GENEVA — If you are looking for the legacy of Roger Federer in his home nation of Switzerland, the Palexpo in Geneva this weekend is a fine and rambunctious place to start.
Before Federer emerged from the suburbs of Basel to become — for now — the most successful men’s tennis player of the Open era, the idea of selling out a makeshift 17,000-seat arena for five straight sessions of a new and high-priced team event would have been as far-fetched as a Switzerland without melted cheese.
But that temporary arena was full and rocking on Friday for the opening day of the Laver Cup, the annual competition dreamed up by Federer and his agent Tony Godsick as a tennis version of golf’s Ryder Cup.
“Honestly, I never heard something louder in my life than when Roger entered the court,” said Dominic Thiem, one of Federer’s teammates on the European squad. Federer’s popularity is one thing.
His legacy in Switzerland is not so easy to determine as he winds down his phenomenal playing career without fading away: He remains No. 3 in the world rankings at age 38, and in July he came within one point of winning another Wimbledon singles title.
No Swiss athlete of any era has reached his level of global appeal or achievement, and he remains the most famous living Swiss.