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Roger Federer has ‘one more real chance’ of Grand Slam triumph as Novak Djokovic hailed

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Roger Federer speak

Federer, a 38-year-old from Switzerland, is planning to finally fill that gap on his rather full resume on Friday, when he and his longtime rival, Rafael Nadal, are scheduled to play an exhibition match in Cape Town.

Roger Federer shakes his head and sounds a bit embarrassed when he’s asked why he’s never played a tennis match in South Africa until now.

It is, after all, where his mother was born.

“I don’t know what took me so long, to be quite honest,” the 20-time Grand Slam champion said. “I said, ‘It’s not possible that I’m on the tour for 20 years, I’ve become the player that I have been, and I’ve never played in South Africa. It’s just not OK.’ I couldn’t live with myself if that happened.”

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer

Federer, a 38-year-old from Switzerland, is planning to finally fill that gap on his rather full resume on Friday, when he and his longtime rival, Rafael Nadal, are scheduled to play an exhibition match in Cape Town.

“You know how it is. Life on tour sometimes is what it is. I couldn’t be more excited now that it’s actually really happening. I hope I’m going to be really fine to play. I believe I am, but we’ll see,” Federer said after losing in the semifinals at the Australian Open, where his movement was hampered by a painful groin muscle.

“Also, that Rafa is willing to do it is exciting, of course, to say the least. I know my parents are very happy, very proud, as well. I’m sure it’s going to be very, very special for me on many levels to play there.”

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer

The hope is to generate more than $1 million for the Roger Federer Foundation, which supports early childhood education in six African countries and Switzerland. Its CEO, Janine Haendel, said the foundation already has reached more than a million children in its history.

“It will be such an emotional moment for him,” Haendel said about the event in South Africa, which also is slated to include an appearance by Bill Gates. “For him, it’s really a dream. It’s been a project for quite some time.”

But this wasn’t just about raising — or making — money, Federer said. He wanted to make sure the event was accessible for spectators, so 10,000 tickets were available for about $11 each. The aim is an attendance of 50,000, which would be the largest crowd on record for a tennis match.

That goes along with part of Federer’s interest in burnishing his legacy — and that of the game he plays.

Roger Federer and Serena Williams

“Reminding people,” he said, “that tennis is a big-time sport.”

He tries to do that in various ways, such as appearances at the Oscars or the Met Gala or by playing in exhibition matches all over the globe.

“Maybe spread the word, the gospel, a little bit,” Federer said. “Go to places I don’t usually get a chance to play and maybe also bring tennis where it’s not maybe seen as much.”

Roger Federer

Roger Federer may only win one more Grand Slam title, according to one-time Wimbledon champion Pat Cash. The Swiss last week missed out on Australian Open glory with Novak Djokovic winning the title Down Under instead and his Grand Slam lead is looking precarious.

Federer was thumped by Djokovic in their Australian Open semi-final clash, with the Serb winning 7-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Roger Federer

Djokovic went on to win the crown, surviving an almighty scare to beat Dominic Thiem 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in Sunday’s final.

It means that Federer’s Grand Slam lead has now been reduced. Djokovic is just three behind the 38-year-old, with Rafael Nadal trailing by one.

And Cash thinks Federer may only win one more Major, which the 1987 Wimbledon champion thinks could come at the All England Club.

“Federer has a chance – probably one more real chance – of getting one more title at Wimbledon,” he said on BBC Radio 5 Live.

“I still think he is up there in the best players on grass. He’s still good enough.

”But the other couple of guys look like they are carrying on. Every tournament is different depending on lead-ups and injury.

“At this stage any little injury or setback is massive for the older guys.

“You look at who he [Djokovic] has beaten in finals, he has beaten Tsonga and Anderson, but the majority of them have been against Murray, Nadal and Federer.

“He has beaten those guys more or less all the time.

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