Roger Federer: Chris Evans recalls encounter with tennis star
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Motorsport legend Valentino Rossi is backing Roger Federer to win a ninth Wimbledon title after hailing the 20-time Grand Slam winner as his ‘No 1 inspiration’. Seven-times MotoGP world champion Rossi says Federer tops even NFL icon Tom Brady and former Manchester United and Real Madrid star Zlatan Ibrahimovic for sporting longevity after staying on top of his game for the best part of two decades.
Federer will target the French Open and Wimbledon titles this year ahead of his 40th birthday in August, as he looks to pull away from Rafael Nadal at the top of the all-time list of Grand Slam winners.
He must face the challenge of not only Nadal and world number one Novak Djokovic, but also younger stars such as Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Rossi, 42, knows plenty about longevity in elite sport as he continues his 26th year as a professional MotoGP racer.
He admits he is inspired by Tom Brady, who won his all-time leading seventh Super Bowl this year at the age of 43 – as well as Ibrahimovic, still playing at the top for AC Milan as he approaches his 40th birthday in October.
But he says Federer’s achievements tops them both as the Swiss aims to add to his record eight Wimbledon crowns this summer.
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“My number 1 inspiration is Roger Federer,” said Rossi, quoted by Tennis World USA. “I adore his game and the way he carries himself.
“Federer continues to compete even at this age and I will cheer for him to win that Wimbledon crown again.
“There are others such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Tom Brady who inspire me as well, but Federer is the one who tops the list.”
Federer has been warned by Boris Becker that he must cut down the amount of tournaments he plays in as he looks to end his career on a high.
But Rossi, who is targeting victory in the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend, advocates a different approach.
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The Italian says the way to stay on top as the years clock up is to “train harder”.
“I will be fighting for a podium,” Rossi added.
“If I want to win the title, I will have to be fast and deliver good results. And when you are older, you have to train harder to stay at the top level.”
Rossi’s comments come as Becker warned Federer must be selective with his tournaments as he approaches his fifth decade.
The 39-year-old plans to play at Geneva and in the French Open before heading to Wimbledon in June, having missed most of the 2020 season through injury.
“I hope that Roger Federer doesn’t make the mistake of playing a lot of tournaments for the heck of it,” said the three-time Wimbledon champion.
“He is an absolute icon and has lifted tennis to another level. Only, Federer needs a good end to his career.
“From my point of view, Wimbledon is the Grand Slam tournament where he still has the best chance of going far.”
Wimbledon takes place from June 28 until July 11, with the French Open before that from May 30 to June 13.
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