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Federer 12 Final Days review: The BTS of Roger Federer's retirement is emotional, but is too clinical

Federer: 12 Final Days review - The documentary follows the days leading up to Roger's official retirement announcement and his last match at the Laver Cup.

3/5rating
Federer 12 Final Days review: The BTS of Roger Federer's retirement is emotional, but is too clinical
Roger Federer in a still from Federer: 12 Final Days

Last Updated: 08.56 PM, Jun 20, 2024

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Federer 12 Final Days documentary story: Tennis great Roger Federer announced his retirement on social media in September 2022, with his last match coming only days after at the Laver Cup in London, where he teamed up with friend and on-court rival Rafael Nadal for Team Europe.

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Federer 12 Final Days review: It was in September 2022 that Roger Federer one of the greatest in the sport of tennis, announced he was bidding adieu to what he loved most – playing tennis. At 41, and multiple knee injuries later, he knew there was no pushing his body anymore. The decision to hang up his racket came 3 years after his last ATP title win, a time that had him struggle with knee issues and had experts and fans wondering if the retirement decision should have come when he was still in good form. This is something that gets a passing mention in Federer: 12 Final Days, the documentary about the 12 days leading up to Roger Federer’s final match at the Laver Cup, but is not addressed thereafter.

Instead, the documentary focuses firmly on Federer’s retirement announcement, how he and his family dealt with the fact that their days on the road with him were coming to an end, and most importantly, how some of his biggest professional rivals – Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic – rallied around him to make his last appearance on a tennis court memorable.

There are fleeting glimpses of archived footage of Federer as a ball boy back home in Switzerland, to his days at the junior level and subsequent rivalry with Nadal, Murray and Djokovic in his long career. This was not going to be a documentary to show the world how great a player Federer was in his heyday or how Djokovic rattled the normally stoic Swiss to the extent of on-court temper tantrums. The problem therewith is that Federer: 12 Final Days comes across as nothing but a PR exercise and fails to evoke much emotion, despite the waterworks unleashed by Federer, Nadal and the former’s wife, Mirka, among others.

However, what makes the timing of the Federer documentary poignant is that Nadal and Djokovic are also set to follow suit. Nadal was out of action for nearly a year and a half owing to injury and his return to his favourite tournament – the French Open – ended with a first-round exit. He won’t head to Wimbledon and is only focusing on his last Olympic outing in Paris. Nadal is said to be on his farewell season. Djokovic, on the other hand, had to withdraw from the French Open after a gruelling 5-set quarter-final match, during which he sustained a meniscus tear and has had surgery. His return to mainstream tennis also has a question mark around it. Andy Murray is expected to announce his retirement at Wimbledon.

When you then watch Federer: 12 Final Days, you are more likely to feel a tinge of sadness that this is the year that the remaining three of the quartet that ruled tennis in the last couple of decades will make their way out. As a stand-alone film, though, Federer: 12 Final Days doesn’t pack much of a punch. It feels too clinical. 

Federer: 12 Final Days verdict: Die-hard fans will, no doubt, love all the behind-the-scenes action from Federer’s retirement announcement, the Laver Cup 2022 preparations and the off-court camaraderie he shared with his three great rivals, especially with Nadal.

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