Roger Federer, still a force in tennis at the age of 37, said that when he does retire it won't be a spur of the moment decision sprung on an unsuspecting public. "I would first check with my family," Federer said. "If the team and everybody thinks that this is it now, and I feel it's truly that, I wouldn't probably tell it to that one journalist just it happened I was doing that interview that day," he said. But Federer said he's resigned to the questions, which first started cropping up almost a decade ago.
"In the beginning, you're like, What? It can't be true," Federer said after beating Benoit Paire 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the third round of the US Open.
"Eventually, OK, fine I get it, they're allowed to ask it. Then you get to a point where everybody has to ask it because it could be that I would be the one in that very moment to reveal that this might be it."
The topic of when the 20-time Grand Slam champion -- currently ranked second in the world -- might hang up his racquet so exercises the press that even a casual comment can get antennae quivering.
Federer himself jokingly used the "R-word" as he addressed the Flushing Meadows crowd after his first-round win over Yoshihito Nishioka on Tuesday -- and promptly faced questions about it.
"It's a total joke, yes," he said. "So please don't read into it. Don't even write that word."
The Swiss great admitted it could get wearing, with no new answer to the question on the horizon.
"Sometimes you wonder why they ask you again because do they not hear what I said yesterday? Do they not listen to what I said two months ago?
"At this point I take it with a smile and I understand that everybody is just doing their job, I guess."