a slow start, with heavy rain delaying procedures. Lights went out about 70 minutes later, with the whole field beginning on intermediates in the slightly damp conditions.
Pole-sitter Charles Leclerc had a good start off the line, but it was Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez who launched off from second and quickly made the jump on the Ferrari.
Pérez put up a fight worthy of his Driver of the Day award, holding off Leclerc and the rest of the field to cross the line first.
Leclerc and teammate Carlos Sainz completed the podium, staying ahead of the McLaren and Mercedes cars.
Despite having the opportunity to clinch his second title, championship leader Max Verstappen was off form this weekend, not performing in the way spectators have come to expect from the Dutchman.
An unusually poor strategy call from Red Bull saw Verstappen qualify eighth on Saturday, and he continued to struggle during the race on Sunday, but managed to secure seventh place.
The tight, twisting circuit, combined with the wet conditions, saw cars getting a bit too close for comfort to the walls, with several drivers finding themselves in the barriers — out of the 20 competitors, six retired due to technical problems and collisions.
With the Drag Reduction System only coming into effect by lap 43, much of the race was a slog around the 5.063km Yas Marina Circuit, which gives very little room for overtaking.
With Pérez on the top step followed by the two Ferrari drivers, McLaren drivers Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo will be happy with fourth and fifth place, respectively. Lance Stroll of Aston Martin came in sixth, followed by Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel. Hamilton and Pierre Gasly rounded up the points finishers.
Valtteri Bottas and Kevin Magnussen narrowly missed out on points in 11th and 12th, followed by Mick Schumacher and George Russell.
The Singapore track was unforgiving for some, with six cars being forced to retire. Zhou Guanyu was taken out by Nicholas Latifi, who swept across the track into the other driver on lap 8. Alexander Albon crashed out on lap 26, followed by Yuki Tsunoda on lap 36 after going off into the barriers. Both Alpine cars of ...

Haaland breaks new ground for Man City as blistering start continues

Norwegian wunderkind Erling Haaland is breaking records for Manchester City while Arsenal continue their good start to the season.
Erling Haaland had already exceeded expectations since arriving at Manchester City, yet he managed to endear himself to his new club even more with his third consecutive home Premier League hat-trick in the 6-3 drubbing of Manchester United on Sunday.
In another remarkable display, Haaland also contributed two assists for Phil Foden, who struck a treble as well.
The Norwegian’s goal haul moved him on to 14 strikes in eight Premier League games, double the number of the league’s second-top scorer, Harry Kane.
He also destroyed another Premier League record by becoming the fastest player in England’s top-flight to score three hat-tricks in only eight matches. The previous record holder was Michael Owen, who needed 48 games to reach the milestone for Liverpool.
City manager Pep Guardiola was not surprised by Haaland’s latest tour de force, highlighting his insatiable scoring record with previous sides Molde, RB Salzburg, Borussia Dortmund as well as City, firing 152 goals since turning professional in 2016.
Read more in Daily Maverick: “Erling Haaland — a goal-scoring machine primed to prosper in Premier League”
He took no credit for the way the striker has started his career with City, instead pointing to the genes he was blessed with from his mother Gry Marita Braut, a heptathlete, and his father, the former City and Norway midfielder Alfie Haaland.
“I said many times what he is doing this season he had done in Norway, Austria, Germany, that is a reality. The quality we have helps him but I didn’t teach him what he has done,” Guardiola said.
“Having incredible instinct and sense comes from his mum and dad, he was born with that, we just help him by producing more balls for him.”
The Norwegian had little more to prove after scoring twice on his league debut at West Ham United and netting hat-tricks against Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest.
But this was his hardest test yet, against City’s biggest rivals, who had won their previous four Premier League matches, including beating last season’s runners-up Liverpool and current leaders Arsenal.
Haaland scored his first goal by heading home Kevin De Bruyne’s corner to double City’s lead in the 34th minute after Phil Foden had put the hosts in front.
He combined with the Belgian playmaker to score again three minutes later, showing his athletic prowess to make a diving stretch to poke ...

South African teams rampage through the URC

For the second weekend in a row, all four South African United Rugby Championship sides won their matches against their European opposition.
The Stormers and Bulls won at home while the Lions and Sharks clinched victories away, securing 19 out of a possible 20 points — the Sharks the only side to not earn a bonus point against the Dragons.
While the South African teams were still playing in Super Rugby, they found winning abroad, in Australasia, particularly challenging, claiming a 20% win percentage in New Zealand and 30% win percentage in Australia.
There are a few factors for South African sides’ change in fortunes playing abroad in the United Rugby Championship (URC) in comparison, but perhaps the most simple is that Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Italy are all in similar time zones to South Africa. So, the South African teams face no jet lag when playing away.
Easy run for Bulls
In the first match of the weekend, the Bulls made light work of Connacht, defeating the Irish outfit 28-14 at Loftus on Friday.
The match was more comfortable than the scoreline suggests, with the Bulls taking a 21-0 lead into halftime before Connacht secured two late converted tries in the second period.
Unfortunately for the Bulls, they sustained three key injuries in the match. Hooker Johan Grobbelaar suffered what appeared to be an ankle injury before halftime and limped off the field.
Springbok wingers Canan Moodie (hamstring) and Sbu Nkosi (concussion) also sustained injuries in the second half.
“It was a tough game,” said Bulls director of rugby Jake White.
“Everyone gets injuries, so it’s about handling it. Canan and Johan can probably only get their scans on Saturday. Then we’ll assess.
“At least they’re not all long-term injuries. These aren’t cruciate or Achilles problems. Hopefully, we’ll get some good news.”
After three wins at home, the Bulls will now embark on a three-match European tour, starting with a clash against Glasgow Warriors next week.
Lions roar
Also on Friday evening, the Lions put on a stunning showing against Cardiff to defeat them 31-18 in the Welsh capital.
The victory makes it two wins from two on their tour to Europe after they edged past Ospreys 28-27 last week.
The Lions had only around 30% possession and territory in the first half, but stood up strongly in defence, going into the sheds 13-10 behind.
The side from Johannesburg came out positively in the second half, running in three tries. Scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba, who recently made ...

The long wait is over for Women’s World Cup Rugby

After being postponed because of Covid-19, the Women’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand is eventually going to happen.
It’s been a trying journey to arrive at this point. However, on 8 October the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup (RWC) will finally start after being postponed by a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the tournament, which takes place in New Zealand, 11 nations will try to dethrone the hosts and reigning champions.
There are three pools consisting of four teams each. South Africa, who missed out on the 2017 edition, will kick things off when the Springbok Women play the opening encounter against fourth-ranked France in Pool C at Eden Park in Auckland.
The two other teams in Pool C, Fiji and England, clash three hours later in the same stadium, after which the standings will begin to take shape.
Each nation will be fighting for a place in the knockout phase, which begins with the quarterfinals. This means only four of the 12 competing teams will have been eliminated after the pool stage.
The Boks, who are underdogs in their pool, will aim to finish at least as one of the two best third-placed teams in the group phase. This will be their best chance of reaching the knockout stage.
This means the South Africans, currently ranked 11th in the world, will need to keep the damage to a minimum in their duels against France and top-ranked England in order to qualify for the knockout stages. They will be confident in their ability to beat Fiji, ranked 21st.
“We’re under no illusions. We’re playing No 1 [England] and No 4 [France] in the world, so the challenge is massive. We need to go out in the mind frame of let’s enjoy the experience and hopefully from this experience we can build,” said head coach Stanley Raubenheimer.
“Realistically, if we look at our pool, Fiji is a game that we can look to really perform, and if the result goes our way it will be a really pleasing experience for our squad. That’s the one team we want to [beat]. If everything goes well from a process point of view and from a rugby principle point of view, we should give ourselves a very good account in that game.”
Top contenders
England head into the World Cup in fantastic form and as the side to beat. They claimed the Grand Slam in their Six Nations triumph earlier this year, ...

Springboks return as South African URC teams look to continue momentum

The Stormers take on Edinburgh, Bulls face Connacht, Sharks clash with Dragons, and Lions are set to take on Cardiff this weekend.
Defending United Rugby Championship (URC) winners the Stormers opened their account this season with a convincing 38-15 bonus point win over Connacht last Saturday.
The victory at Danie Craven although sweet presents head coach John Dobson with a new challenge after electric winger Seabelo Senatla was ruled out “for many months”.
“He’s out for . many months. It’s unfortunate, especially because of how it happened,” said Dobson about the incident that saw Ireland international centre Bundee Aki suspended for eight weeks.
The injury forced Dobson’s hand into a backline reshuffle for their clash against Edinburgh at Cape Town stadium on Saturday. Influential utility back Damian Willemse slots straight into the inside centre position, which he fulfilled to aplomb in last season’s successful campaign.
Willemse returns from a concussion he sustained two weeks ago while on Springbok duty playing against Argentina.
The return of the Springbok means last week’s inside centre Dan du Plessis moves from the 12 jumper to No 13. While Suleiman Hartzenberg replaces Senatla on the wing.
Among the forwards, there are three returning Springboks in the starting lineup as Deon Fourie comes in at blindside flank and Salmaan Moerat takes his place next to skipper Marvin Orie in the locks while Joseph Dweba will make his Stormers debut at hooker.
Herschel Jantjies is among the substitutes as the Stormers opt for a six/two split on the bench.
The Stormers take on Edinburgh at 2pm at Cape Town stadium.
Bulls back three
The Bulls and Stormers swap opponents from last week as the side from Pretoria prepare to face Connacht tonight.
The Bulls also have three returning Springboks, all in the back three, in their starting lineup for the clash. Kurt-Lee Arendse will start at fullback, Canan Moodie at right wing while Sbu Nkosi starts on the left.
“It’s always nice having Springboks come back, especially when they are looking as good as Canan and Kurt-Lee. Sbu didn’t get a run out for the Boks but his confidence will still be high having been part of the group. I have no doubt that he is raring to go, and this is his chance,” said Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White.
Versatile Johan Goosen moves from fullback to flyhalf for the clash. While among the forwards, Marco van Staden makes his first start of the season.
“Connacht is a dangerous team. We ...

Sundowns icon Hlompho Kekana pinpoints Champions League triumph as career highlight

Taking into consideration his upbringing in rural Limpopo, the odds of Hlompho Kekana rising to become one of the Premier Soccer League’s most iconic players were minimal. However, the recently retired midfielder defied expectations to add a significant chapter to the story of South African football.
Hlompho Kekana’s career is firmly etched in South African football history as one of the most successful and trophy-laden the country’s football followers have ever witnessed.
For the recently retired former Mamelodi Sundowns and Bafana Bafana midfield anchor, one moment stands out from the rest – captaining the 12-time South African champions to their maiden CAF Champions League title in 2016.
“I have so many beautiful memories in my career. There is no moment I take for granted. But to be that player and captain who went as far as lifting the Champions League? That was huge. Overall, my career was just a beautiful story,” Kekana told Daily Maverick.
Beyond imagination
The 37-year-old, who grew up in rural Zebediela, Limpopo, joined that province’s most recognisable football club in the 2004/2005 season. He also represented clubs such as the now defunct Bloemfontein Celtic, as well as SuperSport United, before his eventual move to Sundowns in 2011.
During his 10-year stay with Sundowns, Kekana led the team to that memorable Champions League victory. He also helped the team to six Premiership titles and the CAF Super Cup. To that, he added two Telkom Knockout titles.
That success complemented the two league titles he won with Sundowns’ Tshwane neighbours SuperSport during his three-year stay at the club.
“If my career was recorded or was a movie of my life, I was going to rewind it and do it all again – without having to erase anything. It was perfect. It was something that was beyond my imagination,” Kekana said, reflecting on this list of accolades.
“In my playing career, the only thing that mattered to me was to play the game that I know [the best way] I knew how. To make sure that I get satisfaction. Little did I know that I would play such a huge role in South African football,” added the soft-spoken midfield general.
“Having the privilege to contribute so much to Sundowns’ success? That will continue to humble me, and remain special.”
In a country where many exceptionally talented footballers have either drunk their promising careers away, or off-field disciplinary misdemeanors have cost them dearly, the Limpopo native has – throughout his career ...

Saudi side Al-Ahli turn to Pitso Mosimane in bid to bounce back from shock relegation

Pitso Mosimane has been tasked with restoring Saudi side Al-Ahli to the upper echelon of the country’s football after they were surprisingly relegated to the second tier last season.
Decorated South African football coach Pitso Mosimane has finally found a new club after his departure from Egypt-based African giants Al Ahly.
Mosimane was confirmed by Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Ahli Jeddah as their new head coach on Sunday, 25 September.
“Welcome, coach. Pitso Mosimane is the new manager of our first football team,” the club said in a social media statement.
“Coach Pitso and his technical team of Kabelo Rangoaga (fitness trainer), Musi Matlaba and Kyle Solomon (performance analysts) are ready for the challenge,” Mosimane’s agency MT Sports confirmed in its statement. “The decorated South African technical team will be heading to Saudi Arabia from September 2022 to join Al-Ahli in Jeddah.”
The appointment ends Mosimane’s three-month sabbatical from coaching. The Kagiso-born supercoach took a break to mull over his options after ending a relatively successful tenure in Egypt.
During his 21-month stay with one of the powerhouses of world football, Mosimane reached three CAF Champions League finals in a row, winning two. He also added the CAF Super Cup, the Egypt Cup, as well as a bronze medal in the Fifa Club World Cup to this haul.
Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations
Task of revival
The 58-year-old coach has now been tasked with bringing similar success to Jeddah giants Al-Ahli. One of the founding members of the Saudi Pro League, the team had never been relegated – until the 2021/22 season. Al-Ahli were shockingly demoted from the league after finishing second from the bottom, with just 32 points from 30 games.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for the three-time Saudi champions. Between 2013 and 2020, the Jeddah juggernauts consistently managed top four finishes. They won their most recent league title in 2016, before finishing as the runner-up in the two subsequent seasons.
The Royal, as the club is affectionately called by their faithful, have started off their tenure in this unfamiliar territory indifferently. To date, the 2012 Asian Champions League runners-up have played five matches in Division One. Of those, they have won two, drawn two and lost one. The team’s haul of eight points sees them sitting seventh – four points behind early pacesetters Al-Akhdoud.
The team’s hierarchy will be hopeful that Mosimane will hastily turn around their fortunes as they desperately fight ...

SA URC teams continue to flex early-season muscles

SA’s United Rugby Championship teams had another good weekend as the Lions, Sharks, Stormers and Bulls claimed victories over their European opposition.
Defending champions the Stormers kicked off their United Rugby Championship (URC) campaign with a comfortable 38-15 victory over Connacht at Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch on Saturday afternoon.
A tightly fought first half between the two sides was followed by a free-flowing second half for the home side after Connacht were restricted to 14 men following centre Bundee Aki’s red card.
Evan Roos opened the scoring with a brilliant individual try, breaking the line from just inside Connacht’s half and bumping winger Mack Hansen out of the way en route to the tryline.
The rest of the first half was tightly contested, finishing 13-8 in favour of the hosts.
However, it was all one-way traffic in the second stanza after Aki’s red card for a dangerous cleanout on Stormers winger Seabelo Senatla in the 62nd minute.
From there, the Stormers began to show some of the attacking spark from their title-winning season. A spree of wonderful interplay and offloading by the home side resulted in a try for hooker Andre-Hugo Venter, bringing the Danie Craven stadium to its feet.
Hacjivah Dayimani then finished another brilliantly executed team try by the Stormers to stretch the score out to 31-8.
Shortly afterwards, prop Jack Aungier scored a late consolation try for Connacht from close out. However, the home side had the final say when Marcel Theunissen went over after a well-worked Stormers rolling maul to secure a valuable bonus point win.
The Stormers will take on Edinburgh at Cape Town Stadium next week.
Bulls scrape home
In trademark fashion, veteran flyhalf Morne Steyn slotted a late penalty to help the Bulls secure a 33-31 victory over Scottish outfit Edinburgh at Loftus.
The experienced flyhalf came off the bench and slotted the winning penalty. Edinburgh fullback Henry Immelman had the opportunity to snatch the game from the Bulls with an extra-time penalty, but failed to take the chance.
It was a close encounter from the get-go with Edinburgh hitting back at everything the home side threw at them.
Hooker Johan Grobbelaar and No 8 Elrigh Louw crossed the white chalk first for the hosts, but Edinburgh struck back with two tries of their own through Charlie Savala and Darcy Graham. The Bulls went into the break with a narrow 15-14 lead.
Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations
The Bulls were outscored three ...

Boks fall short of Rugby Championship glory despite victory over Pumas

The 2022 Rugby Championship ended in disappointment for the Springboks after coming up short of stopping New Zealand.
South Africa 38 (17) Argentina 21 (7)
When the dust settles and Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber and his staff have more time to pick over the bones of the 2022 Rugby Championships, they will no doubt rue many mistakes. Despite Saturday’s 38-21 win over Argentina to complete four wins in six matches in the competition, this will be remembered as a campaign of missed opportunities by the Boks.
The All Blacks won the title for an eighth time in this guise since Argentina joined in 2012 with 19 log points, one clear of the Boks.
After New Zealand beat Australia 40-14 in their final round match in Auckland, the Springboks needed to secure a try-to score a bonus point and beat the Pumas by at least a 39-point margin in Durban. The Boks did neither.
That they had such a mountain to climb was not because of matters that transpired this weekend, but rather as a consequence of earlier failures in the tournament.
A week after thrashing New Zealand 26-10 at Mbombela in August, Nienaber tinkered with a winning team for the return match at Ellis Park and paid the price.
His decision to move hooker Malcolm Marx to the bench and start with the inexperienced Joseph Dweba and also relegate No 8 Jasper Wiese to the wood and start with a rusty Duane Vermeulen after a two-month injury layoff, was crucial.
The Boks made a poor start and both Dweba and Vermeulen were substituted before halftime, but the damage was done as the All Blacks went on to win 35-23 after running into a 15-0 lead before halftime.
The Boks also lost to the Wallabies in Adelaide, but they did win two out of three games on the road, which is a more than acceptable return in the Rugby Championship. The Adelaide setback was not as decisive as losing at home to the All Blacks.
By the time the Boks arrived in Durban, needing to win by nearly 40 points, it had become unlikely that they would pip the All Blacks for the title. But in the cold light of day, they should have come closer after failing to execute against the Pumas.
“We did everything in our power to win the game, but one has to look back at our two defeats and realise those are the missing points,” captain Siya ...

Has coach Jacques Nienaber built a Springbok squad capable of winning the Rugby World Cup?

Coach Nienaber has bolstered Bok depth, and given 58 players a chance to prove themselves since 2021, but key questions persist
Since taking the Springbok head coach reins from Rassie Erasmus in 2020, Jacques Nienaber has highlighted the group’s three priorities: winning, squad development and transformation.
This season, there’s been a greater shift towards squad development and building a group that can win the 2023 World Cup. While the Boks have recorded a couple of remarkable wins in isolation, they have been inconsistent over a period of nine Tests.
The one constant has been experimentation in selection. Nienaber has attempted to explore new options and combinations while bolstering the depth in most positions.
Squad rotation for development
Nienaber has been at the helm for 24 games over the past two years. Of the 60 players called into the squad during that period, only three – RG Snyman, Johan Goosen (both injured) and Johan Grobbelaar – have received no game time at all.
In 2022, 46 of 48 squad members have represented the Boks across nine Tests. Nine players have made debuts this season – eight of those in the series against Wales in July.
Nienaber has made these selections with next year’s World Cup in mind, but also with a view to one of the most important phases of South Africa’s development plan: the tour to Europe this November.
In the lead-up to the Rugby Championship decider against Argentina, the Bok coach confirmed that he will take 50 players on the six-game sojourn. The Boks will face Ireland, France, Italy and England, while the “SA Select XV” – effectively a South Africa A side comprising second- and third-string players – will play Munster and Bristol.
The players who have featured across the 2021 and 2022 seasons are likely to make up the touring group of 50 – although there may be one or two new faces in the mix.
Rookies’ rise a catalyst for veterans
By luck or design, the team changes have provided Nienaber with valuable answers, and have revitalised the squad dynamic.
Cheslin Kolbe’s rotten run with injuries has continued into the 2022 season. Fortunately, Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie have filled the void on the right wing. While the Bok management will be glad to have Kolbe fit and firing this November, it must encourage Nienaber to know that he has these potent finishers in reserve.
Jaden Hendrikse fought back after a horrific leg injury to be part of the ...

Roger Federer brought beauty, grace and lots of magic to the tennis arena

The great player could transport us to where we felt we were watching something divine. It couldn’t be explained through normal human virtues.
London was a sad place last week. Britons laid Queen Elizabeth II to rest on Monday, 19 September, and then, at London’s O2 Arena, Swiss great Roger Federer played his last professional tennis match – as a doubles partner to Rafa Nadal in the Laver Cup.
The retirement of a professional athlete is hardly comparable to the death of a monarch but, in sporting terms, Federer’s retirement from tennis feels like a bereavement.
It’s the natural cycle of a sporting journey. No athlete can stay on top indefinitely, and they certainly cannot play at the highest level forever.
Federer has certainly gone on longer, with more sustained success, than any player before. But even graceful, seemingly ageless Federer could not fight off Father Time.
He turned 41 in August and had played competitively until he was 39. The last 18 months, though, have been spent largely on the sidelines due to three knee surgeries. In reality Federer, the top tennis player, was probably finished when he exited Wimbledon at the quarterfinal stage in 2021.
That defeat, against rising Pole Hubert Hurkacz, ended with Federer losing the third set 6-0 on his beloved Centre Court at Wimbledon. Luckily it’s a match that will only be a footnote in the otherwise storied career of a man who made the world a better place, simply by wielding a tennis racquet.
In many ways it’s sad that Federer could not go out on his terms. That he could not have one last hurrah at SW19, where he won eight of his 20 singles Grand Slam titles. Instead, his retirement has arrived after the better part of two years spent on physios’ beds and not courts around the world.
Injuries that hadn’t plagued Federer for most of his 20-year career between 1998 and 2018, ironically, had the final say.
For a man and a player who was so elegant and light on his feet, who hardly ever seemed to perspire (you can imagine his mother saying, “only horses sweat, Roger”) and who flowed across a tennis court like human mercury, to be cut down by something as mundane as a knee problem, seemed cruel.
Not that Federer wants, or needs, sympathy. His was an astounding body of work that yielded 103 professional singles titles, 20 Grand Slams, an Olympic gold medal and ...

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