Roger Federer farewell 'cringey' as Higgins vows not to copy Nadal when O'Sullivan retires


John Higgins insists that he found the tearful retirement of tennis legend Roger Federer “a bit cringey”. The Scot and his fellow ‘Class of 1992’ members Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Williams are often compared to the big three in tennis of Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. 

At some point Higgins – who along with O’Sullivan is playing in the prestigious Hong Kong Masters this week – and the rest of snooker’s Holy Trinity will be calling it a day themselves. But Higgins knows that the less physical demands of snooker give him extra years – and vows that even when he, O’Sullivan or Williams does go there will be no Laver Cup-style waterworks. 

The Glaswegian struggled to cope with all the images of Swiss icon Federer and Nadal sitting in floods of tears holding hands – and can’t see any repeat with him and oldest rival O’Sullivan. Higgins said: “I did get shown bits of the TV  footage of the Roger Federer retirement match at the Laver Cup, and if I’m honest I thought it was all bit…cringey! 

“I didn’t watch all of it and I am glad I didn’t from what I caught. Listen, what a player he was and what a great champion. Put it this way, if Ronnie retires I don’t think I’ll be there holding his hand and crying – I am never doing that. 

“I feel a bit sorry for Andy Murray that he was born in an era with those three guys, because they are the best ever and he has still managed to win Grand Slams and other big titles. I reckon if it was me retiring it might just be a handshake, that’s it and walk off out of the arena! 

“I don’t know what I would do if Ronnie asked me to play doubles with him for his last match! But I do know I hold him and Mark Williams in the highest esteem, Ronnie for winning his seventh title and Mark for all he has done. 

“I think that world title this year has cemented in everyone’s eyes that Ronnie is the greatest player of all time – that was an incredible achievement. When it comes to how much longer I might go on, obviously tennis is different to snooker – it is a lot more physical, in great health and stay clear of injuries. 

“We don’t get too many injuries stretching over a snooker table and we can go on a little bit longer than they can! It’s as long as your eyes last for us, then we can keep doing well.” Snooker’s big three have between them 37 of the game’s three majors including 14 world titles, with a grand total of 164 tournament wins. 

That compares to the equally impressive total haul from the tennis trio of 63 Grand Slams and 283 titles in all. Their dominance makes former British No1 Andy Murray’s three Slams and 46 titles look even more impressive given he has played in the golden era of his sport. 

The same is true of the 47-year-old Higgins, who despite threats to quit in recent years after disappointing defeats is still ranked No5 in the world and got to six finals last season. Murray, 35, admitted after the recent emotional scenes at the Laver Cup that saw Federer bow out after a doubles loss playing with Nadal that it had made him reflect on his own past and future. 

And Djokovic has already said he would love to have his rivals present when he retires after being moved by the emotions surrounding Federer’s exit at the Laver Cup. Higgins, who went out early in last week’s British Open, added: “It was unforgivable the way I lost my last match. 

“But the season has started for good now with a run of proper tournaments. I have put my golf clubs away that I got plenty of use out of over the summer and got the cue out over the last few weeks and been practising hard. I didn’t play very good golf, but on some really nice courses – Turnberry was certainly one, and also Archerfield. 

“Turnberry is really tough – too tough for me. But it was just nice to have a walk around it and see the changes that have been made to the course over the years. There are some very deep bunkers and I was in a good few of them – plus it was too windy for when I played there.” 


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