Roger Federer farewel: It was an emotional evening in London as Roger Federer concluded his stellar tennis career at the Laver Cup on Friday.
Federer described his career as a “perfect journey” despite being denied a fairytale ending with a doubles defeat alongside Nadal.
Both Federer and his Spanish partner struggled to contain their tears as the 20-time Grand Slam champion completed his 24-year journey.
Roger Federer farewel: Over the course of the past decade and more, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have thrived regardless of circumstance. They have stared each other down in the finals of the grandest tournaments around the world and they have brought out their best time after time, even when the tension was most suffocating. Their rivalry, with the frenzied popularity it created and the level it exhibited, has played a foundational role in the recent development of men’s tennis.
Yet nothing could have fully prepared them for the feelings they had on Friday. After enduring 40 tense, pressure-filled battles against each other, strangely the best moments of Federer’s career have often been the worst of Nadal’s, but they stood together on the same side of the net as they were defeated 4-6, 7-6 (2), 11-9 by Team World’s Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe at the Laver Cup. In the process, one of the greatest ever sporting careers came to an end.
Roger Federer farewel: With a sellout crowd of 17,500 at London’s O2 Arena willing him on, Federer returned after more than a year away to play alongside Nadal, having not played since the 2021 Wimbledon quarter-finals because of a knee injury. Last week, Federer announced his retirement aged 41.
Federer could have sealed victory in the Laver Cup doubles clash when he served at match point in a tense deciding tiebreak, but it was not to be as Americans Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe ripped up the script.
Sock thumped a forehand winner and sealed a 4-6, 7-6, 11-9 win for Team World.
The Swiss was overcome with emotion afterwards, hugging teammate Nadal and waving to the crowd.
He was unable to contain his emotion when addressing the arena during his on-court interview, breaking down in tears.
“Playing with Rafa on the same team, and having the guys, everybody here, all the legends… thank you,” said Federer, who was joined on court by his parents, wife Mirka and their four children.
“It does feel like a celebration to me,” he added. “I wanted to feel like this at the end and it is exactly what I hoped for so thank you. It has been a perfect journey and I would do it all over again.”
“We’ll get through this somehow, will we? Right?” he added.
“I’m happy, I’m not sad. It feels great to be here and I enjoyed tying my shoes one more time. Everything was the last time. The match was great, I couldn’t be happier. It’s been wonderful.”
Nadal, who was also emotional, said it had been difficult to handle the intensity of the occasion.
“For me, it has been a huge honour to be a part of this amazing moment of the history of our sport, and at the same time a lot of years sharing a lot of things together,” said the Spaniard.
“When Roger leaves the tour an important part of my life is leaving too.”
Nadal, 36, said his relationship with Federer had been a “super-long and positive journey”.
“For me was always the guy to beat,” said the Spaniard. “So at some point we were probably the biggest rivals – I think always in a very good way.
“We respect a lot each other, families, teams. I mean, we never had big issues… I mean, when we were getting older, I think every year the personal relationship gets better and better.”
The result meant Team Europe were locked at 2-2 with Team World at the end of the opening day of the Ryder Cup-style event.
The six-strong Team Europe also includes Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
Italy’s Matteo Berrettini will take Federer’s place over the weekend as an alternate, with the Swiss great opting out of singles matches.
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