Roger Federer was once called a tennis ‘bad boy’ who smashed rackets

Roger Federer announces retirement from professional tennis

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Retired tennis star Roger Federer has a reputation for being one of the most respectful figures to ever grace the court – but that was not always the case.

The Swiss star called time on his 24-year-long career in September, retiring at the Laver Cup in London. Federer was joined by plenty of tennis greats at the event, with the love for the 41-year-old clear to see in the packed-out event.

Rafael Nadal and co were all visibly heartbroken at the idea of their rival leaving the court for the final time, with family and friends also distraught in the stands. Federer was popular due to his sensational ability and affable personality, though he has not always conducted himself in that way, according to former Nike director Mike Nakajima.

He saw the 20-time Grand Slam champion whilst he was a talented teenager being a ‘bad boy’, before then watching him further down the line when he was acting more respectfully. Speaking on the Sports Business Radio Podcast, Nakajima revealed what prompted Federer to change his ways, explaining: “When I met Roger in 94/95 he was just coming out of juniors and he was a really, really talented player but he would smash rackets in a heartbeat.

“He wasn’t the Roger Federer that we all know. I asked Roger one day when he stopped being a bit of a brat on the tour to become someone that everybody loves. There is not one person that I know who hates the guy. No one has ever said that.

“I asked him what happened. He explained there used to be a pro player named Marat Safin, a Russian player who has won the Australian Open, US Open and he was one of the guys who Roger was competing with in one of his final junior events.

“It was a match to see who was the best junior in the world and Roger ended up winning in three sets. He came home and watched the highlights and all they showed was Marat and Roger being bad boys on the court. Yelling, screaming, smashing, throwing things – that was the highlight – not the great shots that they hit.”

Federer admitted after the footage that his behaviour on the court was embarrassing and vowed to conduct himself more professionally. Fast forward to now, it is safe to say that the former World No 1 is a man of his word, with his role model-like behaviour making him one of the legends of the sport.

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